Afka Hooyo
(Mother Tongue)

Afka Hooyo (Mother Tongue) (2017)

SATB, djembe, hand drum
Commissioned by Great River Chorale, St. Cloud, MN.

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Note:
This was the second piece in Somali that I wrote within a few months. My research brought me to Hadrawi, one of Somalia’s most respected poets. Luckily, Ahmed Ismail Yusuf (who had collaborated with me to create my first piece in Somali), had helped to translate a book of Hadrawi’s poetry, and was an invaluable resource as I dove into Somali culture once again.

As an American, I was cautious to not try and imitate Somali musical styles in my work. But as I listened, I couldn’t help but absorb some of the melodic shapes and the rhythmic drive. This piece celebrates the day in 1972 when an official Latin alphabet was adopted for the Somali language. Hadrawi writes about how that simple but momentous action brought people together and invigorated Somali culture.

- Timothy C. Takach, 2017

Text:
Dhalashada afkaygiyo
Dhigashada fartaydaan
Kaga baxay dhibaatoon
Hawlihii ku dhaafee,
Iyadaa dhaqaalaha
Dhidibbada u aastoo
Dheelliga u diidaye,
Dhulka wadajirkiisaana
Iyadaa dhammeysee.

Refrain:
Waa inaan ku dhaataa afkayga,
Waa inaan ku dhistaa afkayga,
Waa inaan ku dhaqdaa afkayga,
Waa inaan ku dhergaa afkayga,
Waa inaan ku dhintaa afkayga.

Shalay dhabannahayskii
Dhoolla-qosol maanta ah
Xalay bow dhexeysee,
Dadka dhooban meesha
Laysku soo dhawaadee,
Dhanka qudha u jeedoow!
Ma hesheen dhambaalkii?
Hadalkii ma dhuuxdeen?
Ma idiin dhadhamaya?
Refrain

Qofka dhoohanow, arag!
Kii dhegala ow, maqal!
Haddaan dheri dab lagu shidin
Dhuuniga ma kariyoo
Waxba lagama dheefee,
Dheehdoo danteennii
Halka dhaawac kaga yaal
Lafta dhabarka weeyee,
Boogaha ma dhaynaa!
Refrain

- “Settling the Somali Language”
by Mohamed Ibrahim Warsame (Hadrawi)

Translation:

Through the fixing of its spelling

my language is delivered:
my difficulties done with,
I’m freed from every hindrance.
Settling the orthography’s
our economy’s foundation;
it defends against all defects
in the oneness of our nation -
it underwrites and it defines.

Refrain:
I must give to Somali
develop through Somali
create within Somali
I must be rid of poverty
and give myself for my own mother tongue.

Only a single night divides
old yesterday’s despair
from today’s delighted laughter -
you people gathered here
how close you’ve grown together:
you face in one direction.
Do you hear deliverance call?
Have you divined its meaning?
Does it taste good in the mouth?
Refrain

You who are still unaware, look!
You who are deliberately deaf: listen!
if the pot isn’t placed on the fire
the dish cannot be cooked
so how will it ever satisfy?
Consider this in light of our goal:
where does deep hurt lie
but in our backbone -
time to treat that injury!
Refrain

- trans. Mohamed Hassan (Alto), Said Jama, and W. N. Herbert
- Used with permission.