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An insider's account of Somalia's unravelling: The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding

The Mayor of MogadishuPan Macmillan is proud to present The Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia by Andrew Harding – an epic, uplifting story of one family’s journey through the violent unravelling of Somalia, and a timely exploration of what it means to lose your country and then to reclaim it:

In The Mayor of Mogadishu, Harding, one of the BBC’s most experienced foreign correspondents, reveals the tumultuous life of Mohamud “Tarzan” Nur – an impoverished nomad who was abandoned in a state orphanage in newly independent Somalia and became a street brawler and activist. When the country collapsed into civil war and anarchy, Tarzan and his young family became part of an exodus, eventually spending 20 years in north London.

In 2010 Tarzan returned, as mayor, to the unrecognisable ruins of a city now almost entirely controlled by the Islamist militants of Al Shabab. For some in Mogadishu, he was a divisive thug who sank beneath the corruption and clan rivalries that continue to threaten the country’s revival. But for others, both locally and in the diaspora, Tarzan became a galvanising symbol of courage and hope for Somalia.

The Mayor of Mogadishu is a rare an insider’s account of Somalia’s unravelling and an intimate portrayal of one family’s extraordinary journey.

It is easy to gawk at the tragedy of Somalia; assuming an attitude of sensationalised disbelief. Andrew Harding refuses to do this. Instead he offers a wry, sceptical story. Part fable, part journalistic account, Harding’s tale brims with sympathy and admiration for the human capacity for survival. The Mayor of Mogadishu is a great big gorgeous read.

- Sisonke Msimang, columnist and writer

One of Africa’s most experienced correspondents zeroes in on one of the most intriguing characters in the extraordinary post-apocalyptic world of modern Mogadishu. Like the city and its mayor, Harding brings depth, clarity, nuance and occasional poetry to his story. Rich, epic and important.

- Alex Perry, author of The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free

Andrew Harding’s elegantly written account is much more than a portrait of the Mayor of Mogadishu. In bold, vivid brush-strokes it captures all the charm, colour, contradiction and menace of contemporary Somalia.

- Michela Wrong, author of Borderlines

Africa can be explained in dry prose, in figures, in newspaper reports; or it can be explained, as Andrew Harding does in this book, through an astonishing personal story, vivid and utterly memorable.

- Alexander McCall Smith

About the author

Andrew Harding has been living and working abroad, as a foreign correspondent, for the past 25 years, in Russia, the Caucasus, Asia and Africa. He has been visiting Somalia since 2000. His television and radio reports for BBC News have won him international recognition, including an Emmy, an award from Britain’s Foreign Press Association, and other awards in France, the United States and Hong Kong. He currently lives in Johannesburg with his family.

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