Light & Sound of Mogadishu


Vinyl wasn’t very common in 1970s Somalia, and most Somali music has survived on cassette tapes and reel-to-reel tape. However, one man ensured that several Somali singles were sent off to Kenya (at the time one of the few countries in East Africa to have pressing plants) to be pressed into 45s. His name was Dahir Omar, and he ran a recording studio (one of the few private ones in the country, where most recordings were made in Radio Mogadishu or Radio Hargeisa studios) tucked away behind his electronic appliances shop in central Mogadishu — hence the name of his label, “Light & Sound.” This Afro 7 compilation introduced the world to a few very different Somali sounds: the fiery funk of Sharero Band, who counted James Brown and The Doors and inspirations, and some classic tracks by the likes of Hibbo Nour and Magool. The latter is considered one of the greatest Somali singers, and here she performs two love songs written by great Somali poet Hadrawi: both “Wa’ly Sita” and “Shimbir Yohou” are beautiful in the simplicity, with Magool’s raw and expressive voice accompanied only by sparse percussion and nimble kaban playing.

Megan Iacobini de Fazio