The 16th Hargeisa International Book Fair kicked off on Saturday in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland.

Speaking at Hargeisa International Book Fair, the Hargeisa Cultural Center chairman Dr. Jama Muse Jama thanked and welcomed government officials and delegates to the 16th annual Hargeisa International Book Fair. Dr. Jama underscored the significance of the 16 years of HIBF since it became an integral part of the Hargeisa and Somaliland Republic,

See below an excerpt of Dr. Jama’s speech;


Mr. Vice President of the Republic of Somaliland, the Mayor of the city of Hargeysa, members of the parliament, dear ministers, delegates and guests of the Hargeysa International Book Fair, representatives of the International Community, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the 16th Anniversary of the Hargeysa International Book Fair. It is such an honor and pleasure to have you with us, for full six days of packed programming, readings, books, and for who came to Somaliland for the first time, a learning process and knowing this country, its people, its food, its dance, its music, its art, the inspiration and the willingness of this youth; the love for art and togetherness.

It has been 16 years of revolution for culture or reading and writing, the crucial passage from an oral society to written culture, started from Hargeysa, the capital of the republic of Somaliland, known as The Mother of Modern Art, but spread the entire Horn of Africa and beyond.

16 years of connection between Somaliland and the rest of the world, where the youth of Somaliland, who – because of non-recognition and no valid passport – confined in the territory, and cannot travel and visit other contemporary, finally found a window to see the rest of the world, the beauty of literature; the same window that allowed the rest of the world to know about Somaliland, to understand the inspiration of its youth, the will of its people, and fond desire to become a member of the international community. The spirit for peace, development, humanity, and tolerance.

16th Hargeisa International Book Fair Kicks Off In Somaliland16 years of invited of 15 African countries, to connect each of them to Somaliland, and among them, to build pan-African ties through literature, to know each other, to appreciate each other, to uplift each other.

16 years of discussing 16 different themes that reflect on the situation of this country and its own people, and allow its people to meditate and come up with solutions to the challenges of nature: what is culture if not learning from, developing, and shaping an answer to the fundamental questions that the nature asks the humanity;

the collective reactions of the actions of the harsh nature of this world; from climate change, political natural and man-made injustice, and conflicts; learning from the odd, raising from the ash, and building this beauty of Somaliland we are enjoying today.

16th Hargeisa International Book Fair Kicks Off In Somaliland16 years that we were building a home for art, a hub for culture, history, knowledge-production, getting together, older and young generations of our people, to exchange ideas and learn from the past, to develop and give home art for the young and brilliant minds of this nation. I want to remember the giants like Said Jama Hussein, a progressive scholar whose work and participation as a major pillar in this festival who last year passed away, Hadraawi who we lost before, and last Cumar Xasan Rooraaye who passed away this year. May Allah reward them for their deeds.

This year we have Resilience as our theme of the year, and Morocco as our guest country.

We will talk about these two issues for the entire week, and I leave them for others to talk, but allow me to mention why we chose Resilience. Last year our beloved city recently has been challenged by the most devastating fire at Waaheen Market. Our people reacted in solidarity with the victims; the world reacted in solidarity with us; and just a few days back, the new building started. That is the symbol of resilience.

Even though many elements contribute to the catastrophic incidents in the region, the centrality of climate change that is causing recurrent drought, unexpected flooding, and global warming is unquestionable.

Reoccurring severe droughts linked to the effects of climate change have increasingly threatened the sustainability of the traditional pastoral and agropastoral livelihoods in the Horn of Africa.

16th Hargeisa International Book Fair Kicks Off In SomalilandIn Somaliland, around 85% of the population makes a living from extensive livestock production systems, either exclusively (pastoral livelihoods) or in combination with seasonal arable farming (agropastoral livelihoods).

While this is the case, the guest countries so far are all from Africa since the festival wants to stand in harmony with the Pan-African ideology of stronger continental cultural and community relations that will foster better development and coexistence. Being one of the early civilizations in the continent, Morocco brings in the essence of diversity, and civilization along with its contemporary status of leading experiences in economy, development, finance, and banking that are central to the pan-African dream of integrated regional communities.

Hargeysa International Book Fair presents over 60 young men and women invited from all regions of Somaliland, also known as Reading Clubs, over 51 international guests coming from 13 countries, launching around 60 new books, those who were lucky to get slot, and promoting over 100s and 100s of books in Somali and other languages, songs, traditional dances, two theatrical plays, music, and other performances, for every age, …., and this would not have been possible if not support of the historical friend of this festival.

I want to thank the EU, members states of the European Union, the UK, supports local and international, business community in our country including Dahabshiil, SOMTEL for giving for free the internet, Astaan TV for giving LIVE program, and I want to mention Laasgeel Coffee. Thank you.

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