12-December-2017

A Scoop: Sudanow Publishes His Last Poems, The Late Noor Osman's Biography And Memories

A Scoop:  Sudanow Publishes His Last Poems,  The Late Noor Osman's  Biography And Memories

Last time out: Poet Noor Osman Abakar was seen with his spouse Margaret

By: Mohamed Najeeb Mohamed Ali

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Poet Noor Osman Abker "1938 - 2009" played an important role in the Sudanese cultural movement from the sixties to the mid-seventies.His emigration to Doha did not prevent his cultural and creative activities. He worked as Culture Editor in Doha magazine, headed then by Sudanese critic Ibrahim Al-Shush.

Noor was open to modernity thought, especially as he witnessed this thought movement when he was in Germany and studied German literature in its classical origins. He read the novelists Hermann Hesse and Günter Grass, he also discovered Martin Heidegger’s existential philosophy, and read Husserl and the German Romanticism.

Hence he was able to savor the existential philosophy that appeared with Jean-Paul Sartre. He and his friend, the Sudanese poet Mohammed al-Makki Ibrahim who lived with him in the same house, read the existential literature of the period. This was in the early sixties, and after their graduation from the University of Khartoum they migrated to Germany where he stayed until 1965, and then returned back to Sudan. This period influenced deeply the thought and literary orientation of Noor Othman Abker. The effects of this influence appeared in his collections of poems “The Awakness of The Forgotten Words” (Sa’hw Alkalimaat Al Mansiyah) and “Singing for The Grass and The Flower” (Ghinaa’ Lil’uchb Wa Alzahrah).

Noor and his daughter, Isis

Then he started, with some friends of him, to think about the "Forest and Desert movement" (Al Ghaba Wa Sahraa). These friends were Mohammed Abdel Hai, Yousef Ayedabi, And Mohammed Al-Makki Ibrahim. The latter said in an interview that the “Forest And Desert” was Noor Othman’s idea at first, and then the four of them contributed to elaborate it the way people knew it. It seems that the disagreement between Mohamed Abdel Hai and Noor was about who had came up with the idea first. Then came the famous debate between Noor and the poet Salah Ahmed Ibrahim about Arab and African identities, Noor wrote his article “I Am Not An Arab, But” addressing Salah who used to say “We Are The Arabs Of The Arabs”. 

Noor started to get interested in cultural activities; he was the cultural supervisor of the cultural page in “Al Rai Al Aam” newspaper (General Opinion). He introduced many of young writers especially in the short story genre, one of these writers is the famous Mahjoub Shaarany. He translated Nigerian playwright and poet Soyinka’s play “The Lion and the Jewel”. He also participated in the first novel conference in the early seventies with an important paper about the Sudanese novel. Noor was one of the most active, energetic, and serious intellectuals and contributors in the general cultural affairs. He greatly contributed and participated in the Aba Damak Sudanese writers group, but he ceased his activities in this group after the coup of Hashim Atta in July 1971 against Numeiry's government and the famous Wednesday symposium; then he migrated to Qatar.

Noor with Majzoub

Noor’s friendship with the late poet Mohammed Mahdi Majzoub was special, to the extent that he said he considered himself his disciple. He also participated in the literary club held in Abdullah Hamed Al-Ameen’s House in Omdurman, there he listened to the singers Othman Hussein and Othman Al-Hweij, and met Tayyeb Salih who joined the club for few months . Many poets were Noor’s disciples, including Alim Abbas, Hassan Abu Kaddouk, and Mohammed Mohammed Khair “I often accompanied Mohammed Mohammed Khair to visit Nour in his house in Al Safia”.

Noor had very wide relations in the cultural circles and his opinion was respected within his social relationships. He was also a sharp critic, and his literary activity included the translation of several books and works. Among his most important translations was his most recent translation of the Darfur section, Gustav Bachtibal's trip and also the journey of the German traveler Brim to Sudan.

Noor loved to read, to spend money on books and to collect the most important Arabic and English publications. He had an incredibly large library that his family made after his death an open library for scholars and readers as an on-going charity for his soul, as his daughter Isis told me. With more than seven thousand titles in various forms of culture and creativity, it became one of the largest libraries in Sudan in Khartoum Bahri. Noor worked for a long time, till his last days as an interpreter in the Royal Court in Qatar.

