Nuruddin Farah

Nuruddin Farah’s novels include the trilogy Sweet & Sour Milk, Sardines and Close Sesame

Country Cousins: the travails of Mogadishu

Nuruddin Farah, 3 September 1998

For centuries, Somalis of pastoralist stock have described Mogadishu as justice-blind, whether they are alluding to the Mogadishu of old, ten centuries back, to the Mogadishu of Siyad Barre, or to the Mogadishu of the civil war. If Mogadishu occupies an ambiguous space in our minds and hearts, it is because ours is a land with an overwhelming majority of pastoralists, who are possessed of a deep urbophobia. Maybe this is why most Somalis do not seem unduly perturbed by the fate of the capital: a city broken into segments, each of them ruthlessly controlled by an alliance of militias.

Hating Them

Nuruddin Farah, 18 September 1997

I have been thinking about Responsibility ever since visiting Mogadiscio last year: the householder’s responsibility to the household, that of the smaller community to the larger, of the larger to the entire nation, and of the nation to the world as a whole. I have thought about all this in reaction to the collapse of several African nations into civil anarchy, Somalia going the way of Liberia, and Rwanda and Burundi moving towards a similar collapse. I have been thinking, too, about the soldiers-in-power in the Gambia emulating those of Ghana, and of Nigeria, where I live for the time being, moving constantly to the brink of ungovernability. Freedom is of a piece with Responsibility, an informed Freedom which can help one know one’s place and role in the apocalyptic history of this continent and its peoples, wherever they are found.

People of a Half-Way House

Nuruddin Farah, 21 March 1996

I remember the renegade tears running down the cheeks of my younger sister, who had been among the first boat-loads to arrive in Mombasa.

‘We just escaped,’ she said when I met her in Utange refugee camp, ‘leaving our beds unmade, the chairs in our dining-rooms upturned, our kitchens unswept, our dishes in the sinks, our future undone. We ran as fast as we could, not...

Nuclear Fiction

D.A.N. Jones, 8 May 1986

Four of these novels are political, not to be taken lightly. Acts of Faith and The Nuclear Age are concerned with the terror offered to us all by the nuclear deterrent. This is a large theme and...

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John Sutherland, 21 January 1982

In his history of the genre, Brian Aldiss suggests that most SF is what he calls ‘prodromic’: we must read it less as a prophecy of the future than as symptomatic of the present. By...

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