Ac­tivism through po­etry

Boonaa Mo­hammed uses spo­ken word to be a voice of rea­son for youth

Village Post - - Graduates - By Nikki Gill

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

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