Archive for July, 2012

Hargeisa Book Fair – Arts, Culture and so much more

Written by admin on July 30th, 2012

British ambassador, Matt Baugh, receives a traditional gift from the organizer. Photo by Mary Harper

By Matt Baugh

And so to Hargeisa for the Hargeisa International Book Fair, an inspiring gathering of artists, authors, poets and more. Established by Jama Musse Jama and organized by the wonderful Ayan Mahamoud and her excellent team, the Book Fair is now in its fifth year.

Hargeisa may have no theatre, no permanent library and no cinema, but this literary festival is rapidly becoming a global phenomenon. Literature, poetry, film, music, theatre, are all celebrated here, building on Somaliland’s proud oral tradition; its already inviting very favourable comparisons to the UK’s own Hay Festival. This year’s festival saw the publication of a new collection of Somali proverbs. Edited by Georgi Kapchits, formerly of Radio Moscow, this new collection, entitled ‘Somalis Do Not Lie in Proverbs‘, is designed to make sure that the Somali oral tradition is given the recognition it deserves.

The Hargeisa working men’s club, decked in the Somaliland colours, provides the setting for the Book Fair’s popular presentations and discussions, while outside busy stalls and makeshift tents display books in Somali and English, organic fruit and locally-made textiles; Coca Cola is also very much on display – courtesy of the new bottling plant in Hargeisa. Among the throng – and it really is very, very busy – you can find Somali translations of Chekhov or English translations of the essays of Galaal. Copies of Mary Harper’s important new book, ‘Getting Somalia Wrong‘ were, I am reliably told by the author, sold out – twice. Read the rest of this entry »

Somaliland’s Hargeisa book festival celebrates fifth year

Written by admin on July 30th, 2012

Somaliland’s Hargeisa book festival celebrates fifth year
Horn of Africa’s answer to Hay-on-Wye fills cultural void for young in country where 70% of population are under 30!

Mark Tran of The Guardian reports from Hargeisa.

It is an unlikely spot for a literary festival, a town of half a million people with no theatre and no cinema. But Hargeisa is carving out a reputation as the Horn of Africa’s answer to Hay-on-Wye by attracting readers and writers from around the world to its book fair.

Ensuring that Somaliland’s oral tradition endures is one of the motivating factors behind the Hargeisa book fair, the brainchild of Jama Musse Jama, a senior analyst with a computer science company who lives in Pisa, Italy.

The event – now in its fifth year – celebrates not just literature but theatre, film and music, as well as showing off Somaliland’s local products from fruit to its version of Coca-Cola.

Held in the working men’s club in central Hargeisa, the presentations are given in a packed hall, with red, green and white streamers – the colours of the national flag – on the ceiling where the white paint is visibly peeling.

Read the article on The Guardian

The Sixth and Final Day of the Hargeisa International Book Fair

Written by admin on July 30th, 2012

Photo by Mary Harper

By Mary Harper
This was the young people’s day. In the morning we had presentations from the young regional Readers’ Clubs. They had come to the book fair from all over Somaliland and beyond, including Sweden. They spoke passionately about reading. I gave each of them a copy of the BBC Network Africa Proverb Book which seemed especially poignant as this was Network Africa’s final week on air.

We then received a surprise visit from the British ambassador to Somaliland, Matt Baugh, the head of DFID Somalia, the British deputy ambassador to Ethiopia and others. They strolled around the book fair looking at the books, art, fruit and other items on sale. It was all very relaxed and they did not arrive with a big security apparatus (at least not one that I could see).

Read more on Mary Harper’s blog

Updates on Hargeysa International Book Fair and the Moving Library

Written by admin on July 3rd, 2012

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