Book Reviews

Book Review: The world’s most dangerous place


J. Fergusson has a talent for shedding light in dark places and is an elegant writer with a scholarly grasp of history.

Somalia and the region known as the Horn Of Africa have long been viewed as the rotting and charred heart of the continent, where crime, corruption, poverty, famine, civil war and misery thrive.

This excellent, and well-researched book based on personal interviews and travels explains how the Somali government collapsed in 1994 with the overthrow of dictator Siad Barre.

Somalis naively believed that once Siad Barre left the country, a new democratically elected and responsible government will begin to put order in the country. What they forgot is that the country consists of clans, sub-clans, and sub-sub-clans, each of which is territorial and believes to be better than the next. Size of the clan also plays a big role in the pecking order.

Once dictator Siad Barre, left the country, the government collapsed, forcing thousands upon thousands to flee the country.

Many went to the United Kingdom, a country that had laid the foundations of inappropriate government by dividing the population and ruling.

Historically, Somalia was a prosperous country before Italians, and subsequently, the English arrived and started to exploit its agricultural riches, and take advantage of the strategic geographical situation to further their commerce and Far Eastern military objectives.

The narrative shed light on the inner workings of modern piracy, the causes, harms, benefits to locals and the economy, harm to the worldwide reputation of the country, and hoe much insurance companies doled out in 2012 to insured ship owners. ($ 146 million).

Needless to say, western consumers are paying for the increased premiums in one form or another.

The author explains how well educated, successful and patriotic Somalis are returning from Diaspora hoping to establish a functioning government.

He succeeds in producing and in-depth account of Al Shabaab, and underlying causes of terrorism in Somalia and its neighbouring countries.

Fergusson’s fist had impressions of Mogadishu, the capital, are concise, yet detailed enough and realistic, conveying a picture the reader can imagine, maybe even “smell” accompanying decrepit environment.

Even the African peacekeeping armies have a difficult time controlling the country due to infiltration, sometimes haphazard shelling, and other times planned rocket attacks made possible by morally corrupt international arms dealers and sometimes sympathetic warlords.

Anyone remotely interested in world politics anywhere should read this book to understand the plight of Somalis who cannot leave the country, or those who choose to stay, hoping to see better days.

Highly recommended.

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