You need to watch Hussain Manawer's latest poem on mental health

Hussain Manawer is quickly becoming a superstar – if his performance at the One Young World Summit (OYW) is anything to go by.

The poet and mental health campaigner blew the audience away and received a standing ovation following his latest performance, Mother Tongue, given at the same event where he made his name one year previously after winning the Rising Star award.

The Ilford-born 25-year-old drew his first strong round of applause after mentioning Black Lives Matter in the build up to his poem, and told us afterwards that was a must.

He said: “I tried to touch on as many things as I could without trying to spread myself too thin. I had to talk about Black Lives Matter. I had to also mention Syria.”

Despite how comfortable he looked on stage, Hussain was actually very nervous beforehand – but listening to Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire on repeat got him through it. “I was just zoning,” he said.

Hussain gets a huge hug from OYW co-founder Kate Robertson following his performance (One Young World/PA)

And despite how eloquent, rounded, personal and thoughtful the poem was, Hussain had real trouble writing it.

He said: “I wrote this a week ago, because it wasn’t coming to me at all. This had to come from a real place, so I had to just let it come when it comes.

“I was happy that people took a lot away from it, that’s the most important thing.”

“I rarely write stuff for an event, I’d write it then if I get asked to go to an event I’ll perform it,” he added. “But this place is one of the only places it has to come fresh, it has to be something new, it has to be an exclusive, it has to be special.”

“With everything else I don’t write for people’s benefit, I write to help myself. But here, this place is special,” he said of One Young World.

Other speakers throughout the week have included Emma Watson, Cher, Bob Geldof and Kofi Annan – as well as an incredible amount of young current and future leaders hoping to make positive social change in any way they can.

For Hussain it’s all still sinking in, but it’s clear this rising star’s ascent is nowhere near complete.


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