Activism through poetry
Boonaa Mohammed uses spoken word to be a voice of reason for youth
When Boonaa Mohammed was a teenager walking the halls of Oakwood Collegiate Institute, he had no idea he would end up a spoken word poet who is known globally for raising awareness for causes affecting Muslim youth.
“At that time, I was more into hip hop, and the actual genre of spoken word poetry hadn’t really been exposed to me,” says Mohammed.
Although Mohammed does have a knack for performance — he held a leading role in one of his high school’s plays and is a selfproclaimed “closet rapper” — he
I try to use my work as a means of speaking up for people.”
didn’t come across spoken word until he was browsing the website of one of his favourite musical groups.
“It wasn’t really rap, there was no music to it. It kind of sounded like a freestyle, but it was very witty and really theatrical,” says Mohammed, speaking of the first time he was exposed to the genre.
Nowadays through his love of spoken word, Mohammed has become an award-winning poet, published author, entrepreneur and activist.
“I try to use my work as a means of speaking up for people who don’t necessarily have the opportunity and the means to speak up,” he says.
As a high school student, Mohammed was heavily involved in the school community as a social convenor for the student council, member of various school groups and morning announcer. That type of community involvement is now echoed in his professional life as he connects with Muslim youth across the world.
He was recently invited to speak in Sudan for 1,000 expatriates who had either moved back to Sudan or were visiting.
“It was just really incredible, just being in Africa and being able to do what I love for a group of people who spoke English in the middle of east Africa,” says Mohammed.
When reflecting on his career in spoken word, he says that CBC opened a lot of doors from him as a young artist.
Mohammed was awarded the Best New Artist Award in the 2007 CBC Poetry Face-Off.
“My poem was played on the radio nationally and people were contacting me from all over the country,” he says.
He also published a short story in an anthology by Penguin Canada, titled “Piece by Piece,” based on a childhood experience of his as a first-generation Canadian.
As an activist, his focus remains on raising awareness for humanitarian aid crises around the world, as well as those specifically affecting Muslim youth.
Mohammed also owns a media production company, Safina Media.
“I’m trying to take my passion for writing and the big screen and really try to combine them together,” says Mohammed about his future projects.
He’s hoping to get involved in producing documentaries, online shorts and feature-length films.
Boonaa Mohammed travels the world as a spoken word performer