Hurre Walanwal & Cambaro: The famous Somali Folklore Dance Story

The art of flirting and courtship takes many forms, each with its own fascinating cultural history and traditions. In the past Somali culture, men would flirt with ladies in various ways, and marriage came in different forms, including ‘Isasiin’; arranged marriage, ‘Dumaal’: Widowed marriage, ‘Xigsiisan’ ‘Dhabargaraac’ etc.

Somali people were and are still nomadic, which means the day is always busy for both men and women. Chores, including herding cattle, cooking, and water harvesting, were usually carried out during the day, which kept them busy from sunrise to sunset. Although men and women occasionally met during the day, meeting at night was typical. Young men and women used to meet on special occasions like traditional weddings or ‘Gaaf’. Apart from those weddings, evening folklore dances were the most common social event young men and women would attend.

Typically, folklore dances happen in the rainy season, and in general, they were a way to socialize, entertain, and get information. People used to gather and exchange information, socialize, and contemplate. Men frequently engage in folk dances as a means of social interaction and dating. There is a type of folk dance called ‘Dabraac’. Dabraac means bonfire: this ritual starts when a group of young men decide to start a bonfire so that people from far away will see it and join them. There was also another way to start a folklore session; men would meet around a particular residence and begin the ritual there. In most cases, they would pick a residence because they knew girls lived there.

As these nights began, men usually started such nights by singing loudly so the women in the house could hear and join in. Because the young men knew that the ladies would not participate if the family was in the wrong place (due to grieving, illness, or loss), before they started singing or dancing, the young men would come up with creative ways to make sure the family was in a good mood. In this case, to make sure the family is in a good place, they would start singing those words loudly:

‘Waa dhegoo war kama dheregtide

Waa dhuloo wax jira ma ogide,

Reerku nabad ma soo galay?

Ears are eager for more news

And on earth, you don’t know what’s going on

Did the family arrive safely? (Is the family in good place)’

The young men, who are outside the house would then wait for the women to respond. If everything is okey, then the women of the home, will usually answer with:

‘Cawdibilooy ballooy baydh

Cawo daranka yaasiin

Il sharle ba sharkeed lee

Shaydaan debedda loo xoor’

‘I seek protection from evil

And the shield of Surah Yasen

The evil eye owns the corrupt

Devil should be robed (Tied)’

Incase men don’t hear back they usually continue singing hoping they will come out eventually. For example they would say:

‘Miiganeey marti haddaad tahay

Reerkana maal u soo galay

Muska kaama eegeen’

‘Ooh, Miiganeey if you are guest

And my family receives a wealth

I wouldn’t sneak to see you over the fence’

Some men think the girl’s mother might have been turned down, so she won’t let the girls come out and dance with the young man. This is because of a few things, but mostly because she is a mother and wants to protect her daughters. In this case, they are still looking at the bright side of things. In this scenario, they’d sing and say:

‘Aamina ilwaad qurux

Way soo ordi lahayde

Aar baa hor yuurura’

‘Amina, the one who blesses the eye

She would come running

Yet, there is a Lioness sitting on her door (the mother)’

The women would eventually come out and join the young men. The folklore dances usually happen in a circle facing each other and leaving the middle spot for the dancing. The songs were mainly poetic and filled with amusement, riddles, and jokes about dating, life, and marriage. These songs are known as ‘Gole-kafuul’. Gole-kafuul means poems that are composed on the spot. Usually, everyone could not compose the verses, only a few men and women could compose songs, and those usually led the night’s dance while the others chanted and clapped.

The story of Hurre Walanwal and Cambaro is well-known in Somali society and has been widely discussed. It happened in the 1960s in a place near Buuhoodle City. This story occurred between Hurre Walanwal (Cismaan Ibraahim Warsame) and Cambaro Nuux Maxamed. Hurre was a nickname, and its meaning was dark-skinned. Hurre is the only surviving brother of Hadraawi, the great Somali poet. Hurre, as his nickname suggests, was a dark-skinned, short young man. He was twenty years old when they met. Cambaro, on the other hand, was a seventeen-year-old and stunningly beautiful, tall young lady.

