July 15, 2012 ·2 Comments
The Hargeisa International Book Fair: Day One
The Hargeisa International Book Fair is far more than a book fair. It is now in its fifth year running and hosts authors, poets, musicians, film-makers, artists, playwrights, actors and circus performers, both Somali and non-Somali.
The book fair is being held in the Working Men’s Club in central Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland which declared itself independent from the rest of Somalia in 1991. The territory has built itself up from the rubble of war, has a growing economy and a functioning democracy.
The book fair is the brainchild of Jama Musse Jama, a Somali who fled to Italy during the civil war which broke out in the late 1980s, has lurched through various incarnations and is still not over today. Jama lives in the Italian town of Pisa where he has a publishing house, a vibrant website and a family. He is the author of several books. He was until recently a lecturer in Mathematics at Pisa University. Now he works as a computer scientist. Oh, and he invented a computer game based on a traditional Somali board game called Shax.
There are stalls selling books, paintings, photographs, handicrafts, clothes, cake and drinks. Mini-libraries have been set up so people can borrow books and read them in a specially
There are now taxis in Hargeisa. Last time I came (earlier this year) there were only buses and private vehicles. I had my first ride home from the book fair with Nadifa Mohamed and the Brazilian film-maker Iara Lee.
By goth Mohamed