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Black Mamba Boy by NADIFA MOHAMED

Black Mamba Boy (original 2010; edition 2010)


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1701069,943 (3.53)66
Title:Black Mamba Boy
Info:HARPERCOLLINS (2010), Paperback
Collections:Wishlist, Audiobooks
Tags:Library Book, Audiobook

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Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed (2010)



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This story, supposedly based on the experiences of the author's father, tells of Jama, a Somali boy whose first experiences in life are of poverty, hunger and grief. Jama lives with his mother and distant relatives in Aden, where his mother works in a coffee factory. When she dies, Jama is alone. He sets out to find his father, whom he has been told is working in Sudan. Over the period from the thirties to the late 1940's, Jama wanders across East Africa and the middle east, offering an inside view of the tumult of war and the pain of poverty, but also the rich cultures of the area. As he does so, Jama grows from an orphan child into an adult who learns to make his own decisions.

Overall, this book is full of vivid imagery and illumination of history from an "inside" perspective. Jama's character is not especially deep or engaging, but the events he experiences keep the reader engaged. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
This book tells the most incredible story of a young Somali man who spends his early life traveling from Aden to to Somalia to the Sudan to Egypt and back again. The character is based on Mohamed's father and though I thought the writing was a little clunky, it's an amazing, eye opening journey. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
I found this novel hard to get into but I persevered and once I got a quarter of a way in I found i kept turning the pages and enjoying it. It was sad, but real and that is what kept me intrigued. I found the over use of descriptive words bothersome and I wish I had a vocabulary / glossary so that I could understand what some of the Somalian / African words meant. The story was set in 1930s Somalia spanning a decade of war and upheaval, all seen through the eyes of a small boy alone in the world. Aden,1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world. Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of east Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere. And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camp, across the seas to Britain and freedom. This story of one boy's long walk to freedom is also the story of how the Second World War affected Africa and its people; a story of displacement and family. A lot goes on in this story and you find yourself really getting to know the characters of Jama, Shidane and Abdi. ( )
1 vote rata | Feb 23, 2015 |
This is the author's first novel. It a semi biographical account of her grandfather's life. Jama, a eleven year old boy in Aden a costal town in Yemen, lives with his mother who works in the local coffee bean factory in 1935. The boy and his mother live on the terrace of their relatives. The mother and the boy are ill treated by their relatives and so he runs away from home to live on the streets. He grows up on the street and after his mother dies of tuberculosis returns to his hometown in Somalia. East Africa at that time is governed by Italians and as the Second World War approaches, Jama is recruited in the army as a foot soldier. As the Italians suffer heavy losses and are on the verge of defeat at the hand of the British, Jama deserts from the army and starts a shop in a small town in Eritrea where he meets and fall in love with a girl whom he eventually marries. But Jama again travels to Egypt to find work in merchant navy ships but eventually finds his way back to his family.

This story gives us an insight into the Somali lifestyle and their struggle during a difficult time (Second World War). The writing is mediocre but the subject is quite interesting hence it is a page turner. ( )
1 vote mausergem | Jul 29, 2014 |
Really enjoyed this book but it was a bit too long. ( )
  Carolinejyoung | Aug 30, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374114196, Hardcover)

Yemen, 1935. Jama is a “market boy,” a half-feral child scavenging with his friends in the dusty streets of a great seaport. For Jama, life is a thrilling carnival, at least when he can fill his belly. When his mother—alternately raging and loving—dies young, she leaves him only an amulet stuffed with one hundred rupees. Jama decides to spend her life’s meager savings on a search for his never-seen father; the rumors that travel along clan lines report that he is a driver for the British somewhere in the north. So begins Jama’s extraordinary journey of more than a thousand miles north all the way to Egypt, by camel, by truck, by train, but mostly on foot. He slings himself from one perilous city to another, fiercely enjoying life on the road and relying on his vast clan network to shelter him and point the way to his father, who always seems just a day or two out of reach.

In his travels, Jama will witness scenes of great humanity and brutality; he will be caught up in the indifferent, grinding machine of war; he will crisscross the Red Sea in search of working papers and a ship. Bursting with life and a rough joyfulness, Black Mamba Boy is debut novelist Nadifa Mohamed’s vibrant, moving celebration of her family’s own history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:21 -0400)

Fending for himself after the death of his young mother, wild youth Jama of 1935 Yemen dedicates his scant resources to tracking down the father he never met, a one thousand-mile trek toward Egypt that subjects him to the perils and adventures of the open road.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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