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11th book fair underway in Somaliland to reclaim cultural identity

11th book fair underway in Somaliland to reclaim cultural identity

Culture

The 11th edition of the Hargeisa Book Fair in Somaliland opened on Saturday attracting scores of delegates from around the world.

The event has gone global thus helping to promote this peaceful self-proclaimed Republic, far from the chaos observed in Somalia, from which it declared independence in 1991.

For the past ten years, the event has contributed significantly to literary and artistic awakening in Somaliland.

I wrote this book, because I saw that my comrades do not want their culture instead, they see it as something that is not important. Therefore, their Somali identity is in danger.

“We forgot who we are. We have forgotten art, culture, music. You know, Somali music in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s was one of the best African music scenes we have. Today, maybe young people have no idea what Somali music is”, Director General of Hargeisa Cultural Centre, Jama Musse Jama said.

16-year-old Abdishakuur Mohamed Abdallah is among the writers present. He said he spent four years writing his first book, “Ab-ka haleel”.

“I wrote this book, because I saw that my comrades do not want their culture instead, they see it as something that is not important. Therefore, their Somali identity is in danger’‘, Abdallah said.

For the first edition in 2008, organizers of the fair were only able to exhibit a few dozen books borrowed from friends and gathered about 200 visitors.

Ten years on, books have found their place in Somaliland. Writers have a space to operate, books have been published, reading clubs created and public libraries have been opened.

“We’re here to encourage young people and tell them the value of writing, whether it’s books, poetry or things related to the arts” playwright Yasmin Mohamed Kahin noted.

Rwanda is guest of honor at this year’s fair which will end on Thursday August, 2.

AFP