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Balwo is a style of music and poetry practiced in Somalia as well as Djibouti. Its lyrical contents often deal with love and passion. The Balwo genre was founded by Abdi Sinimo.[1]


The Balwo genre was founded by Abdi Sinimo [2], a Somali of the Reer Nuur subclan of the Gadabuursi. The first Heelo (Which is considered a sub genre of Balwo) was brought fourth by Abdi Sinimo as well.

In 1945, while working as a lorry driver for the Djiboutian Port Authority [3], Abdi Sinimo was driving his truck and had experienced misfortune when around the Zeila area, thus the first Balwo was created. He called it "Balwo" (meaning misfortune in Somali), because of the remoteness of where his truck had experienced difficulty. [4]

Below is a sample from a poem by Abdi Sinimo .[5]

Balwoy! Hoy balwoy

Waha i baleyey mooyaan Waha i baleyey babur Waha i baleyey berguba. . . .

Translation: (Balwoy! O' Balwoy I know not what made me suffer It is a truck that made me suffer

She is berguba [a girl's name] who made me suffer. . . .)

Abdi Sinimo, Historical Dictionary of Somalia,2003



  1. ^ Johnson, John William (1996). Heelloy: Modern Poetry and Songs of the Somali. Indiana University Press. ISBN 1874209812.
  2. ^ African Language Review, Volume 6. The University of Michigan: F. Cass. 1967. p. 5.
  3. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810866041.
  4. ^ AFRICA DIARY: A WEEKLY RECORD OF EVENTS IN AFRICA. South Africa: Africa Publications (India). 1964. p. 4.
  5. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. p. 12. ISBN 9780810866041.

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