Renowned author of ‘Three-Letter Plague, Midlands and The Number”, Johnny Steinberg won SA’s premier non-fiction prize, the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. Now an associate professor of African Studies at Oxford, Johnny Steinberg embarked on a journey of sharing the story of a Somali man (Asad) who fled the city of Mogadishu as a child in 1991.
Asad grew up travelling from place to place in various parts of east African countries and finally made his way down to South Africa in his early 20’s. His story explores many aspects of International relations theory, such as Somalia’s state collapse, the understanding of relationships between formal state institutions and undocumented people, to current challenges of xenophobia. In particular, the author refers to Asad’s experience of losing his uncle during the looting of his shop in South Africa, in which he was shot. In this experience the author delves into the sobering reality of such violence and how there is a disregard for ones belief when seeking refuge in another country. In Asad’s experience it was being seen as an alien in a land that in fact should be shared by all Africans regardless of which part of the continent one resides.