Yacouba Sawadogo, the “man who stopped the desert,” is pushing back the Sahel. The aridness he struggles against is caused by both the sun that dries up the fields, as well as the men who set fire to his work, believing him mad.
“For turning barren land into forest and demonstrating how farmers can regenerate their soil”, Yacouba won the Right Livelihood Award in 2018. This victory—his “degree” from the Right Livelihood Foundation—is bestowed with a crown intertwined with laurel, the same plant adopted by poets.
Thus echo the words of philosopher Iris Murdoch, who wrote Against Dryness in 1961, believing that the language of poetry teaches us to “rediscover a sense of density in our lives”, to rethink our future.The aridity of soil and thought are fought with the same poetic weapons, because poesia (poetry) means every ‘creation’. It’s not crazy to think that only a poet could halt the desert.