Filed Under:

A Funky-Fresh Sound From Somalia, With A Political History

Imagine the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, in the 1980s. You can't, right? Neither can most music critics. That's why the recent re-release of a record by a popular '80s-era Mogadishu dance band has caught the attention of critics lately.

The founders of Dur-Dur Band now live in Columbus, Ohio. Weekends on All Things Considered asked members Abdinur Daljir and Sahra Dawo to go to a studio there — accompanied by an interpreter — to talk about the newly reissued record and the story that precedes it.

"In the beginning, we used to sing and dance with American music," Dawo tells host Kelly McEvers. "And later on, we decided to shape our own music in such a way that it is comfortable enough for people to dance with it — for people to enjoy it."

Shifting gears paid off: The band's unique pairing of Somali songs with the rhythms of Western funk and soul made it a crowd favorite in Mogadishu. Dawo says one song in particular, "Dooyo," could be counted on to whip the room into a frenzy.

"People sang and played and danced in a very crazy way, to the extent that some of them would fall down to the ground," she says. "And they would keep asking for [encores] — three, four, five times sometimes."

In the full version of this interview, Daljir and Dawo discuss the group's exodus from Somalia during the conflict that gripped the country in the early 1990s — and NPR East Africa Correspondent Gregory Warner explains the political history that set the stage for Dur-Dur Band's success. To hear it, click the audio link on this page.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Is It All Greek To You? Thank Medieval Monks, And The Bard, For The Phrase

Ben Zimmer, language columnist at The Wall Street Journal, explains the origin of the phrase "it's all Greek to me" — and shares a few variants from other languages.
NPR

Do Try This At Home: 3 Korean Banchan (Side Dishes) In One Pot

If you've ever eaten at a Korean restaurant, you're used to the endless side dishes that come out with the meal. They're called banchan, and they're remarkably simple to make for yourself.
WAMU 88.5

Cutting Local Taxes in The District

The D.C. Council has taken steps to accelerate tax cuts for all income earners. They're part of a broader overhaul of the city's tax levels, but some council members argued there wasn't enough time for a rigorous debate about the new schedule. We explore the debate over cutting taxes for D.C. residents and how it affects the city's ability to pay for critical local services.

NPR

Reddit CEO Says Miscommunication Led To Blackout Protest

A user revolt briefly shut down the social site last week after a key employee was dismissed. Interim CEO Ellen Pao says the company has "apologized for not communicating better" with site moderators.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.