Coexistence, Redefining Africa, Guest Country- Egypt and Knowledge Production in the Global South

Coexistence, Redefining Africa, Guest Country- Egypt and Knowledge Production in the Global South

21 July 2019- Fatuma Abdishukri Ahmed

The 12th Annual Hargeysa International Book Fair (HIBF) officially kicked off on 20th July 2019. The purpose of this year’s book fair is to celebrate and promote literature, culture and arts. It also aims to establish links that preserve and promote Somaliland and its citizens. The book fair has become the window in which Somaliland accesses the international space. Dr. Jama Musse Jama fervently expressed the need for the country to focus more on education particularly higher education in order to be able to create human and economic capital for Somaliland.

HIBF has adopted the theme of coexistence to be central to the events of this year’s book fair programme. Regrettably, no continent today is free from the ailments of political and ideological conflict. In varying degrees, conflict remains a pertinent issue to all countries in the world. Coexistence is and should be the breeding ground for peace and prosperity. Coexistence enables and allows people to not only build together but to also understand one another. Achieving coexistence is an ambitious mission that can only be achieved through commitment, dialogue and compromise.

Egypt is this year’s guest country. It is fitting to have Egypt as the guest country in relation to this year’s theme of coexistence. Egypt coexists as both an African and Arab state and furthermore its citizens coexist despite coming from different religious and socio economic backgrounds. Egyptian Ambassador, Mohamed Emad El-Gimw expressed that Egypt values the brotherly relationship that has existed between Somaliland and Egypt for many years. Somaliland has always had an appreciation for Egyptian academia. A number of young people from Somaliland seek their higher education from Egypt and further to this, majority of foreign educators and health professionals in Somaliland are Egyptians.

The keynote speaker of the day, Dr. Ouma Obama articulated the need to redefine Africa and development aid. Africa as a continent is a victim of definition; it is defined as a poor continent. Inhabitants of the continent need to stop viewing themselves as victims. The continent needs to change its dependency mentality of seating around and waiting for help. Dr. Ouma Obama also talked on how development aid institutionalises poverty. This is because development aid solely focuses on the ‘helping’ aspect rather than focussing on more sustainable economic aspects such as trade.

Keynote speaker, Dr.Ouma Obama

Panellists, Professor Michael Walls, Dr. Mpalive Msiska and Professor Madhu Krishna discussed knowledge production in the global south. The panellists discussed how at the rhetoric level there is a lot of commitment and goodwill on the need to have equal partnership with researchers from the global south yet at the implementation stage the complete opposite is practiced. The panellists noted that researchers from the global south are only involved in the data collection process. There is lack of capacity building within research projects since researchers from the global south are not involved in research design, they have no say to what kind of data needs to be collected and analysis of the research is done in the global north. The impact of a research project is designed and defined by the global north. All the aforementioned practices create a very distorted research environment.

HIBF traditionally has been a safe space for young local creators to discuss and display their talents and passions. This year was not any different as the evening sessions were primarily youth centric, where very talented photographers, poets and artists were given the platform to showcase their work.

Performance by Hido Academy

Commitment and the Poet: A Review of Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi”: The Poet and the Man

Commitment and the Poet: A Review of Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi”: The Poet and the Man

Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy

Within the literary sphere, there has oft’ been this argument of what the actual role of the poet ought to be in society. On the one side of this argument are those who believe that the poet does not owe society any allegiance and should be contented with just documenting his thoughts (commitment to art) while on the other side are those who believe that a poet’s loyalty is to his people and the society he belongs. Poets who find themselves in the latter group are of two sub-categories; the first group are those who are content with just pointing out the ills in the society, using their art to incite social revolution, being the voice of the oppressed and downtrodden, and act as the vanguard of society; pointing out the path that society should go even though they do not engage the society physically. However, poets who find themselves in the second subgroup do all that those in the first subgroup do, but they are not content with just documenting the ills in the society alone; they go on to engage the society physically. This second group of poets see themselves as active participants and leaders of change in society; some, like Christopher Okigbo, had dumped the pen to pick the gun, some, like Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Jack Mapanje, had been incarcerated for daring to write against their governments, and others, like Wole Soyinka, have led numerous protests against societal injustice. It begins to appear as if poetry is beyond art, it is also commitment to one’s society. Today, we shall review a collection of translated poems of a famous and legendary Somali poet; Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame (Hadraawi) and see what the book has to say on the issue of “commitment”.

Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame; popularly known as Hadraawi; is perhaps one of the greatest living Somali poet, playwright, and philosopher. His poetry is composed in a sublime form of the Somali language employing vivid images and sound devices (such as alliteration)—indeed, many Somalis can recite his poetry offhand and most of his poems have musical renditions already. His poems bother on issues related to war and peace, love, societal mores and values, maladministration in governance, justice, patriotism, and many more. Hadraawi did not just write, he was actively involved in the changes that took place in his society in his younger days. For daring to criticise the despotic government of Siad Barre in a play he composed, he was subjected to internment where he rejected inking an apology as the only condition for his release. Upon release, he fled to Ethiopia where he joined the Somali National Movement (SNM), and continued unleashing revolutionary poems. He would later refuse to seek asylum in the United Kingdom, and return to his homeland to singlehandedly lead a march (known as the “Hadraawi Peace March”) appealing for peace and an end to all animosities. Evidently, Hadraawi sees poetry not just as art, but also as a tool to be employed in changing the society for he did not only talk the talk—he also walked the walk. Herein lies his commitment as a poet to his people and society.

The collection placed under scrutiny is titled Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi”: The Poet and the Man and it has seven of Hadraawi’s poems translated from Somali language to English by WN Herbert et al. The work is a commendable effort, although no one can argue that much of content and form has not been lost in translation.

“Society” is the first of the documented poem in the collection; it bespeaks the imminent fragmentation that was quickly engulfing the Somali society at the time of its composition. Hadraawi; in this poem; identifies lack of sagacity, blame, and greed as the major ills bedevilling his society; the resultant effect of these ills are therefore cowardliness, brutality, and disorderliness.

Wise council: you’re unobtainable!

Blame: you breed without bounds!

Greed: you are unbridled!

Brave horse: you’re hamstrung here!

Brute force: you bare your brainless face!

Sea of disorder: your full volume,

your ebb and flow and breadth—

could I scoop you in this cup? (29)

The poem, “Society”, tells of societal disintegration, brothers fighting brothers, ballooning of trivial issues, irresponsibility and alienation on the part the political leaders, and finally lands on why the poet has chosen to pitch his tent with his people against the rulers; he punctuates every stanza with “would I be so at one with you?”.

You, the people, chose me:

you made your bed in my soul,

wrapped yourselves in my conviction,

used my heart as your pillow.

It’s you who make my lips move:

my fear at your fortunes,

my care at your conditions,

this is what matures me –

when someone defrauds you,

when you cry out for help,

a keen longing awakens my senses

and I begin to recite verse. (31)

Here, Hadraawi accepts that a poet is ordained to speak for his people, to be their voice; he sees their plight and seeks for them a better deal. He says again:

You, the people, chose me:

you granted me good fortune,

loaded me with luck:

if my brazenness burns like an iron

you bestowed that charisma on me;

you ordered me: be purposeful,

compelled me to battle for you.

If disasters hadn’t befallen you,

your best interests not been betrayed,

if your homeland hadn’t burned,

justice not been discarded,

the worth of schooling not belittled

being reduced to slogans,

would I be so at one with you? (31)

Hadraawi clearly intimates to us in the poem that the plight of his people is the muse fueling and propelling the fire of his poetry.

“The Killing of the She-Camel” is the second poem in the collection. Originally part of a play, this poem employs a variety of symbolic metaphors to depict the political situation in Somalia after the takeover by the military junta. Hadraawi cleverly adopts images of animals to hide his meaning in the poem—the result is a work that conveys the poetic ingenuity of the poet.

