Music of Djibouti

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The music of Djibouti refers to the musical styles, techniques and sounds of Djibouti.

Djibouti Country in Africa

Djibouti is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east. Djibouti occupies a total area of 23,200 km2 (8,958 sq mi). The state of Djibouti is predominantly inhabited by two ethnic groups, the Somali and the Afar people, the Somalis being the major ethnic group of the country.



Djibouti is a multiethnic country. The two largest ethnic groups are the Somali and the Afar. There are also a number of Arab, Ethiopian and European (French and Italian) residents. Traditional Afar music resembles the folk music of other parts of the Horn of Africa such as Ethiopia; it also contains elements of Arabic music. The history of Djibouti is recorded in the poetry and songs of its nomadic people, and goes back thousands of years to a time when the peoples of Djibouti traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India and China. Afar oral literature is also quite musical. It comes in many varieties, including songs for weddings, war, praise and boasting. [1] Somalis have a rich musical heritage centered on traditional Somali folklore. Most Somali songs are pentatonic; that is, they only use five pitches per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven note) scale such as the major scale. At first listen, Somali music might be mistaken for the sounds of nearby regions such as Ethiopia, Sudan or the Arabian Peninsula, but it is ultimately recognizable by its own unique tunes and styles. Modern Djiboutian popular music can be traced back to the late 1940s, Somali songs are usually the product of collaboration between lyricists (midho), songwriters (laxan), and singers (codka or "voice"). Balwo is a Somali musical style centered on love themes that is popular in Djibouti. [2]

Afar people ethnic group

The Afar, also known as the Danakil, Adali and Odali, are an ethnic Cushitic peoples inhabiting the Horn of Africa. They primarily live in the Afar Region of Ethiopia and in northern Djibouti, although some also inhabit the southern point of Eritrea. Afars speak the Afar language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic family.

Ethiopia country in East Africa

Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country in the northeastern part of Africa, popularly known as the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti to the northeast, and Somalia to the east, Sudan to the northwest, South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With over 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent that covers a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi). Its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa, which lies a few miles west of the East African Rift that splits the country into the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

"Dhooley" sung by Abdo Xamar Qoodh
"Maadoora" sung by Abayazid Badri ft Dinkara Band

The national anthem of Djibouti is "Djibouti", adopted in 1977 with words by Aden Elmi and music by Abdi Robleh. [3] "Miniature poetry", invented by a truck driver named Abdi Deeqsi, is well known in Djibouti; these are short poems (balwo), mostly concerning love and passion. [1] They perform music and dance from two of Djibouti's main ethnic groups (Somali, Afar), they feature regularly on Djiboutian radio and television shows and perform as representatives of Djiboutian culture around the world. This festival draws performers from all over the country, and live recordings of headliner acts have proved popular with international audiences. Among the best-known performers are the Dinkara and Aïdarous. The government sponsors several organizations dedicated to the preservation of traditional culture and dance.

National anthem Song that represents a country or sovereign state

A national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people. The majority of national anthems are marches or hymns in style. The countries of Latin America, Central Asia, and Europe tend towards more ornate and operatic pieces, while those in the Middle East, Oceania, Africa, and the Caribbean use a more simplistic fanfare. Some countries that are devolved into multiple constituent states have their own official musical compositions for them ; their constituencies' songs are sometimes referred to as national anthems even though they are not sovereign states.

Djiboutian traditional instruments include the tanbura, bowl lyre and oud. [4]

Lyre string instrument from Greek classical antiquity

The lyre is a string instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later periods. The lyre is similar in appearance to a small harp but with distinct differences. In organology, lyres are defined as "yoke lutes", being lutes in which the strings are attached to a yoke that lies in the same plane as the sound-table and consists of two arms and a cross-bar.

Oud pear-shaped stringed instrument

The oud is a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringed instrument with 11 or 13 strings grouped in 5 or 6 courses, commonly used predominantly in Western Asia and North Africa: in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, Arabia, Iran, Greece, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and other ethnic music like Jewish music, North African Chaabi, Classical, and Spanish Andalusian.

