Legendary Somali poet Hadraawi at #Kwanilitfest in Nairobi

Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame, or Hadraawi, is a prominent Somali poet and songwriter hailing from Toghdeer in former British Somaliland. Hadraawi, whose stage name means ‘the master of speech’, is not  only revered for his fabulous word-smithery but also for his courage and dedication in advocating for peace in Somalia.

In the poet’s own words:

I use poetry to fight society’s evil. I do that because it is just my destiny.

Hadraawi performed last Sunday at Kwani Lit Fest in Nairobi alongside Warsan Shire and El Poet. He also participated in a discussion with Said Jama Hussein on his art and struggle for peace in the Horn of Africa.

Hadraawi reminded the audience that ‘[his] poetry does not come from the sky. It is directly linked to the realities that prevail’. On Twitter, @missmbithe commented on ‘the beauty of the words inspired by witnessing war’, thus saluting the profound resilience of  artists who manage to translate harsh realities into pieces of art.

For poetry fans, the good vibes are nowhere near waning, as @PoetryTranslate announced on Twitter their upcoming publication of a volume of Hadraawi’s poems:

Even though Somali poetry is traditionally chanted and committed to memory to be passed down orally, more and more poems are being put down on paper. The Poetry Translation Centre is spearheading exciting translation work that enable English speakers to access selected works by Somali poets. You will, for example, be treated to a brilliant translation of the poem ‘Daalacan’, presented alongside the original Somali version as well as background notes.


More on Somali poetry: Introduction to Somali poetry by Martin Orwin

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