In the poem, the killing of a she-camel draws all from far and near who struggle to gobble down its meat. It is perhaps instructive to point out here that the camel is an important animal in the economic, social, and cultural lives of the Somali people; it is used as a means of payment (be it for bride price or as an atonement for wrongdoing), as a mode of transportation, and as food. In fact, a man’s wealth was formerly measured by the number of camels in his household. Now, keeping the she-camel alive is of much import for it is only this which guarantees procreation and continual supply of its milk which almost all Somalis consume as beverage. But in this poem, we see the slaughtering of a she-camel with all rushing to get a share. No one thinks that the she-camel being alive is more important to the people than being dead. The she-camel here therefore represents political wealth of the country while its slaughtering refers to the coup of Siad Barre. Everyone wanting a share of the meat connotes the greed with which the junta and its friends plundered the country wealth and flaunted it—”frying it in the glare of the sun”. Hadraawi also points out that there has been a disgruntlement in the allocation of resources in the State in the third stanza. The poem comes with a refrain which is a pointer at the enormity of the task that the junta had taken upon itself; he sees them as the snake which “sneaks in the castle:/although it is carpeted with thorns”.

We see the poet reaffirming his commitment to his society and the struggle against bad leadership in the fifth stanza where he points out that he will neither be a part of their shenanigans nor stop producing the rallying cry until the day of judgment; he even went further to ask that he be tied to the task and never released.

Never will I ever accept

a single insulting slice

from those grasping commissars –

I won’t share a thing with them.

Until the grave’s is prepared

to forego its three yard shroud

or a collar round the neck

since one at least is needed

to cover the naked dead,

I’ll keep rallying and calling

until the day of judgment,

pray my eyes can comfort the dead:

tie me to this task, and don’t

release me from its harness. (37)

Without mincing words, Hadraawi shows the level of his commitment towards the redemption of his society in the next poem titled “Clarity”. Composed as part of a write and response genre of poetry known as “Deelley” by Somalis, it captures Hadraawi’s refusal to admit defeat or be subdued in the fight against the powers that be, even after years of incarceration. He says:

I’ve still not admitted defeat

nor have I withdrawn:

that high inspiration,

that talent I was endowed with,

has not discarded.

When men dedicate to the struggle

and determine to fulfil their duty;

when they ready themselves for the charge,

amass the finest thoroughbreds;

when the reins are on the racers,

I never step aside.

With these words, Hadraawi affirms his pledge to the struggle, he shows that he is a man who abhors cowardice, and would not only write, but be an active participant in the struggle towards liberation.

Hadraawi also uses the poem to address the utilisation of tribalism cum clannishness to divide and rule the people by the political class thereby causing hostilities and discontentment among the populace. He vows to continue fighting against this social malaise of tribalism which was seeking to destroy his nation:

The clarion bell we carry will strike

destroying them like lightning,

those huggers of tribalism,

grubbers in money, who are everywhere

lusting to turn back

all hopeful development

and to despoil our nation –

I CAN’T LET THAT HAPPEN. [Emphasis mine] (41)

Lastly, Hadrawi calls for unity as the only path to peace and development as disharmony could only infer destruction:

Anyone who wants this life

to be serene,

to have savour and feel sound,

there is a path to follow:

people, you prosper

as one unit, as you share in

your shouldering of the burden –

that’s the only balm.

If it weakens in one wing

then its whole end is woe.

Is there any advice better than this,

any further examples you need

beyond this ample explanation,

or do you have something countering the case? (44)

In the stanza that follows this, Hadraawi passes the continuity of the poem to another poet and close friend of his, Maxamed Xaashi “Gaarriye”.

Among Hadraawi’s revolutionary poems documented in this collection, “Life’s Essence” remains a favourite for us. It shows Hadraawi to be not only a great poet, but also a profound thinker. The profundity of his mind can be seen in the numerous pieces of advice he dishes out in the poem. Written in a popular western style known as “dramatic monologue,” the poem reads like an original version of Rudyard Kipling’s “If”.

In “Life’s Essence”, Hadraawi addresses two characters whose voices we do not hear. The characters are Rashid and his daughter, Sahra. In reality, Hadraawi is addressing both the old and the younger generation of Somalis with Rashid representing the old whom had seen much carnage and destruction as a result of war, and Sahra representing the young and unborn generations of Somalis whom he hopes may survive the war and pick life’s lesson from it.

To Rashid, the poem persona tells the horrors of the battle at Sirsirraan. He tells him of the fouled air, the scattered bones, slaughtered corpses, the piercing groans, and the children wails. He concludes that the havoc is the result of decisions made rashly, decisions made in haste, a dearth of sagacity that only points at destruction.

