For the fourth year in a row, the United States Government sponsored the Mogadishu Book Fair (MBF) in support of the Somali-driven campaign for literacy and learning.
The three-day event, held from August 21-23 at the Sahal terminal, attracted thousands of participants each day. Somali talent, both local and diaspora, awed the audience with readings and discussions. Highlighting these sessions included Somali-American Yasmin Mohamud (author of ‘Nomad Diaries’); Canadian-Somali Hassan Santur (author of ‘Youth of God’); and children’s storybook writer British-Somali Zainab Dahir (author of ‘Ma Dhergaa Dhurwaa,’ roughly translated to ‘a hyena is never satisfied’). USAID mounted a storytelling tent where children watched traditional Somalia stories come to life.
In a closing reception on Saturday, August 24, the United States Mission through USAID, UNICEF, and high-level officials celebrated the Fair’s successes and heard authentic Somali voices. Two youth writers, Bilal Qasim Fiqi and Shamso A. Warsame received awards as part of the 2019 MBF Somali Youth Writers Competition.
Brian Neubert, Chargé d’Affaires for the U.S. Mission to Somalia, said, “What is striking about the MBF is that the MBF audience is young and part of a generation that has never known anything but conflict. The United States Government supports Somali-led initiatives, like the MBF, launched by and for this generation to define themselves beyond conflict – to debate, collaborate and sustain Somalia’s new narrative and identity.”
The United States Government recognizes that Somalia’s peace and prosperity depends on a literate and engaged citizenry. The Mogadishu Book Fair is helping to create a culture of reading in Somalia by inspiring the next generation of readers, writers and storytellers. Later this year, USAID will launch a new $50 million education project to support the Federal Government of Somalia to extend quality learning to out-of-school children and youth who have been persistently left behind.
The 2019 Mogadishu Book Fair is dedicated to Hodan Nalayeh and Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman “Engineer” Yarisow, the late Mayor of Mogadishu, who advocated for Somali culture, arts and literacy.