Tragedy of a Music Icon and the Shame of a Nation. By Bashir Goth

Tragedy of a Music Icon and the Shame of a Nation. By Bashir Goth

Tragedy of a Music Icon and the Shame of a NationimagesCAW8QX52

By Bashir Goth



Adduunyada nin dhoofiyo

Ninkii deggan dhulkii hooyo

Nin dhergiyo nin dhawr qaday

Aan dheef hayan

Dheddig iyo laboodbaa

Hawli kama dhammaatee

Qof waliba wixii dhibay

Dhafoorkay ku taallaa


(Whether you be a migrant

Or you stay back at home

Whether you live in affluence

Or you sleep on empty stomach for days

Whether you are a male or a female

The world never spares anyone of suffering

And everyone’s own misery and hardship

Can be noticed easily on one’s temples…

Widely known as the Somali King of Melody, Maxamad Saleeban Tubeec’s unique, modulate and soaring

voice spoke prophetically of the fate that would befall the Somali nation and with it Somali culture of which

music is its crown jewel.


After more than half a century of fame during which Tubeec has entertained, mesmerized, and moved the

passions of the Somali people with his magical and inimitable voice in defiance of the ugly tyranny of the

Somali people against his rights as a human being and a native citizen, he is now lying in a hospital bed

far from home. He said the doctors in Germany where has been taken for treatment confirmed to him

that he needs a surgical operation, an operation that he cannot financially afford. The painful news came

through a desperate appeal he made through a Somali TV channel, asking Somali people and the Somali

government to assist him in meeting the hospital expenses so he can undergo this life giving surgery.

In any world, other than this surrealistic situation of Somalia, Tubeec would have been not only a

source of national pride for his contribution to Somalia’s music heritage but also a wealthy man from the

copyright and sales of his works. But is it no wonder that within the Somali context where there is no

copyright and no respect for intellectual property that artists, no matter how significantly they contribute to

the collective national memory of the people, would remain on the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

As a person who grew up in the heyday of Somali music and literature in the 1960s and 70s when music

rocked people’s passions with its magical melody, its powerful poetry, and its appeal to the ambitions and

dreams of the young Somali nation, I could never have envisioned the day when the whole nation would

collapse and Somali musical icons would suffer and die of negligence and anonymity in their old age.

Hearing Tubeec’s pathetic condition, I travelled down memory lane and with the help of like minded

people who preserved his music on YouTube, tried to relive the golden age of his music when he

breathed the beauty of life into the hearts and souls of people who loved his music but wouldn’t otherwise

treat him as an equal human being due to his clan. The days when his melodies symbolized everything

beautiful in life and through it we all felt to be immortal.


It was ironic that I encountered his famous lyrics which Somalis have through decades sang and may

continue to sing even centuries to come to ring in every New Year. As we stand at the beginning of a New

Year, 2014, it is painful and somewhat apocalyptic to hear Tubeec singing the powerful words of Hussein

Aw Farah:


Waan heesayaayee

Sannad waliba hoodiyo

Hawl iyo dhibaatiyo

Wuxu hadimo leeyahay

Waa laga helaayoo

Hadhaw lagu xusuustaa

Kii noo hagaagee

Noqo loo hanweynyahay…


(I am going to sing

That every year

Brings with it what

It has to offer

In affluence and in misery

And it is remembered

In what it gives

O New Year

Be one that brings us

Good tidings

To earn our admiration…

One couldn’t miss, however, and might even remember it with a nostalgic feeling how Tubeec spoke to

our hearts and made us live life to the full with his song Waqti (Time) in which he admonished Time to

stay away from him and let him enjoy his youthful days.


Hawshiyo dhibaatada

Dhallinyaro intaan ahay

Ha ii soo dhaweynine

Waxan ii dhammaynayn

Sharaftayda dhawrooo…


(While I enjoy my youthful days

O Time

Spare me

From your miseries and sufferings

Let me enjoy my youthfulness to the full

Dare you not harm my dignity…)

Well indeed, Tubeec had a productive and beautiful youth as one of the most loved singers of his

generation and a man crowned by the Somali people as the King of Melody. Tubeec was a born singer

in every genre he under took. But there is no doubt that he first captured the heart and minds of the

Somali people all over the Somali peninsula with his patriotic songs at the time of independence. It was

Tubeec’s lyrics that dominated the airwaves during the celebrations for Independence anniversaries. I

can recall how the feeling of the people soared with the hearing of Tubeec’s “Dharaartaan waxyeeladay

Dhaqdhaqeen” (The Day I Cleansed Myself of Shame) which had become one of the indelible symbols of

Somali independence:


Dhaaxaan gunimiyo

Dhibaato mutoo

Dhomaha la iga saaray

Dhinacyada ee

Dharaartaan waxyeeladii


Calanka dhidbay

Sow ma soo dhicin…”


The Day I Cleansed Myself of Shame Day

(“Many a time, I had suffered

Ignominy and harshness

And have been loaded

On both sides

Like a beast of burden

O hasn’t the day

Has come

When I cleansed myself of shame

And I hoisted the flag…”)

I can only imagine how much the words of this song rang bells in Tubeec’s inner soul for while he was

passionately singing about the removal of the yoke of colonialism and oppression, he knew in the deepest

parts of his heart that he and his family were still carrying the yoke of centuries old societal heinous

discrimination and oppression that his voice couldn’t erase. But he still sang for the promise of the day

with a great degree of patriotism and optimism.