The poem persona praises Sahra’s beauty and lofty bearing as accustomed with “the women of the horn”, he tells her to be clean and retain her beautiful mien, he wants her to apply modesty in her doings, be succinct in her use of words and argument and be polite, and be contented with whatever she has, be respectful of older people and the Somali traditional values, remain docile in the face of injustice and persecution, not to join bandwagon, think outside the box, not to be discouraged in the face of adversities, love education, avoid war, never be afraid to challenge injustice, waste no time in condemning falsehood, and many more. Within, the lines of his numerous and profound advice of the poem persona lays the background of the ongoing war and the pain and havoc which comes with it.

This poem again shows Hadraawi’s patriotism and commitment to his people for he talks and calls for a preservation of Somali values and mores while also denouncing war by preaching peace.

“Settling the Somali Language” was composed at the instance of making an official decree on the orthography of the Somali language. In the poem, Hadraawi conveys his happiness at finally settling a long disputation in what the official Somali script should appear like. In the refrain of the poem, we hear the poet pledging support and devotion to his mother tongue:

I must be devoted to Somali

develop through Somali

create within Somali

I must be rid of poverty

and give myself for my own mother tongue. (65)

The last two poems show a diversion from Hadraawi’s protest cum revolutionary poems, they bother on a subject which many poets have dwelt on before Hadraawi and will continue to deliberate upon after Hadraawi; here, we mean “love”.

The first of these poems is “Amazement”, a love poem which adopts the colourful and elegant language of metaphor to depict the beauty of the lover. Many believe this poem is the most famous of Hadraawi’s poems, since it even has a musical rendition by a renowned Somali singer. For a revolutionary like Hadraawi, love is not a farfetched topic to reflect upon. You see, love is the opposite of hatred and war; hence Hadraawi’s love poems can be seen as a counter reaction towards the hostility he came to witness in his society. Besides, the Somali society is replete with myriads of oral love poetry committed to memory in musical form. By harping on love between a man and his lover, Hadraawi shows that he understands that the basic unit of society is family, and it is only when every man loves his woman and vice versa that the seeds of love can germinate and be cultivated in the society.

The last poem, “Has Love Been Ever Written in Blood!” has a true life story tied to it. It revolves around a love letter written in the blood of the lover. This letter shocks Hadraawi, and leaves him pondering what may happen when next the lovers meet, the enormity of such love and its sincerity. With the aid of a series of rhetorical questions, the poet openly calls out his thoughts on the nature of love.

Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame “Hadraawi” remains one of the greatest Somali poet and thinker. The musicality of his poetry (which unfortunately is lost in translation) composed in his native Somali language makes his poems easily committed to memory by the Somalis, and there has been musical records based on his poems. His poetry is filled with the flora and fauna of the Somali region as the images in his poems are woven via diction which reflects the mountainous terrain, animals, and trees present within his society. The use of metaphors, alliterative lines, and rhetorical questions adorns his poetry with elevated language. Albeit written in his mother’s tongue, the poems rival any best from the Western tradition, and it would not be a travesty to say Hadraawi’s poems even surpasses those of the Western tradition. However, Hadraawi’s is widely admired and revered not only for writing great epic and lyrical poems, but also for standing up for his people, being their voice when it mattered, and walking his talk. We may still not have answered the question of where the commitment of a poet should lie (is it to art, or to society?), but we have no doubts whatsoever of where that of Hadraawi’s lays. Hadraawi saw and used art for the betterment of his people and society.

We must not fail to commend the efforts of the translators (WN Herbert, Said James Hussein, Muhamed Hassan Alto, Martin Orwin, and Ahmed I Yusuf) without whom the work of this great poet (Hadraawi) would have remained in obscurity to many of us who have no access to the Somali language. Much may have been lost in translation, yet does the gain outweigh the loss indeed.

Thank you very much for reading, and let us meet again another time for a different discussion!

© Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy 2019


The 12th instalment of the annual Hargeysa International Book Fair will be held in July, from 20th to 25th, in Hargeysa, Somaliland, with the theme of coexistence and the guest country of Egypt.

