MOGADISHU, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Somalia is hosting an international book fair, the fourth such event in the restive Mogadishu in more than two decades.
The three-day literary festival, which ends later on Friday brought together writers, scholars, authors, intellectuals, poets, musicians and other literary giants from Somalia and the Diaspora.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said the fair is another demonstration of the atmosphere of peace and stability being enjoyed in Somalia, as a result of gains made on the security front.
"The presence of the AU troops in the Horn of Africa country has ensured progress in the security, political and socio-economic fronts," said the AU mission in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
According to AMISOM, thousands of book enthusiasts have thronged the annual Mogadishu Book Fair, which opened its doors to the public on Wednesday.
More than 36 guests and 20 renowned poets from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, North America, the East and Horn of Africa region are attending the three-day festival.
About 400 new titles are on display at the Book Fair, while more than 2,000 books on 178 different topics are being exhibited.
Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Guled Khadar who opened the festival underlined the importance of inculcating a culture of reading in the country.
"Knowledge should be our guiding principle; we should use our minds creatively. Writing, reading and literary competitions, as well creative ideas, are a prerequisite for development," Khadar said.
Mohamed Diini, the fair's organizer, said the Mogadishu Book Fair has for the first time in its history, introduced a reading tent for children, noting that at least 400 children are attending the fair and interacting with storytellers and writers of children's books.
"I think this is going to be something great for the parents and children because ultimately what the Book Fair is all about is to promote literacy, reading not just for schooling purposes but reading for fun, reading for pleasure, promoting anything that is related to knowledge, scholarship and uniting authors and professors and poets and playwrights, Somalis and non-Somalis, giving them a chance to network, benefit from each other so that it will contribute, as I say every year, to the building of the new Somalia that will be better tomorrow than today," said Diini.
A united Somali society took center stage, advocating for quality Somali education and the promotion of a culture of reading and literacy with the tools to obtain it.
Renowned writer Shafie Sharif Mohamed described the festival as a meeting hub of creatives, saying the book fair is the yearly meeting hub of Somali writers.
"This is the forum where people from all walks of life present their ideas and gets feedback from experts or people with more experience. It also gives Somali youth a chance to get to see thousands of books which are not available anywhere else. It is a good opportunity for the youth, as well as for the writers," he said.
Somali-Canadian novelist and journalist Hassan Gedi Santur is exhibiting at the fair for the first time.
His anthology of short stories called "Mediterranean" gives a look at the African migration crisis and the perilous journeys through the Mediterranean, in search of a better life abroad.
"As a writer, I feel nothing is more important than writing and reading for the culture, for the civilization of a nation," said Santur.
"So instead of fighting and disagreeing with weapons; to be able to disagree and share perspectives through language, through ideas, I think is the basis of any thriving nation. I think this is going to go a long way to helping that and building a more prosperous democratic society," he added.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has sponsored the festival for three years in a row in support of a Somali-driven campaign for literacy.