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Balwo


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The Balwo (Somali for "misfortune") created by Abdi Sinimo is a genre of poetry and music expressing unhappy love in short verse with "striking imagery". *Wikipedia.  After reading several Balwo's, it appears the structure of the genre is between 2 and 5 lines, most commonly 4 lines.  The content expresses pain or loss from some misfortune of life, followed by a transition to expressing loss of love. 

Abdi Sinimo, a Somali of the Reer Nuur subclan of the Gadabuursi first employed this genre in 1945 while working as a lorry driver for the Djiboutian Port Authority.  He was driving his truck and he had the "balwo" or misfortune of the truck breaking down in bush country.  Though being a skilled mechanic, after a lot of time and effort, was unable to repair it. Finally,  he sat down and composed this:

Balwoy! Hoy balwoy
Waha i baleyey mooyaan
Waha i baleyey babur
Waha i baleyey berguba.

Balwoy! O Balwoy
I know not what made me suffer
It is a truck that made me suffer
She is berguba [a girl's name] who made me suffer

The elements of the Balwo are:

  1. Short, a poem in 2, 4 or 5 lines, the most common appears to be 4 lines.
  2.  chant like rhythm which is at the discretion of the poet.
  3.  a misfortune of circumstance is expressed
  4.  followed by a loss or pain of a particular love.

    Balwo #1

    Aiy Ay Old Man, I stub my toe on your walker
    Aiy Ay Old Man, where did the hard heat go?
    Aiy Ay Old Man, I miss the sweat of past passion,
    Oh, to feel the pain of urgency once more.
                                        ~~ Judi Van Gorder

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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