Meet the Guests!

Professor Kwame Karikari is the former Executive Director of the MFWA. He has for several years been a professor in journalism and mass communication at the School of Communication Studies at the University of Ghana.  He has also been involved in training journalists in several African countries over the years. Educated at the City College of New York and Columbia University in New York, Professor Karikari previously practised as a journalist, including serving as the Director General of the public Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in the early 1980s. He has also been an activist pursuing social justice and human rights causes in Africa, including democratic reforms in Ghana. He serves on the boards of a number of African and international rights organisations and on the editorial boards of academic publications.

Dr. Iqbal Jhazbhay is South Africa’s current Ambassador to the State of Eritrea, formerly Professor at the University of South Africa and the previous Director of the Unisa Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Jhazbhay’s research interests include Islam in Somaliland and Somalia, South African Islam, Sufism, Political Islam, South African foreign policy towards North Africa and the Middle East, international relations and Islam. He has authored the book Somaliland: An African Struggle for Nationhood and International Recognition, some twenty-two academic articles and chapters on Islamic thought, Somaliland and South African foreign policy. For the purpose of this discussion, Dr. Jhazbhay will be focusing on Somaliland and the international context, with a specific emphasis on the makings of good leaders, ambassadors and political activists to advance the Somaliland cause more strategically.

Muse Isse (Muuse Dalmar), editor of Carruurteenna, a Somali children’s magazine published by Somali Nordic Culture (a not-for-profit organisation comprising students, writers, storytellers, librarians, journalists and artists); Matilda Wallin of the Swedish International Library and a member of  Somali Nordic Culture;

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva is from Uganda and a poet, editor, actress, leadership trainer, events manager and children’s facilitator and a long-distance swimmer. Leading scholars around the world have described her 2016 poetry collection, Dress Me In Disobedience, as raw and rare. Beverley holds a Distinction in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, which she received in 2012. Her other creative works have appeared in Wasafiri, Drumvoices Revue, Postcolonial Journal, Lawino Magazine, Short Story Day Africa, The Kalahari Review, Prairie Schooner, KUT Journal, New Black Magazine,Expound Magazine, Femrite, EVENT Magazine and others. She is the founder of the Babishai Niwe (BN) Poetry Foundation, which coordinates annual poetry competitions for Africans, trains children in poetry of all forms and publishes poetry. The Foundation also organizes the annual Babishai Poetry Festival, hosting leading global voices in poetry and verse. Beverley is also a certified leadership trainer through the highly acclaimed Haggai International Institute and she is a public speaker, having led motivational talks and training worldwide in England, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Egypt for leaders, journalists, academics and organisations. Beverley was Uganda’s 2014 BBC Commonwealth Games poet. Her desire is to travel to every country in the world before she turns 70.

Chuma Nwokolo, Jr. is a Nigerian lawyer, poet, writer and the publisher of African Writing magazine. He is author of the poetry collectionsMemories of Stone and The Final Testament of a Minor God. His novels include One More Tale for the Road and Diaries of a Dead African, an extract from which was published in La Internazionale as one of the three best stories worldwide in 2001. His novels for young adults include The Extortionist and Dangerous Inheritance. His short story anthologies include The Ghost of Sani Abacha, a witty and satirical collection of twenty-six stories mostly set in Nigeria. Other anthologies include his latest, one of the commemorative volumes to mark the centenary of Nigeria’s amalgamation, How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories. He has been writer-in-residence at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Michaela Maria Mueller was born in Dachau, Germany in 1974, where she grew up on a dairy farm. She worked as a bookseller in New York and Munich. She studied history and politics at Humboldt University, Berlin. Since 2006 she has been working as a journalist for German newspapers (Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). She will present her new book just published in German Auf See – Die Geschichte von Ayan und Samir, but she also contributed to research in archives of the German Foreign Ministry about what happened in the years after the release of the passenger machine “Landshut” in Mogadishu in October 1977. The German government made contracts with the Siad Barre regime, and the chancellor Helmut Schmidt in 1978 went to Egypt to meet him. Somalia needed weapons for the Ogaden war, so Germany was in a predicament. In the end they did not send weapons, but only because a German politician of the opposition got hold of the contracts before they were signed. But until the mid 1980s Germany gave lots of money to the Siad Barre regime. Maria will speak on hidden aspects of this story.

