Black Mamba boy is a book by Nadifa Mohamed to memoir fictitiously the life of her father as a child. It traces the life of a young boy from Somalia in the 1930s British Somaliland going north in a quest to find his father after his mothers death. His father who was a restless dreamer had abandoned mother and child and was reputed to work in Sudan, is presented as a figure of foundation which is actually what the young boy, Jama, seeks. The book is richly illuminating of the dire conditions of poverty and famine in Somaliland and the dearth which was created by the harrowing natural conditions besides struggles to survive Mussolini’s armies and the threat of war. It captures the inner strengths of the people and the will to survive despite the overwhelmingly difficult conditions. Mohamed Nadifa’s debut novel is awe inspiring and a very interesting read with great description and attention to detail while overreaching experiences are immortalized. It serves its purpose of fictitious memoir of his father.
The book focuses on the lives of the people especially the proletariat of North East Africa. It surrounds the life of Jama, the Black Mamba boy, and his interaction with the people around him. As he embarks on a journey to find his father he shows the lives of people and the conditions which they are abandoned to it. The main theme being the desire to find identity and establish a foundation in a land one can call their own. Jama pursues this identity when he is looking for his father. He seeks to find identity which is pt in parallel to the search of his father. He does not find his father although manages to discover that the fatherland is not where his father is but the land which he chooses to belong to. As he embarks on the ship to England he has chosen an identity for himself besides the fact that he sought his father. The book focuses on the themes that are aligned to the generally normal lives of people who are struggling to, make ends meet in a land that is full of despair.
Its plot is woven around the life of Jama and his journey from Yemeni northwards. It is a journey of wit and a struggle to survive. A journey in which Jama learns a lot from experiences and acquaintances that enrich his life and perceptions as he migrates through the various lands. Jama who has always managed to find his way around ever since childhood makes good his capacity to establish friend ships and intriguingly derive answers to questions that he goes out looking for. The book is mainly twisted into a linear plot with very few subplots’ that builds the main theme around the journey. It focuses on the Life of Jama in retrospect to experiences and the journey of his life.
The major characters are Jama a boy who is named Goode (Black mamba) by his mother after a huge snake slithers over her pregnant belly without causing her harm. The boy is basically the main character who seeks out his father Guure living up north. Guure is a restless dreamer who abandons his family and goes up north towards Sudan for work and other thrills that life has to offer. He symbolizes an identity and a foundation on which Jama seeks to buttress his future when he finds him. Jama’s mother, Amabro, is a modest woman who tries to raise her son besides the odds that the society makes obstacles. She takes her son back to her native land after life becomes hard and her sudden death sprouts the ambitions of her son to make out a position for him in the world.
In conclusion, the story is interestingly woven with notions of the intricate relationships of men who are depraved and troubled by the tragedies that nature challenges their lives with. It examines the purpose of life and how we can make lemonades out of lemons and define our future not in the traditional institutions of fatherhood and homeland. It requires us to take opportunities as they offer themselves and seize the future from the chips we have.