Showing posts with label Dur Dur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dur Dur. Show all posts

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happier Days

Back with a reminder of much, much happier days in Somalia, our good friend Sanaag passes on almost 80 minutes worth of music by the legendary Afro-funk band Dur Dur, who were among the most popular groups in Mogadishu back in the '80s. You may remember them from this post, and this one. I understand that after the collapse of Somalia in 1991, vocalist Sahra Dawo and other "newer" members of the group relocated to Columbus, Ohio, USA, where they have a presence on Facebook. Sanaag reports that the other members of the "old guard" featured here are scattered all over the world, except Muktar "Idi" Ramadan who unfortunately passed away a few months ago in Saudi Arabia.

As usual for Somali recordings of this vintage, the audio quality of these songs is not up to modern standards, but I'm sure you'll agree that their musical and historical qualities more than compensate. Here's what Sanaag has to say about them:
Durdur's songs are almost always drenched in love. To the best of my knowledge, they didn't address social or political issues during the military dictatorship and that's why their lyrics didn't make a lasting impression on me or flare up my interest in the band; hence my sketchy knowledge about their work and background. I was really delighted with the post-Siad Barre cassette Andreas posted at Kezira, in which they've several socially engaged tracks.

These songs are mainly in southern vernacular languages. I hail from about 1100 kms further up North and, though I understand the basics fairly well, I don't have the required baggage to fathom the linguistic and literary subtleties inherent to these dialects. Neither can I contextualize the songs since I don't know if, as was common during the military dictatorship, some of the songs were meant as protest double entendres, were adopted as such by the general public, if events were associated with them etc. That's why I'd rather not venture into summarizing, let alone publicly interpreting, the lyrics. Nevertheless, all the songs are conspicuously about love and I've tried to translate the tracktitles. Corrections are, of course, most welcome!

The following six songs are from the soundtrack of "Rafaad iyo Raaxo" ("Misfortune and Comfort"), a 1986 tragicomedy that was also filmed a couple of years later. "Duruuf Maa Laygu Diidee" means "Rejected Due to My Circumstances." The vocals are by Muktar "Idi" Ramadan:

In this song vocalist Shimaali Axmed Shimaali pleads, "Oh, Saafi! I Won't let You Go" (Saafi is a female name):

"Waanada Waxtarkayga Waaye" means "This Advice Does me Good/I'm Well Advised." Vocals by Cabdullaahi Shariif Baastow & Maryan Naasir:

"Muraadkay Waa Hellee" means "We've Reached Our Goal." Vocals by Muktar "Idi" Ramadan & Sahra Dawo:

"Ma Hurdee" ("I Can't Sleep"). Vocals by Sahra Dawo & Muktar "Idi" Ramadan:

"Rafaad iyo Raaxo" ("Misfortune & Comfort"). Vocals by Sahra Dawo & Muktar "Idi"Ramadan:

These next songs are from two tapes without album or song titles. The track names are thus the popular titles under which the songs were dubbed by the public (see the post on Iftin). "Waxan Sugi Ma Helayaa?" ("Shall I Get What I'm Waiting For?") is also known as "Saqda Dhexe Riyadiyo Sariir Maran" ("Midnight Dream in an Empty Bed"). Vocals by Sahra Dawo:

"Shaacaan Ka Qaadaa" ("I'm Revealing all of it") is also known as "Shallay Ma Roonee" ("Remorse Is Pointless"). Vocals by Sahra Dawo & Cabdullaahi Shariif Baastow:

Dur Dur - Shaacaan Ka Qaadaa

"Rag Kaleeto Maa Kuu Riyaaqayee?" ("Are Other Men Admiring You?"), aka "Reerkaagaa Joogee" ("Stay With Your Family"). Vocals by Cabdullaahi Shariif Baastow:

Dur Dur - Rag Kaleeto Maa Kuu Riyaaqayee?

Cilmi Ismaaciil Liibaan (better known as Boodhari) is the main protagonist in a true love story that took place in in the 1930s in Berbera, a town in the current Somaliland. He was in his thirties when he fell head over heels in love with Hodon, a teenage girl whose parents were opposed to a relationship between the two due to the difference in age and social class; he worked in a bakery and she belonged to one of the richest families in the area. Hugely burdened and dismayed by the unrequited love, Boodhari composed numerous poems and songs about this forbidden love. Hodon eventually got married to another man and, though this is not corroborated by watertight evidence, Boodhari became so disconsolate that he finally committed suicide. It's not established beyond doubt that all the poems and songs attributed to Boodhari were indeed written by him, but his legend and compositions have certainly been part and parcel of Somali love stories ever since. The song "Boodhari Sidiisii" ("In Boodhari's Footsteps") is also known as "Maruun ii Bishaarey!" ("Surprise Me Once With Good News!"). The vocals are by Cabdullaahi Shariif Baastow:

"Doobnimaadey Maka Dogoownee" ("Getting Old Single") is also known as "Dersi Anaa Lahaa" ("I Need A Lesson [In Love]"). Vocals by Sahra Dawo:

Dur Dur - Doobnimaadey Maka Dogoownee

"Oh, Angelic Beauty!" Vocals by Cabdullaahi Shariif Baastow:

The title of this song means "A Joking Madman." Vocals by Cabdullaahi Shariif Baastow & Sahra Dawo:

"Waxla Aaminaan Jirin" ("Nobody To Confide In/NothingTo Trust"), aka "Is Yeelyeel" ("Simulation, Pretense"). Vocals by Sahra Dawo:

Download these songs as a zipped file here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Heads Up

If you like the music of Somalia's Iftin and Dur Dur, featured some time ago in this space, let me direct your attention to Andreas Wetter's new blog Kezira, whose latest post features a whole cassette by Dur Dur, recorded some time in the early 1990s.

