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The Mayor of Mogadishu

A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia

Andrew Harding

St. Martin's Press

The Mayor of Mogadishu Download image

ISBN10: 1250072344
ISBN13: 9781250072344


304 Pages



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In The Mayor of Mogadishu, one of the BBC’s most experienced foreign correspondents, Andrew Harding, reveals the tumultuous life of Mohamoud “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 twenty years in north London.

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

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


Praise for The Mayor of Mogadishu

"Andrew Harding, one of the BBC’s most intrepid and empathetic journalists . . . has chronicled the extraordinarily uplifting life of one Somali, Mohamud Nur, nicknamed Tarzan . . . According to Mr Harding, Tarzan’s courage, inventiveness and resilience typify the finest qualities of the Somali people. It would be wrong, he insists, to give up hope."The Economist

"Captivating . . . With a fascinating protagonist and the riches-to-rags story told in an intimate and sympathetic manner without whitewashing the chaos of one of the most dangerous cities in the world, the book is a great read."The East African

"The Mayor of Mogadishu is much more than the story of one ambitious Somali politician. It is the modern history of one of the world’s most troubled country, told with sensitivity, wisdom and compassion—and a rollicking good read besides."The National

"Harding brings this East African coastal country to vivid life . . . made up of tall, slender nomads whom he found 'impossibly, jaw-droppingly resilient' in the face of decades of hardship and violence . . . A beautifully rendered narrative and characterization portrays the soul of a country few Westerners truly understand."Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


A Constellation of Nomads


“There are no records. So you can claim whatever you want.”


IT ALL STARTS, I SUPPOSE, with a lie. Or perhaps...

About the author

Andrew Harding

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, Monte Carlo, the United States and Hong Kong. He currently lives in Johannesburg with his family.

Lisa Skinner

Andrew Harding

Read Andrew Harding at the BBC