Najeeb with Margaret

Stations In The Life Of The Poet:

Noor’s German wife Margaret Osman, turning the pages of an album that detailed her life with him, told Sudanow at the family house in Khartoum North that she met him for the first time in one of the cafeterias in Munich in the 1960s. It was a common friend of them who introduced him to her, and then Noor asked for another appointment. When they met, she offered him Rilke’s “German Poets”, and he offered her a symphony of Beethoven and asked her to marry him. Their eldest daughter Isis was born there in Germany. He would have given his uncle’s name “Abdulrahman” to his baby if the new born was a boy.

“One month before he passed away, I was on a trip from Qatar to Khartoum” she adds, “he complained of some dizziness, and I asked him to see the doctor. He promised that he would do. When I arrived in Khartoum I called him and asked him if he had gone to the doctor, he told me that he did not but he went to the book fair and bought books. Books for him were recovery and medicine. Books were Noor’s life. In our house in Qatar, all the rooms were filled with bookshelves, no room escaped from that. Noor often said “I have so many books. What would they become? What will I do?”

He did not leave a will, but I thought there should be a library that bears his name in commemoration of him, and for the benefit of others, he had in our house a complete salon full of books, along with the many books that we brought from Doha. It took us a long time to arrange and catalog the library. We were assisted by Mr. Mohamed Abdelkader from the National Library, and we’re still working on it, relying on our own efforts.”

 

Remaining Traces:

Isis Noor, a plastic artist, says that her father left lots of manuscripts and books still unpublished. She has found more than sixty poems, some of them between the pages of books and most of them were written in Doha in the 2000s and some in the 90s also. She gathered them and handed them to poet Kamal al-Gizouli  and poet Alim Abbas to see and review them by virtue of their friendship to her father. The latter used to sign the poems at the date of writing, but some of them had no date. She also found many short stories and many translations that had not seen the light yet.

Isis added that she found among his papers many letters from Tayyib Saleh, Muhammad al-Mahdi Majthoub, Ibrahim al-Salhi, Ali al-Mak and others. Isis says that her father, may God's mercy and blessings be upon him, started his day reading before drinking coffee and going to work. When he returned he was also reading or writing before lunch and the same in the evening. He insisted on listening to music while he was reading or writing. He loved jazz music very much and he left a music library containing reel tapes, international records and works by Sudanese artists such as Khader Bashir, Abudaud, Zaidan and Mohamed Al Amin.

Isis added that her father mastered the three skills of reading, writing, and speaking in English and German, and in his library there were books in German, he brought them from Germany when he was there, and some of these books were gifts from her mother.She says that her father loved the basketball and practiced it for a long time when he was young.

Isis

 

Among what she found between the pages of books, Isis says, there was the beginning of a poem that says:

For a moment I was invaded by nostalgia

And for a moment I was beaten at your unbeatable door

It was written on a paper of the tenth Arab Conference held in 1975 in Algeria, and was found in a book of poetry. Noor’s last poem, Isis says, was dedicated to her mother. It was written on the12th of November 2008, shortly before his departure, and has not been published before.

 

The Last Poem:

To love you or not to love you

You who gathered in my afflicted imagination

The fact that I am

A stranger in the land of extended love

To my age

Is it at the end of the terrible roads?

That I long

For an egg numbness

I bring the singer

Oh flower in the desire space

Blessed he who enjoys your shelter

And carries in his chest from your eyes

An affection of two peoples and organizes the worlds.

 

Isis concluded that her father passed away in Qatar, where he spent thirty years and where he was buried among Qatari people who loved him and missed him because he considered them his family.

 

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MN/MO/AS

 

Comment

  1. Niama BENHALLAM

    "Forest and Desert" is an outstanding idea and an experience that deserves to be extended to the whole world. We desperately need such initiatives that try to create certain reconciliation between the North and the South, between the East and the West, between humans. Humanity is threatened by extinction if violence, hatred, and absence of dialog persist. Noor Osman’s poetry and works go beyond simple written words to reach humanity in its existential dimension. It’s such a pleasure to discover and read such personality. Tank you Mohamed Najeeb Mohamed Ali for the pleasure you provide by such interesting interviews.

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