Music of Djibouti

Music of Djibouti
Horn of Africa music
Djibouti Djibouti
Eritrea Eritrea
Ethiopia Ethiopia
Somalia Somalia

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



Djibouti is made up of two closely related ethnic groups: the Somali and Afar. There are also a number of Arab and French citizens. 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 poetry and in 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, and 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. Somali songs are usually the product of collaboration between lyricists (midho), songwriters (laxan) and singers (codka or "voice"). Balwo is Somali musical style centered on love themes that is popular in Djibouti.[2]

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]

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

List of Djibouti singers

  • Awaleh Aden
  • Aptidon Issa
  • Abdi Nour
  • Said Helaf
  • Hassan Wado
  • Kaltoun Bacado
  • Abdiraxman Hadanteeye
  • Casha Bisle
  • Abdo Xamargood
  • Adan faarax
  • Nimco jaamac


  1. ^ a b "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. "Tanbūra", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell (London: Macmillan, 2001), xxv, pp. 62-63.

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