Hadraawi at the Literature festival 2012 in Kenya

The fourth edition of our biennial gathering of writers, poets, literary academics and theorists from the continent kicks off between 9th – 16th December, 2012.

Titled Conversations With The Horn: Writers, Artists In Exchange, this year’s festival will host Somali poet Hadraawi, Sudanese-English novelist Jamal Mahjoub & Eritrean writer and historian Alemsegad Tefsayi to share their work with writers from other parts of the continent.

These include Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Sadaawi & Nigerian and Ghanaian novelists, Helon Habila and Kojo Laing. They will also be joined by writers from Mozambique, Namibia, and Cameroon.

Hadraawi is a prominent Somali poet and songwriter, considered by many to be the greatest living Somali poet, having written many notable protest works. Hadraawi was born in Burco, situated in present-day Somaliland. In 1953, at the age of nine, he went to live with an uncle in the Yemeni port city of Aden, where he began attending a local school where he received his nickname, “Hadraawi” (Abu Hadra), a pseudonym by which he is now popularly known. In 1963, he became a primary school teacher.

After Somalia gained its independence, Hadraawi relocated from Aden to Mogadishu 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 love lyrics, he was a powerful commentator on the political situation and critic of the then military regime in Somalia.

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.

Following his release from prison in 1978, Hadraawi became the Director of the Arts Division of the Academy of Science, Arts, and Literature in Somalia and later joined the opposition Somali National Movement based in Ethiopia. He was a very prominent voice in the ensuing years of civil war. Hadraawi relocated to Great Britain in 1991, returning to Somaliland in 1999, 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 will be awarded with a 2012 Prince Claus Award for his contributions to peace through poetry in January 2013.


Details on the event

Venue: Kifaru Gardens
Time: 2.00pm – midnight
Free Entry

Kwani Trust Chairman, Mr. Tom Maliti, invites guests to the festival opening of the 2012 Kwani? Litfest, featuring an opening speech on The Horn and its relationship with East Africa by IGAD Executive Secretary Eng. Mahboub Maalim

Time: 3pm – 4.30pm
Poetry by
Hadraawi, Warsan Shire & El Poet. Hadraawi in conversation with Said Jama Hussein

Time: 4.30pm – 5.30pm
Music by
Waayaha Cusub

Time:7.15pm – 8.00pm
Readings by
Binyavanga Wainaina, Helon Habila, Yvonne Owuor & Kojo Laing

Time: 8.00pm – midnight
DJ Set by DJ Zelalem

The festival opening & keynote address is presented in partnership with IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) www.igad.int