By Yasmeen Maxamuud
Somali women are truly magical. They are resilient, bouncing back time and again while defying adversity and showing us the true meaning of uplifting society by the bootstrap, and we always knew that, they transcend pain, and hardship and we knew that too. But their ability and transformation power surprises me for often I’m intrigued with the ways they occupy space when they are mothering, community building, child rearing, and lifting this society out of continues chaos, although some of these spaces aren’t open or easily accessible.
But it’s how they come together and uplift each other, to praise, celebrate and have fun together through Buraanbur, a creative, freeing poetry art form specific to women, the way they transform in this space is truly admirable.
This art form is both inclusive and uplifting. Their struggle is not apparent when they call each other to poetry; through drumming that is loud enough to spill women out of their homes, is how this energetic dance poetry begins. Women come all out, in energy, charm, and exquisiteness. Poetry in Somalia holds an important space; there are both male and female genres. Somali society is known for its oral power, and I found that out when I moved to Somalia to do social justice work. Being around Somalis one feels inept even among young people who are expressive, creative with their oratory gift and blatantly proud. The language is mostly expressed through proverb, and quoting famous poets through normal day conversation is not odd but a nod.
Uniting their voice the lyrical poetry is chanted with clapping and drumming with the power of movement that makes the women come alive with confidence. It’s liberating, and you hear nothing but laughter and joy. This epic dance that transforms women into their powerful, unstoppable, emotionally freeing versions of themselves is practised all over Somalia.
Through the rhythmic clapping, singing, and drumming, the women perform in synchronized movements their individual creation, showing their happiness, love for the art, and allure through their flailing colorful kaftan dresses called Diric and shoulder shawl called garbasaar. Buraanbur is specific to women, but it’s the underlying meaning it holds for women who leave their daily struggle and life’s challenge behind for time with fellow women to dance, laugh, learn from each other and sing in harmony through songs of praise meant for women whose beauty, rarity, ability and magnificent orate the words. Each dance move tells a story of life lived. The dance itself is an extraordinary expression resembling various forms of dance we see throughout the globe like Tab and Flamenco. And, by the end of it good times have been had and joy rains among the women. Once it’s all done, then maybe specifics of who has been sharing the floor with whom and who was at the helm of the chants of song that took you swirling above the floor in magical form, and who reigned over the drums may be shared. Through these photos, you can’t help but see the swirl and agility of these women as they become one with their art. Women invite themselves at the sound of the drum for this type of fun doesn’t require inviting, it’s meant for all to partake and enjoy the moment.
The poetry lines threw me back to the good old days when my ayeeyo (grandma) used to take me along as a little girl, she was a rare poet with lyrical talent that made my little feet adjust themselves to the dance and singing around me, little did I know years later buraanbur would be a love I shared with my fellow Somali women across the globe as we are all part of it in one way or another. It’s definitely something we have inherited from our female relatives who passed it down as a rite of passage, young girls practice it in family celebrations like weddings, and years later it’s they who grace the floor with their perfection dance and song while paying homage to female ancestors. Yesterday was such a joy for me, my family, friends and neighbors all gathered as we gave ourselves a rare moment of buraanbur joy, no we were not celebrating a wedding, but we were celebrating each other while our young ones looked on. This truly was a gift we gifted each other and Dhiiran made this possible for us.
Dhiiran is a Somali women’s alternative platform by Somali women for Somali women. It’s an independent platform that is organized by Somali women across the world to work on local social issues. It’s truly a grassroots initiative by Somali women. Buraanbur is fun, healing, and inclusive and it invites togetherness and transcends clan division, regional lines, economic disparities, and class. Buraanbur creates space for women togetherness with meaning, closeness and an unspoken language of joy for everyone is included in a way that invites individual expression and communal support for the art while honoring ourselves through mentoring, sharing and finding solutions for our issues knowing we are the change.
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Yasmeen Maxamuud is a writer, an author and a social justice advocate. Yasmeen is the author of Nomad Dairies and the founder of Dhiiran.
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