Joe Addo is an architect from Accra. Trained at the Architectural Association in London, he has worked in Finland, the UK, and the US. He opened his own practice in 1991 in Los Angeles, where he also cofounded the A + D Museum before returning to Ghana in 2004. He is currently the CEO of Constructs R + D and Chairman of the ArchiAfrika Foundation, which works to integrate socio-cultural design into the discourse on African architecture and development. Joe participated in the HIBF 2015, facilitating a discussion among Somaliland architects on the physical spaces of African cities and the current transformation of Somaliland’s cities. This year, he will share their approach for development in the historic Jamestown, Accra, where leadership and creativity is needed to avert the catastrophe of gentrification and overdevelopment.

Mr. Said Salah Ahmed, poet, playwright and literary critic;

Dr. Abdirashid Ismail is a senior lecturer at the University of Djibouti where he teaches general linguistics and Somali linguistics. He was a president of the committee which laid the foundation of the Intergovernmental Academy of Somali Language in which he now serves as vice president. He is Co-editor of Afmaal 1 among the other linguistics works and his latest book is on Cilmi Boodheri which will be launched at this years’ Hargeysa International Book Fair.

Idris Youssouf Elmi, a Djibouti national is an expert in the dynamics of language and situation (attitudes, feelings and representations). He has also studied the phenomena of migration in the Horn of Africa. He has taught French language and culture and education for many years at the University of Djibouti. Idris is currently the UNESCO Program Coordinator at Djibouti. Idris has published extensively and is the author of, among others, La Galaxie de l’Absurde, (Editions de l’Harmattan, Paris 1997), a prize winner of the Académie d’outre-mer (1998) and the poetry collection Nostalgies ou le Joug du verbe (1998). He has also written plays, poems and articles in French and in Somali.

Mohamed Ali Bile has three decades of experience in planning and leading development programs with the United Nations, especially in conflict-affected and fragile zones and brings in-depth expertise on Middle Eastern and East African socio-political affairs. Skilful in negotiations and dealing with difficult government partners, he has worked with governments, UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank and USAID funded programs. He trained at California State University, University of London, Harvard University, UNESCO IIEP (Paris), IIE Matei Urbino (Italy), Maastricht University and the Somali National University and is fluent in English, Arabic and Somali with some knowledge of Italian. In this session, he will share his views on good leadership and what it is to take hard decisions.

Cabdalla Xaaji (Djibouti) is the author of Xeer Ciise, a detailed reference book on one of the strictest indigenous rules comparable to the modern contemporary laws. He is a TV program officer and he manages the archive department of Djibouti National TV. Cabdalla is the author of Qalin ma koobaan, an anthology of the poetry of Ali Mooge. Ali Mooge was a contemporary poet who died prematurely in his early 30s but left an extraordinary production of poems. Abdalla will talk about the history of City of Djibouti.

Mr. Abdirahman Farah ‘Guri Barwaaqo’ is a connoisseur of the Somali language, he’s currently the Head of Department of Culture and Language at Hargeysa University. Among his books are M agac Bilaash u Ma Baxo (Nicknames Don’t Lie),M ahaadhooyinkii Gaarriye (a biography of Gaarriye) and H al­bixinta Ereyada Kumbuyutarka (a book on Somali terminologies for technical items). Abdirahman’s latest book isFar Tasowday (the neglected alphabet) in which he describes the alphabet proposed for the Somali language by Mohamed Abdi Makaahiil.

Anab Guleid is one of the few Somali women renowned for reciting thegabay. Anab breaks the boundaries placed upon women’s artistic freedom, opening doors for the younger generations. As an advocate for the preservation of culture and the environment, her poems often carry the theme of social justice.

Author Amma Darko was born in 1956 in Koforidua – Ghana. A graduate of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Industrial Art, Amma worked for a year with the Technology Consultancy Center. While living in Germany during the early eighties, she wrote her first novel: Beyond The Horizon, written in English but translated from the manuscript into German and published first in that language. Her second novel The Housemaid was published by Heinemann. Subsequent novels published by Sub-Saharan (Ghana) are Faceless (now a West Africa Examination Council Literature book);Not Without Flowers (won 2008 Ghana Book Award); and, just published, Between Two Worlds. She also contributed a short story “Color of Poverty” to the Amnesty International – Germany, collection. Her work is translated into German, French, Spanish, Turkish and Slovenian.

