About the Voice of the Future: Yaxye Yeebaash
By Amina Isir
In the shadows of society and people married to traditional ways of governing and existing, youth in Somaliland are speaking out and claiming their futures. Yaxye Yeebaash, a young poet, motivational speaker and content producer is one of these beacons of light for a new future. Despite his age, he has an old soul and is always encouraging youth who are usually caught up in the glitz and glamour of the time to have some perspective. Despite your current situation, the future is bright and ultimately what you make of it. Yaxye is most commonly known for his program, Sirta Nolosha, which highlights issues in society through dynamic storytelling. Although he started writing poems at 16, he found that people enjoyed hearing the backstory of the poems more than the poem itself. This example is highlighting a critical need that he has filled- narratives and storytelling that is meaningful, impactful, and is reaching people in a way that they will resonate with. As a young man growing up in a post-conflict African nation seeking sovereignty and revealing in its pride, Yeebash is a voice for the people and society he comes from.
Somali oral storytelling is as intrinsic to the people as they are to the land. Abwaans or poets tend to be those that have historically been viewed as the mirror of society. They tended to be some of the most prominent figures and served as authorities of consciousness with clever wordplay and figurative language. It is important to note and recognize young poets that are increasing in popularity across the Somali world today. They are utilizing traditional forms of communication with modern ways of reaching the masses- youtube, social media and written work. Yeebaash is adding to this repertoire of Somali poets with his ability to keep a pulse on what is important to his peers- a demographic that is often left out of the mainstream. One poem of his, “Xor u Fikir” which translates to Think freely, he encourages his peers to stand on their own and carve a path for themselves. Instead of sticking to mainstream forms of power – being a “minister” or finding validation from your tribe/clan- he urges the listener to find what is meaningful to them and pursue that. In the video, produced by Astaan TV, a leading Somali media conglomerate, he is biking alone on an empty road. This image is reflective of Yeebaash- a person willing to go down unchartered territory to better himself and those around him.
Another important role of poets in Somali society- and artists in general is to speak truth to power. Yaxye is dedicated to his art, ever changing, to ensure his storytelling is dynamic and impactful. Everytime he performs a piece, he is talking to his audience throughout and it feels like you are simply talking to an old friend. His storytelling while he delivers his poems are humorous and relays the story to his audience in a way you will absolutely be able to resonate with it. In a society that is very private about a lot of things, this openness allows public conversations around our norms and the human condition. I enjoyed listening to “Soo Dhawoow Jamadeey” in which he eloquently – and with humour – highlights his love and critique of his hometown, Hargeysa Hadhwanaag. This effortless way of describing the city- its beauty and pitfalls in the same breath is what makes him an artist dedicated to positive social change. In this poem and throughout his work, he encourages everyone to reflect on themselves and be better for themselves. He is dedicated to improving his society not only through the written word but he is also a medical doctor- truly an individual committed to human advancement in all forms.