YOUR WORK AS A POET IS BEYOND PENNING LINES
Within the literary sphere, there has oft’ been this argument of what the actual role of the poet ought to be in society. On the one side of this argument are those who believe that the poet does not owe society any allegiance and should be contented with just documenting his thoughts (commitment to art) while on the other side are those who believe that a poet’s loyalty is to his people and the society he belongs.
Poets who find themselves in the latter group are of two sub-categories; the first group are those who are content with just pointing out the ills in the society, using their art to incite social revolution, being the voice of the oppressed and downtrodden, and act as the vanguard of society; pointing out the path that society should go even though they do not engage the society physically.
However, poets who find themselves in the second subgroup do all that those in the first subgroup do, but they are not content with just documenting the ills in the society alone; they go on to engage the society physically.
This second group of poets see themselves as active participants and leaders of change in society; some, like Christopher Okigbo, had dumped the pen to pick the gun, some, like Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Jack Mapanje, had been incarcerated for daring to write against their governments, and others, like Wole Soyinka, have led numerous protests against societal injustice.
Maxamed Ibraahin Warsame; popularly known as Hadraawi; is perhaps one of the greatest living Somali poet, playwright, and philosopher. His poetry is composed in a sublime form of the Somali language employing vivid images and sound devices (such as alliteration)—indeed, many Somalis can recite his poetry offhand and most of his poems have musical renditions already. His poems bother on issues related to war and peace, love, societal mores and values, maladministration in governance, justice, patriotism, and many more.
Hadraawi did not just write, he was actively involved in the changes that took place in his society in his younger days. For daring to criticize the despotic government of Siad Barre in a play he composed, he was subjected to internment where he rejected inking an apology as the only condition for his release.
Upon release, he fled to Ethiopia where he joined the Somali National Movement (SNM) and continued unleashing revolutionary poems. He would later refuse to seek asylum in the United Kingdom, and return to his homeland to singlehandedly lead a march (known as the “Hadraawi Peace March”) appealing for peace and an end to all animosities.
Evidently, Hadraawi sees poetry not just as art, but also as a tool to be employed in changing the society for he did not only talk the talk—he also walked the walk. Herein lies his commitment as a poet to his people and society.
I would like to conclude some Supernatural Lines of His Poetry
Bulsho waxay ku leedahay
Bisiq iyo xangeeyiyo
Banji iyo dharkayn iyo
Dhirta boocda mooyee
Tolow baad la daaqiyo
Miyaan cawsna kaa bixin?
Bulsho waxay ku leedahay
Beertaadu hoog iyo
Bacad iyo habaas iyo
Bacow iyo qaniin iyo
Badso iyo shirqool iyo
Burso iyo khiyaaniyo
U buseelka godobtiyo
Cabsi iyo ma been baa?
My people: there is such a thing as society!
To the one who says you have no choice,
reply, ‘You have no clue!’
Don’t listen to his braying,
don’t give him the time of day!
The one who promised you much
and ducked the responsibility you gave him,
turned aside from your goals,
robbed you when you were poor,
belittled your beggarliness;
while you lacked even the basics,
this one, craving all comforts,
sported the thick skin of the lion,
wore hubris like a mane,
jumped up into the sky
boasting about his superiority –
he can’t stay up the mountain forever
nor can he delay his death-day:
his fall will break both shinbone and thigh.
~Falsafi Abdinoor Deyrow