By Steve Braker
Hassan Alakija Bio
Fisherman / Huslter
Born: late sixties
Place of Birth: Pemba Island, Tanzania
Mother: Swahili, Father: Swahili
Education: Self Taught
I know so many people here in Mombasa who are just like Hassan. The Kenyan culture is a hustle culture; everyone is out to make a buck before lunch! I based Hassan on all of these energetic people who make my days in Old Town Mombasa so much fun. I never put a picture of my idea of what any of my characters look like as I think we all have our version of Hassan and I do not want to take that away from you. These are not movies they are books the hero can look however you wish.
Hassan is about 23 years old, but his birth was not officially recorded. He was born on Pemba Island just off the coast of Tanzania. But he always knew he wanted to see more than just the island; this is one of the reasons he latched onto Brody as he saw it as a way to get his freedom. He is five foot four inches tall, with a slim build and long arms and legs; a bit gangly we would say. He has lived out in the open his whole life, so he has a nut-brown face and enjoys smiling. His white kanzu hangs off him like clothes on a scarecrow and he usually wears a brightly colored Swahili kofir, a cylindrical hat with a flat top. He is not violent at all and prefers to live a peaceful life, whenever he comes across conflict he tries to talk or deal his way out of it. He is shy around people, especially women, and finds Wanjiku especially difficult. He is a devoted Muslim and prays five times daily, just like his father and grandfather. I try to bring the wonderful side of the Muslim faith out in Hassan, he is kind and helpful. He has also chosen to live with two non-believers which is a sign of his faith and how he believes in the Koran.
His father and grandfather taught him seamanship and is an excellent captain, the best onboard Shukran. I try to bring this side of him out in African Paradise and African Vengeance, where he is the only one who can truly sail Shukran when the weather picks up or a storm appears. Like most seamen I know, he is quiet and unassuming but incredibly brave out in the ocean. Hassan is a very good person to have around you when you are in trouble in the ocean. When I am writing about the Indian Ocean, I try to bring out the fact that there is no coast guard or navy or anyone that will come and help if you get into trouble. Hassan lives and breathes the ocean it is the only place he is truly happy.
Hassan was taught to cook by his mother. He loves to make Swahili meals which Brody really enjoys. Hassan is the unofficial quartermaster of Shukran he is also the cook. He worries much more than Gumbao or Brody and is the cautious one among the crew. He is a very good fisherman he ran a dhow in Pemba for many years. Brody and Hassan first met in African Slaver, where Hassan is running his dhow for fishing and tourist trips.
He is very family-orientated, always keeping in touch with his mother and father. Whenever they go into port Hassan is the one who finds an uncle to visit who will usually help the team as much as possible. The Swahilis are a trading and fishing tribe. Over the hundreds of years they have been plying the coast of Africa they have spread their families far and wide.
I introduce Hassan in African Slaver where he initially tries to hustle Brody and make a few dollars from him as he does with the other tourists. Their relationship changes when Brody helps to rescue the girls from Captain Farage who wants to sell them into slavery in Somalia. Then in African Treasure, I solidify their relationship as Brody helps Hassan and his family defeat a sheik who has come to the island to promote sharia law. This, in my mind, formalizes their friendship and makes the transition from tourist and hustler to friends. Then in African Paradise, I try to bring out Hassan’s seamanship qualities and also move him up in the group so they are all equals just working together as a team. Brody is a natural leader so Hassan does follow him but only because he believes in him and what he is doing. I always want to show that the crew of Shukran are there because they want to be and everyone has a valid voice. A true democracy.
In African Ivory, Hassan’s boating skills are increased as he is manning the speedboat which has a totally different skill set. In African Vengeance, I concentrate on Brody and Hassan’s relationship, in the story Brody cannot get Hassan out of his mind and how he caused him to be shot. I am trying to show the development of friendship between the two men.
Overall, I would like Hassan to be on my side in life. He is a good guy that will have your back even if it puts him in danger. He is honest and hard-working.
The East Coast of Africa
Somali in the North, then Kenya and Tanzania. Two thousand miles of open ocean, full of tropical islands and sandy beaches.
A place to get lost in and live a life of freedom
Steve Braker Books
The William Brody Thriller Series