22-February-2024

Hummaid: Poet Of Homeland And Its Poor Citizens

Hummaid: Poet Of Homeland And Its Poor Citizens

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) -  Sudanese poet Mohammad Alhassan Salim (Hummaid) is a landmark in the Sudanese national poetry.

Poet Hummaid, composing in the Sudanese vernacular, has won the hearts of millions of Sudanese who are aligned with the values of freedom, democracy, peace and the causes of the hardworking and the destitute.

These values were in constant focus of his verse. This has qualified him to the titles: "Poet of the homeland and the struggle for freedom” and “poet of the poor people”. 

Says Writer, Ms. Eiman Adam Khalid about him and his poetry:

"Poet Hummaid had died leaving behind hearts that loved him, souls that knew his value and his lofty human and literary heritage in which he was the insightful poet, the poet who never lied to his people, who sees with the eye of his heart and his inspired soul the magnitude of sacrifices and blood that would be a dowry for freedom.

He had confidence in this people and their ability to rise up out of the ashes and extinction like the phoenix bird in the Greek mythology". 

Hummaid was known as a poet always at loggerheads with despotic regimes in Sudan. That caused him to taste the bitterness of arrests, imprisonment, torture and forced migration to the Gulf states of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

He was born in the town of Noari  in the Northern State in 1956 and died in a car crash on the highway linking his home area with Khartoum in May 2012.

Despite his short life, Poet Hummaid had contributed a big deal to the country’s cultural movement.

He had taken podiums hundreds of times all over Sudan and within the congregations of Sudanese in the Gulf Region to recite his poetry.

Poet Hummaid had six published poetry collections and also with his lyrics performed by thirty singers, including the popular singer Mustafa Sidahmed who performed more than twenty of his poems.

One of his most famous poems is Am Abdur-Raheem (Uncle Abdur-Raheem) in which he tells the story of a poor worker who toils hard to help his family. But one day while on the back of his donkey, his mind busy with the problems of his life, a speeding police vehicle terrified the donkey. Uncle Abdur-Raheem was thrown down and a train coming from the other direction struck him dead.

Following are some stanzas from this poem:

Uncle Abdur-Raheem

First thing
in the morning
he rushes through his prayers,
muttering and mumbling,
listing all the saints,
fiddling with his prayer beads
staring at the ground,
troubled, muttering to himself,
then glancing at the sky -
up there
a few clouds
and many distant stars
Summertime
She never said, 'Good morning',
or asked if he slept well;
she never stroked his hair;
she never blew him a kiss,
a kiss from the depths of her heart -
nothing like the old days,
the good days.
Actually, she wasn't there:
she was in the stables
saddling the donkey
or milking the goats
for morning tea.
The birds had not begun
when Uncle Abdur-Raheem
reluctantly leaves home.
At the waterfront he meets
the other labourers;
some are from Ajjiref,
some are from the mountains.
'How's it going?' he asks;
he banters with them -
they wind him up,
but Uncle Abdur-Raheem
doesn't take the bait;
people round here
never get worked up:
get angry with who?
get angry about what?
Here, they're all friends,
like one big family;
even if they're not related
they're all in the same boat;
'Whatever happens', they say,
'long may you live, my friend;
have hope, despite it all.'
Uncle Abdur-Raheem
you were a farmer once upon a time,
free to fall asleep and
free to get up when you liked;
no clocking in
no timed lunch-breaks,
watering your fields on moonlit nights
planting under the stars.
But time is a wheel that never stops 

*** The poem has been translated by Alaadin Ahmed, Poetry Translation Center. 

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YH/AS 

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