COEXISTENCE: The Theme of the Year (2019)
On its 12th anniversary, the Hargeysa International Book Fair (HIBF) has adopted the theme of ‘Coexistence’ to be central to the events of this year’s Book Fair programme. Throughout the annals of history, all the conflicts for which humanity has paid in millions of human lives and immeasurable destruction of properties have been based on suspicion and hostility engendered by differences in creed and culture. Sadly enough, no continent in our planet today seems to be totally free from the scourge of political and ideological conflict. Albeit in varying degrees, the plight of war still remains a major concern of all countries in our boastful era of unimagined advancement in science and technology. That is why we zealously hold the principle of Peaceful Coexistence as the most cherished and practical idea for bringing together peoples and nations at variance in their political ideologies and national traditions to live in lasting peace and harmony. The same applies within intrastate and interstate social conflicts.

Even in the current international quest for overcoming the challenges of global warming, it is rightly conjured that the realisation of peaceful coexistence is essentially seen as a requisite condition towards that objective.

So far the themes explored at Hargeysa International Book Fair have included Freedom, Censorship, Citizenship, Collective memory, Visualization of the future, Journey, Imagination, Spaces, Leadership & Creativity, Connectivity and Wisdom. We will focus this year on the principle of peaceful coexistence of nations and people, in contrast to the antagonistic contradiction principal that nations with competing interest and ideologies could never coexist.

The choice of peaceful coexistence as our theme of the year has not come about casually at all. It has always been our firm belief, in the Redsea Cultural Foundation, that the advocacy and upholding of this cardinal principle is the real test of our claim to genuine human civilization. So, let us pool our efforts together in order to make this claim come true.

Egypt : This Year’s Guest Country
We take both great pride and pleasure to be hosting Egypt as our Guest Country for this year’s Hargeysa International Book Fair. The reasons for our choice are too many to relate in this brief introductory note. Suffice it to say that Egypt has a special place in the minds and living memory of the people of Somaliland. The future prospects of both countries also seem to be equally entangled.

Despite the huge numerical difference in population and potentiality, yet the two countries share similar histories in that both are bound by the Islamic religion, they have experienced the rules of the Turks and later the British in the past century. Both occupy geopolitical strategies; Egypt at the Northern entrance of the Red Sea, and the people to people interaction is millennia old, with Somaliland located at the Southern post. Moreover, giving praise where it is due, there is hardly any country in the African continent in which Egypt has not left its marks in the spheres of education, politics, arts or culture. In Somaliland, the majority of our foreign educators and foreign health professionals are Egyptian, while global appreciation for Egyptian scholarship and academia in general is evident.

By having Egypt as our Guest Country, we in the Redsea Cultural Foundation, look forward to hugely benefit from the distinguished scholars, artists and intellectuals who will surely bring along with them invaluable experience we are so eager to share. We most warmly welcome our highly reputed and respected Egyptian guests.

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We look forward to welcoming each and every one of you to Hargeysa International Book Fair 2019.

Hargeysa Cultural Center
23rd February 2019

Research Urbanization Dynamics in East Africa: Insights from Malawi

PhD Session, researching urbanization dynamic in east Africa: insights from Malawi.  Wednesday 13/02 at the 7:45 pm – 10:30pm the Hargeisa Culture Center (HCC).

Academic dialogue in Hargeisa aims to assist in the production of knowledge in the field of Somali studies, also to act as a network for student and scholars during fieldwork in Hargeisa. Similarly, ADIH aims to help scholars gain a better, more nuanced understanding of Somaliland as a subject of study whilst exposing students to a wealth of locally produced
Dr. Jama Musse Jama started the event with the importance of research cooperation introducing Dr. Donald Brown to the audience and stage.
Dr. Donald Brown is from the Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London (UCL) he started sharing his research experience on his research titled “Researching Urbanization Dynamics in East Africa: Insights from Malawi” Sub-Saharan Africa is simultaneously the world’s least urbanized and one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions. However, while the sub-continent’s population is urbanizing as a whole, there are substantial differences in urbanization patterns and trends within and
between regions. In this talk, Donald Brown shared his experiences from his PhD researching urbanization dynamics in East Africa based on the case of Malawi. Particular attention is focused on to how the research process unfolded, with a focus on study approach and design, and methodological issues faced in the field. The objective of the talk was to spark discussion on what makes Somaliland’s urban transition exceptional in the East African context, and how its study might be approached from both an academic and
policy perspective.
One of the questions raised from the public was ‘How increasing urbanization shrinks space and whether similarity blue between Somaliland and Malawi?’’ Dr. Donald Brown answering this question said ‘’Urbanization involves communal interaction that not necessarily involves neighborhood but villages’’
At last, Dr. Donald explained how urbanization process involved a whole range of socio-economic transformations that are important to note , because of this new settlements newtrade centers and small business emerge Pointed Gender division of labor in the process,
Centrality of statistics and how it’s the discus Regarding settlements.

