Legend of Tarzan: Profiling a tough Somalian mayor

The Times Literary Supplement of October 14, 2016 includes both a review of Alex de Waal’s The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa (by Laura James, who also discusses new books by Pamela Aal and Chester Crocker, Gerard Prunier, and Michela Wrong), and a short piece by de Waal, “The Legend of Tarzan: profiling a tough Somalian mayor” that reviews Andrew Harding’s The Mayor of Mogadishu: A story of chaos and redemption. Below is an excerpt:

Mogadishu’s half-ruined, half-built urban landscape is strangely compelling. This is an ocean-front city, its masonry bleached by the sun, every block and intersection holding a memory of what was once there, and an imagination of what it might yet be, if today’s economic regeneration continues. Somalia’s capital has gone through a quarter-century of battle and rebuilding in rapid cycles, each leaving its own mark on the fabric of the city.

Andrew Harding, who has repeatedly visited Mogadishu as a BBC journalist since 2000, is fascinated by the city and how to make sense of it. In his new book, Mogadishu becomes legible through the biography of one man, Mohamed Nur, known as “Tarzan”.

Tarzan was born into a nomadic family in the country’s arid hinterland. After his father died, he came to Mogadishu as a child, arriving in 1961 on the one-year anniversary of independence.

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