Small Fox by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is widely regarded as one of the leading African poets writing in Arabic. And, although the Arabic of his poetry is stringently classical, he always writes from the position of being an African citizen of Sudan. His country has an extensive, complex history thanks to the extraordinary diversity of its people: more than two hundred languages are spoken there. Sudan has long been the crossing point of many major ancient trade routes (several still in active use today), both from eastern Africa to the country’s western coast and from southern sub-Saharan Africa to the Mediterranean. Saddiq has an inexhaustible knowledge of the peoples and languages of his vast country and, unlike most Sudanese, he has travelled the length and breadth of what once was northern Sudan (South Sudan seceded in 2011). He is steeped in Sudanese music and art and alive to the cultures of nearby countries, such as Mali and Mauritania, which are inextricably connected with his own.
Saddiq is famous among the Sudanese not only because of his avowedly political poetry (not translated here since the density of its contextual references makes it all but impenetrable to outsiders) but because his lyric poems express a yearning for transcendence that speaks to his community.