Friday, 16 August 2013

The Sixth Hargeisa International Book Fair - Day One

This year's Hargeisa International Book Fair is bigger than ever. The theme is 'Journey'. Kenya is the guest country. There are Somali authors, academics, poets, singers, dancers, photographers and artists in abundance. Plus those from many other parts of the world
including Nigeria, Djibouti, Kenya, Holland, Italy, and the UK. And a supermodel from Czechoslovakia. 

Click this link to see the programme of events: Hargeisa Book Fair 2013 

The first day started with the national anthem and a welcoming speech by the organiser of the fair, Jama Musse Jama. And the Nigerian author, Chuma Nwokolo, noticing what some of the Somali men were wearing: A Sartorial Hargeisa

There was standing room only as the great Somali poet, Hadrawi, recited Sirta Nolosha (Life's Essence).

Standing room only for Hadrawi
Hadrawi in full flow

Some funny looking men appeared, thick set and wearing earpieces.

Confused looking man arrives at the book fair
Photographing the confused looking men
It turned out these confused looking men were bodyguards for the new British ambassador to Somalia, Neil Wigan, who turned up with a delegation from the British government's aid body DFID. He gave a speech in Somali.

He then spoke in English, talking about the deep links between Somaliland and the UK. He said the Somali community was one of the oldest in Britain, with its roots going back more than a century. He said "we in the UK are enormously proud of the Somaliland community", mentioning the journalist Rageh Omar, the runner Mo Farah and the author Nadifa Mohamed. He said the book fair was an example of the energy and talent in Somaliland, and its encouragement of reconciliation and cooperation across the region. He added that it gave a "hugely positive image" of Somaliland to the outside world.

Organiser of the book fair, Ayan Mahamoud, then stood up and said she had two requests, even though she understood that the ambassador couldn't give any comments.

1. The ambassador's support in resolving the crisis facing Somali remittance companies in the UK due to Barclays' decision to withdraw banking services.

(Someone in the crowd shouted out that Mr Wigan should comment on this issue, and there was a general sense of stirring in the room)

2. The ambassador's recognition of the peace and development in Somaliland.

The British ambassador speaks Somali

There's that confused looking man again


  1. Thanks, Marry, for posting your observations of Hargeisa book fair opening, though, what better covering much broader, yet, UK men u mentioned were not confused in my view but unbelievable, how their earlier perception vary realities on the ground...... any how thanks, and anticipating out meeting


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