Inspiration for K’naan’s “Fire in Freetown”

Someone just passed me this YouTube clip of what, according to the video notes and the unmistakable melody, is the inspiration for K’naan’s “Fire in Freetown,” one of my favorite songs on the Troubadour album. The original is very beautiful (is that an oud, walla shu?). According to an extremely cursory Google search, Fatima Abdillahi Mandeeq (various spellings) is a Somali folk singer. I am working my Somali contacts for a translation.

Update: Hat-tip SG in Nairobi

9 thoughts on “Inspiration for K’naan’s “Fire in Freetown”

  1. Hi. Yes it’s oud, we call it Kaban in Somali. There are as far as I am familiar with 2 different songs that have the line “sidii hogasha roobka”. One is recorded by famous Somali singer Hassan Samatar Ahmed, and it’s the version in wich the line shows up right at the beginning of the 1. verse. The other one is the version you have here. Here is the whole lyrics in Somali for Hassan Aadan Samatar’s version in Somali :

    sida hogasha roobka ( means ; like the clouds of the rain)
    ama hilaaca guyoo da’ay
    hobaan bislaatiyo
    haro wada biyeysan
    oo lagu hayaamo
    hubaal sahan kii uu raray
    waxuu si hintiqiyaba
    hada qadacsi loo jiro

    haboonay naftaydaan
    higsi baad ku noqatoo
    adaa ii hiraayee
    hadaad diido hadalkayga
    habeen wacan nasiibkayga
    halkaygaan ku sugayaa

    hanfi iyo dabayl baa
    isu kay hadheeyoo
    sida hawd dulhamagan
    habaqa iga baxayaa

    hadaan haysto taladaa
    hiboy kaama hiisheen
    kuu hoodo sheegtee
    haween haygu noqonine
    waxaan hiilay noqon laa
    halista iyo dhibtaan qabo
    adoo iga horjoogsada
    hadaad diido hadalkayga
    habeen wacan nasiibkayga
    halkaygan ku sugayaa

    hanaankiyo quruxdaan
    hiboy kugu jeclaadee
    hablahaad u sidataa
    haybadiyo asluubtee
    sahamiyey dartaayo
    habeen socod ku waasho
    waxan eega dhaafaa
    hawadaa sareetee

    waxaan hiilay noqon laa
    halista iyo dhibtaan qabo
    adoo iga horjoogsada
    hadaad diido hadalkayga
    habeen wacan nasiibkayga
    halkaygan ku sugayaa

    Mohammed , Norway

  2. Fire in freetown is definitely one of the best songs of f trabadour. I had the chance to see him perform last summer in a very low key concert and it was amazing. Still trying to get my hands on a Mandeeq can only hope.

  3. Pingback: Alsarah: music for the Sudanese elections « The Long Gone Daddy

  4. Does anyone know where the inspiration for the lyrics came from? I’ve googled, but can’t decide if Freetown was actually a place that caught on fire…

    • Peace and respect to those of you who have taken the time to post. We all benefit from this shared knowledge and perspective. The reference to Freetown could stem from the Civil War in Sierra Leone (circa 1992-2002). The nation’s capital city is called “Freetown”. I guess “Fire” is a symbolic and actual reference to instability, turmoil, death, pain, etc. This is how I have come to understand it. The film “Blood Diamond” offers some cursory insight into the conflict. I hope that this is of some benefit to you. Peace.

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