Last year while visiting Portland, Maine and stumbled upon Longfellow Books. Always gravitating toward local and regional authors when I’m far from home, the bookseller recommended “Call Me American” by Abdi Nor Iftin.
As soon as I opened the book and quickly read the author’s dedication to his mother, I knew I had to buy it and learn about his journey from war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia to Portland, Maine in the United States.
“This book is for my proud nomad mother, who saved me. Mom, you nursed my bloody feet after I had walked for miles with you without shoes; you gave me hope with your stories of brave life in the bush; and when I rested my head on a graveyard full of kids my age, you would not let me join them. Your strength kept me alive in the city of the dead. Now I am safe in America. So long as we both live, I will return that strength and support to you.”Abdi Nor Iftin, Call Me American
After reading the dedication, don’t you want to learn more?
Abdi Nor Iftin’s remarkable story escorts the reader from tribal, nomadic life in a peaceful Somalia to a war-torn, nightmare-ish hellhole, and eventually to the USA.
“Call Me American” filled in many history gaps for me because I was obviously more concerned with my bangs in the late 80s than what was happening in Somalia. During that time period, I worked at a research institute at the University of South Carolina where several students from Somalia walked past me in the halls each day. I do remember how upset they were about news stories coming out of Somalia, but it never occurred to me to ask or do any research of my own.
For this, I am ashamed.
I hope you’ll consider reading “Call Me American.” I highly recommend this gripping and inspiring story.
This video is also helpful to watch before or after you read the book.