Hurre and Cambaro met for the first time at a family wedding in Buuhoodle, Togdheer Region, Somaliland. The bride’s family was the Hurre’s, while the groom’s family was the Cambaro’s. Hurre claimed that on the night of the wedding before he and his friends left home and joined the folklore dancing, they returned to the reception area where the bride was to determine if she was sufficiently attractive. Hurre started singing first, and he started with songs of advice for the bride. Hurre was checking on the bride’s beauty to gain confidence on the playground because the poems exchanged at the playground might get heated, and he may lose the battle if the bride is not up to bar. Thankfully, the bride was beautiful, and Hurre and his companions confidently hit the dance floor that night. (Yusuf Shaacir, 2013)

These are a few excerpts from his lengthy sage counsel song:

Sheyga dibbedda kaa tagiyo

Maryahaaga daahiri

Dacwada kale waxay tahay

Dugsi weeye xooluhu

Kii lahaa darandeereele

Duunyadu yay kaa lumin e

Dul ivo hoosba u ogow’

‘Be aware of everything going outside

Purify your clothes

My will(testament) to you is

Livestock are shelter

Owning them needs caring

Don’t lose (miss) them

Know that in-depth (mesmerize that it)’

Eventually, Cambaro joined the dancing and began singing for the first time. That was their first encounter. Since they had never met before and he was leading the session, she partook and inquired about his identity and origin. Here is how she began her song:

‘Goortu waa habeenimo

Waana heel cayaareed

Halqina waa isku soo galay

Hore la isku garan maayee

Inankaaga heesaayoow

Horta aan is baranee

Haybtaada noo sheeg’

‘The darkness of night came

And its playground

All the crowd (halqi) come together

It’s tough to know who is who

Ooh, the one who is singing

Let’s get to know each other

Where does your lineage come?’

The session became increasingly intriguing. Once Cambaro completed her recital song, Hurre reacted with a second song that read, “I will tell you more about myself, but first invite me to your home and offer me a warm welcome.”

‘Hayb doon baddaad tahay

Hoygiina ina geeyo

Hararkaaga ii gogoloo

Hooyadaana iga qariyoo

Haasaawe ii qaboo

Igu haybso dabadeed’

‘If you want to know my lineage

Take me to your home

Invite me to your mattress

Hide me from your mother

Tell me sweet stories

Then ask me my lineage’

After this, people on the playground became interested. Because it was obviously wrong for a woman to invite a man into her home, and Hurre said this to tease her and see how she would react. This is how her response poem went:

‘Sidii hogol kaliileed

Oo ka hilaacday hawd sare

Inankani han waynaa

Sowdigaa hawada koray

Nimaan halawle maadhin iiyo

Baarqab madow hurinoo

La heshiinin aabbahay

Harar aan u dhigo daayee

Hadalbkaba ma anigaa u fura!

Like rain in the summertime

Rained in the highland of Hawd

Ooh boy how arrogant you are!

And think high of yourself (You climbed the air)

A man who doesn’t own guns

And black camels

Who didn’t ask my father’s hand

Forget about inviting to my harar (mattress)

I don’t open talking to him!’

Hurre then came back with another song:

‘Dadka himilo aan Jirin iyo

Ruux ku hammiya baa badane

Qof hadduu hawada Koray

Hor ilaahay waa adigee

Nimaan sheeko kaa helin

Hadalba idin dhex marin

Horena kuu aqoon jirin

Siduu kuugu hawl galay

Hantida kaaga soo dhuro

Faahfaahi hadaladoo

Bal hibooy dadka u sheeg?’

‘Some believe a dream that doesn’t exist

And hallucinate about that

If someone has high expectations

I swear to ALLAH, it is you

Without a proper relationship

And didn’t share any talk

Who didn’t know you before?

How he can be a detriment to you

And give wealth

Elucidate that

Ooh, Hibo enlighten that to the people?’

After that, there has been a significant amount of song exchange. To a great extent, a joke and a denial. Cambaro joked about what he would be doing here if he didn’t have a camel and only had sheep. Hure jokes that she is exceptionally elderly and that he will not marry her since she is ancient. Cambaro responded in the form of a song, stating that he cannot afford to marry her with sheep regardless of whether or not she is elderly. The following is a list of some of the songs that have been exchanged during the night.


