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

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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

About

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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