Sudan: Google Celebrates 85th Birthday of Late Sudanese Poet Muhammad Al-Fayturi

30 November 2021

Khartoum — The American multinational technology and media giant Google has celebrated on Tuesday the 85th birthday of the outstanding poet and writer Muhammad al-Faytouri on its first Internet page.

Google's page, illustrated by guest artist Nora Zeid, today celebrates Sudanese-Libyan poet, playwright, and diplomat Muhammad al-Fayturi, read the Agency's article on the occasion.

Thread together by the language of revolution, al-Fayturi's work breathed new life into contemporary Arabic literature with a fusion of mystic philosophy, African culture, and a call for a future free from oppression, it further wrote.

Muhammad Muftah Rajab al-Fayturi was born in 1936 in Al-Geneina, a town on the western border of Sudan, to a family of a combination of Sudanese and Libyan linage. At 3 years of age, he moved with his family to Egypt where he spent the remainder of his childhood. He went on to study literature and the sciences at university and found work as an editor for Egyptian and Sudanese newspapers following graduation.

In 1956, al-Fayturi published his first collection of poems entitled "Songs of Africa," which explored the impacts of colonialism on the collective African identity and encouraged his African readership to embrace their Continent's cultural roots.

He published numerous plays, books, and other poetry collections as he lived and worked as a writer and journalist across North Africa, from Lebanon to his birth country of Sudan. Almost 50 years after the release of his first collection, al-Fayturi's literary career climaxed with the release of his final two books in 2005. Today, he is widely regarded as "a trailblazer of modernist Arabic literature" as some writers put it.

Al-Fayturii appeared on Google's page writing on papers, while at the background appeared a Sudanese local market. The letters of the English word Google were redesigned to look close to the Arabic calligraphy.

Faytiuri had navigated high in the world of Arabic verse since the 1950s with his Sudanese-Libyan identities giving varying sounds in his poems. He glorifies Africa, also carrying with him the obsessions of the Arab citizen, especially with respect to liberties, and at the same time opening up towards the other human cultures, though Africa and its causes had dominated his verse. For this he had come to be known as the poet of the oppressed Continent.

His first poetry collection Songs Of Africa (1956) was an exploration of the influence of colonialism on the African collective identity, urging Africans to commit to their Continent's cultural roots.

Many of his poetry collections and writings like: (Remember Me Africa),a (Lover from Africa), the (African Sorrows), (Melody for a Roaming Dervish) and his play (Omar al-Mukhtar Revolution) deeply carry African concerns.

After spending much of his childhood and his early youth in Egypt, Fayturi returned to Sudan to serve as a literary editor in a number of journals. Then he served as a communication expert in the Arab League during 1968-1970, then a cultural consultant in Libya's embassy in Italy, then a cultural consultant cum ambassador in Libya's embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and then a political and information advisor in Libya's embassy in Morocco.

Muhammad al-Fayturi died on Friday, April 24, 2015 in Morocco, where he was living with his Moroccan wife and daughter, after a long struggle with illness. Faytouri's first wife, mother of his son and daughter, is of Sudanese descent.

Following is one of his poems {transkated by Anna Murison, poetry translation centre} :

Sorrows of the Black City

When night casts its net of shadows over the streets of the city

shrouding it in grief,

you can still see them --

slumped in silence, staring at the cracks.

And you think they are calm,

but you're wrong -- they're on fire!

When darkness raises its statues of marble

on the streets of the city

then smashes them in fury

then the city will lead all the people

down the spiral staircase of the night

into the deep distant past.

The past with its ambergris shores

is dreaming of memories

too deeply to be roused.

And inside everyone something begins to stir --

a fresh wall made of clay,

stuck with diamonds and desires.

When night sleeps and day wakes

raising its candles in the dark

peace ebbs back to its home in the grave.

At that, the heart of the city

turns futile and wretched --

it is an oven at noon, a lamp for the blind.

Like ancient Africa, the city is truly

an old woman veiled in frankincense,

a great pit of fire, the horn of a ram,

an amulet of old prayers, a night full of mirrors,

the dance of black women, naked,

shouting their black joy.

This coma of sins was kept alive by the master,

ships filled with slave girls,

with musk, ivory and saffron --

gifts, all without joy, despatched by the winds of all ages

to the white man of our time

to the master of all time.

A plantation stretches out in imagination

to clothe the naked, to loosen their clothes,

flowing like its ancestors through the veins of life,

dyeing the water, and dyeing God's face,

its sorrows on every mouth

breeding tyrants and iron and slaves,

breeding chains, every day breeding some new horror... .

And yet, on the streets of the city,

when night constructs

its barriers of black stone -- they stretch out their hands,

in silence, to the balconies of the future.

They are locked-up cries

in a locked-up land.

Their memories are stab-wounds.

Their faces are sad, like the faces of the blind.

Look, there they are,

heads slumped in silence. And you think they are calm.

But you're wrong. Truth is, they're on fire...

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