Summary A Man of Good Hope 108

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E hundred dollars in his pocket and made his way down the length of the African continent to Johannesburg South Africa whose streets he believed to be lined with gold And so began a shocking adventure in a country richer and 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 permanent on this earth From the Hardcover editi. Jonny Steinberg is doing what he does best Describing the South African condition with precise insight and a writer’s flair I can’t remember the uestion I asked him as we sat down to talk but my notes contain his pithy answer “There’s this in between state of knowing and not knowing at the same time and so much of South African life is lived in that state” I was talking to him in the lounge of Rosebank’s Park Hyatt hotel home of deal makers socially networking functionaries day tripping financiers and high end tourists a million miles from the rough streets of the horn of Africa and the townships where Steinberg’s new book A Man of Good Hope plays itself outThe cover of the book’s local edition depicts a neat buttoned up shirt over the familiar silhouette of Cape Town’s mountains the final South African destination of the book’s Somali protagonist AsadHis journey which encompasses Somalia Kenya Ethiopia and a string of countries on a long trek southwards is the subject of this uiet precise narrativeSteinberg takes us inside Asad’s world beginning with his uprooting in the wake of the Somalian civil war and following his restless attempts to build a new life in refugee camps in the urban ghettos of Kenya and in rural EthiopiaHis decision to give it all up and bet everything on a long trek to South Africa which he sees as a land of glittering opportunity ultimately leads him to Cape Town where he was introduced to Steinberg who was looking to interview a Somali immigrantWhat followed were many hours of interviews – mostly conducted inside a parked car near Asad’s shop – during which Steinberg put together the story of his lifeSteinberg shows us South Africa through the eyes of an arriving African immigrant His sparse but descriptive words give us an eerie out of body sensation as we see ourselves on display in these two passages“The highway widened and was double laned on both sides and was full of traffic The surface of the road itself was as smooth as a varnished table as if it had been laid yesterday And the cars on the road were also new like they had just come off the factory floor Beyond the roadside were straight rows of houses with deep terracotta tiles on their roofs thick beige paint on their walls and manicured gardens They too looked as if they had just been built”Ten days later Asad sees through the façade of limitless wealth “Every town the bus passed he noticed was divided into two distinct sections There was always a settlement on the outskirts it consisted of straight narrow identical houses each as modest as the next And it was always in darkness save for the occasional blinding light mounted on a towering pylon”Asad soon discovers – too his disappointment – that his place is in the settlements on the outskirtsSteinberg tells me “It takes looking at it through somebody like Asad’s eyes to see it in all its spectacular strangeness“Coming from afar we must look bizarre We have the crazy racially heirarchised society We’ve formally moved on from it but the structure has remained the same We don’t really like to talk about the fact that everything but nothing has changed at the same time”Asad joins other Somalis who have occupied the spaza shop niche in the townships selling cheap goods through small windows in shacks to customers who view him with no affectionSteinberg observes that unlike South African traders who are symbols of hope of making it the Somali’s are not liked or admired by their customers“What they do is they settle themselves among very very poor people and all they do is they make money The result is that they’re stripped bare they are simply loathedAsad he says is “so utterly disinvested” “His relation to the world around him is utterly instrumental Seeing South Africa through those eyes – through eyes that really did not care – was tough”The loathing soon translates itself into violence at first sporadic and ultimately organized as local communities turn on the tradersWhen Steinberg encounters Asad in Cape Town he has been a victim of this violence“I don’t think xenophobia like this would have been conceivable under apartheid Black people from across the borders streamed into South Africa for generations and were generally integrated into black South Africa“Xenophobia is a dark by product of citizenship – ‘this place is ours now and its not yours’ It’s only since democracy that those lines between urban insiders and outsiders are about those who hold citizenship and those who don’t”A Man of Good Hope is Steinberg at his best Holding the narrative tight while gently but precisely illuminating the social issues that drive it forwardSteinberg says he has been inspired by reading the work of anthropologist Michael Jackson“He’s managed to weld together standard anthropology – he did ethnographies in Sierra Leone for many years and married it to existential philosophy which asks these uestions about the burden of how to live a human life and make it meaningful”“It just dawned on me reading this man’s work that what I’ve been trying to do book after book after book is to write about somebody whose very different from me Try and get under their skin Try to see what it means to be a human being for them

characters A Man of Good Hope

A Man of Good HopeIn January 1991 when civil war came to Mogadishu the capital of Somalia two thirds of the city’s population fled Among them was eight year old Asad Abdullahi His mother murdered by a militia his father somewhere in hiding he was swept alone into the great wartime migration that scattered the Somali people throughout sub Saharan Africa and the worldThis extraordinary book tells Asad’s story Serially betrayed by the people who promised to care for him Asad lived his childhood at a skeptical remove from the adult world his relation to others wary and tactical He. My first goodreads review I choose this one because i hope this book will get some attention as i think it deserves itThe story is about a resilient young man named Asad He spend most of his live finding a place where he can settle down and be safe from harm From Somalia to South Africa everywhere he goes he needs to find a way to survive I felt inspired from his actions and his way of getting over thingsMy trip to South Africa made me feel a bit like Asad must have felt A lot of hatred around you People that can treat you different from day to day A lot of beauty and a whole lot of sorrowThis book is well written with a lot of nice insights and it finds a way to create a good picture of his travels If you want to read a book about a persistant human being then please read this

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Summary A Man of Good Hope 108 É In January 1991 when civil war came to Mogadishu the capital of Somalia two thirds of the city’s population fled Among them was eight year old Asad Abdullahi His mother murdered by a militia his father somewhere in hiding he was swept alone into the great wartime migration that scattered the Somali people throughout sub SaharLived in a bewildering number of places from the cosmopolitan streets of inner city Nairobi to the desert towns deep in the Ethiopian hinterlandBy the time he reached the cusp of adulthood Asad had honed an array of wily talents At the age of seventeen in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa he made good as a street hustler brokering relationships between hard nosed businessmen and bewildered Somali refugees He also courted the famously beautiful Foosiya and to the astonishment of his peers seduced and married herBuoyed by success in work and in love Asad put twelv. An excellent book Well researched with unbelievable insight and sensitivity for all the cultures involved in this story The story is told through the eyes of the people involved while walking in their shoes Some parts of the story do make your jaw drop and pull at your heart strings After I read this book I felt like I had been on a journey of epic proportions and crossed the barriers of culture language war and geography I would rate this book a 10 out of five I cannot say enough good about it just don't have the words