Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin

Jul 16, 2018

As a child in Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin learned English by watching American action-hero films and listening to American pop stars.  His love of all things American  earned him the nickname Abdi American. But when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, familiarity with Western culture became something to hide.  Abdi began sending secret dispatches to NPR about worsening conditions in Somalia. After a long and arduous journey, Abdi found his way from Mogadishu to Maine, where he works as an interpreter while attending college.  

We'll talk with Abdi about his life here in the United States and about life in Somalia, one of the countries covered under the travel ban recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Most of his family remains in Somalia. 

For more on Abdi Nor Iftin

In this piece for the Washington Post, he argues that Muslim victims of terrorism deserve more attention. 

Foreign correspondent Paul Salopek describes receiving emails from Abdi about the "indignities of survival in a country that hasn't had a functional government since 1991 -- virtually his entire young life." 

Listen to "Meeting Abdi," an interview with journalist Paul Salopek about his experience getting to know Abdi Nor Iftin. 

And This American Life tells the tale of how Abdi won the green-card lottery, only to face more harrowing experiences in Nairobi, Kenya before finally making it to America.