The Somali Media organizations and professional journalists as well as all Somali Pen society and Poet and songwriter’s are feeling sorry for the death of the prominent Somali poet philosopher and songwriter today August 18, 2022 in Hargeysa, Somalia. He was considered by many to be the greatest living Somali poet, having written many notable protest works. Hadrawi has been likened by some to Shakespeare, and his poetry has been translated into various languages.
Late Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame better known as “Hadrawi” was born in Burco, situated in the Togdheer region of Somaliland in 1943. He hailed from the Ahmed Farah sub-division of the Habar Jeclo clan of the Isaaq. His family was poor and consisted of one girl and eight boys. In 1953, at the age of nine, he went to live with an uncle in the Yemeni port city of Aden. While at school, he became known for his wonderful storytelling about lions, jackals and hyenas.
When Somalia was declared independent from Italy in 1959, Hadraawi moved from Aden to Mogadishu. In the early 1970s, he graduated in literature and education from Somali University in Mogadishu. Also during this time, he became well-known for his poetry and plays. His storytelling at Radio Mogadiscio was legendary. Radio stations were numerous in those days, making available a platform for people’s opinions and criticisms: “The freshly independent Somalis loved politics, every nomad had a radio to listen to political speeches, and remarkable for a Muslim country, women were also active participants, with only mild mumblings from the more conservative sectors of society.”
Hadraawi was no exception in speaking his mind. Known as an influential commentator on the political situation in Somalia, he became highly critical of the military regime of Siad Barre, who had taken power in 1969. Unfortunately, because of one of Hadraawi’s plays, Tawaawac (Lament) and his poem, Siinley, Hadraawi was imprisoned at the infamous Qansax Dheere from 1973 to 1978.
After his release in 1978, he became the director of the arts section of the Academy of Science, Arts and Literature for Somalia. In 1982, he joined the Somali National Movement that was based in London. In 1981, for refusing to praise the government, Hadraawi had to flee Somalia for Ethiopia. There, he joined other emigre members of his Isaaq Somali clan to work for independence from the military regime of Barre. When Barre was finally overthrown, in 1991, violent regional factionalism broke out and became the new threat to Somalia. Disappointed, Hadraawi moved to London.
During the years 1991 to 1999, Hadraawi traveled throughout Europe, taking part in many poetry and folklore festivals. When a relative peace had returned to his homeland in Somaliland, he returned and settled in the now recovering and thriving city of Hargeisa.
By: Daud Abdi Daud
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