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Name: Mohammad Alfaitori, Occupation: Literary Writer

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW) So read his passport: Name Mohammad Muftah Alfaitori. Occupation: Literary Writer. It is unprecedented in the history of Sudanese passports to write under occupation “literary writer”.
But the late Faitori was genuine in the way he chose to describe himself: A poet, a playwright and a literary critic of unusual caliber.
Faitori , born in Geneina of western Darfur district towards the border with Chad in 1930, died in Rabat, Morocco, on Friday evening from a clot in the brain, aged 85.
By the death of Faitori a poetic superman has now eclipsed. He was not just a local poet . His genius had transcended the borders , garnering him a wide audience that readily called him “Africa’s Poet.’’ Africa’s poet because he dedicated much of his creation in praise and defense of the black continent.
He died at the Sheikh Zayid Bin Sultan Hospital in Rabat with his luminous soul echoing his famous lines: Like a young dervish clinging to the feet of his religious master/ I wallow in my grief/ glow in my body/ shine sometimes/ then fade and die.
Because of his continuous movement in the region, it was sometimes difficult to discern which nationality he belonged to : From Sudan, to Libya, to Beirut , to Sudan and then to Morocco where his noble soul came to a final and eternal rest under the eyes of his loving Moroccan wife, Rajat, lived our big poet. But most of his poetry was dedicated to his country , Sudan, which he likened to ‘’ a sun that rests in our hands, and ‘’ Sudan is a fragrant song carried by the gentle winds.’’ In the same poem he vows that : Sudan..We never and will never take you lightly.’’
As a young boy Faitori moved to Alexandria, Egypt, where he learned the Holy Koran at the behest of his father who was a ‘khalifa’’ in the Shathaliyya Sufi order. He later joined an Islamic studies institute and then enrolled in the Dar al-Uloom College of the Al Azhar University in Cairo majoring in Arabic. He worked in several Sudanese and Egyptian universities and then became a media expert in the Arab League’s head office in Cairo during the 1960s. Later on he served as information consultant in the Libyan embassies in Rome, Beirut , Rabat and Damascus.
In 1974 his criticism of the government in Khartoum infuriated the then President Ja’afar Numeri who stripped him from his Sudanese passport. The document was restored to him a few years ago by President Bashir. He had befriended former Libyan strongman Kaddafi who held him in high esteem and gave him a Libyan passport.
Faitori is seen as a name not to be skipped in the contemporary Arab literary movement. He is also seen as one of the vanguards of the modern Arab free verse. His primary subject matter had always been Africa and its people’s incessant ordeals , the African struggle against slavery and colonialism and the yearn for freedom. Faitori had led the way for many Arab poets who enshrined Africa’s struggle for freedom and renaissance . His contributions under these themes are conspicuously reflected in his collections : A Lover From Africa(1964), Remember Me Africa, Songs From Africa (1955) and his play: African Grieves (1966). This contribution had made of him Africa’s uncontested voice and truly earned him the title of “Africa’s Poet”.
In an obituary published today, the General Union of Arab Writers said al-Faitori's poems which uphold the rights of the oppressed people in the Arab world and Africa have been the foundation of the wide fame he has acquired. These poems are included in the school curricula in Sudan, Egypt and other countries.
Sudan’s Ambassador to Morocco Suleiman Abd al-Towab wrote an eulogy in which he considered him ‘’ a superb poetic figure and an emissary of Arabic poetry.’’
The Ambassador said that until his last moments Faitori was yearning for his country and its people.
When the Egyptian Writers Association granted him the Najeeb Mahfouz award in literature, Lebanese literary critic Abdu Wazin wrote that “Faitori does not need an award that perpetuates his presence. He is present come the awards or not..His voice that starts angry and resounding, no sooner, calms down.. becomes gentle , as he recites his poetry.. Faitori is unmatched.”
Wazin has also said: Our poet who was born at the periphery has continued to be the poet of the periphery of singing , commitment , classicalism , romanticism and modernity.” I don’t know why whenever I read Faitori , I remember the Senegalese Poet Leopold Sedar Senghor , who despite the difference in experiment , had incarnated the idea of negritude . The difference between them is that Faitori was casual and had practically lived negritude as an angry poet affected by the wounds of history. I cannot forget his verse : Say it and do not be afraid / Say I am a Negro/ My father is a Negro and so is my mother.
Lebanese publisher Mohammad Saeed Mohammadiyya said in a biography about him: His tender and solemn voice sometimes , tempestuous in other times , is able to strike a chord with his audience and compel them to interact with him in a manner unchallenged by any other poet.
Faitori’s death had caused a wide stir in the social media. Poets, literary critics and the poet’s fans wrote intensively about him and about his creation. These lines in his famous poem “Yagout Alarsh” continue to change hands on the social media: It is a life not owned by who owns it/ Its richest are its poor masters/ The loser is the one who does not take what it shyly gives / And the ignorant is that who thinks things are what they are!


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Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...

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