Hadraawi (born Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame, 1943) (Somali: Maxamed Ibraahim Warsame (Hadraawi); Arabic: ? ?) is a prominent Somali poet and songwriter. He is considered by many to be the greatest living Somali poet, having written many notable protest works. Hadraawi has been likened by some to Shakespeare, and his poetry has been translated into various languages.Biography
Hadraawi was born in Burco, situated in the former British Somaliland protectorate. He hails from the Isaaq clan. 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. There, Warsame began attending a local school where he received the nickname "Hadraawi" (Abu Hadra), a pseudonym by which he is now popularly known. In 1963, he became a primary school teacher.
Return to Somalia
After Somalia gained its independence, Hadraawi relocated from Aden to Mogadishu, the nation's capital, and began working for Radio Mogadiscio. In Mogadishu, he both attended and later taught at Lafoole (Afgooye) University. He also worked for the government's Department of Information. Aside from the love lyrics (one of which is the poem translated here), he was a powerful commentator on the political situation and critic of the then military regime in Somalia. Imprisoned between 1973 and 1978.
In 1973, Hadraawi wrote the poem Siinley and the play Tawaawac ("Lament"), both of which were critical of the military government that was then in power. For this dissent, he was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in Qansax Dheere until April 1978.
Somali National Movement
Following his release from prison in 1978, Hadraawi became the d
rector of the arts division of the Academy of Science, Arts, and Literature in Somalia. when he joined the opposition Somali National Movement based in Ethiopia. He was a very powerful voice in the ensuing years of civil war and the repressive military regime, and continues to be a very important poet commenting on the predicament the Somalis face.
Hadraawi relocated to Great Britain in 1991. During this period, he traveled frequently throughout Europe and North America to participate in folklore and poetry festivals.
In 1999, Hadraawi returned once more to his native Somalia, this time settling in Hargeisa. The following year, the mayor of Chicago invited him to participate in the latter city's Millennium Festival.
Hadraawi now lives in Burco, and has reportedly made the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).
Contributions to popular music
Besides volumes of poems and dozens of plays, Hadraawi has participated in numerous collaborations with popular vocal artists. His lyrical corpus includes:
Baladweyn - song performed by Hasan Adan Samatar in 1974
Saxarlaay ha Fududaan - sung by the late Mohamed Mooge Liibaan
Jacayl Dhiig ma Lagu Qoraa? - sung by Magool, and later translated by Hanna Barket as "Is Love Written in Blood?" or "Do You Write Love in Blood?". Another translation of the song by the British linguist and Somali Studies doyen Martin Orwin is "Has Love Been Blood-written?".
In 2012, Hadraawi was awarded the Prince Claus Award for his contributions to peace through his poetry.
“Without poetry we would not exist as a society. It can rouse thousands of people in a minute and demobilize thousands in a minute. As the stomach needs food, so the brain needs beautiful words.”