By Goth M. Goth
The Vice President HE Abdurrahman Abdillahi Ismail “Salyi’i “was among the hundreds of people attending the opening ceremony of the 14th Hargeisa International Book Fair which started on Saturday of July 24, 2021 and is continue upto the 29th of this month at the Hargeisa cultural center .
The Hargeisa International Book Fair is an annual cultural event in Hargeisa. The week-long event, which was first run in 2008, is now unarguably the biggest literary festival in the Horn of Africa with thousands attending.
This year, the festival which is themed as ‘Good neighborhood’ will run between 24th up to 29th July 2021.
This annual festival is run by Redsea Cultural Foundation.
The founder of the Hargeisa International Book Fair Dr. Jama Musse Jama officially welcoming the guests and delegates of this year said, “I would like to thank all our distinguished guests and to give special thanks to the Vice president of Somaliland who always inaugurates the opening of the book fair”. Mr. Jama is CEO of Redsea Cultural Foundation.
One of the unique features of the festival is the Guest Country, which has this year Ethiopia, where many writers, poets, and other artists from that country make an appearance and exhibit their unique culture and history.
This year, the festival’s special Guest country, Ethiopia, has a special relation with Somaliland as it’s the biggest neighbor and trade partner with Somaliland.
Dr. Jama Muse Jama noted in his speech that, “What makes Hargeisa International Book Fair different is that we celebrate art , love , tolerance and neighborhood, and most importantly we celebrate our audience”.
The festival has in the last decade featured Special Guest countries from Djibouti (2012), the United Kingdom (2013), Malawi (2014), Nigeria (2015), Ghana (2016), South Africa (2017), Rwanda (2018), and Egypt in 2019 which was the last time the Festival was inaugurated as the 12 edition of Hargeisa International Book Fair.
The 13th Edition of the Festival was cancelled in 2020 due to the global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic .
The VP speaking during the opening ceremony said, “First, I would like to thank all those participants from neighboring and other foreign countries who are here today attending this prestigious event”. He added “Secondly, I would to take this opportunity to laud Mr. Jama Muse Jama and his team for their relentless efforts in making this event a realty and by promoting the country through the eyes of the fair. This event brings together artists, poets and writers from all four corners of the world”.
Opposition leader Abdirahman Abdillahi Mohamed aka Irro noted his elation of attending the fair hence urged the wider readership of books, especially lauding those exhibited of Somali language.
Dr. Sa’ad Ali Shire, the Minister of Finance speaking during the opening event said, “I would start by welcoming those entire international guests to the capitol of Somaliland, a beacon of peace and democracy in Africa”.
He added, “I would like you to not only enjoy this event but also sample the country’s cultural heritage.
Even though the title of the event is the Hargeisa International Book Fair is in fact more than a book fair, gathered here are scholars, poets, artists, politicians and authors which is more than what you have in a typical book fair hence my suggestion we call it Hargeisa International Cultural and Bookfair and add an awards component to the fair such as the Booker or Pulitzer Prizes”, he said.
Dr. Sa’ad Ali Shire said that through such prizes “we could recognize the works of the best authors and will enable to broaden the further reach and scope of the event, that is food for thought for future fairs. In my opening remarks, I did not forget to thank the organizers of the event; especially I would like to thank Mr. Jama Muse Jama for conceiving the idea behind the book fair and promoting the idea by turning it into reality that requires lots of dedication and a flexible mindset especially when you are a mathematician such as Mr. Jama Muse Jama”.
He posed, “Ladies and Gentlemen, if someone asked me today what has Somaliland contributed to the World lately, I would say it’s the Hargeisa International Book Fair which is the mother of many book fairs in the region and beyond. The theme of this year’s book fair is “Neighborhood” through cultural and literary exchange we can consolidate our good neighborly relationship with Ethiopia”.
Dr. Edna Aden speaking during the event said, “I would like to thank God for letting the Republic of Somaliland for pioneering and holding book fairs in this part of the world while recognizing the fact that all this won’t be happening without the initiative of Mr. Jama Muse Jama and his coworkers at the Red Sea Cultural Foundation”.
