Various Artists – Mogadisco – Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991)
Written by Toby Taylor on 27th November 2019
Analog Africa returns with a killer compilation of Somali dance music that had lain undiscovered in the vaults of the country’s state broadcaster, Radio Mogadishu, for nearly 40 years.
Label boss Samy Ben Redjeb broke new ground when he travelled to the capital city of Somalia in November of 2016, as the first music label to set foot in Mogadishu. Awaiting him there were the dusty archives of Radio Mogadishu – a treasure trove of cassettes, reel-to-reel tapes & piles of discarded recordings.
Colonel Abshir – the senior employee and protector of Radio Mogadishu’s archives – clarified that the pile consisted mostly of music nobody had manage to identify, or music he described as being “mainly instrumental and strange music”.
Amongst the weird and wonderful music found within the pile (including, but in no means limited to radio jingles, theatre music & tv theme music), were a number of disco tracks that would form the basis of Mogadisco – Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991).
Featuring music from heavyweight names such as The Dur-Dur Band, alongside less recognisable figures such as the Bakkara Band & Mukhtar Ramadan Iidi, the compilation is a welcome addition to the documentation of one of the most vibrant periods culturally in Somali history. As to be expected with Analog Africa releases, the record’s attention to detail is commendable – packaged alongside the 2xLP set is a chunky booklet detailing the stories of the artists and their music, accompanied with no less than 50 pictures from ’70s and ’80s Somalia.
As Colonel Abshir Hashi Ali, chief don at the Radio Mogadishu archive – someone who once wrestled a bomber wielding an unpinned hand-grenade to the floor – put it: “I have dedicated my life to this place. I’m doing this so it can get to the next generation; so that the culture, the heritage and the songs of Somalia don’t disappear.”
Mogadisco – Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991) is released December 13, 2019 on Analog Africa.