Joe Addo
Joe Addo

The Hargeysa International Book Fair 2015 is winding down to the sadness of delegates, both local and international, who are interacting, learning and have become friends with one another.

There were several highlights from this day. One of these was the luncheon that the Mansour Hotel, which is where all international guests stayed, gave. At this event, there was Nadifa Mohamed, Hannah Pool, Mpalive Msiska, Ciku Kimeria, Jonny Steinberg, Maimouna Jallow, Nanjala Nyabola and Joe Addo. As was the Nigerian delegation of Prof Niyi Osundare, Okey Ndibe and Chuma Nwokolo. Festival organizer Jama Musee Jama, ably and charmingly played host.

With the food going down well and all in good spirits we were informed by a snitch that it was Nadifa’s birthday and we all went into an uproarious rendition of the international birthday song. Happy birthday, Nadifa.

The panels were illuminating. I enjoyed two of them immensely.

One of these was the discussion on the importance of Chinua Achebe and his seminal work, Things Fall Apart. It featured Prof Niyi Osundare, Okey Ndibe, Chuma Nwokolo and Dr Mpalive Msiska. There was a whole lot of grey hair on that stage. The black hair of the event was moderator Yusuf Serunkuma who heroically stood in for Donia Jamal who was caught up in Addis Ababa. This session was highly interactive with people getting into the legacy of the old man of African letters. His legacy was exalted and his flaws respectfully dealt with. If the old man was watching from heaven, he would have been proud as a man who was not breathing could be about the security of his place as one of Africa’s greatest of all time.

Then there was the keynote address by Joe Addo, the Ghanaian architect who brought to the fore the theme of festival “spaces.” In his talk he explained that African spaces were initially built as livable. Today it is not ideal with garbage, flooding, bad planning and more. He explained how he and his team in Ghana had gone about reclaiming their spaces to make it more livable. He did this starting with his house to projects that regenerate his community. He has also done this as chairman of ArchiAfrica which is an African architectural association. His message was one of reclaiming our spaces as Africans.

There were other events many of which were targeted for the Somaliland audience. One of these was one where the Somaliland Writers Association introduced some of its members as it introduced the work of Sayid Ahmed.