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 »