By: Abdirahman Ahamed Shunuuf, Mohamed Ahmed Shunuuf and Mohamoud Ahmed Shunuuf
A scarf tossed around her beautiful hair, Kinsi Haji Adan “Caqaarta,” is concentrating rather too hard, as she rehearses her signature song, “Ana laanta obaxaa Adaan ku lululayaa” or “I am swinging this flower to you, in preparation for a solo concert in her honor. With the ease of a seasoned Somaliland Diva singer, she holds the room rapt as she puts a fresh mellow spin on the familiar refrain, “Ledi waa Haldhaaguba Intuu Laacu Muuqde anna laanta ubaxa adaan kuu lululayaa.”
A few days later in the spring of 1997 at her solo concert at the “Timacadde Stadium,” she brought down the house. It was her first concert in Hargeisa Somaliland, since the 1980’S, before she moved to the Middle East. One would think that she might have lost touch with the audience during her long absence. But it was not to be so. She was more polished now than ever. Caqaarta’s voice was phenomenal. Her tone was plush, rich and poignant. And her sound was so naturally resonant that she can soar over the band’s music, without any sense of effort. Again, her voice was without faults. Her low range was strong. And her top notes were remarkably consistent. She certainly did not fear the highs. In many times during the concert, she leaped above the band and filled the stadium with sound.
She moved in her sensual way and danced on stage, bringing the mostly young audience to their feet more than one cares to count. “Caqaarta” fans who were the most admirably attentive and enthusiastic music buffs’ forced their way (at least some of them) on stage to dance “- and sing with their Diva. On this occasion, she received a thunderous ovation that seemed to last forever. It seemed as though the grateful fans have finally grasped the significance of “Caqaarta’s” artistry.
At the end of the concert, security guards whisked her out of the stadium through a back door. To her, the concert was the ultimate fulfillment of her desire to perform in front of a live audience, of her fans. To the fans also the concert symbolized the attainment of their dreams, which was to see once again “Caqaarta,” doing what she did best, i.e. sing.
It seemed such a long time, that she was just a young girl walking down the street of Burao, Somaliland, singing alone and dreaming of becoming the next Somaliland Diva such as “Maandiiq,” or Shamis Abukoor “(Guduudo Carwo.” It was only after the late Ahmed Mohamed Goad “Shimber” singer/songwriter, composer/arranger/actor discovered her, that she became famous in the late 1970’s.
Many Somaliland music critics and fans, including the write of this article, believe that she not only had what is called a sensual glow, but also a voice of stunning emotional variety and conviction. When she finally moved to Hargeisa, the Capital city of Somaliland in the early 1970’S, the theatre audience, who are probably the best music critics, treated her the same jubilant way, another star called “Magool” was treated in the 1960’S when she was also, incidentally, discovered by Ahmed Mohamed Goad, “Shimber.”
In addition to a powerful voice, Caqaarta has an arresting poise and intensity; she finds hypnotic expressiveness in the simplest gestures, which forces you to watch her and pay attention when performing in front of a live audience. She also radiates so much feeling without really trying.
When she first joined the then government Radio Mogadishu, she was known by her peers as the striking little girl with the big voice or simply “Caqaarta.” As she became more familiar with the artistic community, she began to meet regularly with the great innovative and talented “Oud” player known by the nickname of “Gin. sheekh Muumin” The rest is history. Caqaarta was suddenly thrown into the midst of the musical scene. She and “Gin” found a pleasing blend of intimacy and teasing upbeat rhythm in the songs that they collaborated together through the years. They were like Billie Holiday, the great African American jazz legend and her saxophone player Dexter Gordon. Gin’s music brought out the best of Caqaarta’s singing ability as a great diva, while Caqaarta took him into a totally different musical level that Gin never dreamed about.
Reviewing one of the early tapes that the two collaborated together refreshes a listener’s memory of the sweeter and deeper side of Caqaarta. She began with her sweet song “Dakharada jacaylkaan kala daraninaa…” The song moved between reticence and intensity. But her real strengths began to shine through in her “Anna laanta ubaxaa Adaan ku lululayaa ravishing performance of “Inaan wali abraaraayo Alwada hay ogaysiin…” On doing that song, she retained that lush, romantic tone in her voice.
For Gin, these songs are a challenge filled pieces composed as a test piece for the energetic, young “Oud” player. So, although Gin never lets up on the technical demands, the pieces also test the musical connection and compatibility between the two great performers. This music makes you dizzy, hallucinatory, psychedelic, call and response masterpieces. The songs transcend explanation, and invite both the singer and Oud player to produce fireworks and a singing tone, areas in which Caqaarta had by then shown her considerable strengths.