Music institutions

The first radio station in Djibouti to air popular Djibouti music was (ORTF) Radio based in Djibouti. It started broadcasting in 1940 in French, Somali, Afar and Arabic. Djiboutian music is now regularly broadcast on the state-run Radio Television of Djibouti.

Radio Television of Djibouti Radiodiffusion Télévision de Djibouti

Radio Television of Djibouti (RTD) is the national broadcaster of Djibouti.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Somali language language of East Cushitic branch of Afro-Asiatic family

Somali is an Afroasiatic language belonging to the Cushitic branch. It is spoken as a mother tongue by Somalis in Greater Somalia and the Somali diaspora. Somali is an official language of Somalia, a national language in Djibouti, and a working language in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. It is used as an adoptive language by a few neighboring ethnic minority groups and individuals. The Somali language is written officially with the Latin alphabet.

List of Djiboutian musicians

Nima Djama is a composer and singer from Djibouti. In the 1976, Nima Djama sang famous patriotic song for Djibouti independence. She is also heavily involved in Djiboutian politics.

Abdo Xamar Qoodh was a well-known Djiboutian songwriter, composer and singer.

Mohamed Ali Fourchette was a prominent Djiboutian vocalist and instrumentalist.

Ahmed Mohamed Aman (Amanda)

Ali Abazid Fatouma Mansour

Related Research Articles

Djibouti is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Somalia to the southeast, Eritrea and the Red Sea to the north and northeast, Ethiopia to the west and south, and the Gulf of Aden to the east.

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The Music of Somalia refers to the musical styles, techniques and sounds of Somalia.

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Djiboutian Wikipedia disambiguation page

Djiboutians are the citizens of Djibouti. The country is mainly composed of two ethnic groups, namely the Somali and the Afar. It has many languages though Somali and Afar are the most widely spoken ones, Arabic and French serve as the official languages.

Abdi Sinimo was a Somali singer, songwriter, poet and musical innovator. He is noted for having established the balwo genre of Somali music, which was the forerunner of the Heello genre and thus gave birth to modern Somali music.

Languages of Djibouti Languages of a geographic region

The languages of Djibouti include Afar, Arabic, Somali and French. Somali and Afar are the most widely spoken tongues, and Arabic and French serve as the official languages.

Balwo is a style of music and poetry practiced in Somalia as well as Djibouti. Its lyrical contents often deal with love and passion. The Balwo genre was founded by Abdi Sinimo.

Somali studies

Somali studies is the scholarly term for research concerning Somalis and Greater Somalia. It consists of several disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, linguistics, historiography and archaeology. The field draws from old Somali chronicles, records and oral literature, in addition to written accounts and traditions about Somalis from explorers and geographers in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The Somali Studies International Association is the primary organization for Somalist scholars. Bildhaan, Somali Studies, Horn of Africa and the Anglo-Somali Society Journal likewise serve as the field's main periodicals. Since 1980, prominent Somalist scholars from around the world have also gathered annually to hold the International Congress of Somali Studies.

Abdullahi Qarshe Musician, poet and playwright

Abdullahi Qarshe (1924–1994) was a Somali musician, poet and playwright known as the "Father of Somali music". In 1957 he wrote and composed the Somali National Anthem, Qolobaa Calankeed.

Dur-Dur Band was a musical group from Mogadishu, Somalia. The band was formed in the 1980s and was one of the most well-known acts on the Mogadishu disco scene at the time. The band later performed and recorded based in neighbouring Ethiopia. Their unique sound encompasses funk and disco, with influences of soul.


Dhaanto is a style of traditional Somali music and folk dance. It is cultural folk dance native to Somali-speaking areas in the Horn of Africa region.

Abdallah Abdoulkader Abass, was a well-known Djiboutian songwriter, composer and singer. He remains among the most famous Afar language-singers in Djibouti.


  1. 1 2 "Djibouti - Culture Overview". Expedition Earth. Archived from the original on February 27, 2004. Retrieved September 28, 2005. - Website no longer exists; link is to Internet Archive
  2. Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, Culture and Customs of Somalia, (Greenwood Press: 2001), pp.170–172.
  3. "Djibouti". National Anthem Reference Page. Retrieved September 28, 2005.
  4. Poché, Christian (2001). Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John, eds. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . xxv (2 ed.). London: Macmillan. pp. 62–63.