Maxamed Xagi Ingiriis is uthor of The Rise and Fall of the Siad Barre Regime, 1969–1991, Mohamed Haji Ingiriis is a Somali scholar specializing in the field of African Studies. He is now completing his doctorate at the University of Oxford. This book is a critical repositioning of the study of military regimes in Africa. Documenting and delving deep into the reign and rule of General Mohamed Siad Barre in Somalia from 1969 to 1991, the book puts emphasis on African agencies—ostensibly shaped by external beneficiaries and patrons—over what went wrong with Africa after the much-awaited post-colonial period. It does so by critically engaging with the wider theoretical and conceptual frameworks in African Studies, which more often than not tend to attribute the post-colonial African state ruptures to colonialism.

Esther A. Armah  is a Ghanaian international award winning journalist across print, radio, television. She is a playwright, writer and journalism lecturer. Esther has worked in the media across Africa in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Lesotho; in the US in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia and in Europe – in London.

 As a writer, Esther’s first book was a non-fiction essay collection exploring identity across media ‘Can I Be Me?’, she is working on her first novel ‘The Sweet Promise of Bullshit’ and a second non-fiction book: ‘Emotional Justice’. Esther created ‘emotional justice’ to engage and explore how untold stories of hidden emotionality shape relationships, culture, society and policy. Armah has written four plays, all of which have been published in New York and Chicago. The plays are: ‘Can I Be Me?’, ‘Forgive Me?’. ‘Entitled!’, and SAVIOUR?  Her essays and articles have been published in New York and London, in publications The Guardian, AlterNet,,, Essence, AlterNet, Gawker.

Dr. Martin Orwin is Senior Lecturer in Somali and Amharic from SOAS, University of London in the Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa. Dr. Orwin has written several articles on Somali literature and also the Colloquial Somali course book which is a basic guiding book for studying Somali language. Currently, he is mainly working on Somali poetry.

Dr. Jama Musse Jama is an ethnomathematician and author. He has a PhD in African Studies specializing in Computational Linguistics of African Languages. He is founder of The Redsea Cultural Foundation, the organization behind the Hargeysa International Book Fair.

Dr. Morgan Nilsson is a linguist from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, who is working on Somali language. His main interests lie in the grammatical aspects of the language on which he has done research and published articles in addition to teaching Somali for Somalis in Sweden.

Mr. Mubarek Ahmed is a PHD candidate from the Institute of Languages at the Center of Studies and Research (CERD) in Djibouti. He is working on developing a digital platform for a French Somali Dictionary.

Dr. Abdirashid Ismail is a senior lecturer at the University of Djibouti where he teaches general linguistics and Somali linguistics. He was a president of the committee which laid the foundation of the Intergovernmental Academy of Somali Language in which he now serves as vice president. He is Coeditor of Afmaal among other linguistics works and his latest book is on Cilmi Boodheri which will be launched at this year’s Hargeysa International Book Fair.

Ms. Zainab Adan Jama is the founder of Galool, home of Somali education and resources, and the author of Somali English learning resources for young Somalis in the diaspora. Zainab is also a secondary school teacher in the UK. Her interest in Somali grammar and fascination with Somali culture in general allows her deeper understanding of issues such as identity and defines her literary works.

Mr. Mohamed H. Raabi is an independent scholar from Somaliland. He has published several Somali language and literature books with a main focus on the grammatical aspects of the language. He is one of the founders of ACALAN.

Miss Tirsit Yetbarek is a PhD student In the Department of Linguistics and Philology of the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Her work in progress is entitled ‘Linguistics study of Somalis in Dollo Ado refugee camp’ and it deals with Somali dialectal variations mainly conducted at Dollo Ado Refugee Camp located in the Ethiopian Somali Regional State that is hosting more than 180,000 Somali refugees from different Somali speaking areas.

Mr Saciid M. Jibriil Academic and Research Vice President of Hargeisa University.

Dr Maxamed Diiriye Cabdullaahi is a linguist who has worked at the University of Montreal and wrote the textbook Culture and Customs of Somalia .

Mr. Mustafa Abdullahi Feiruz is a linguist who works in Mogadishu University. He also helped set up and is the Editorinchief of S omali Studies a peer reviewed academic journal published by the Institute for Somali Studies in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Mr Faarax Axmed Cali ‘Gamuute’ is a poet and scholar who is soon to publish a major work on metre in Somali poetry.

Mr Khainga O’Okwemba is a broadcaster at the KBC English Service in Kenya which has the largest audience in the region. His work mainly is focused on promoting linguistic and cultural diversity in Africa with a particular focus on the Horn of Africa.

Mr. Mohamud Mohammed Abdillahi is director of the Institute of Somali Language and Literature Studies of Jigjiga University in the Ethiopian Somali Regional State.

Dr. Hussein M. Aden is the founder of the Somali Studies International Association.