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Variations of the Somali National Anthem
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by Ali H. Abdulla
Wednesday, March 05, 2008

 

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The Somali National Anthem has gone through many variations over the 48 years of our independence. Most of us are acquainted with the original Anthem as a piece of Music that accompanies the raising of the flag on national occasions and state visits. It was composed in the 1940s to entice Somalis to rise against the British and Italian colonialists.

 

It is worth noting that both of the men credited with writing the song, the late Yusuf Haji Adan and Ali Mire Awale, are from Northern Somalia, sections of which seek to betray their legacy and break away from Somalia. It is also worth mentioning that the blue flag, for which the song has been chosen as the national anthem, was first hoisted in Hargeisa, the second capital of the Somali Republic, a city that was reduced to rubble in the civil war and rebuilt again from the ashes, and will hopefully become the first city again to hoist the fallen and soiled banner.

 

On a cold dreary day in North America, I reflected upon the history of the Anthem. I have managed to locate in the Internet a version that I have not heard of before. This version is performed by the Waaberi troupe whose members are scattered all over the world and come together on occasions that raise hope for Somalia’s comeback. The good thing about Waaberi is its composition and the fact that its singers come from all corners of the Somali Republic. Hopefully its aging members will be replaced by new blood that will help the nation heal its wounds.

 

The group begins with the original two lines of the song:

 

“Soomaaliyeey toosoo

Toosoo isku tiirsada oo

Hadba kiina taagdaranee

Taageera waligiinee”

 

Somalis wake up,

Wake up and lean on each other

And whoever is most in need of support

Support them forever.

 

Xasan Adan Samatar opens with:

 

“Waxa aan la ooyaayoow ilmaday iga qubanaysoo

Arligeeeni oo idil baa wada gaadhay aafada ee”

 

I cry and shed tears

For the widespread calamity

That afflicts my whole country

 

Another lady singer adds:

 

“Ummadeeni caydhowdoo umul iyo dhib baan arkayaa

Eedaadka aad kujirtaan baan anfacada la diidaa yee”

 

Our people have become destitute

They live in misery and hardship

The situation they are in

Prompts me to avoid all sustenance

 

The beautiful Khadra Daahir adds:

 

“Dad islaama baan nahayoo, arli qudha ku wada noolo

Aragti iyo af qudha wada loo aduunkuu ogsoon yahayee”

 

We are all Muslims

We share one land

We share one look

We share one language

The whole world knows that

 

A.Q. Juba concludes with:

 

“Carradeeynii dhiigaynoo oo waanu ceebownee

Caruurtii iyo cirroolihii baa cidla looga wada cararee”

 

We shed blood in our land

Running away in shame

Leaving behind the young and the old

 

The new version of the song describes the grim reality in Somalia. Although this version goes back to the early 1990s, the situation it describes has not changed since. Those unfortunate enough to stay behind in Somalia live in misery and constant hardship. Somalia is in the news for: bullet riddled civilians caught in the crossfire; foreign intervention and US bombardment; severe drought and starvation; thousands of internally displaced and drowned refugees; endemic piracy; dumping of hazardous chemicals and nuclear waste.

 

The word Somali here refers to all Somalis regardless of the country or region they identify with.  It applies to the Somalis living in Djibouti; to the Somalis living under occupation in Western Somalia; to the Somalis living under occupation in the Northern Frontier District; and finally to the Somalis living in the troubled regions of the mother land that was supposed to be a beacon for those living under occupation; a beacon that would guide them one day to the bosom of the mother land. No Somali today lives in dignity in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia unleashes its fury on the residents of the territories it occupies whenever its soldiers come under attack by ONLF freedom fighters. Somalis in NFD suffer from neglect and under development compared to other parts of Kenya. Somalis in Djibouti feel better but still seek refugee status in Canada and France escaping from a country that suffers from chronic unemployment and corruption. Djibouti has become a base for foreign forces seeking to monitor the activities of Muslims in the horn labelled as terrorists.

 

How can we recover our unity and dignity?

 

Professor Abdi Ismail Samatar in a recent workshop held in Ottawa, Canada, advised the mostly Somali audience to rise above the lowest denominator and attributed the bleak situation in Somalia to the emphasis put on clan politics and the resorting to formulas based on clan affiliation in most Somali reconciliation conferences. One of these formulas is based on the infamous 4.5 theme devised by those who seek the division of Somalia into groups, where the four major clans get equal seats while all other Somalis get one half of one of the shares of the major clans. The professor contends, and I do agree with him, that this formula is tantamount to apartheid and wonders why would the world, that dismantled the Apartheid system in South Africa, willingly fund conferences and governments based on such an abhorrent system.

 

Somalia needs people like the Samatar brothers who have defied the herd mentality and refused to be dragged down to the lowest denominator, and who seek the highest denominator in the murky world of Somali Politics. Hopefully the number of such people will grow steadily albeit slowly. My hope got rekindled recently after I watched the 2007 celebration of the national day of Somalia held in Sharjah by the Somali Youth Congress. The SYC is composed of young Somalis born in the UAE. They have managed to rise above the lowest denominator mentioned by Professor Samatar. Amazingly, 95% of their members are from Northern Somalia.

 

Hopefully we can learn from Professor Samatar and the members of the SYC to shun clan politics and seek the highest denominator. It may be a difficult task that can be likened to the inability of Alcoholics to kick the habit easily. Maybe we need to establish a club similar to Alcoholic Anonymous where new members in such clubs admit that they are alcoholics. Admitting your ailment is the first step to recovery. Denial just makes things worse. No one is immune including this author, so I will start with myself and admit, “I am a Clan-holic, and I need help”. The Western world is better advised to fund such clinics to help the Somali people kick the destructive clan habit instead of funding conferences and governments based on the very disease that is tearing Somalia apart.

 

We also need to come up with a new variation of the National Anthem that entices us to rise above the lowest denominator just as the original one enticed our ancestors to break the shackles of colonialism.


 

Ali H. Abdulla

E-mail: [email protected]