Mother Tongue Day

February 21 st is a day devoted to celebrating mother tongue all around the world. Therefore, we also arrange an event at Hargeisa Cultural Centre each year to come together and talk about the importance of Mother tongue and the role it plays in our identity.

Ismaaciil C Ubax, the project manager at Hargeisa Cultural Centre was leading the first part of this event giving the audience a brief background about how this day became significant. Bangladesh fought for recognition for the Bangla language in February 21 st 1948. Pakistan who was separated into east and west had fought after the government of Pakistan declared that the sole language of Pakistan will be Urdu which upset the east. The
east had more population than the west so they argued that Bangla must be the sole language as well. A civil war broke out as a result. Since it was a tragic event inspired by the recognition of mother tongue, February 21 st became the international language day. UNESCO also officially announced it in November 17 th 1999.
Mawlid Adan Biixi began this event with speaking about the richness of the
Somali language. He took examples of words that have multiple meanings and that can be used in different contexts. He also mentioned how there are names for certain things and sub-names as well because our language is rich. An example of such things is Waran. Waran is Spear in Somali but it also has other sub-names such as Hooto, Eello, Xalaash, Qaash and Garmaqaate. Maliid continued taking more examples and tracing back to the original meanings of some Somali words.
Awale Ismail Saleban was our second guest speaker who prepared a poem
for this occasion. The poem was about education and the doors it opens for
people. His poem inspired learning and that included learning our mother
language also.
Dr. Jama Musse led the second part of the event calling Mr. Saed Jama on stage. Mr. Saed is a creative writing teacher and has written many short stories as well.
He shared some of his stories as a motivation for everybody and to also show his contribution to the Somali language. Mr. Saed concluded his speech by saying “We are the only ones who can uplift our mother language and give meaning to it”

The last part of the event was dedicated to Mr. Mohamoud Sheikh Ahmed
Dalmar’s book Irdho.The book metaphorically tells a story about the Somali
language migrating to London. The Somali language screams and shouts for help. It seeks asylum saying that Somali people are here and it followed them therefore wants to be granted asylum so it can stay and live in London.
Overall, this event was successful; there was also a singer who sang a few Somali songs. All the guest speakers presented something important and special for this mother tongue occasion. The purpose of it was to honor our mother tongue and inspire the youth to value it so the upcoming generations will also continue
strengthening it.

Caweyska Qaraamiga (Qaraami Night)

The event of Qaraami songs was different from the regular events that usually happen at Hargeisa cultural centre.

The night was dedicated to Qaraami songs and understanding what Qaraami really means. The guests of the night who were chosen to educate people about what Qaraami is; were Caabi Mire, Marduuf, Buulo and Mohamed Burco.

Dr. Jama Musse Jama started off the event with defining what Qaraami Music is

Jama said “Qaraami are songs with certain tunes (Laxan), Just because a guitar is played for a song does not mean it is Qaraami” After Dr. Jama’s short introduction, Caabi mire who is a well-known singer and his crew started the night and played a series of fifteen Qaraami songs.

The types of Qaraami songs the crew played were Aroor, Beerdillaacshe, Carwo, Hayaan, Madiix, Iskushuban, Kaar, Laac, Nugul, Raaxeeye, Riftoon, Subcis, Rogaal, Xaafuun and Murug. The audience was given a chance to sing as well to keep them engaged in the event.

This was a very Interest event people enjoying the music at the same time learning more about what they were listening. We hope people enjoyed the night and are able now to tell which songs are Qaraami and which are not.

