A Man of Good Hope: One Man's Extraordinary Journey from Mogadishu to Tin Can Town
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.
A powerful look at the impact of the Somali civil war on one man, who, having lost everything, refused to give up hope.
"[A] testament to the human spirit... An epic African saga that chronicles some fundamental modern issues such as crime, human trafficking, migration, poverty and xenophobia, while giving glimpses into the Somali clan system, repression in Ethiopia and lethal racism in townships... [Steinberg] has delivered a strong insight into the lives of those buffeted by conflict and violence in this tale of a refugee driven by ambition, pride and dreams. Ultimately, it is a powerful testament to the resilience of humanity" -- Ian Birrell Observer "[A Man of Good Hope] tells one man's extraordinary and moving story, revealing the reality of life at the bottom of the world's worst pile." -- Richard Dowden The Times "A masterpiece. Steinberg has illuminated a modern African odyssey to brilliant effect." -- Martin Meredith, author of The State of Africa "What a brave, important book. Steinberg's writing is so human, so humane and so honest. Through the remarkable tale of the truly astonishing character of Asad Abdullahi, Steinberg returns all of us from the despair of distance to the dignity of brotherhood. Steinberg stands shoulder to shoulder with other great writers who have also made sensible and visible so much that might otherwise remain insensible and invisible out of the political and human tragedies all too common in Africa - Michela Wrong, Ryszard Kapuscinski and Ishmael Beah. Steinberg's central question is one for all of us: what does it means to live a "fully human life" and whom among us has either the courage or the luck to live that life?" -- Alexandra Fuller "An engrossing book... The humanity, suffering and bravery of Mr Abdullahi are palpable and make A Man of Good Hope a book well worth reading." The Economist
Jonny Steinberg was born in South Africa. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Midlands and The Number, which both won the Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize (South Africa's premier non-fiction literary award). He is currently a lecturer in African Studies and Criminology at the University of Oxford.