Saturday, May 14, 2011


Salaan ka dib, goobtan waxaan furay sannad iyo badh ka hor si aan wax uga qoro tixda iyo tiraabka oo ah qaybaha guud ee ay u kala baxdo suugaanta Soomaalidu. Isla markaana waxaan maanka ku hayey inaan arrimahaas halkan kula gorfeeyo dadka xiiseeya , anigoo gaar ahaan rajeynaya inaan aqoon korodhsi ka helo ragga iyo dumarka ruug-caddaaga ah ee ku xeesha dheer maansada iyo mawaadiicda la xidhiidha. Nasiib darro, waqti xadiddan iyo xiise xayuuban awgood waanba ilaawey inaan ardaagan unkay, ooddiise weli ku awdan tahay!

Waayaha dulqaadka le
wararkayga lagu sii
weedhaydu kuu timi
waa nabad alooskeed
wasalaamu calaykum

Intaynu isu samrayno, dhegeyso ama akhri gabaygii Hadraawi ee Daba Huwan oo ka kooban 100 tuducood ku dhowaad iyo in ka badan 800 oo beyd.


Greetings! I opened this blog a year and half ago to write about Somali poetry & prose and to discuss relevant issues with, and specially learn from those interested or well-versed in these creations. Due to lack of time (and apparently threadbare motivation and opaque inspiration), I unfortunately forgot all about it!

In due time, the original plan shall hopefully materialize - along with some of its venerated peacemakers, loathed warmongers, homeric heroes, synecdochical visionaries, chimerical enthousiasts, guilded lillies, socratic provocateurs, sardonic responders, bawdy humor, Horatian satire, gawky angels, gawsy itinerants, sharp-witted devils, peaceful ghosts... You see, I'm already concocting reasons to perpetuate the procrastination!

In the meantime, meet Daba Huwan, one of Hadraawi's poems comprising almost 100 stanzas and more than 800 verses. Forgive me for pretermitting the translation; I simply can't. Suffice it to say that it covers numerous matters of concern in today's Somalia, particularly regarding the diaspora.

PS. The song below (I removed the intial autoplay as it's consuming too much bandwidth) is a medley by Africa-Unite, a band formed in the '90s in The Netherlands by 14 refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan (the link is in Dutch as I couldn't find anything worthwhile in an intelligible language - trouwens, hartelijke groeten to all cheeseheads from the camelopard herder!). They recorded only one eponymous album with 13 tracks before they unfortunately had to disband. Several members were denied asylum and had to leave Holland. They now live in the Gulf states where they're welcomed with open hands. Good for the artists as they're now safe. Bad for the music since they're only busy entertaining the bloody petro-dictators and their spoiled children and guests. So far, more than ten years and counting, the royal studios didn't grace us with a single track! What a waste!

Led by vocalist Minyeshu Kifle Tedla, the members whose asylum application was granted created another band called Chewata. They have released a couple of great records that are both readily available in music shops or on internet outlets. Their live acts are a real delight. Don't miss them if they ever come anywhere near your area!

Here "Gebleda (Beautiful Somali Girl)", a track from their first album "Meba" from 2002. It's a Geblo standard, a traditional Somali flirtatious dance/music genre that starts slowly, accelerates gradually and finishes in a dazzling spin; hence the first chorus: Ohoo goo'gooyaay Gebleda! (Ho! Cut the Geblo into pieces!). Minyeshu comes from the Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa ("incidentally" the title of their 2nd record) where many Somalis reside as it's adjacent to the Ogaden, the Somali region in Ethiopia. This may explain why they have recorded this song and are rendering everything, including the language, as skillfully and soulfully as any Somali band.

Minyeshu & Chewata_Gebleda (Beautiful Somali Girl)

The second refrain says "Hannaan buu wanaaggu leeyahaye" ("virtue treads well-established paths"), a Somali saying meaning that the journey to respect and success requires qualities and follows (unwritten) rules and regulations - and that applies not only to dalliant coquetry but to everything, including music.

This cover is a beautiful tribute to Somali music. Mahadsanid! Amesegënallô! Yekanyelay!

It's also a wake-up call and a valuable lesson to a plethora of Somali dillydalliers who are endlessly flirting with chintzy synthesizers & kitschy drum-machines and recycling songs that are older than their (grand-)parents! Guys and girls, many of you have oodles of talent, experience, passion etc. Our culture boasts countless world-class songwriters, singers, dancers... as well as dozens of highly melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic indigenous instruments some of which are conversing with you in the poem below - just like the lyrics of the two songs by Caasha Cabdow* are whispering timeless wisdom into (y)our ears and souls. Isn't it high time to break the toys, join hands, form bands, get married to the music and Somafrock the kasba?!

