Revival of reading
“It has created tremendous excitement, especially among young people,” Jelle said. “Somalia is still suffering from the civil war. You see many young kids still carrying guns. The child soldiers don’t want to go back to school and the illiteracy level is very high.” According to the African Union Mission in Somalia, Somalia has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world with only 37.8 percent of the population being literate.
“The reading culture started going down. But the MBF has brought reading back to young people. There was a turn-up of about 2,000 people mostly in their 20s and 30s. The future lies in the hands of the young people and they want to be part of the book fair. That inspired me,” Jelle added.
Jelle calls the MBF the new face of Somalia that Somalis would like to show to the world. “Somalia is known as a place full of terrorism and violence, guns and explosions. Nobody ever believed 2,000 people would come together to talk about books. The MBF provided a new image, gave us a new identity. We became an example to other African countries,” she noted.
The MBF, held in the City Palace Hotel on August 17-19, gathered over 30 authors, scholars and life coaches from Somalia, East Africa with