‘Mar hadduu gondaha hoosiyo

Awr yaqaan gon qabashada

Guudaandir waa bahal

Gooradhigis lagama karo

Ragguna hadduu guddoonsado

In uu dumarka gaasiro

Oo gardarada ku talo galo

Geed xajiin leh uma waayo

Ama aan gu waynaadoo duumaale geel wado

Ama aan gobaysaniyo soo gaadho Waayeel

Ama gootan aan kacee

Mar haddaanad geel dhaqan

Oo gacantaadu madhan tahay

Halkani waa gar ciideed oo

Goosbuuca aad wadatiyo

Riyuhu inan ma gooyaan

Maxaa gadaha aan joogiyo

Kaaga xidhan ganka aan ahay

Ma kolbaad I guursanaysaa?

‘When someone goes down

And he is aggressive

Everything is a horror

and keen indignity to others

Men, if they accept

resentment of women

with known aggression

They would find low points

If I am too old and have been there for a long time

Or if grow with the older generation

Or if I am infirmity

If you don’t own camels

And you are a broke

This is a land of sand

This type of animal

The goats you own

Are worthless to girls

My age doesn’t matter

You couldn’t marry me’


‘Inan yahay garaabiiliyo

Isma qariso geesadu

Rabbigay baa ku gaadhsiiyay e

Gedahaaga ku eekow miyaa

Noqotay geed xajiinle iyo cay.

Waa hagaagee gabantaay

Aniga gumaro xoolaad

Way ila wacan tahee

Adigaa kala guray?

‘Ooh girl, the wickedness

And the age of the person

Cannot be hidden

God, give you this age

Mentioning it is an insult

Hey, the young lady

For me all kinds of livestock are good

You are the one who offense some’


‘Inan yahow gun baad tahayna

Gole lagama odan karo

Hadal gobi ku haasawdoo

La gartana namaad odhan’?

‘Man, I can’t say you are a wicked boy

At this platform

You didn’t use graceful words

To beautify your argument’


‘Gabdhihii kula filka ahaa

Beri horaa la guursadoo

Geesh caruura yeesheen

Adna gabashi baad tahoo

Wakaa garayskii

Guudkaaga ku engegee

Ka kac goobta higileed

Haddii ay gunimo tahay

Waan ka gaabsan doonaa

Weligaaba galuubnow

Guriigiina taagnow

Kurtimada ku gaamuray oo

Ha ku guro gardhaaluhu

Adoo gegi habaas weyn

Iyo gaylaalsan buul caws

Wedku ha kuugu soo galo oo

Geerida ku dhawr ciil’

‘Your agemate girls

Married years ago

And had many kids

You are alone

The traditional clothes you are wearing,

get dried

Get up from this isolation

If this is cheekiness to you,

I will take a step back

Be there forever

Stay in your home

Be an old lady

Wait for nonsense

stay in a dusty place

Keep rolling in a bush house

The demise will come to you

Wait for death with annoyance (infuriation)’

These last few poems are well-known because they were recorded, can be found on audio cassettes, and have been listened to in almost every Somali household. The tale of Hurre and Cambaro is an extremely lengthy one. It did not occur all in one night, but it is reported that they were continuously meeting on the playground and challenging each other for years to come. Throughout that period, the tale spread throughout the region to the point where it became a standard joke amongst the two different tribes that the individuals were originally from (Habarjeclo and Dhulbahante). In the middle of this chain of events, other people participated, and to this day, it is considered one of the most exciting stories among Somali people. Although there is no written record of this story yet, a wealth of information is available, most of which comprises recordings and interviews conducted by the poet Yusuf Shaacir. Yusuf can recall most of their series memory, and he also had the chance to personally meet Cambaro and Hurre.


– Yuusuf Shaacir. Baadigoob. August 25, 2018. Silsiladii Hure Walanwal iyo Cambaro dhexmartay oo dhamaystiran. Youtube:

Muna Ahmed Omer (Mullaaxo)

March, 2022

Twitter: @mullaaxo

NB: This article is previously published on Somaliland Chronicle;