Day 3 HIBF 2019

Day 3 HIBF 2019: Research on Migration, Role of Small Magazines and In Conversation with Maaza Mengiste- The Author of ‘Beneath the Lion’s Gaze’

Fatuma Abdishukri Ahmed

Research on Migration Panel

The purpose of this session was for panellists to give an overview and present findings from different research projects they had conducted. The research projects discussed in this session were: Migrants on the Margins, Safe and Sustainable Cities and Security on the Move. The Director General of the Ministry of Planning in Somaliland, Mubarik Abdullahi was also part of this panel.

Researchers on the panel highlighted land ownership as a cross cutting security concern for migrants in the cities. International organisations in collaboration with the Somaliland Government have started rolling out relocation initiatives for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to formal permanent settlements. However, the promise of being resettled has created a new dynamic on informal settlements- people who want to own property but have had no means have now moved to informal settlements in the hope of owning property. Therefore, one downside of the relocation initiative is a pull factor for people to move to informal settlements.

Research on migration panel

 Abdirahman Edle highlighted the following findings from the project, Security on the Move in relation to the poignant living conditions in informal settlements:

  • Serious congestion in the neighbourhoods particularly State House
  • Inaccessibility
  • Poor social amenities and infrastructure

The Director General of the Ministry of Planning, Mubarik Abdullahi emphasized that as far as refugees are concerned, the Somaliland constitution adheres to the International Convention relating to Refugees and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As for IDPs, Mubarik explained there are two groups of IDPs in Somaliland- returnees who had fled the country during the war and rural people migrating to urban centres.

Mubarik suggested the following solutions as means to address the imminent issue of migration in Somaliland:

Urban Solutions: Somaliland has a significant number of IDPs in urban centres. These migrants should be relocated to formal settlements. They also need to be provided with basic social services such as health, wealth, sanitation, education and transportation. In order to ensure sustainable economic conditions, the migrants should be provided with relevant economic opportunities.

Rural Solution: Mubarik profoundly expressed that rural-urban migration is inevitable but the rate at which it happens can be reduced. He further expressed the need to devise strategic policies that will lead to diversification of livelihood and development in rural areas.

Role of Small Magazines

Small magazines play a vital role in providing a safe space for everyone to freely express themselves and feed into the bigger picture of knowledge production. Young people from the region who run small magazines shared their experiences on the challenges they face and opportunities they get from their work.

Panel on the role of small magazines

The following are some of the challenges highlighted by the discussants:

  • Lack of funds, which limits the type of work they can do
  • Disparities of work submitted. Panellists who run magazines in Somaliland conveyed that they face the challenge of having a gender balance in the content they produce since a very small number of females submit their work
  • The quality of a good number of articles submitted are not per the standards of their magazines

Despite the challenges they face, the panellists emphasized that the opportunities they get outweigh the challenges. The following are some of the opportunities highlighted by the discussants:

  • Collaborating with publishing houses
  • Getting funding from organisations
  • Being invited to workshops that improve their writing and editing skills
  • Working in partnership with international organisations and research institutions

The panellists gave the following sagacious advise to young people who are interested in creating content:

  • Consistency is essential when creating and producing content
  • Content produced should be exemplary
  • Have a collaborative approach in order to form networks

Panel on the role of small magazines


Maaza Mengiste the author of ‘Beneath the Lion’s Gaze,’ discussed her highly anticipated book, ‘The Shadow King,’ with Nadifa Mohamed, the author of ‘Black Mamba Boy’ and ‘The Orchard of Lost Souls.’ ‘ The Shadow King,’ is set during Italy’s invasion on Ethiopia. The book pursues the lost history of Ethiopian women during the war. Maaza explained how she grew up hearing about this war as a child and she heard the stories of what men did during the war. She noticed women who were mentioned in a few instances, were women whose role was to indirectly aid men in the war.  She conducted research to get a better understanding of what the war was like for women. What she found was quite interesting, she found stories of women who were indeed soldiers. She then discovered her great grandmother, who has inspired part of the story in ‘The Shadow King,’ was a soldier in the army.

Maaza Mengiste in conversation with Nadifa Mohamed

Day 2 of HIBF 2019

Day 2 of HIBF 2019- Socio-Economic and Cultural Relationship between Egypt and the Somali Region, Academic Writing, Archival Research and Mary Harper’s Book Launch- Everything You Have Told Me Is True: The Many Faces of Al-Shabaab.

Fatuma Abdishukri Ahmed- 22 Jul 2019

Day two of the book fair was packed with insightful sessions. The first session was a panel discussion on the socio-economic and cultural relationship between Egypt and the Somali region. Ahmed Ibrahim Awale, one of the discussants presented a brief history on the trade expeditions arranged by Queen Hatsheput and King Sahure to Punt. He also presented on the political history of the two countries; how Khedive Ismail annexed the lands of Zeila and Berbera. During this occupation, the king introduced the tax system to the locals. The tax collected was used to finance the construction of infrastructures and facilities for the local community. The occupation also introduced a sort of indirect governance though Akils (tribal chiefs). This mode of governance is still practiced in Somaliland.

Panel on the socio-economic and cultural connections between Egypt and the Somali region.

During the course of the day, Mary Harper renowned BBC Africa editor launched her book ‘Everything You Have Told Me Is True: The Many Faces of Al-Shabaab.’ Mary Harper revealed her motivation to write this book was to give a voice to the people who have suffered at the merciless hands of Al Shabaab.  In her book she notes that one way of resisting Al-Shabaab is by presenting people with alternative ways of thinking and giving them space to express themselves freely. She cites the book fair as an example of a safe space for young people.

Mary Harper launching her book, ‘Everything You Have Told Me Is True: The Many Faces of Al-Shabaab.’

The panel discussion on academic writing was a powerful tool gifted to young academic scholars in the audience. The panellists provided the following tips when writing academic papers:

  • Write in plain language – academic writing should be simple and straightforward.
  • The first page should focus on what the academic paper is about and not the background information.
  • Arguments presented should be clear to the reader. All arguments used should be backed by evidence.
  • Always think about how to make your work appealing to a wider audience.
  • Academic work should not be suspenseful. All arguments should be at the beginning and upfront.
  • In order to eliminate the pressure of the daunting peer review system, young scholars should ease into academic writing by reviewing essays and books.

Panel on Academic Writing

When discussing her book, ‘Writing Spatiality in West Africa: Colonial Legacies in the Anglophones/Francophone Novel,’ Madhu Krishnan talked about the challenges she faced when doing archival research. Some of the challenges she expressed include: getting funding to travel, difficulty in understanding some of the documents found in the archives and the process being time consuming since some archives lack catalogues. Despite these challenges Madhu Krishnan recognized the importance of looking at primary documents when conducting research.

After a long but informative day, participants visited Hido-Dhawr where they enjoyed Qaraami music.

Qaraami Music at Hido-Dhawr


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


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.

Social media tags
Follow us
on twitter @HIBF, official hashtag #HIBF2019.
on FB or

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

Hargeysa Cultural Center
23rd February 2019


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.

Mailing form

Our Contacts

26 June Street No. 2, Sha'ab area, Hargeysa, Somaliland


Xarunta Dhaqanka ee Hargeysa