- 9,49 €
When Asad was eight years old, his mother was shot in front of him. With his father in hiding, he was swept alone into the great wartime migration that has scattered the Somali people throughout the world.
This extraordinary book tells Asad’s story. Serially betrayed by the people who promised to care for him, Asad lived his childhood at a sceptical remove from the adult world, living in a bewildering number of places, from the cosmopolitan streets of inner-city Nairobi to towns deep in the Ethiopian desert.
By the time he reached the cusp of adulthood, Asad had made good as a street hustler, brokering relationships between hardnosed Ethiopian businessmen and bewildered Somali refugees. He also courted the famously beautiful Foosiya, and married her, to the astonishment of his peers.
Buoyed by success in work and in love, Asad put $1,200 in his pocket and made his way down the length of the African continent to Johannesburg, whose streets he believed to be lined with gold. So began an adventure in a country richer and more violent than he could possibly have imagined. A Man of Good Hope is the story of a person shorn of the things we have come to believe make us human – personal possessions, parents, siblings. And yet Asad’s is an intensely human life, one suffused with dreams and desires and a need to leave something of permanence on this earth.
South African journalist Steinberg (Sizwe's Test) vividly recounts one Somali man's experience of diaspora, resulting in a book that is part biography and part contemporary history. Steinberg first met Asad Abudullahi in 2010, in the wake of the South African riots that targeted the thousands of refugees, among them Asad, drawn there by the promise of a better life. In 1991, Asad, not yet in his teens, fled the anarchy in his native country, ending up in Kenya. He honed his survival instincts in Nairobi's slums before traveling to Ethiopia in search of members of his fractured family. In Ethiopia, he found work as a truck driver's assistant and grew "broad shouldered and tall," his body a "badge of elegance legacy of hardship." When Asad eventually reached South Africa in 2004, he took on the dangerous work of running a shop in one of the country's poorest townships. The gaps in Asad's account sometimes elicit skepticism from Steinberg, but, on the whole, his deep empathy for his subject overrules his doubts. The extent of Asad's loneliness struck Steinberg during one interview where he began to comprehend the tenuous, fleeting nature of Asad's connections to everyone he encountered during his harrowing odyssey. The book's subject matter may be unfamiliar to most Americans, but Steinberg's thoughtful approach and Asad's attitude of droll resilience make for a tale that any reader can appreciate.