Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has praised the recent book fair as an initiative that portends a bright future for the nation.
President Mohamed said he was proud of the capital city and the country for organising the fair.
“A society that reads is a society that’s ready for progress,” he tweeted on the first day of the fair on Wednesday.
The three-day exhibition of literary works drew various participants such as scholars, playwrights, poets and book enthusiasts who gathered in Mogadishu.
Mohamed Sheik-Ali Ahmed, the founder and organiser, said they aim at promoting young upcoming writers and encouraging a reading culture among all age groups.
It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and money transfer company Dahabshiil.
Another organiser, Said Bashir, told a local media that they wanted budding writers to exploit the forum to nurture their talents.
The Mogadishu Book Fair was first organised in 2015 and has since gained prominence.
Other cities that have held the annual event are Hargeisa in Somaliland, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in July, and Garowe.
Key speakers included Mogadishu deputy Mayor Abdullahi Haji Ereg, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia Michael Keating, author of Making Sense of Somalia Dr Abdurahman Abdillahi Basiyow, and Kenyan human rights activist Boniface Mwangi.
Mr Ereg expressed his desire to popularise reading by promoting the opening of libraries.
“We have made an undertaking to provide a market to young writers.
“We intend to have the leaders from Banadir region together with their librarians attend the next book fair and provide report on success of the fair,” he said.
Mr Abdirashid Duale, the chief executive officer of Dahabshiil, said the firm will continue supporting writers.
“As Dahabshiil we will continue supporting any event aimed at empowering and promoting youth,” Mr Duale said.
Through remittances that present the youth with an opportunity to invest, Dahabshiil has been instrumental in enabling them be financially independent.
Furthermore, it has also invested in various events to identify youth talent and create innovation both in the region and the diaspora.
Participants expressed their excitement about the book fair.
“This is a truly important opportunity for me to showcase my work. I am motivated to write even more books just by the number of people attending this event,” 25-year-old Gallad Mohamed Barre remarked.
Barre’s book is titled ‘Sideed Kunoqon Kartaa Arday Guuleeysta’ (How to become a successful student).
Book enthusiast Ahlam Mohamed Elmi said:
“This is the second year I am attending the book fair. Many more books have been showcased this year compared to previous years, and this portrays the relative peace in the country.”
Others in attendance were Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, Turkey Ambassador to Somalia Olgan Bekar, Somali language researcher Peter Chonka from the United Kingdom and book publisher Dominique Uwase Alonga from Rwanda.