Starred Review from Kirkus

Delighted that the prestigious US Kirkus Review has given The Mayor of Mogadishu a "starred" review: 

A fluid, sympathetic journalistic foray into the tumultuous history of Somalia as lived by an intriguing impresario and activist.Riven over the decades by clan divisions, famine, military coups, dictatorship, and terror by the jihadi group Al-Shabaab, Somalia has seen much of its population displaced and traumatized and only now returning to some peace and stability. In his engaging biography of one unlikely local hero, Mohamud "Tarzan" Nur, Johannesburg-based journalist Harding follows the fortunes of one family of exiles who have returned to the war-scarred capital of Mogadishu to stick it out and reclaim their city from a horrible legacy of civil war. With elegant descriptions, Harding brings this East African coastal country to vivid life, depicting a sun-drenched "pearl of the Indian Ocean" made up of tall, slender nomads whom he found "impossibly, jaw-droppingly resilient" in the face of decades of hardship and violence. The author hones in on Nur, who was born to a poor mother, fatherless, raised in an orphanage, found some outlet as a youth in basketball, and was educated largely by his wits. His outspokenness and the Somalian war with Ethiopia over the neighboring Ogaden region prompted him first to seek employment in Saudi Arabia. His bride, Shamis, followed for love, and the couple had six children, whom Shamis mostly raised by herself after seeking asylum in London without her husband. The family eventually returned to their homeland in 2010 when the Al-Shabaab terrorist group finally left the city. Courageously—or foolishly, as Harding suggests—Nur accepted the dangerous job of mayor and proceeded to try to infuse the destroyed city with his jaunty brand of optimism. While corruption still prevails, Harding reveals enormous goodwill in the beleaguered people who have returned to rebuild their beloved country. A beautifully rendered narrative and characterization portrays the soul of a country few Westerners truly understand. 



September book events in UK

I'm going to be in the UK in early September, and again in late October, to promote The Mayor of Mogadishu. Confirmed events so far:


6th - 7pm SOAS London:

7th - 6.30pm Waterstones Piccadilly:

8th - 6.30pm Waterstones Hampstead: https//

9th - 3.30pm Somali community centre, Leicester.

9th - 6.30pm Waterstones Leicester.

12th - 3.30pm Malcom X centre, Bristol.

12th - 6.30 pm Waterstones, Bristol.

13th - Waterstones Cardiff:

14th - Frontline Club, London:


25th - 7pm Oxford University International Relations Society

26th - Emmanuel College, Cambridge

27th - Edinburgh University African Studies department

28th - Somali Week Festival, Hackney, London




From Minnesota...

"I am truly inspired by this book. This is the best written and most well-articulated book about Somalia that I have ever seen. Any Somali reader, let alone non-Somalis, will learn so much about Mayor Tarzan, Mogadishu, and the nomadic Somali life style."

Abdirashid S. Ahmed, MPP, LGSW

East African Community Specialist, Minneapolis



Frontline Club

Dinner and a chat at London's Frontline Club - 14th September. 



Some other London events

I'm going to be presenting the book, with the Royal African Society, at SOAS at 7pm on the 6th September. I'll also be giving a talk at the Frontline Club in London on the evening of the 14th September.