In January 1991, when civil war came to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, two-thirds of the city’s population fled. Among them was eight-year-old Asad Abdullahi. His mother murdered by a militiaman, his father somewhere in hiding, he was swept into the great wartime migration that scattered the Somali people throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the world.
Serially betrayed by the people who promised to care for him, Asad lived his childhood at a sceptical remove from the adult world, his relation to others wary and tactical.
By the time he had reached the cusp of adulthood, Asad had honed an array of wily talents. At the age of seventeen, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, he made good as a street hustler. He also courted the famously beautiful Foosiya and, to the astonishment of his peers, married her. Buoyed by success in work and in love, Asad put $1 200 into his pocket and made his way down the length of the African continent to Johannesburg, South Africa. And so began a shocking adventure in a country richer and more violent than he could possibly have imagined