Shabbir Banoobhai (1949 - ) was born in Durban and lived there until his move to Cape Town in 1995. Of necessity he shared the fate of the larger black community of South Africans, and his poetry reflects that struggle. He has also identified with victims of oppressive regimes elsewhere, including the Balkans, where he travelled with a journalist friend on a mission to Sarajevo in 1992. One of the central poems of his latest volume, Sarajevo, for which he received the 2001 Thomas Pringle Award for poetry, records this experience. Shabbir Banoobhai's poetry is interwoven with spiritual, political and personal themes. Douglas Livingstone said of his first volume of poetry: ' An obsessive and talented poet, a precocious master of the word and a fine lyricist to boot, almost every line of the work was subliminally ignited by the ancient great Islamic poets. He shares their prime qualities: sensuality, passion, brilliance of imagery, a holistic approach to nature, and of course, love of God.' Banoobhai's mystical writing has become more clearly directed against narrow-minded and exclusive religious thinking, perhaps influenced by South African society. He has a personal website, Veilsoflight.com, where he writes philosophical meditations, some of which were published under the title Lightmail (2002). His personal poetry is chiefly for his two daughters and his wife, a teacher of Arabic, and for his friends. After his second book was published in 1984, he did not publish again (though he continued to write) until 1999 when he brought out, as a private publication, a book of brief poems and spiritual reflections, Wisdom in a Jug - Reflections of Love. In 2002 he also published Inward moon outward sun, which was launched at Poetry Africa in the same year. Banoobhai has continued to publish prolifically, both in print and on his personal website. These publications include Book of Songs (2004), If I could write - Ramadan letters (2006), Water would suffice - Reflections of love (2007), and A mountain is an upside down valley (2008).
from Inward moon outward sun (2002)
1980. Echoes of my other self. Johannesburg: Ravan Press.
2009. Lyrics in Paradise. Cape Town. Peter Strauss Publishers
2009. Dark light - the spirit's secret. Cape Town: Shabbir Banoobhai