Explorations in History and Society

Exploring and Collecting the History of the Somali clan of Hawiye.

Abgal Poetry

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The Abgaal are one of the major Hawiye clans and live in the coastal areas from Mogadishu as far as the Mudug. They are perhaps the only Somali clan with its own special poetical genres – the guurow and the shirib – that differ from those of the other Somalis. The language of their poets is often characterised by an admixture of dialectal features. As an example of iyo with long -o, consider the following line from a famous guurow by Cabdulle Geedannaar. It scans properly (the same as a gabay) only if iyo counts as v-, which is also how the poet sings it:

Baasayna haystaan iyo, marasho biid biid ah

And they have money and fashionable dresses

The badar-tumid

In the farming areas of Middle Shabeelle women of the Abgaal and related tribes often pound sorghum and other edible grains to the tune of a special kind of work song, known as a grain-pounding song or badar-tumid. A few examples of its lines are shown in (30).27

Kurta loogu shubaa

(And) it is poured in their dish

Caana geel ku caddaaw

Become white with camel milk!

Maakhiidaa la yiraa

She is said to be a good housewife

Keena-keena rag waaye

Those who always bring things (keena-keene) are the men

Karisooy naag waaye

The one who cooks is the woman

The shirib

This term is used in several areas inhabited by Somalis for different kinds of short songs, often connected with dancing. Typically, however, it refers to a genre of short verse composed by the Abgaal and related tribes in the non- Maay-speaking regions of central Somalia. Shiribs are sung during clan or family meetings as well as other gatherings. Often they are improvised in poetic contests. The best surveys on this genre are Maxamad Cosoble M. (no date) and Caasha (no date).36 The latter gives information also about a number of shirib-related genres such as the tacdaad, the shabshable, the shirib of the Reer Xamar, the gambaraale etc., that will not be taken into account here.

Xuseen (1983: 10), Maxamad Cosoble M. (no date: 10) and Caasha (no date: passim) maintain that shiribs are composed of lines (beyd) of 16 syllables, divided into two similar hemistichs of 8 syllables (lug according to Xuseen 1983: 10). Yet both Xuseen and Caasha write each lug on a different line, so that graphically their shiribs look as if they were made of couplets (beyd) of 8-syllable lines (lug). Consider now the following shirib lugs:37

Tagtaada tuug haddow yaqaan

If a thief knows your wealth

-Afar walxaad o ta’ ku taal

Four things that are in it

Dhiishaase ninba meel dhigtaa

But everybody stores his own milk vessel in its proper place

Dhicis lagama dhur sugoo

One doesn’t expect offspring from a stillbirth


Music and Metre in Somali Poetry
Author(s): Giorgio Banti and Francesco Giannattasio
Source: African Languages and Cultures. Supplement, No. 3, Voice and Power: The Culture of
Language in North-East Africa. Essays in Honour of B. W. Andrzejewski (1996), pp. 83-127
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/586655
Accessed: 05/02/2009 16:05


Written by daud jimale

February 5, 2009 at 9:24 pm

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