Hassan Ghedi Santur’s “The Youth of God”

Hassan Ghedi Santur’s second novel The Youth of God launched at the Columbia Global Centres, Nairobi on June 27, 2019.

Hassan Ghedi Santur, who emigrated from Somalia to Canada as a teenager, has a BA in English Literature and an MA in journalism from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He has worked as a radio journalist for CBC Radio and is currently the managing editor of Bright Magazine. His debut novel Something Remains was published in 2010 followed by the 2017 nonfiction Maps of Exile.

The Somali-Canadian’s newest novel is called The Youth of God. While prompting the new book a few days ago we referenced its blurb;

The Youth of God tells the story of Nuur, a sensitive and academically gifted seventeen-year-old boy growing up in Toronto’s Somali neighbourhood, as he negotiates perilously between the calling of his faith and his intellectual ambitions. Trying to influence him are a radical Muslim imam and a book-loving, dedicated teacher who shares his background. In its telling, this novel reveals the alienated lives of Somali youth in an environment riddled with crime and unemployment, while still in the grip of bitter memories of a home left behind. This intensely moving novel is also a powerful allegory of the struggle for the soul of Islam in modern times.

Nairobians were present in droves for the launch of the new book at the Columbia Global Centres where they were welcomed by director Dr Murugi Ndirangu. The centre as she informed us, and we are paraphrasing here, is part of the initiative of famed US Columbia University to ensure their presence is felt across the globe. The author Hassan Ghedi Santur as well as the moderator for the evening Abdi Latif Dahir were both alumni of the Columbia journalism school which is partly why they were being welcomed so warmly. Dr Ndirangu called out for other alumni of Columbia University to reach out to them; if this is your alma mater here’s your chance to rekindle your glorious student days.

The event then started with Quartz reporter Abdi Latif Dahir who was in the role of emcee and moderator introducing our author. He invited him to read an excerpt from the book that you can find here.


With the reading done, the question and answer session commenced starting with insightful questions from our moderator. He asked about the book and what he was trying to achieve, his influences as a Canadian and Somali, and lots more. The floor was then open to the audience and there were even more intelligent questions that the author dealt with. You can watch the session in its entirety below here recorded on my trusty cellphone


After this audience members bought copies of the book courtesy of Prestige Books and had them signed by the author as they enjoyed the cocktail.