Dur Dur – Somali Music from the 1980’s

This is a cassette of Dur Dur,1 a group from Somalia which was very popular in the 1980’s. When I first listened to it I was amazed by the sound which resembled very much 1970’s funk music. John at Likembe writes about similar experiences. He presents also a lot of more information about Dur Dur in a another posting.2

Cover of cassette ‘Africa’ from Dur Dur

Cover of cassette ‘Africa’ from Dur Dur

Because of the civil war in Somalia the group had moved to Ethiopia where they published this cassette in the early 1990’s. As it was the practice at that time the cassette was published by a music shop. In this case it is a shop called Elham Video Electronics. The shop has two branches one in Negele, Borana and one in Addis Ababa. The first branch in Negele seems to be the main one. It is located in an area in southern Ethiopia,3 which is close to the Ogaden, i.e. the Somali region of Ethiopia.

 

The musicians

On the cover there are photos of four members of the group written in Latin and Ethiopic script: Zahra,4 Muktar, Abdinur and Qomal (or Komal).
As with a lot of Somalian musicians and artists it is difficult to obtain mor information about them. Therefor I would be happy for further information and comments about the group, its members and its music.

 

The songs

The cassette contains twelve songs, six on each side. The titles are given in Latin script on the inside, but listening to the songs it seems that the order of the titles is not correct. Therefore I changed the order of the lables of the 3., 4. and 5. song on the first, and of the 10. and 11. song on the second side. There may be further mistakes in the labeling.5

 

Side A
01 Shered (Sharad)
Riddle, quizz, code; a love song6

02 Abasho (Cabasho)
Complaint, accusation; it’s a prayer for forgiveness, repentance and peace in Somalia and everywhere
03 Shelede
(probably about someone who’s possessed by the demons of love)
04 Hak Somalk Dumark (Xaqsoorka Dumarka)
Justice for Women / Uphold Women’’s Rights
05 Africa
Lament over Africa’s current plagues (war, bad politics, poverty, desolation…) and a call for unity to confront the problems hand in hand
06 African Music

Side B
07 Ethiopian Girl
(cover of “I’ve Been Thinking About You”)

08 Gorophmca (Gorofka)
The Elixir (full of love)
09 Ladaney: Oh, Ladan!
(female name); cover of an old love song
10 Kennea (Keennee Gardaran?)
Who is Wrong? (The dictator or the citizens?); This is an old song from early 70s denouncing the dictatorship in veiled lyrics about love.
11 Tarik (Taariikh)
History; love song
12 (C)abasho

(Thanks to Sanaag the titles and order of the songs have been updated on 13/01/2010 and 19/02/2010)

  1. I bought the cassette on my first trip to Ethiopia in 1993 in Addis Ababa. And this is also first complete cassette, I managed to upload. []
  2. An additional source of information about Somali popular music is the fascinating article The Light & Sound Of Mogadishu by Matthew LaVoie at VOA. []
  3. This area is predominatly inhabited by Oromo. []
  4. Her full name is Zahra (or Sahro) Dawo and it seems that she was quite popular by her own at that period. []
  5. Any information about the songs and the group are most welcome! []
  6. Thanks to Sanaag for the correct Somali spelling, translations and explanations! []

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  1. alejandro’s avatar

    This is terrific! Thanks a lot.

  2. Sanaag’s avatar

    Hello Andreas,

    Many thanks! Imo, the original line-up is not playing on this cass. and it seems the new musicians are looking for their own distinctive mark. Not only the music, but also the content and the context of the lyrics are quite different from those of the initial band.

    I musically prefer the original group. Having said that, I”m positively surprised by the lyrics on this recording. Although some are covers of old standards, they”re poetically more skilled than their earlier songs and, more important, they”re addressing social issues – an engagement the original band lacked.

    A. Songs (with correct Somali spelling in brackets)

    1. Shered (Sharad): Riddle, quizz, code… –> love song
    2.* Abasho (Cabasho): Complaint, accusation… –> it”s a prayer for forgiveness, repentance and peace in Somalia and everywhere
    3. Shelede: ? The lyrics are in a Southern dialect that I can”t grasp very well, but it seems it”s about “someone who”s possessed by the demons of love”
    4.** Hak Somalk Dumark (Xaqsoorka Dumarka): Justice for Women / Uphold Women”s Rights
    5. Africa –> Lament over Africa”s current plagues (war, bad politics, poverty, desolation…) and a call for unity to confront the problems hand in hand
    6. African Music: –> No idea in which language or about what he”s singing
    7. Ethiopian Girl (cover of “I”ve Been Thinking About You”)
    8. Gorophmca (Gorofka): The Elixir (full of love)
    9. Ladaney: Oh, Ladan! (female name) –> cover of an old love song
    10. Kennea (Keennee Gardaran?): Who is Wrong? (The dictator or the citizens?) –> This is an old song from early 70s denouncing the dictatorship in veiled lyrics about love.
    11. **Tarik (Taariikh): History –> love song
    12.* (C)abasho

    * Tracks 2 & 12 are the same
    ** Tracks 4 & 11 are interchanged

    B. To my knowledge Muktar, Abdinur and Qomal belong to Durdur”s 2nd/3rd generation male singers. A bunch of their vids are on:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/daljirdawakhay#p/search

    The videos on Likembe feature mainly the original band and the original male vocalist (Cabdullaahi Baastow) is here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03RjSgEGiBA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rk5X_6oirbE

    Thanks a lot and auf wiedersehen!

  3. Andreas Wetter’s avatar

    Sanaag,

    thank you very much for the information! I will update the post as soon as possible.

  4. warsame’s avatar

    wow!wonderful songs, thank you very much. keep the job u doing to know everthing somali songs, this remind me middle 90s when I was Dire Dawa even Radio harar have copy of this album. Could you pleae find me song called naftan u jeelan awgaa from Sahra Dawo I think this can be found only Radio Hara Somali section.

  5. ryan’s avatar

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful music, I am really enjoying this cassette.

  6. Ethiopian’s avatar

    Beautiful music! I heard this group before when I was in Ethiopian – they are quite good!

  7. diresibachew’s avatar

    Dear Sir
    I was craving for this musics by Dur dur . I had been seraching the whole Addis and fail to get it. …..You know when this music was published I was a school boy (I personaly know some of the artists, they are wonderful and smart) and had a wonderful memory. Realy realy I appreciate and God bless you
    dires

  8. gaspare’s avatar

    Thanks much both Andreas & Sanaag

    This is awesome music !!!

  9. Samuel’s avatar

    I am a huge fan of this band – particularly this album. I was in my early 20s in Addis Ababa. I don’t know the language or what is being said in these songs but you don’t need to understand the language to be immersed in various emotions as you listen to the songs. I know that for Somalis the lyrics are as important (if not more) as the song, so I wish I knew what the songs were about. Such a lovely album. Thank you for postng the songs here. It would also be great if someone can post all the songs on youtube. Much love from an Ethiopian.

  10. charlie’s avatar

    This is such an amazing album so inspiring! Is there anywhere I can find it online or in shops I’ve been looking everywhere! Thanks.

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