Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg
|Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg|
|Reviewer: Andy Heath|
|Summary: A Man of Good Hope is the remarkable biography of Asad Abdullahi, a Somalian boy abandoned at eight years of age, and his journey to adulthood. In a time when the mass migration of people has never been, more in focus it tells the story of what it really means to be a refugee by someone who has experienced it all his life.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 334||Date: January 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
A Man of Good Hope is the remarkable biography of Asad Abdullahi. It tells the story of a Somalian boy abandoned at eight years of age and his journey to adulthood. It is also a testament to the human spirit and its capacity to survive. Epic in its scope it covers a journey that stretches the length of the continent of Africa. In a time when the mass migration of people has never been, more in focus it tells the story of what it really means to be a refugee by someone who has experienced it all his life.
Jonny Steinberg is an Associate professor of African Studies and Criminology at Oxford University, and he has wrote a number of books on social issues in the new South Africa. The book is well researched as you would expect, but what really sets it apart from other academic writing is the sheer humanity he brings to the subject. For me, the biography genre has been tainted over the last decade by the annual celebrity Christmas offerings. Designed to be stocking fillers many fail to rise above mediocrity, and are forgotten as the last verse of Auld Lang's Syne brings in the New Year with an alcohol-fueled haze. Few have any story of significance to bring to humanity.
A Man of Good Hope is a genuine, honest and real biography. It is important and has a story to tell about the times that we live in. Although Asad's journey starts in Somalia and makes its way to South Africa his will to survive and the treatment he endures can be translated to the events unfolding on our television screens every night as thousands of people flee the conflict in Syria. Asad's voice is the voice of all refugees as they flee their country of origin in search of security and the chance to live their lives without fear. Rising above the ten-second soundbites handed out through the media it screams we are people, human beings, the same as you, and all we want are the same things that you take for granted.
The book holds up a mirror to our attitudes and belief systems. The default condition we have to pigeonhole everything and the xenophobic explosion that occurs when we cannot is shown as a failing of our basic humanity. Through the growing friendship that develops between author and subject, Asad's view of the world is explored. The understanding and insight he has is incisive. As a man with little formal education his wisdom and understanding of the way the world works is astounding. The book is a remarkable journey into a world that is difficult to imagine or understand and for that reason alone it is a captivating and compelling read. It may even prove to be vital in identifying what it means to be truly human.
Another excellent read by Jonny Steinberg is Little Liberia: An African Odyssey in New York City.
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