Dad's Incredible Trek Shortlisted for Literary Prize; AUTHOR INSPIRED BY FATHER'S JOURNEY FROM AFRICA

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

Dad's Incredible Trek Shortlisted for Literary Prize; AUTHOR INSPIRED BY FATHER'S JOURNEY FROM AFRICA


Byline: ROBIN TURNER

THE amazing true story of a man who walked across scorching deserts and towering mountains from Somalia to Port Talbot is in the running for next week's pounds 30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize.

Nadifa Mohamed grew up in Somalia's second city Hargeisa listening to her father's tales of his extraordinary trek to South Wales in the late 1940s. Now aged 28 and living in London, Mohamed has woven her father's incredible story into her book Black Mamba Boy.

It is one of six shortlisted for the pounds 30,000 biannual literary award named after writer Dylan Thomas, the richest cash prize in the world for young writers.

The six, all aged under 30, who make up the competition's final shortlist gathered yesterday at Cwmdonkin Drive in Uplands, Swansea, at the lovingly restored house where Dylan Thomas was born.

The six contenders will stay at the house, brought back to its 1920s best by businessman Geoff Haden and his wife Anne, until next Wednesday when the winner will be announced.

Author Nadifa Mohamed described yesterday how she started writing Black Mamba Boy in 2005 in a rented cottage near Aberystwyth on a journey to Wales, including Port Talbot, to see where her father ended up after his odyssey from Africa.

As a destitute 10-year-old boy her father left the Port of Aden, met Mussolini's fascists, who at that time controlled parts of east Africa, then went largely on foot but sometimes by camel, lorry and train through Eritrea and Sudan to Egypt.

At one point he asked a traveller how far it was to Kano, a city in Nigeria he was heading for, and was told: "Three years' walk".

He eventually made his way to Palestine and it was from the seething port he got on board a ship bound for Port Talbot docks and arrived in the steel town on a chilly day in September 1947.

He decided to end his journey, which initially began with him trying to find his missing father, in South Wales.

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