Caasha Cabdow_Reer aan Dhisnee (1970) ("Let's Build A Family")**
Fanku waa hibiyo, khibrad loo hufee***
gorof hoosdalool, harraad kaama bi'in
maanta waad hanteen, hawshii la rabey
in la halabsadoo, halbowlaad tihiin

Caqligaa hoggaan, muruqa u huree
hal abuurkayoow, kooxaha hirgeli
hoyga loo bogiyo, carro-edeg horteed
cawo iyo habeen, heesta soo bandhiga

Mashiin haawan durbaan, halbeeg maw noqdaa?
aaway gooma hayaam, awlaan hoog ma yahay?
shunuufkii habaar, miyaa holac ku gubey?
dhumaariyo hambaal, hilmaam yaa ka dhigay?

Wilwiliyo habkeed, kabeebey hannaan
harriimo waa warcelis, walasaqo hanqaad
saylici hirwiyo, batar helay shaxley
geblo-shimbir hirkeed, saddexley haldhici

Kiiboodh hungamey, huleel waa gabee
kabanno hoorayaa, hiil laga dhigtaa
shareerada huwiya, shagax-shagax habboon
caroog hoga balwiyo, gobeys haan ka dhigo

Hormoodkii dalkoow, heellada rogroga
beerrey hantiya, saarlugeed ku hora
dhaanto loo hubsaday, jaansacab u hura
hanbalyiyo bogaad, hufan naga guddoon

Caasha Cabdow_Murtideenna Meel Dheer Ha Gaartee (1970) ("Let Our Wisdom Fly Far")**

* Caasha Cabdow started her career in the late '50s or early '60s with the Radio Mogadishu Orchestra. She moved in the '70s/'80s to Kenya where she is better known as 'Malika' (The Queen) since she is one of the leading Taarab singers 

** Extracts from a CD accompanying the book above by Alberto Arecchi: "Somalia E Benadir" (Mimesis-Liutprand, 2001) 

*** I'm only a Sunday amateur poet and this is a poem I've just scribbled to encourage young Somali artists to milk the wide range of genres and instruments Somali music is blessed with. No need for translation as it may change in due course


  1. Good day! I come from Switzerland and I'm interested in African music and literature. I enjoyed your thoughts on Likembe a lot. You actually opened a whole new world for me and I'm overwhelmed by a number of books i recently bought on somali poetry. Who knew? Thank you very much!


  2. Hello Fred,

    You're welcome and GTBOS!

  3. Thanks for the infromative articles and the sweet music morsels. Can you please uplaod more Somali music or Africa-Unite or Cheweta? They are not for sale here in Russia and I am sure many people would appreciate it a lot.

  4. @martinav: Welcome! I've many old Somali cassettes but the quality has unfortunately deteriorated; all the more that I've left them in the cellar for more than a decade. Not much I'd like to put up here but I may upload a mixtape sometime in the future. It'll probably take a long time as I've to go through the tapes for palatable sound quality. In the meantime:

    Sorry, I don't want to uplaod Chewata's albums as they're easily available; follow the link in the post or google the record titles. I'll upload AU IF it's out of print.

  5. You're right about the shitty synthesizers & drummachines. I can't stand them at all and its a crime that traditional somali instruments are totally forgotten. I'm originally from Somalia but I've been living in Canada for a few years. I'm now studying history and musicology and I'm trying to found a Somalo-Canadian band. I like your poem and with your permission, I'd like to set it to music.

    Nabdgelyo, wfaysal99 {at} yahoo {dot} ca

  6. @wfaysal I don't dislike synth- and dm-driven music per se. Some (non-)Somali artists can imo generate amazing stuff with these instruments. The combination of meagre creativity, neglect of traditional instruments and the exclusive or predominant (preprogrammed) overdosing of that biiq-jaaq-wuuq in post-war Somali music just put me off.

    Honoured you want to use the poem as lyrics. You've my permission providing it's performed by a full band, preferably including Somali traditional instruments. Keep in touch through my mail (see "about me"). Salaan kal iyo laab ah.

  7. Thank you very much. Its truely appreciated - Martina

  8. Thanks a mil for making somali traditional instruments speak for themselves. Your poem made me cry and it's unforgivable these wonderful instruments have been abondoned by our musicians. I hope they will come to their senses soon.

    1. You're welcome. I share that hope with you. Besides, I occasionally come across talented youngsters who have embraced these trad. instruments with full support of their parents. Who knows, others may follow suit and some will hopefully grow into full-fledged artists.

  9. thanks, i think the links are broken. the last track is playing evreywhere.

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