Somaliland: The Hargeisa International Book Fair: Days 4 & 5 with Mary Harper


Mary Harper's Getting Somalia Wrong on display at the fairSomaliland: The Hargeisa International Book Fair: Days 4 & 5 with Mary Harper

On Day Four there were presentations by the well-known Somali poet Said Salah who is based in Minnesota and the Russian Dr George Kapchits who launched his new book called ‘Somalis do not Lie in Proverbs’. It analyses 249 of the most popular Somali proverbs. Dr Kapchits speaks fluent Somali. The evening of day four was reserved for women poets.

My fellow-journalist Mark Tran of The Guardian newspaper arrived from London and wrote a great piece about the book fair.

You can read it here: Mark Tran’s article about the Hargeisa book fair

I didn’t go to the book fair on Day Five but I heard the day concentrated on science, archaeology, language and culture. A special session was devoted to the arts of neighbouring Djibouti. There was also a short story competition for young people.

I decided to go to another event – a diaspora investment conference held in The Ambassador hotel near the airport. All the business heavyweights were there:

One of the people speaking at the investment conference was Moustapha Osman Guelle, one of the five Somali brothers who have set up a Coca Cola factory in Somaliland. You can see him sitting at lunch with three of his bottles on the table. A young lady at the conference asked him whether he was planning to launch Diet Coke. He said Coke Zero would be available from early next year. Someone else said ‘what are you doing about the rubbish caused by all the empty plastic bottles’. Moustapha Osman Guelle said next year his company will buy hydraulic presses which will squeeze all plastic bottles in Somaliland (not just Coca Cola ones, but all the thousands of other empty water and other drink bottles) into bales which will be shipped to Mumbai and Shanghai for recycling.

I saw some interesting things in Hargeisa including a group of men digging a channel for a fibre-optic cable that will come from Djibouti, improving internet access in Somaliland.

For the full details of days 4 & 5 visit