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Radiolab Presents: Anna in Somalia

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 01:45 AM

This week, we are presenting a story from NPR foreign correspondent Gregory Warner and his new globe-trotting podcast Rough Translation.

Mohammed was having the best six months of his life - working a job he loved, making mixtapes for his sweetheart - when the communist Somali regime perp-walked him out of his own home, and sentenced him to a lifetime of solitary confinement.  With only concrete walls and cockroaches to keep him company, Mohammed felt miserable, alone, despondent.  But then one day, eight months into his sentence, he heard a whisper, a whisper that would open up a portal to - of all places and times - 19th century Russia, and that would teach him how to live and love again. 

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Comments [12]

Sofia Berg from NYC

What is the song played in the beginning of the story?

Oct. 24 2017 01:29 PM
curtis from Kyoto

I was working on a presentation on how stories are powerful. As EO Wilson said, they are manuals about how to live our lives. People who rad a lot of fiction, for instance, are better at understanding others. In addition, our brains handle complexity through metaphor and we hear stories as metaphors for our own lives. I was trying to figure out how to explain this in my speech, and took break. I went for a bicycle ride and started listening to this wonderful piece about a story inside a story inside a story. It gave me an answer to my speech problem and also a way to reframe the fight I was having with my wife the same time.

Sep. 17 2017 05:05 AM
Rowan from Santa Fe, NM

This is one of the most extraordinary things I've ever heard. I cried. It's just amazing to me what human beings are capable of- the empathy and kindness, the ingenuity. That these men found a way to survive and retain their sanity in such a horrific situation is truly amazing. Thank you for this one. It really meant a lot.

Sep. 15 2017 04:19 PM
Anne Schwartz from NJ

As explained at the beginning of the podcast, Jad and Robert were introducing a NEW podcast by one of their contributors called Rough Translation. It will involve experiences that connect Americans to people in other countries. That is a fantastic theme!!! I commend you on presenting this to your listeners. I immediately subscribed to the new podcast. That is why this particular podcast had nothing to do with science or their regular themes. It's nice to try out new podcasts. Broadens one's experiences. Kudos!

Sep. 15 2017 03:13 PM
Juliette Rocheleau from Chicago, IL

Can you share the name of the author reading the passages of Tolstoy? Having trouble identifying her.

Sep. 13 2017 07:41 PM
Ana Paula Giubilato from São Paulo / Brazil

Beautiful story, just love it.

Sep. 13 2017 05:11 PM
Ken Clean Air system from parts unknown

Is it me or does an awful lot of these recent podcasts seem to be mostly rebroadcasts of older episodes or repackaged podcasts from non-Radiolab sources. Looks like going forward we can expect only 1 or 2 deep dives into science related maters per year. My hand is slowly drifting toward the 'unsubscribe' button.

Sep. 13 2017 12:10 PM
John from USA

Did Gregory Warner really ask "Why books?"?

IT'S PRISON.

Sep. 13 2017 10:06 AM
Virginia from San Francisco

Is it possible the name of the song playing at 4:02 could be shared and/or some of Mohammad’s mixtapes?

Thank you

Sep. 13 2017 08:44 AM
Anna from Bellingham, WA

I really enjoyed the artistry that went into producing this episode. Such an engaging story... to know that a piece of literature from over a century ago, knocked through improvised code, mutually preserved two political prisoners' will to live... simply incredible.

Sep. 12 2017 03:49 PM
derek cernak from winston-salem, nc

confined within the cell walls of my own madness, empathizing the perceived, anticipated, or imagined heartbeats of every character around me...

confronting time lost, and my inability to translate and broadcast my love beyond the prisons of the everyday... as usual, this one touched me deeply. thanks guys

Sep. 12 2017 03:35 PM
Colin from Nova Scotia

Such a captivating personal experience brought to light. Although it doesn't seem to follow much of the content here on radiolab, I do think it was refreshing to have this story which explores humanity's tie to literature, and the importance of sharing stories. It's also a great example of how the work of an author can live on with such a powerful impact on people's lives.

Sep. 12 2017 09:02 AM

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