As Andreas tells it, the developing civil war in Somalia forced the group across the border to Ethiopia, where Africa was recorded and released by Elham Video Electronics in the provincial town of Negele. Vocalist Sahra Dawo, who has drawn raves hereabouts, features on several tracks.

While I'm at it, let me comment on the current state of the African music blogosphere, whose quality has advanced dramatically in the last couple of years. Notable in this regard are three sites -
African Music Treasures, Electric Jive and World Service, whose proprietors regularly grace us with their knowledge and insight. This is not to slight outstanding work also by Oro, Global Groove and Freedom Blues, whose copious postings of hard-to-find recordings have forced me to buy a new hard drive. I'm overwhelmed really - I just haven't had time to listen to all the great music that's come my way, thanks to these busy beavers.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Somali Funk: Sahra Dawo & Durdur

I wrote in my first posting that through Likembe I sought to educate but also hoped to be educated. The response to the post Somali Mystery Funk has certainly borne out that expectation - in fact it's yielded an embarrassment of riches. Our friend Sanaag, who so kindly provided information on the songs in that posting, has answered a number of questions I posed to him, which provide essential background on Somali music. I specifically asked about Sahra Dawo (above), who sang lead on two of those tracks by Iftin, and the group Durdur, which she fronted. I'm just going to let Sanaag speak for himself. This is the first of several postings.

Sahra Dawo was a pop star in the 80's and probably up 'til now. As the lead singer of Durdur, she was very popular with the younger generations, specially teenagers and twentysomethings, including me at the time. I am not sure how she did with the general public. As far as I know, she didn't strike a strong chord with the older audience probably because of the obvious dissonance between her lyrics (often emotional) and music (usually joyful with sometimes an over-the-top acts in live performances).

Durdur (rivulet, creek, streamlet...) was simultaneously Iftin's little cousin and rival; they started their career in the late '70s or early '80s and were quite influneced by Iftin which was founded about a decade earlier, I think around 1970. I vaguely remember that some of Durdur's musicians had learnt their craft as trainees with/friends of Iftin.

In "Juba Juba Aaka Aka Sholo Lob" Sahra Dawo & Durdur are singing about their mutual love in a Southern dialect that I don't understand very well as I come from the North, a + 1000 km walk. The title sounds like a sort of Somali scat singing without any specific meaning. Juba or Jubba is the biggest river in Somalia. It's also the name of a famous hotel in Mogadishu where Durdur often performed. I believe some/many of their videos were recorded there:

By the way, this kind of music is quite popular in Somalia. It's actually the transcription of shareero music on modern instruments. Shareero is an old Somali instrument:

In comparison with many/most contemporary bands, Durdur & Iftin were quite atypical in the sense that their lyrics were often simple, almost exclusively about (the pains of) love and totally non-political. Iftin also sang about the importance of education (a ministerial obligation, I suppose) as illustrated in this song, "Toban Weeye Shaqalladu" (The Ten Vowels):

Iftin - Toban Weeye Shaqalladu

For most Somalis, the lyrics are at the very least as important as the music. 'The Nation of Poets' is one of Somalia's nicknames; hence the wild popularity of poetry cassettes you referred to in your post. Moreover, art was one of the major channels - if not the major
channel - to ventilate dissidence during the [Siad Barre] dictatorship. Even when love was the subject matter, as was often the case in lyrics, the socio-political message was up for grabs beneath the surface. Iftin's (forced?) marriage with the authorities was probably the culprit for their political and poetic castration. I don't know why Durdur acted like an ostrich; as far as I know they were not sponsored by the Government.

"Ligligaan Jacaylkiii Hayaa" means "Holding On to Love With Tremors." It is also known as "Mays Af Garanaa?" - "Shall We Strike A Deal (and Become Partners)":

Sahra Dawo & Durdur - Ligligaan Jacaylkii Hayaa

"Wax la Aaminaan Jirin" - "Nobody to Confide In, Nothing To Trust." This is a parable for 'betrayed love and careless environment'. The girl is pregnant but the guy is shunning the responsibility and she's reluctant to talk with her family/friends as pregnancy out of wedlock is a social stigma:

"Gucliyo Orod" - "Trot and Gallop/Dawdling and Darting." I am hardly familiar with this song and the sound is so distorted that it's difficult to decipher what exactly she's saying:

Sanaag has more coming up on the veteran singer Sahra Axmed, as well as a few comments on one of the new Somali artists, Aar. If you didn't catch this before (I linked to it in the last Somali post), here's another killer video by Sahra Dawo & Durdur: