(K. Brent Tomer),
The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia. By Andrew Harding. St. Martin’s Press; 286 pages; $26.99. Hurst; £20.
THE brutal term “failed state” was almost invented for Somalia. Since 1991, when its military dictator was overthrown, it has had no government that fully controls the country and no election worthy of the name. A fanatical jihadist movement known as al-Shabab (“the Youth”) still dominates much of the countryside and regularly murders bigwigs and blows up hotels and restaurants in Mogadishu, the seaside capital that was once an Italian colonial jewel. Famine, terrorism, corruption and clan factionalism have prevailed. A swathe of Somalia’s people—2m out of 12m, some say—has fled abroad.
Amid this remorseless gloom, however, Andrew Harding, one of the BBC’s most intrepid and empathetic journalists, who has been visiting the country since 2000, has chronicled the extraordinarily uplifting life of one Somali, Mohamud Nur, nicknamed Tarzan. Dumped as a child in an orphanage in Mogadishu, he later…Continue reading