“Good morning brother Max and I hope this finds you well? Quite unlike you, we haven’t heard from you – almost two weeks since they submitted a revised PDF. I hope you are OK?” This was my email of October 6, 2021 to the hugely popular Somali novelist and playwright, Dr Maxamed Daahir Afrah (popularly known as Max’d Afrax). Through a mutual friend and brother, Professor Ali J. Ahmed, (who until this year was one of the co-editors of one of our journals, the Journal of Somali Studies) our company, Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd ( www.adonis-abbey.com) was persuaded to publish the English translation of Max’d’s very popular novel, Maana-faay , which was published in the Somali language in 1979. Despite my protest that as academic publishers, we may not have the necessary financial muscle and tools to effectively market a work of fiction in the Western world, particularly in the United Kingdom and North America, both Maxamed and Professor Ahmed seemed to have more confidence in us as publishers than we have in ourselves. We agreed to give it a go and developed a marketing plan. Max’d wanted the novel to be published before the end of October this year. We were set to meet the target.
Though I never met or communicated with Max’d before, once we were introduced to each other, we hit off a good relationship and communicated as if we had known each other for a long time. As a failed novelist (something that pushed me into academics and publishing in the first place), I always have reverential awe, even inferiority complex, when dealing with successful creative writers. With Max’d it was different. He had no airs. And none of those ‘artistic temperaments’ for which some creative writers are feared and avoided!
As we worked to publish the English translation of Maanay-Fay, my pet dream of a time in which I would retire from academics and publishing to concentrate on creative writing was revived.
It was brother Ali who replied to my email of October 6 2021 to Maxamed. As the man who brought us together, both Max’d and I always copied Professor Ali in our email exchanges. “I am told by a mutual friend that Maxamed is in the hospital and has been there for the last 2 weeks. The friend could not provide any information since he is not a family member. I will try to contact Maxamed’s daughter in London. I am worried about him and hope he’ll feel better soon. I’ll get back to you as soon as I find any reliable information about his case,” replied Ali, on the same October 6 2021 that I wrote to Maxamed.
I never imagined that Maxamed’s condition was serious enough that he would transit to the great beyond from there. Meanwhile we continued with creating a database of both Somali groups in the Diaspora and of book clubs likely to be interested in the novel. Having such a database was central to our marketing strategy of the English translation of the novel.
On October 10 2021 I got an email from brother Ali: “Dear good brother, I have a sad news to relay: our brother Maxamed passed away yesterday in a London hospital.” I was too shocked, too dumbfounded and too devastated to continue reading the email. ‘`What’s this life all about?”, I muttered. In my state of shock I began to reflect on life and mortality. Are we not all like the candle in the wind? Or the rose flower that blossoms today only to be blown away by the wind tomorrow?
It is remarkable that both the Somali government and the government of Djibouti each wanted to give him a national burial – as did the Puntland government where he hailed from.
Below is the link to Dr Maxamed’s novel, Maana-faay, as advertised on our website:
May the good Lord grant his gentle soul an eternal rest in His kingdom.
Professor Jideofor Adibe
|Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd|
24 Old Queen Street,
|Tel:||+44 207 795 8187|
Suites C3-C6 J-Plus Plaza, Asokoro, Abuja, Nigeria
|Tel:||+234 7058078841, +234 8052213212|