KHARTOUM (Sudannow) - This month six years have elapsed since the death of the Sudanese People’s Poet Mahjoub Sahrif, a strong voice in the defense of the people’s struggle for democracy, freedom and honourable livelihood through his special style in composing verse in the Sudanese vernacular.
Majoub Sharif was born in 1948 in the Abgaddoom Village in central Sudan and died in Omdurman here on 2 April 2014. It is between these two signboards that Mahjoub Sharif had lived a life of struggle, poetry and charity projects for the society. He died leaving behind a bright white CV that inspired Sudanese revolutionaries and instilled in them the love of their country and the desire to rebuild it and sacrifice their souls for it.
“As an influential character in Sudanese history, Mahjoub found his way to people’s hearts by making his poetry part of everyone’s daily life and rhythm.
His simple and direct poem made of vernacular of ordinary people as well as his focus on political, social and economic injustice gave him the edge of being a ‘true’ representative of them. But the decisive factor of the overwhelming love by the people his humbleness, integrity, honesty and courageous life he lived”, wrote Abdulkhalig Elsir, editor-in-chief of The Gazelle, the website for Afro-Australian voices.
He never stops dreaming of a better tomorrow. His poems devoted to inspire people to believe in themselves:
We will built the country we always dream about
An inclusive and a huge one with no doubt
A bird in the place of bullet
Hovering around a fountain
…A hospital in place of a prison
Mahjoub Sharif’s relentless struggle led him into the jails during the dictatorial rules of generals Ja’afar Nimeri and Omar Albashir.
The long years Mahjoub Sharif had spent behind the bars, reveal the magnitude of this poet’s steadfastness and the magnitude of the ‘word’ as a weapon no less than other weapons in the frightening of dictators.
Mahjoub Sharif had spent ten years in the jails of Nimeri out of the 16 years Nimeri had ruled the Sudan.
He had also spent nine years in Bashir’s jails.
The result of this was an infection with lung fibrosis in 2004 due to his long stay under humid conditions inside the jails, an ailment that continued with him until his death in April 2014.
The long years Mahjoub Sharif had spent behind the bars had placed him among the most famous prisoners of conscience in the World, like the American rights activist Martin Luther King and the other rights defenders.
In honour of this struggle of Mahjoub Sharif, a cell was devoted to him in the famous American prison on the Alcatraz Island facing the City of San Francisco, California, among 12 cells devoted to famous rights defenders. The prison, known as one of the harshest and most violent of the world’s jails, was closed in 1963 to become a museum visited by tourists from all over the World.
The prison walls were decorated with portraits of every one of these heroes and through its mikes one can hear the voices of poets and artists from all over the world who suffered arrests and annoyances, reading their poetry and displaying their arts. These works of art are played in many of the world languages.
The poem chosen from Sharif’s collection, now aired in the prison, was composed in prison under the title asfoor alhaneen (the homesick sparrow). He composed this poem in prison in 1990:
A homesick sparrow,
Perches on the heart’s window;
With longing eyes,
It cranes out to glance at the houses,
At the distant skies,
Waiting for a cheerful morning,
With promises laden,
To land like a turban,
On the shoulder of the homeland.
With each coup in a dark abyss we plunge,
The heavy-footed junta besiege our songs,
They agitate our inkpot, confiscate its internal peace.
They poison the cheerful spring,
And place their muzzles on everything.
What a pleasant dream they disfigure,
In the eyes of each mother.
But they can’t manage to silence us.
In their cells we sip,
The perseverance syrup,
To remain bold and steadfast.
O my times in incarceration,
O my pain of longing and torment,
If I lose touch with you,
Who, in this time of coercion, would I be?
If I lose touch with you I will betray,
The little ones yet to come,
If I lose touch with you,
Conceited and self-centered I will become.
So long as I have a voice in my chords,
What prison—or even death—can silence me?
We will never succumb.
They have no say
In our destiny.
No they don’t.
We are the ones who bring life
To the dead pores of dormancy.
O my sweetheart,
My life partner,
In the high regards I will always keep you.
O my beloved daughters,
Nestled in the shade of the kind people.
O the luminous space in the eye range:
Warm me up with your peaceful greetings,
With your letters.
Give my greetings to my peers;
Give my greetings to the clouds;
Give my greetings to the earth;
Give my greetings to the crowds;
And to the words of romance,
In the notebooks of the youth.
Many of his poems were sung by well-known Sudanese singers such as Mohamed Wardi, Mustafa Sid Ahmed and Igd Algalad Band.
E N D