22 November 2021 — Winners were announced today for the annual Home of Somali Poetry Awards run by the Home of Somali Poetry initiative (Hoyga Maansada Soomaaliyeed) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The Awards, run for the first time this year, were open to anyone writing in Somali to find the best creative talent across three categories: Poet of the Year, Woman Poet of the Year (sponsored by UNDP) and Youth Poet of the Year (for poets under the age of 25).
More than 2oo entries were received through the Home of Somali Poetry website and were judged by leading and upcoming poets, including Ahmed F. Ali (Idaajaa), Osman Abdullahi Guure, Mohamud Haji Mohamed (Tarash), Asha Mohamud Yusuf (Asha-luul) and Hawa Jama Abdi.
The Poet of the Year category was won by Mursal Dahir Caynte for his poem on freedom and colonialism. The UNDP Woman of the Year award was won by Raxma Xuseen Huriye who’s Poem appealed for unity and warned of the dangers that come when a society loses its culture and values. Youth Poet of the year was awarded to Mubarik Yusuf Dheeg for a poem on humility, kindness and respect.
“It is an honour for me to win the top prize of this year’s Hoyga Maansada Poetry Competition,” said Mursal. “I would like to thank God for this opportunity and I would also thank the organisers of the competition for encouraging young poets and for preserving Somali culture. Thanks also to UNDP for supporting this great initiative. I am inspired to continue writing poetry,” said Mursal Dahir Caynte.
“First of all, I would like to thank God for making this happen,” said Raxma Xuseen Huriye. “Secondly, I would like thank the Home of Somali Poetry initiative for the great work they have done. I am extremely happy to win the 2021 Woman Poet of the Year award.”
“I am so excited to have won the youth category; it is a dream come true, said Mubarik Yuusuf Dheeg. “I cannot express my feelings now, but I have to thank the organizers and the judges for the great work they have done in making this difficult task a reality.”
“We often say that Somalia is the nation of poetry and for me this means we are a wise nation with a healthy mind. I think our winners this year reflect those facts,” said well-known poet and 2021 awards judge Hawa Jama Abdi.
The official awards ceremony took place today in Mogadishu, with live performances of the winning poetry and appearances from celebrity guests.
The Awards are the latest activity from the Home of Somali Poetry initiative, which is being supported by UNDP to promote Somali poetry, women’s rights and peacebuilding.
Earlier this year, the Home of Somali Poetry launched its website (www.hoygamaansada.com) , which hosts a growing Somali Poetry Archive to preserve the classics and showcase new work from a fresh generation of poets, as well as an online magazine for poetry-related articles, interviews with poets, live performances, learning resources and more. The initiative will continue to organize special events, as well as commissioning new work and organizing live performances and cultural exchanges.
“Women poets have a long history of using poetry to speak out and stand up for their rights and those of their fellow citizens, even in the face of significant obstacles,” said UNDP Somalia’s Gender Specialist, Maha Abusamra. “We are delighted to be able to help women poets like Raxma find a wider audience for their work.”