Adolescent Health

On Tuesday night 7:45pm February 19 th, an event held at Hargeysa Cultural Centre assembled a group of professionals who discussed Adolescent Health in Somaliland. This event took place with the help of joined young activists, different organization workers, health professionals and government officials. They spoke about how different factors such as income and education affect Adolescent Health and how they are interdependent on each other.
The event was not held only to inspire Somaliland youth to seek medical help when needed but also to highlight the lack of medical check-ups and counselling that are accessible for the youth.
The guest speakers also touched on the importance of staying healthy and preventing diseases in the first place. Mohamed Dhamac, a member of Sonyo said “a common disease which is prevalent among youth globally is HIV/AIDS and a good way we have always prevented it is marriage”.Other guest speakers also suggested effective ways of avoiding or living with other
types of diseases.
Abdiqani Abdillahi spoke about the adolescence period and the various health related issues that are commonly observed at that this stage of human growth. Important worth mentioning here, is the need to seek out professional health help which, as Abdiqani pointed out, will be disastrous if not taken seriously. The discussion then took another turn with Mohamed
Dhamac, discussing the importance of maintaining a healthy youth and how it’s of immense importance to have a healthy youth as it will lead to healthy community as rightly pointed out by Dhamac.
Our third speaker was Dr. Hamda Abdirahman, a Psychologist and a lecturer who spoke about the mental health of youth. The message she was sending is that, young people want to be heard. Because traditionally we (Somalis) do not consider children’s opinion that much which as a result can cause them to mentally suffer. She suggested that we talk to
children about their opinion and personal problems so they won’t get depressed and end up becoming mentally ill which can actually cause them taking their own lives. Poverty and healthcare was another major issue touched upon in the event and Dr. Barkhad Hussein brilliantly explained the relationship between poverty and healthcare accessibility and he shared a touching story about a young boy who suffered from diabetes. He told us the boy’s journey from middle school to university and the obstacles
he faced on the way. What was deeply sad about this story is the fact that the young boy struggled to pay for his medication and even taking them while in school. “Double 2 Burden” is the term he used to describe the boy’s situation. Dr. Barkhad said, “This is how I will transmit my message, and it is for you to get the point out of it.”

– Dr. Mariam spoke last before the discussion group. Mariam asked the audience “where
do you go when you need medical help?” Then she explored different options people
normally have and what they do instead. Dr. Mariam highly recommended people to go
to pharmacies or hospitals and seek counselors to maintain a good health. The event was
concluded with engagement and thoughts by the audience whose discussions centered

a) The fact that Somaliland Youth doesn’t have a special healthcare system and
b) people/ government’s perspective of youth and the Psychology of adolescence.
The main idea behind this event was for people to hear and learn from each other then spread their ideas to the community especially to those it concerns. They concluded that Adolescent health needs special attention and raising public awareness of the issue. Achieving this would also improve not only youth’s well being but the economy and education of Somaliland.

Breast Cancer


A group of female doctors arranged the event on Sunday night March 3rd where they spoke about Breast Cancer and how common it is in our country particularly among women. Breast Cancer is globally the second most common type of cancer. A lot of people die from it due to delay in seeking medical advice but in the case of Somaliland, Women are shy about reaching out for help which as a result causes early preventable deaths. Breast Cancer is not a disease that happens to women only but men can get it as well although it is estimated that only 1% of men get it.

Dr. Saynab was leading this event and introduced the importance of this topic and how they created their team. “We decided to initiate this team in 2015 in the hope of helping people to be aware of this disease but we officially started in March 3rd 2016” Dr. Saynab also talked about the causes of breast cancer. She said “Some of the things that cause cancer are prolonged take of birth control pills, Alcohol, Cigarettes and Qat. It could be hereditary too”


Dr. Shukri Daahir spoke next about the percentage of women affected by Breast cancer in the world. She reported that “17.5 million women get cancer per year and 9 million of them die. 1.7 million get breast cancer” Dr. Shukri also mentioned that in every 182,000 women in America 26% of them get breast cancer so it is pretty serious. Dr. Shukri touched on how there is a good medical help in America. The survival rate is very high. However, in the case of Somaliland, women are not as worried as they should be about their health. “Part of it is lack of health awareness and the fact that Chemotherapy is not available in Somaliland. Another obstacle on the way is using herbal medicine which in terms of cancer is not useful at all.”  Dr. Shukri also classified the areas in Africa affected by breast cancer into three different parts. Central Africa, South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. She said that breast cancer is most common in the Sub-Saharan area because it is where women die at home mostly.