Mr. Abdirashid Dualeh of Dahabshiil Group of Companies speaking during the opening ceremony of 14th Hargeisa International Book Fair said, “I would like to thank the organizers and all those taking part in the 14th Hargeisa International Book Fair. We at Dahabshiil group of companies have over the past 13 years been promoting this cultural and literary event together with Somali Week which is held in the UK each year with the aim of promoting our culture, religion and values”.
Dr. Hibo Moumin Assoweh, Djiboutian Minister of Culture and Youth Affairs, speaking at the event said, “Artist, scholars, poets, youth, photographers and filmmakers from the Republic of Djibouti are taking part in this year’s Hargeisa Book Fair”.
Amb. Allen Chenhwa Lou, Taiwan Ambassador to the Republic of Somaliland said, “We are supporting Somaliland in the areas of agriculture and technology and by cooperating with the government hence we also respect cultural integration”.
Amb. Said Jibril, the Ethiopian Ambassador to Somaliland on his part said, “The Ethiopian government is continuously supporting and working closely with the people of Somaliland on social-economic developments such as the Berbera port and also share deep cultural history”.
Amb. Nicholas Berlanga, EU ambassador said, “The best way to bridge communities and peoples is culture and we congratulate Mr. Jama Muse Jama and Hargeisa Cultural Center on organizing this cultural event and we will support the establishment of a cultural center in the port city of Berbera”.
Councilor Abdikarim Ahmed Mooge, the Mayor of Hargeisa said, “On behalf of the people of Hargeisa, let me welcome all the Hargeisa International Book Fair guests and delegates to our city and the hospitality it offers and the peaceful tradition of hosting”.
Hargeisa International Book Fair-24-29 July 2021, Somaliland, Hargeisa
The 14th instalment of the annual Hargeisa International Book Fair has started and, will be held from the 24th to 29th of July, in Hargeisa, Somaliland. The theme of the year is Neighborhood and the guest country is Ethiopia. Our previous themes have included coexistence, Wisdom, Connectivity, Freedom, Censorship, Citizenship, Collective memory, Visualization the future, journey, Imagination, Spaces and Leadership & Creativity. Over the years we have welcomed Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Djibouti, Kenya, UK, South Africa and the last Gust country was Egypt in 2019 before Covid-19 forced the missing on the 2020 HIBF.
Neighbourhood: The Theme of the Year (2021)
In the West, the concept of the neighbourhood has been considered in the past a utopian approach to create a residential community, socially and spatially, in which the sense of community as existed in a pre-industrial cities prevails. In the nomadic society, where the continuing movement along with one’s own livestock removes the boundary concept, in a vast quite infinitive space, and therefore lack of meaningful physical limitation to measure the neighbor distance that one gives in the cities. These overlapping and apparently conflicting concepts made us to choose as theme of the 14th Hargeisa International Book Fair and ask ourselves what is a neighborhood? The fear or feeling safe with our neighbor? In fiction how we imagine the neighbourhod? What does the state of neighbourhood tell us about the wellbeing of the city as a whole? Of the region as whole? As boundaries, national and international? What kind of methodologies are most effective in terms of engaging with residents, and understanding neighborhood dynamics? Are there specific indicators that might be identified as evidence of “healthy”, “desirable” or “successful” neghbourhood? Do these indicators translate across different national and regional contexts? And what aspects of neighborhoods make them into assemblages of empowerment or disempowerment, inclusion or exclusion, connectivity or dysconnectivity?
Ethiopia is the first country to have diplomatic presence in Somaliland after the declaration of independence and the Ethiopian Airline is the first national carrier to land in the Somaliland’s soil. Further, Ethiopia is the first country to accept Somaliland diplomatic office and the Somaliland’s passport.
In addition, Somaliland and Ethiopia are the first place to welcome the first religion of t Islamic followers when the companions of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) WERE BEING PROSECURTED IN Mecca. Many Somaliland religious scholars of the previous century have learned the teaching of Islam in the ancient city of Harar in Ethiopia.
There are many reasons, with this theme of the year, that we have chosen Ethiopia as guest country, be cultural, religious and political. With the theme of neighborhood and all its meaning, Ethiopia will be the appropriate guest country to welcome at the HBF 2021.