Barbar song cheaters: Stealing from Somali creative artists

The hit “Barbar” song has amassed over two million views since hitting youtube in December, but the lyrics of the song were stolen. Mowliid Curjin who is claiming that he wrote the lyrics is not the actual person composed the song, according to Hadhwanaagnews (HWN) investigations.

The original lyrics of the song belong to Abwaan Yusuf Maanshoo of Djibouti, the tiny Africa nation. On a video HWN posted its website, is showing, in 2004, Abwaan Yusuf reciting by verbatim the Barbar poem at a ceremony in Ali Sabeih, Djibouti.he deserves the credit for the song because of creativity and efforts.

According to Yusuf, Djiboutien artists were the first Somali poets who created a Rhyme based lyrics for Somali Poetry similar to Arabic and English poetry.

Somali poetry is based on metric and alliteration.I am not an expert on Somali literature, but anyone interested the structure of Somali poetry could read the works of late Abwaan Mohamed Hashi Dhamac “Gaariye” and Abdillahi  Diriye Gulied on that subject.

For Barbar poem, the last word  of each line of the lyrics ends with the sound “R”. For example,  Somali words like Qurqur, Sarsar, Dardar, Barbar, and so on, are keys or what  Abwaan Yusuf called passwords for the entire song or the poem. He called his  new genre  of  Somali poetry “Tidcan” .

After over a decade, Mowliid Curjin, a scam artist and cheater, who lives in Toronto, knowingly just substituted few words of Yusuf’s original poem, but kept the key words of the song and pass it off as his own song. However, by keeping those passwords, he plagiarized the lyrics, according to Yusuf.

What is more disgusting, instead of giving credit the contribution of Yusuf made to our literature, in interview with  the VOA Somali service, Mowliid claimed that he  was the first Somali artist who created the Rhyme based Somali lyrics, and wrote the song for his wife, which was totally misleading, if not completely false.

I would like to know, why is Mowliid stealing Abwaan Yusuf’s work?

Nothing wrong with using other artist’s work, but there was a fair way Mowliid could have used Abwaan Yusuf’s  genre and lyrics.

Since Abwaan Yusuf came out to fight back the person stealing his creative work, Liiban Jama the producer of the song and Mowliid, have not denied yet his challenge and they went under the radar.

Unlike American artists, Somali-poets don’t earn living from their creative work.They have been also repeatedly victims of copy rights violations and have been ripped off for decades due to the lack of copy rights protection at home and abroad. Most of the artists do not have the means to fight back because they live in Africa and lack resources to take legal action.

Stealing other artist’s creative work without his or her authorization is not only wrong but it is illegal. What Mowliid did is a complete violation of U.S. and Canadian laws that protect copy rights and intellectual property.

Even in early Somali pastoral society that heavily relied on oral poetry as means of communications to disseminate information because there was no postal service, had un written customary copy right law.

For  instance, it was mandatory when a reciter memorizes text of a poem from a poet, to state the name of the poet for each recitation. Failing give to credit for the poet was regarded dishonesty. And for the reciters to substitute, delete or add to new materials to the poem were prohibited.

But today, due to lack of creativity, honesty or laziness, Somali scam artists in North America and Europe, like Mowliid, Stealing or plagiarizing other artist’s creative work have become a means  for them  to make living or to gain instant fame.

It is clear that Mowliid Curjin plagiarized the lyrics. He should do the right thing: Give credit the original writer of the song and move on. And, If Mr. Mowliid does not have the creativity or the skills to compose songs; he should pursue a different career.

Enough is enough. It’s unfair for artists like Yusuf who worked so hard and had contributed Somali literature for their creative  work to be stolen.

The whole Barbar song is a sham.We should not reward scam artists and cheaters.I have come to the conclusion that Abwaan Yusuf had created the original lyrics of the song. Therefore, he should not only get credit for the song but also he should at least receive a share whatever revenue the song might generate.

Doing so is right thing and the protection  creative Somali artists like Abwaan Yusuf deserve.

 Ali Mohamed      

is the founder and editor