Reconstructing Somalia: Love Songs at the Birth of a Nation
This program offers a rare musical portrait of Somalia’s formative, pre-civil war years (1960-90). In a rising mood of patriotism and hope, Somalis sought to forge a culturally authentic, but also modern, national identity. Poetry, theatrical plays, and gorgeous, lyrical songs with influences from Arab art music, Hindi film songs and rich local traditions were central to this movement. Historian Lidwien Kapteijns, author of Women’s Voices in a Man’s World, is our guide as we hear rare archival recordings and get inside the social debates and gender negotiations contained in their lyrics. From the poetry of the rural hinterlands, to the recording studios of Mogadishu, and the nostalgia of Somali rapper K’Naan, this program reveals the rich culture behind the grim headlines of recent years.