Written by Abdirisak Itaqile
Somali society has a rich musical heritage where poetry, oratory, theatre and songs are the dominant forms of cultural expression. Somali artists, song writers and poets once used to set the goals and visions of their nation, and every Somali child aspired to become an artist when he or she grew up.
Prior to the collapse of the Siyad Barre regime Somali music industry was one of the most vibrant industry in Africa and Somali artists and songwriters are still remembered for their successful efforts in rendering the Somali music as the best and only language in educating and entertaining the Somali-speaking communities in the Horn of Africa.
In early 1991, Somali music industry collapsed with the collapse of the Somali state and life immediately proved to be difficult and risky for the Somali artists and poets.
Clan-based factional fighting broke out in many parts of the country and rendered almost all Somali artists hopeless as they lost their beloved family members, their livelihoods got completely shattered, and their musical equipment were either looted or destroyed by warring militias.
Hargeisa city, which used to serve as the epicenter of Somali music industry was destroyed by Siyad Barre regime forces and it’s theatre once among the biggest and the most beautiful theatres in Africa, where the Somali artists used to display their music, closed down after it was destroyed and turned into internally displaced camp.
Similarly the disintegrating political situation in Somalia in early 1990s also led to the members of Somali arts leaving the country and scattering abroad.
During the period between 1996 and 2010, few members of diaspora-based Somali artists were able to record new music albums and the Somali music industry started to enter a state of morbid decline
Also during that period, many musicians either left the industry or put their careers on hold. Few new faces joined the industry.
In 2011 Somali music industry rose from the ashes thanks to a young and talented poet known as Hassan Sulaiman Dhuhul Labsalah.
In his early thirties, the gifted poet Hassan Dhuhul Labsalah showcased his remarkable talent of song writing, when he founded the famous music band Xidigaha Geeska (Horn Stars band) upon his return to Hargeisa in early 2011.
Hassan Dhuhul Labsalah’s extraordinary song writing skills produced a new generation of Somali artists where many of his songs sung by members of Horn Stars band became a household name in Somaliland and the horn of Africa in general.
Labsalah is the longest serving chairman of Horn stars band where he served as the chairman of music band in the period between 2011 and early 2016.
Since 2011 poet Labsalah wrote 149 well known romantic songs sung by 45 different artists. Also the gifted song writer wrote 12 nationalistic songs.
Hassan Dhuhul Labsalah also uses his song writing g skills to educate and entertain Somali-speaking society in the Horn of Africa region by writing 15 different songs that promote social awareness programs such as fund raising songs for roads construction as well as songs that educate and raise community awareness against the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Migration, journalism and tribalism.
Needless to say, as a community we respect nothing more than talent, and Labsalah have it in spades. Labsalah is not only talented, but he also has a good heart. He has farsighted personality traits. He is also an outspoken person who is free from political influence.
In a nut shell, Hassan Dhuhul Labsalah’s talent and song writing skills revived and flourished the almost dying Somali music.
Abdirisak Itaqile Is the Editor-in-chief of Somaliland Monitor