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Mogadishu’s Finest: nostalgia from the Iftin Band’s Somalia

Out November 18th, Mogadishu’s Finest : The Al-Uruba Sessions is a curation of the some of the best work from Somali 1980’s group Iftin Band.

In the 80’s, in the heart of Somalia’s capital, there’s a band that attracts all audiences. Everywhere from private parties in luxurious hotels to public theatres, every music lover living or visiting Mogadishu wants to hear the Iftin Band live. The group quickly built a reputation from their eclectic and avant-garde sound. Vocally, through cords, winds and percussions, the band combines its Somali funk and dhaanto roots with American jazz, Nigerian afrobeats and Kenyan benga. This ability to transcend genres and listeners owes Iftin Band a place of choice at the Al-Uruba hotel’s prestigious parties. And in the hotel’s secret studio, from 1982 to 1987, Iftin Band recorded the songs now compiled in a first-of-its-kind album.

Mogadishu’s Finest : The Al-Uruba Sessions is the result of seven years of research and digitalization, led by Ostinato Records’s founder Vik Sohonie and researcher Nicolas Sheikholeslami. At the start of the civil war in Somalia in the 1990’s, the original recordings left Al-Uruba’s studio. The cassettes traveled all over Africa, from Nairobi to Djibouti and Dubai, and even in Europe. The compilation of Iftin Band’s work is an exceptional occasion to rediscover one of the most important eras in Somalia’s music history. 

The 13 titles of Mogadishu’s Finest are tales, fables and poems, mostly about love: obsession (“Wiilkii Aan Ku Waashee”), passion (“Sig Sig Nima”) and heartbreak (“Kurbo Jaceyl”). Every song is a precious window to the past and a peak at Iftin Band’s contemporaries’ daily life. Mogadishu’s Finest : The Al-Uruba Sessions is out November 18th.

Listen to « Umaayey Iyo Abo » in our Songs of The Week playlist.