Name
Abdourahman Waberi
Country
Djibouti / France
Abdourahman Waberi was born in Djibouti in 1965. In 1985, he moved to France to study and completed his doctorate with a thesis on the poetics of space and politics in the texts of Nuruddhin Farah. Since 1994 he has lived as an English teacher in Caen, France. To date he has published seven books, including two volumes of short stories, two novels and a volume of poetry – most recently the novel "Transit" (2003). Abdourahman Waberi writes regularly for Le Monde, Libération, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le monde diplomatique and Lettre International. In the years 2003 and 2004, he was a member of the jury for the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage.

Abdourahman Waberi was twelve years old when Djibouti became independent in 1977, one of the last African countries to do so – this was a profound experience which subsequently made him into one of his people's great storytellers. In his short stories, Abdourahman Waberi describes the cosmos of Djibouti, telling of everyday life in his home town with its closely-packed tin and wooden houses, the minarets, the tangled, thirsty bushes and the winding, dirty streets, the hordes of madmen who populate the city districts and cultivate their small ticks like a trademark, the egocentric charlatans that dominate the country's politics, and lethargic men who sit on their verandas day in, day out, chewing kat, while others drink maté or smoke water-pipes; he tells of sand storms, the burning sun and the nomadic life of his forefathers. It is from them that he inherited the expressive gesture of his writing: striding through the country like a nomad, recording each and every furrow as he goes.

Abdourahman Waberi is a land surveyor who assembles his stories from glittering kaleidoscopic beads: modern in form, schooled on the writing of authors such as Nurrudin Farah, Sole Woyinka or Derek Walcott, poetic and ironic in tone – and mercilessly direct when it comes to pointing out the African traumas of colonisation, the struggle for independence, civil war, dictatorship and catastrophic famine. In 1998/99, Abdourahman Waberi travelled to Rwanda and wrote "Moisson de crânes" (Harvest of Skulls), a book opposing forgetfulness; in his eyes, silence regarding the murder of the Tutsi was tantamount to killing them a second time. No matter whether Rwanda or Somalia, Africa is no more than "a glorious hell that Antonin Artaud would not have spurned: Here and there the sky shits ox's blood, and the sun too. A bald, neglected moon shivers with hunger and cold. The war god Ogun is remorseful and defeated. (...) The land of suffering trembles all over. Soundlessly, a child scratches together earth in order to wolf down a handful of brown sand and then a second. Small stones grind between the half dozen teeth dancing behind his closed lips. The child spits something out and swallows the rest. It coughs and soon falls asleep. Its weight: a delicate brush-stroke on the ground. A fleece of shade."