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Reading ‘The Shock of the Fall’ in Mogadishu

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2015-08-14 10.45.20

The book: The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer

The place: Mogadishu


I am writing from the coffee shop of Mogadishu International Airport, which is astoundingly swanky: comfy thrones and posh lamps and flat-screen TVs and decent coffee, plus a nice view of the runway (hopefully meaning that I won’t miss my flight) and the sea beyond. I’m still impressed by the fact that this airport was constructed and operational in a matter of months, while Juba Airport has been languishing unfinished since 2011, when they missed the deadline of having it ready by independence and so everyone flung up their hands and gave up on it. (Juba Airport is now closed at weekends for the next several months, and rumour has it that the new terminal will be completed during that time, but I will believe it when I see it.)

It’s been a decent week in Mogadishu, lots of meetings, good work progress and pleasant weather, meaning that I haven’t even needed to sleep with AC. One of the most interesting parts of the week was a meeting with Hormuud yesterday, Somalia’s premier mobile network operator: an entirely homegrown enterprise (because, I assume, the international MNOs didn’t or don’t have the risk tolerance to operate here), with an impressive CSR commitment, and which covers the vast majority of the country. Working together with the banks they’ve implemented Mobile Money to such an extent that now beggars use it to collect donations, standing up outside the mosques displaying the numbers to which money can be sent, while NGOs and international agencies are distributing vouchers for food and household goods to IDPs using mobile phone technology. It’s all terribly impressive: Somalis are an enterprising bunch.

Still finding it hard to settle to a single book, in large part because I have had a lot of (good) company this week and have therefore spent many of my evenings rewatching the entirety of Spaced and messing about on YouTube. I started Mary Renault’s The Mask of Apollo, which has just been published as an ebook, and which I’ve wanted to read ever since Nicola Marlowe mentions it in one of the Kingscote books, but I wasn’t really feeling it and so have switched to Nathan Filer’s The Shock of the Fall instead, which I am enjoying, but making slow progress on. The next little while is going to be pretty full-on, workwise, so we’ll see how far I get, though flights are always good for reading progress.


Written by Jess

August 14, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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