There were so many remarkable people at the Hargeysa International Book Fair (HIBF) and so many things they said that I still reflect on.
"Marriage in our society is not considered a partnership, but an ownership"
"I am always in competition with myself. I am always in competition with the challenges that I have."
"I have this powerful urge to solve problems."
"All Somaliland needs is that recognition and the acceptance that Somaliland will not cross that bridge of forming a union with any other country again, because there is no bridge to cross."
Edna Aden embodies the Somaliland spirit of hope, tenacity and aspiration of a nation. A trained nurse, senior WHO official, first female Foreign Minister of Somaliland, activist and sincere advocate of women’s rights. After a successful career at the WHO, Edna invested her personal wealth and knowledge to reduce the staggeringly high levels of preventable infant and maternal mortality in Somaliland. She has built Somaliland's first hospital and is training 1000 midwives.
"There are two diasporas - the diaspora who remain and the diaspora who return to their home countries."
"We have to respect the knowledge and lived experiences of ALL people"
"We need to open up spaces to brothers and sisters doing the work rather than owning these spaces ourselves. When Eritreans are drowning in the Mediterranean, it's my phone that The Guardian calls...."
Hannah Pool is an Eritrean born British journalist and curator. Her memoir titled "My Father's Daughter" is simply riveting. Snippet below from her true story.
"In 1974 Hannah Pool was adopted from an orphanage in Eritrea and brought to England by her white adoptive father. She grew up unable to imagine what it must be like to look into the eyes of a blood relative until one day a letter arrived from a brother she never knew she had. Not knowing what to do with the letter, Hannah hid it away. But she was unable to forget it, and ten years later she finally decided to track down her surviving Eritrean family and embarked upon a journey that would take her far from the comfort zone of her metropolitan lifestyle to confront the poverty and oppression of a life that could so easily have been her own."
"A story that needs to be told, never forgives silence"
"I would rather stay in a cocoon and not flourish than live in a society that is corrupted."
Chuma Nwokolo is a highly acclaimed Nigerian poet, writer and editor of several novels including "Diaries of a dead African", "How to spell Naija", "The ghosts of Sani Abacha" etc. He is also currently proposing a revolutionary bill called "Bribecode" that could deal with the issue of corruption in Nigeria.
"I came up with my first poem at the age of 8 when I was lost in the wilderness, all alone and I needed to communicate with the animals not to harm me."
Hawo Jama Abdi
Hawo is a young female poet and a disability rights activist who was born blind
"Telling us to talk about Nigeria in an hour is similar to placing an elephant in the middle of the market and giving us small knives to carve it up with."
"We are culturally incapable of brevity"
"We have imbeciled ourselves by assuming we can't learn more than one language."
"If you have to eat a toad, you have to eat a big one."
Professor Niyi Osundare
Prof. Niyi Osundare is a prolific poet, dramatist and literary critic
"Stories have a lot of moral lessons. It's an important way to impart lessons to children."
"When you bully someone, it's similar to crumpling a piece of paper. You can unfold it, but the creases remain."
Maimouna is a writer and curator of stories focusing on Ancient Tales of East Africa.