Nuruddin Farah: Maps


The latest addition to my website is Nuruddin Farah‘s Maps. This novel is somewhat different from many of his others, as it focuses on an earlier part of Somali history, the war between Ethiopia and Somalia over Ogaden. The focus is very nationalistic, in that the Somalis feel that, unlike the Ethiopians, they are a unified race and that a Greater Somaliland, incorporating all the areas where Somalis live, should be created. We see this through the eyes of Askar, a boy who, like Farah, lives in Kelafo (this book calls it Kallafo), in Ogaden. Askar’s mother died giving birth to him, on her own, and the pair was found by a servant, Misra, who rescued Askar. He is brought up by Askar, who is of Ethiopian origin and, while this is not an issue for him, it does become an issue for Misra and others. Askar and Misra are very close indeed and she brings him up like her own child and he clings to her. This close relationship is key to the first part of the book. However, when a bit older, Askar goes off to Mogadishu to live with his uncle and his uncle’s wife and he becomes more obsessed with the war. However, Misra turns up in Mogadishu, having been driven out of Ogaden, while Askar is wondering whether to go to university or join the liberation fighters. Identity, both national and personal, are the key themes of this book, as Askar tries to find who he is.

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