Maxamed D. Afrax
President @ Intergovernmental Academy of Somali Language
Mohamed Dahir Afrah is a novelist, playwright, critic, journalist and scholar who writes in Somali, English and Arabic. He is the founder and Honorary president of the Somali-speaking Writers Club of International PEN, a World association of writers. In his creative writing oeuvre, Afrax has published three novels in Somali: Guur-ku-sheeg –Pseudo-marriage – (1975), Maana-faay (1979) and Galti-macruuf – The Libertine – (1980), a historical novel in Arabic, Nida Al-Horiyah – Call of Freedom – (1976) and numerous short stories in Somali and Arabic. His first and most popular play was entitled Durbaan Been ah (Deceptive Drum) and was staged in Somalia in 1979 by Danan Artist Troupe. As a critic and literary scholar, he has published numerous articles, academic papers and chapters in collaborative books. His major works in this field include a book entitled Fan-masraxeedka Soomaalida: Raad-raac taariikheed iyo Faaqidaad Riwaayado caan-baxay – Somali Drama: Historical and Critical Study (1987).
In his creative work Afrax advocates social change, launching fierce attack against evils in the society, while in his practical activities as an intellectual he takes upon himself to promote cultural and linguistic development and a culture of peace not only through his writings but also through direct participation in various efforts aiming to serve these purposes. For instance, he has actively participated in the Somalia peace process over the last decades and has written a well received book reflecting this experience, entitled in Somali Dal Dad Waayey iyo Duni Damiir Beeshay, which roughly translates: ‘A Land Without Leadership in a World Without Conscience’. One of his latest publications in the Arabic language was a book entitled, Nadarat fi Astaqafa Asomaliyah published in Dubai by the Cultural Department of the U.A.E. In English He has published numerous articles and academic essays either as parts of books or in learned journals. Examples are, “The Mirror of Culture: Somali Dissolution seen through Oral Expression”, in The Somali Challenge… published by Lyne Rienner, Boulder, 1994; and “Opposing influences of Tradition and Modernity in Somali Drama”, in East African Literature, … published in 2011 by Berlin University Press.
As the result of his active involvement in this process he was elected member of the Somali Parliament in 2000 and later was appointed Minister of State for planning and international co-operation. Afrax has either initiated or took a leading part in numerous cultural, literary and media activities (conferences, festivals etc.) linked to the Horn of Africa that has taken place in the UK and Europe, thus contributing to the enrichment of the cultural life in these countries. He particularly promotes and practices the use of the media and the arts as catalysts for peace, tolerance and national reconstruction.
In this respect, he founded and led a number of organizations such as the Somali-speaking PEN and Halabuur Centre for Culture and Communication in the Horn of Africa. He also founded in 1993 (in London) a unique learned periodical in English and Somali called Halabuur, Journal of Somali Literature and Culture and he continues to serve as its chief editor. More recently, he co-founded a regional commission for the Somali language under the auspices of the African Union, called the Somali Vehicular Cross-border Language Commission, one of the working structures of the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), which in turn is one of the organs of the African Union. Somali was one of 12 African languages selected by ACALAN for their importance as vehicular cross-border languages each of which a commission has been established by ACALAN. Afrax was elected as the Secretary General for the Cross-border Somali Language Commission. As a cultural expert Afrax had served as UNESCO consultant and as Culture and Communication Advisor to the Government of Djibouti.
Currently, he is President of the Intergovernmental Academy of Somali Language and Chairman of the Commission for the Review and Implementation of Somalia Constitution.