The Baraarug ‘Awakening’ Book Exhibition: The ‘Somalis Don’t Read’ Perception Proven Wrong


The Baraarug ‘Awakening’ Book Exhibition has begun in Hargeisa on Wednesday the 3rd of January and ended on Thursday the 4th of January. The two-day event was organized by the Awakening Forum and was hosted by the Somaliland Youth Umbrella Organization (SONYO).

Cabdilaahi Raage (Sayyid Ka), the Co-founder of Baraarug Forum and the Chief Organizer of the book exhibition speaking at the opening ceremony [Photo By Mustafa Saeed]
This book exhibition was not an exception but fitted in a general trend of momentum towards reading, books and literature for the past decade. This phenomenon is not restricted to Somaliland, as one would think given its peaceful state, but it was also occurring in Somalia despite the relative instability and other circumstances that would make it difficult for reading, writing and literature to thrive.


Ten years ago, Hargeisa International Book Fair was first organized in Hargeisa and fast forward several years Garowe Book Fair and Mogadishu Book Fair were happening in Somalia. These book fairs and exhibitions were received most excitingly by the young Somalis more than any other age demographic.

The Baraarug ‘Awakening’ Forum strives to contribute to the knowledge and ideas written in the Somali language; be them of religious, political and social ideas. The forum tries to initiate Academic and Intellectual conversations among the Somali people with their work.

The Co-founder of Baraarug and the chief organizer of the event; Abdilahi Raage (Sayyid Ka) explaining the aims they are trying to achieve, said “We are trying to contribute to the ongoing endeavors of creating an intellectual echelon in the Somali Society which is capable to carry out activities such as critical reading, writing, translations and thinking and more. Moreover, we are aiming to connect the Somali Society, especially the younger generations, with the other communities that we share experiences with such as the post-colonial African states, the Islamic world and the third world countries; so as to make possible an exchange of ideas and finding of solutions together.”

With the motto of “expanding knowledge and advancing thinking”; Baraarug aspires to bridge the gap in the reach of internationally published books and other publications created by the civil wars which caused the complete destruction of all public sectors including the Education Sector which made the Somali person in Somaliland or Somalia completely isolated and inaccessible to the books published in abroad.

Some of the Organizers and Volunteers working at the Baraarug Book Exhibition [Photo By Mustafa Saeed]

The Baraarug ‘Awakening’ Book exhibition is the first step and the icebreaker of such effort and the forum’s ambitious aspirations. This exhibition made available books of more than 180 titles of variety of subjects from Governance, Law, Research and Literature to Philosophy, Spirituality and Thinking, for the knowledge and reading hungry public majority of which were the local youth.

Speaking of the atmosphere of the two-day event Abdilahi (Sayyid Ka) said “I presumed that the number of the participants would be very less given the language barrier, as most of the books were written in Arabic, and financial challenges faced by most of the youth, but I was keenly proven wrong as most of the books, approximately 70%, sold out in the first few hours of the first session. And the fact that most buyers were young people was in a stark contrast with my expectations.”

This bought the highest number of books by any individual at the book exhibition [Photo By Mustafa Saeed]
The event also included topic lectures and discussions in addition to the book exhibition. The topics discussed were of diverse subjects but were all relevant to contemporary Somali society specifically in the domains of Knowledge, Reading, History and Contemporary Styles of Governance in relation with the Somali society.


Some of the topics presented were:

  1. Reading and Research by Abdiaziz Guudcadde’, discussed was how the two and their combination bring about gaining knowledge.
  2. The Ancient Somali History by Mohamoud Mohamed Hassan’, discussed were the different theories on the Somali History in different time frames.
  3. The Written Somali Script and the Need for Translations by Hamda M Egal and Liban M Essa’, discussed were the history of writing the Somali Scripts and some of the controversial ideas during and after the process and also the importance and urgency in the need to translate international publications to Somali so that they can be available for the Somali Societies.
  4. The Exchange of Ideas and the Influences Civilizations have on Each Other by Dr. Mohamed Hirsi’, discussed were the formations of ideas in societies and how those ideas gradually form a civilization which later on interacts with other civilizations.
  5. ‘The Modern Nation State and Pastoral Tribal Culture: Is there any Possibility for Compatibility? By Mukhtar Hassan Maydhane’, discussed were the notions of state and tribe and how they intermingled in the post-colonial Somali state, their compatibility and possible modules of governance for the future.


A young lady asking a question in one of the discussions [Photo By Mustafa Saeed]
Some of the audience enjoying as an interesting topic is discussed [Photo By Mustafa Saeed]
The Baraarug Book Exhibition has been officially closed in the evening of Thursday; but has left a lasting impression on the minds of thousands of people who either bought books or attended the lively discussions. This event, unlike many similar events, was exclusively youth led, organized and even lectured. This in particular has a significant meaning as it illustrates how much of a positive impact a youth lead initiatives like this one can have on fellow youth and to the wider society.  Baraarug ‘Awakening’ Book Exhibition was a success and we have every reason to believe that this is not the end but only the beginning of an astounding journey with Baraarug into the world of books.


by Khadar Mariano,

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Editor of HornDiplomat.


Source: Horn Diplomat 


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