Another of his unforgettable independence songs was “Way Ahaataye Maaanta” (Yes, today we have

done it”, a song with lyrics talking about the need for collaboration and cohesiveness in decision making

between the leaders and the people, a message that has lost its way to the heart of the Somali people.


Hadba kii arrin keena

Ka kale aqbalaayaa

Ilaahii ina siiyey

Isagaa ku abaale

Way ahaataye maanta

Si wanaagsan u iida



He, whoever initiates an idea

And the one who listens and supports it

O Thanks to Almighty

Who bestowed on us such harmony

And unity of purpose

Yes, today we have done it

And we must celebrate it

With peace and gracefulness…”

Apart from his patriotic songs, Tubeec’s fame came from his dignified and serene voice, coupled with the

pure classical Somali music that represented the era before Somali music was adulterated with foreign

styles which is adopted wholesale by modern singers.

Among the most famous of his plethora of love songs was “Dhool Da’ay La Moodyeey” ( O You whose

beauty resembles that of a day after rain”


Dhool da’ay la moodeeyey

Waan kugu dhadhabayaayey

Dharaartaynu kullanaa

Dhulku ila wareegeey

Dhimasho iyo nolol

Ayaan kala dhex joogaa


“O You whose beauty resembles that of a day after rain

Since the day I met you

The earth seems to be spinning around me

And I stand between death and life…”

Yet another one of his memorable love songs is “Nayruus” (Nowruz) which he performs with Magool,

known also as the Queen of Melody, thus making them a heaven-made duet, and arguably the best two

voices of Somali music of all time.


Weligay kumaan nicin

Naagana kuma ag dhigin

Ka nixina ismaan odhan naruuroy

Ka nixina ismaan odhan nasteexooy…


“I never have ceased to love you

I never have compared you with other women

Never have it occurred to me to let you down

O my gracious deliverance

Never have it occurred to me to let you down

O my precious darling.

It was in Lagos in 1977 that Tubeec and Magool mesmerized the African audience with their magical,

authentic Somali voices. And one of the highlights of the night was“ “MINANKAYGII HADDAAD TIMI’ which

I recommend every reader of this piece to watch and enjoy these two artists’ stellar music and regal


The precious archives of Tubeec’s music is priceless and deserve more than a book to cover it, but to

throw a couple of more lines into the memory trove, I cannot miss to recall “Hanqaaro” (Urge)


Naftaydaa adaa hanqaaroo

Hablihii kale waan ka hadhayee

Anigu kaa helay hubaalee

Adigu mayla haysaa…


“O you have caused the urge in me

And I let go of all other women

My admiration for you is absolute

I wonder if have yours in return ..”

Definitely the list continues and includes Cimrigiiba Jacayl, AMAANADA ILAAHAY, Malyuun Hibo, and

of course the great song of Hooyo (mother).

This is not a eulogy as Tubeec is very much alive and I wish him quick recovery but it is an attempt to

remind the Somali people and the Somali government that our cultural icons and music legends like

Tubeec and Cabdi Tahliil who is also ill and in need of treatment should never have been allowed to meet

this fate.


It is almost a crime that we had the music of Tubeec and Tahliil to enjoy and took pride in the legacy

they left for us and then let them suffer and face life alone in their twilight years. Undeniably the tragedy

that befell Tubeec and other artists like him reflects the tragedy of a nation whose country, heritage, and

collective memory are all in ruins, but the Somali governments, no matter what, are duty bound to give

these artists the status and financial pension that they rightly deserve.

Finally, I would like to urge the Somali people and particularly the Somali government to extend their

support and welfare to Tubeec and Tahliil who unlike other artists cannot seek clan support and who

despite historical injustices always count the Somali people as a whole as their Tol.

It will only be befitting to end this peace with Tubeec’s following heart-wrenching song:


Ma ogtahay ayaantii

Ilmadu kaa da’aysee

Indhahaaga qoysaan

Inan yahay xasuustoo

Uurkaan ka ooyoo

Waan kaa ashahaatee


“O darling, don’t you know the day

When tears rolled down

And soaked your eyes

O darling, I do remember it well

As I cried my heart outA

And felt great empathy for you…”


Bashir Goth