Tiger Worku: A life in progress

I review the memoir Mosaic Republic by the 21-year-old candidate for Minneapolis city council Ward 6. Tiger Worku celebrated his 21st birthday just yesterday, as he continues his campaign.

The Minneapolis Democratic party (DFL) has indicated that the twice-postponed virtual Ward 6 convention will be held, in person, on Saturday, July 22. Worku is one of the candidates challenging incumbent council member Jamal Osman for Democratic party endorsement.

At a compact 148 pages, the apparently self-published autobiography was released by Worku a little over a year ago, at age 19. I suppose it is too much to ask for Mosaic Republic to stand up to Speak, Memory.

Still, Worku is well ahead of the pace set by former President Barack Obama, who is first mentioned on page 8 of Mosaic Republic.

Obama, who published his first memoir Dreams From My Father at a relatively mature 34, followed up at age 45 with The Audacity of Hope, and at age 59 with A Promised Land. So we should expect more to come from young Mr. Worku.

He begins Mosaic with his first day of kindergarten in the Minneapolis public school system. Worku’s own Presidential ambitions and interest in government first appear on page 16. Early attempts to enter student government fall short.

On page 18, Bernie Sanders appears and inspires our hero from afar,

If there was a single person or message that got me into politics, it revolved around Bernie Sanders.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar appears first on page 21. Worku’s political career begins in earnest, with PowerPoint presentations and protest marches. Greta Thunberg arrives on page 22 to steer Worku’s energies towards climate advocacy (but, alas, away from schoolwork). Later, Worku has praise for Congresswoman Alexendria Ocasio-Cortez (p. 102) and Dr. Anthony Fauci (p. 127).

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupts Worku’s senior year. Worku joins the George Floyd protests and says he was tear-gassed twice and hit with a rubber bullet.

Chapter 2 is given over to an eighth-grade civil rights complaint he files arising from a schoolyard brawl.

In the course of the book, he mentions his parents (Ethiopian immigrants, he lost his dad to cancer at a very young age), a step-father is implied, a brother, a sister and a cousin appear in the narrative. But not a single relative is assigned a name.

Politicians, teachers, doctors, neighbors, friends, and other adults are given names. A high school crush merits a name, as does everyone involved in a childhood incident detailed in Chapter 2.

A self-described “C Student” (chapter 4’s title), Worku describes his recent experiences with the tender mercies of the Minneapolis Public School system. He correctly recognizes that the system suffers from structural failure. However, he attributes the failures to weak teachers unions (p. 78) or the influence of the “for-profit industrial prison complex” (p.80), and others far from the scene.

He believes that children should be given the option to opt out of courses such as algebra and chemistry (p.78).

Chapter 5 covers his lobbying for the Green New Deal at the state level. He attributes the failure of the legislation back then to Republicans and Democratic “moderates. He goes as far as declaring (p. 118) that “The only solution is a revolution.”

Nineteen-year-old Worku will be pleased to learn that all of his dream bills (and more) were passed by the Minnesota legislature in 2023.

Chapter 6 begins with his impressions of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent riots. Yet, Worku seems to make no connection between the incidents that summer and the harrowing episode from Chapter 3 (pages 65-67) where he and his friends had to defend his property (community defense) from George Floyd rioters.

Unfortunately for Worku, his book ends in failure as he recounts his sudden rise and fall as the head of the Seward neighborhood association.

In a book almost entirely written in cliches and metaphors, I’ll summarize Mosaic Republic using two of my own paraphrased cliches.

From Tallyrand, he has learning nothing and forgotten nothing. And attributed to Twain, the problem isn’t what he doesn’t know, it’s what he knows for sure that just isn’t so.

I suppose the biggest problem with self-publishing is the lack of a reliable editor. Typos, spelling errors, and other mistakes abound. But overall, Worku demonstrates his mastery of the English language in print, as he has in his many video appearances.

He’ll go far, this one.

But as for his book, I resist the temptation to grade on a curve (owing to his extreme youth) and I give Mosaic Republic a grade of “incomplete.”

Mosaic Republic is available in hardcover at Amazon and other fine retailers.