By: Abdirahman Ahamed Shunuuf, Mohamed Ahmed Shunuuf and Mohamoud Ahmed Shunuuf
“Drum,” short for “Daaraaraamleh,” has been a Somaliland music icon since the 1950’s. He also released a series of influential, classical songs in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Arguably, his masterpiece was “shacni iyo waanaag,” and “Ma lado habeenkii,” a 1971 cassette recording, on which he led a stellar ensemble which included the great “oud” player “Xudeydi and Sahra Siyaad as a co-singer .” “Drum” recently reissued “shacney iyo waanaag,” a fine recording, that feature’s “Drum’s” “oud” playing for the first time.
His latest effort proves that the singer’s touch and talent are very much intact. Whether he is singing or playing the “oud,” “Drum” singularly investigates the possibilities of musical space and pushes harmonic and melodic limits.
When “Drum” visited Somaliland in 1998 for the first time since independence, he began his homage by performing in front of a live audience at an open air theater called “Timacade.” The audience responded by giving him ovations. The strong response was so gratifying that “Drum” declared in public that he will move back from London – where he resides now – to Somaliland as soon as possible. In fact, the public response reminded him of his youth in Hargeisa, as a singer/musician and actor. He collaborated with such luminaries as Barkhadras, Abdillah Qarsha, Mohamed Ismail “Xudeydi,” Mohamed Mogeh, Ahmed Mogeh Faisel and the rest of the famous “Barkhad Cas Band” during those early days. It was through playing and singing alongside such masters that “Drum” found his own voice and his own path.
In an interview with “Jamhuurya,” a daily newspaper from Hargeisa, Somaliland, “Drum” emphasized how his music is deeply rooted in Somaliland musical traditions. Furthermore, he points out, “since Somaliland music is just like any other art form, it’s impossible to move ahead without properly appreciating what has been done so far, by Somaliland music pioneers.” “Drum” points to predecessors who inspired him such as Abdillahi Qarshe, the foremost Somaliland singer/musician in the 1950’s and early 1960’s; Mohamed Saeed nicknamed “Gu Roon Jiire” the great composer/oud player and singer in the 1940’s, ’50s, and ’60s; and last but not least Saxardiid Mohamed “Jabiye,” poet, songwriter, playwright, and composer.
“Drum” considers Saxardiid Maxamed”Jabiye” to be one of the most talented composers of all time. He says, “Saxardiid is to me one of the most gifted of all the composers, because he does not play any instrument or sing. But, yet, he composed some of the best Qaraami songs ever put to music.
Upon finishing school at the Clerical Training Center (CTC) in Harglish, Somaliland, in the late 1950’s, he was hired by the Somali land postal authority as an accountant. He worked there until he got a scholarship in Cairo’s prestigious “Academy of Music,” along with his two close friends and co-singers – Ahmed Mohamed Goode “Shimber” and Faisel Omer Musheteeg.
“Drum” came back to his hometown Hargesisa in the mid 1960’s, where he became of the city’s cultural and musical scene. “Lii La Law,” a popular song in the 1960’s, became “Drum’s” signature song. Incidentally, this song is considered by many Somaliland music critics as a masterpiece. He sang another famous song that praised the black women’s beauty, called “Wali waa caruuroo.”
“Xudeydi,” who arranged the music and wrote the lyrics, shows his musicianship on this song. The music literally blows your mind. While longtime fans will relish “Xudeydi’s” anarchic imagination and exploratory way with a melody line, they may also be surprised with “Drum’s” voice and musical vision. “Drum’s” voice is ever on a journey of discovery, with each performance taking new detours as listeners keep their ears attuned to every turn.