Dr. Sahra Caydiid listed the symptoms of breast Cancer. She said “if you see these signs then you should immediately contact a doctor. Symptoms are Change in your normal breast color, change in size, unusual hardness of the breast, swelling, blood or milk leaking from your breast, severe pain, and laceration as well as skin holes.”

Lastly, Dr. Afnan spoke about the treatment of breast cancer in which she categorized into four stage treatment. She said “When the tumor is only in the breast and has not spread to any other place then we cut out the breast. If the tumor reaches the muscles around the breast and the glands, we also cut it. However, when it spreads to the entire body, there is nothing we could do about it.” Therefore Dr. Afnan highly recommended that we (both men and women) do checkups every now and then.

This event was very important for it was an eye opening to our community and will eventually save lives. It was a motivation to those who are too shy to come get help and enlightening to those who don’t understand the risk they are taking by dealing with breast cancer at home. In the end of this event, the audience was given a chance to ask questions and all three doctors answered them. We had ninety people come to the event twenty six of them males and sixty four females. What we hope people to take away from it is that breast cancer is a life threatening disease and should be dealt with in hospitals and to also prevent it by staying healthy and checking yourself up regularly.

Dacar Cas/Somaliland Red Aloe: New species of Aloe described in Somaliland

By the two researchers Mary Barkworth who is a plant taxonomist who retired from Utah State University in 2012.

In 2015, she became interested in helping Somalilanddevelop, in Somaliland, resources for studying its biodiversity, particularly its plant diversity, Mary’s research was focused on two groups of grasses, neither of which is well represented in Somaliland, but she was able to assist in
bringing the Somali Red Aloe to the attention of scientists because as a taxonomist, she is aware of the requirements for formally naming species that has not previously been recognized. And
Ahmed Awale is well known in Somaliland for his passionate commitment to the Somaliland’s environment, which is reflected in his many publications and his work as Chair of Candlelight, an organization devoted to the environment, education, and health in Somaliland. He discovered the first population of the Somali Red Aloe while traveling for Candlelight in 2013.

Because of his knowledge of Somaliland’s plants, particularly its succulents, he realized it might be undescribed. The recently published paper is an outcome of his insight. Formal recognition of the Somali Red Aloe will, it is hoped, aid in promoting conservation of Somaliland’s rich natural heritage and its recognition as an integral part of Somaliland’s cultural heritage. Mary Barkworth talking about the researcher process and the researcher’s hypothesis while describing the new Aloe.
Ahmed Ibrahim Awale talking about the discovery of new species of Aloe in Somaliland and Description and identification of a new alone species, material and methods, figs and introduction of the Researcher. Also A new species of Aloe ( Asphodelaceae )is described from Somaliland. It differs from other species in forming large clumps and in having sap that is initially yellow but quickly turns bright red and then dark red or reddish-brown, paniculate red-flowered inflorescences and uniformly colored
leaves with red teeth. And recognitions raise the number of species known from the combined area of Somaliland and Somalia from 31 to 36.
Also differed from other Aloe species in the region in having leaves with reddish teeth and, when cut, an exudate that rapidly turns from yellow to bright red.
Also noticed the plants, referring to them as (Dacar Cas), or Red, to distinguish them from other Aloes in
the region, such as Da’ar Buduk (Dacar Budhuq), the name used locally for A. retrospections Reynolds.
Also noted he is collected cuttings to grow and observe in Hargeisa. The flowers were protandrous, forming plump, well-filled anthers that matured before the styles had fully elongated. Both the anthers and the styles appeared fully functional. These observations made it unlikely that the plants were hybrids. After very interesting presentation that questions and discussion session starting, Ahmed Awale
and Mary Barkworth reflecting on the question.


The Hargeysa Cultural Center was opened in August 2014 in Hargeysa, Somaliland. The Center was established by Redsea Cultural Foundation (RCF). Since its establishment, the Hargeysa Cultural Center has become an important feature in Hargeysa’s cultural landscape. The success of the center owes much to the respect that RCF has gained from its work on running the annual Hargeysa International Book Fair, which, now in its eighth year, has become one of the most admired cultural events in the region.

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