Architecture, literature and the African identity

Architecture, just like any other form of art, is a manifestation of human emotion, culture and traditions. As Somaliland is fast transitioning from the rubbles of war and civil strife, architects have a great opportunity to participate in the reconstruction. Joe Addo, a renowned Ghanaian architect, presented the work of ArchiAfrika Foundation at the fair. He encouraged young architects to utilise local resources and work with local communities in order to integrate ideas that will best define Somaliland.

Addo also recognises the importance of the diaspora in the development of a nation and the role they play in its transformation. He encouraged Africa to connect with her diaspora in order to broaden development prospects. “It is the attachment to a place, sense of being and identity that will transform Africa”, he said.

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The Human Experience

Imagine the horror of an eight-year old watching his mother shot dead before him…imagine the chaos his life is thrown into afterwards…imagine his life as a refugee.

This is the life of Asad Abdullahi, the main character in the novel ‘A Man of Good Hope’ by South African writer Jonny Steinberg. Steinberg presents this situation, that on the surface might appear like a lone story, but in reality treats major current global issues such as migration, poverty and racism. Expounding on xenophobia, Steinberg says it starts with governments that mistreat minority groups, which gradually feeds into a national psyche. While discussing his book with Zahra Ahmed, he said he found that matters of truth and memory are not always straightforward. In telling someone’s story, it is important to stay true to their story.

Cover - Man of Good Hope

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From Somaliland to Nigeria

The festival rose to the third day with exciting discussions on writing, poetry and the guest country Nigeria.

Young women poets and writers opened the stage, sharing their experiences, in a panel looking at spaces for future generations. Hawo Jama Abdi, a poet who was born blind, first composed poetry when her nomadic family accidentally left her behind as a child. Her poem to the wilderness soothed her at a very scary and desolate moment. Nadifa Mohamed, a British novelist of Somaliland heritage, could relate to Hawo’s poem as in her own writing, she addresses a certain absence that is filled through the stories she weaves. In talking about being role models, Yasmin Kahin, a playwright and poet, feels that she and the other young Somaliland women are the first generation of female writers.


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