Say Hello To The ICON, Hafsat Abdullahi (Havfy)

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We love how Havfy commands a fierce and beautiful audacity in all brilliance. We love how her story represents thousands of creatives out there, navigating through life, phase after phase. We love how she has chosen to not just wait for the light at the end of the tunnel, but has become that light. Shining bright, tunnel after tunnel and raising the bar as a force of truth in the creative industry and beyond.

Join us on this special issue –
As Havfy shares a truckload of inspiration on her journey as a creative and everything in between.

We are in love with the fierce and beautiful audacity that flow with your Art. How your words hit deep and cause a positive stir. A perfect reflection of ‘where Art meets purpose’ Can you please share a glimpse of how you began your journey as a poet?

I started my writing at a very early age, back before I knew the conventions, styles or genres of writing. I could say I started with prose writing, I’d tell my stories in my exercise books in my own way till I came across poetry. The first few poems I ever read were in my elder sister’s text books asides the conventional “twinkle little stars”, those were my first encounters with poetry. For someone that has read a lot of stories(prose), it came fascinating to me that for reasons I could not explain at the time, I got what the poet was trying to say. Then I read another, then another , then I wanted to write mine in such manner too then I performed and people liked it and then I was like “ why not?”

Can you remember the first poem you wrote and what inspired it?

I can’t quite put my finger on it because of the fact that there were some failed attempts in the past but roughly I could conclude that the first writing that ever materialized to become a piece I could call a poem today is one I titled “mama”
I wrote a runaway poem to my mother exposing my feelings to her. It was at that time in my life where I was down with the ‘me me me’ syndrome. I was a teenager not satisfied with my relationship with my parents and I wanted to run away from home. Also, there was so much I wanted to say to them but I didn’t know a subtle way to say it so I used poetry. Hid my feelings between the lines and hoped that one day she’d read in between the lines and get what I was trying to say. But in truth though, I read the poem now and I just realized that I did a lousy job at hiding my feelings. It was all over the line, the message was screamingly obvious and it made me laugh because now I know better and feel better.


What does Art mean to you?

Art is life. I see art in everything, from obvious things like nature to the deliberate combination of tastes to food, beautiful structures, the aesthetics and the intelligence of poetry, mechanics, a good handwriting, a beautiful combination of colors being it relatable or abstract, human anatomy, it could be how gracefully a dancer moves his or her body or a polished and beautiful accent. I could go on and on. Bottom line, Art to me is everything, everywhere, art is that which contributes or compliments our existence, art to me is life.

We are grateful to have you onboard this most timely ISSUE with the theme- Boundless. Have you ever held back your gifs at some point, perhaps through self doubt or stage fright? Have you ever felt it ‘boxed’ by someone else or an experience? If so, how were you able to scale through this phase?

I was a very expressive child. Raised in a Muslim home, it was quite surprising how very outspoken I was as a child. I had never really been the type with inhibitions, in fact I was excited about sharing my art with people. But as I grew older into my pre-teens and teens I grew self aware I was growing older and I was self-conscious. I wasn’t as flexible as I used to be, I talked less, I stopped dancing in the presence of people also my father was always there to remind me to stick to what was lady-like. A girl that was forward and open about her thoughts was not considered expressive in my part of the world but rather brazen. I didn’t want to be brazen, I wanted to grow up into a proper lady so I would find me a good man and marry one day. So at that point in my life, I could say I found my skills “boxed” by societal limitations. But like a lit candle covered with a basket, not long, the candle will burn down the basket and it’s illumination would show. I could not hide the passion for long because even as I did not show it to the world, my room was my stage and the host of heaven were my audience and gradually I could not contain it any longer. I joined my school club and started performing in the classrooms, then the school assemblies, then at graduation ceremonies then I represented my school outside the state and won a prize. It was at that moment I knew there was no turning back.

The experience of being a multiple poetry slam champion will no doubt come with many high moments, still we understand this is a product of a process through hard work, consistency and all those success ingredients. What would you consider most fulfilling right now in your journey as a creative?

Spoken word poetry is still a growing art in my country today. But it’s comforting to know that as a result of my consistency, spoken word poetry is getting the recognition it deserves today. Today, organizations like UNICEF, Leap Africa and World Bank employs this form of art as a means of communication or a form of advocacy to push their noble courses and it’s thrilling that I am one of the people taking part in it. I can say that to a level, that is one of the things I consider as most fulfilling in my art at the moment.

How was growing up like?

I could generally say growing up was crazy. It was a mixture of joy and sadness, ups and downs, learning new things, unlearning old ones, I could say life happened too quickly and I was compelled into making decisions that I’d refer to as a little too grown-up for me at the time. My parents were not financially buoyant and I had dreams a little too big for the kind of life we had at the time. Which inspired one of my recent pieces tittles “ On this street”
Life was not necessarily fair to me because at 12 my mother was down with a very serious ailment and and my father lost his job. I was left with a discouraged father, a handful of limitations. Some were financial, some were societal, some were even mental and I was caught in the middle of all that chaos but I couldn’t let my dreams die so I got me a job at age fifteen to support my art and help relieve some load from my parents who are still going through their own personal tribulations. But in between there were happy times, they were moments I was content. Generally I could say growing up started off smooth and then got a little rocky but these rocky foundations had made me into the woman I am today and only gratitude is left with me.

Do you feel creatives in developed countries are at advantage than those in developing countries?

I’d say yes because I grew up in a third world country and here there are but a few opportunities or a few platforms that patronize creativity. As a result, one has to work twice as hard, to get the recognition he or she deserves. It’s all thanks to social media that a lot of creatives like me gets the attention of platforms that are willing to patronize and celebrate creativity.

Balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many Creatives. How do you beautifully combine being a spoken word artist, model, actor and voice over artist? Please share a few tips on how you try to balance work time with rest time?

Honestly it is not easy joggling two to three art at the same time. I’d say it’s even risky because when time is not properly managed one might enter into burnout, a writer’s block, and you might even end up becoming generally unmotivated to do anything( speaking from experience). But why I did not quit or stop joggling is because I’ve come to realize that I have a passion for all these fields of endeavors and I could say that I am effortlessly good at them. So instead of running away or quitting I decided to find balance. Like a project I mapped out my plans, mapped out potential obstacles that could lead to another burnout, mapped out ways I could overcome these obstacles. And like a joggler do, I grab the ball that is closest to drop and throw it back into the air to grab yet another. In other words, I focus on the most important thing at the needed time, get it done and move to the next. As I progressed it got easier. My writing is flexible so it gives me time to do other things and on times that I’m not writing I utilize it to my fashion and times I have any modeling gig I could put a pause to my sewing and get it done as soon as possible, and this lifestyle has really helped me to become discipline. It’s the less time you have the less you procrastinate and the less you procrastinate the more productive and reliable you will definitely become. But when you have all the time in the world, you could postpone and postponement is the mother of procrastination. And I know you’re wondering where rest time belongs in all my tight looking schedule. Well, I believe my body is the vehicle that will take me to all my dreams and aspirations and as such I treat it with extra care by creating time for it. And how do I create time, when you master the art of getting the jobs done well and fast, you’d realize that you have more than enough time to do other things and that is where my rest fits in.

What does success mean to you?

Success to me is satisfaction from hard work. The peace and happiness that comes from an effort.

Please briefly tell us something we do not know about Havfy.

I’m goofy.

Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallet, what would that be and why?

I’d say yellow. Because yellow brings to mind the sun, brings about light, warmth happiness, hope, positivity. And in a world filled with so much ideologies and chaos, one could use some of that.

Massive Love Havfy!

The ICONIC Team.

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