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A Sea Of Longing: A Gift To All Mothers

This moving rababa song which is performed by the Sudanese artist Mohammed Jubara, was, “Initially written by the poet and musician AlSir Osman AlTayeb in a form of a letter to his mother who lived in the North of Sudan, while he lived far away in Khartoum! When his friend Mohammed Jubara read the poetic letter, he composed a song and sang it for the writer, who became emotional, his tears flowed, and he broke to tears.” This story has achieved mythical proportions among the Sudanese.

The sentimental song became a hit the moment it was aired on Sudanese television in the early seventies, and every time it’s played, the aura of a new song still surrounds it. Even those who do not understand the lyrics, but only its topic, tear up remembering their mothers. The name of the song is Bahr AlMeweda and it is fit to be a universal expression of the love of mothers. The song also expresses the longing for one’s birthplace.

You need to imagine the distance that separated the writer who lived in Khartoum, from his mother who lived in the north of Sudan (at worst a one-day travel away), to understand the torment of being away from your birthplace and be separated from your mother, either through death or insurmountable distance.

We failed to find a translation of the song in the Internet, and that is disappointing given the thousands of Sudanese who should have presented a translation of this magnificent song to the world. Therefore, we took the initiative and Saleh Johar translated it. However, since the lyrics are written in a Sudanese/Shaagiya vernacular, there might be some errors; corrections are welcome.

A colleague remarked, “If this song doesn’t wet your eyes, your heart might be encased in a concrete shell!”  We challenged him to a bet trusting the sensitive readers of love their mothers and their country; we believe they are kindhearted.

We strongly suggest you read the lyrics before listening to the song.  Enjoy.

A Sea Of Longing[i]
[Translation by Saleh “Gadi” Johar]

Oh mommy, see how Time drove me far away
I lost direction, I am alienated and humiliated
Oh mommy, show me the escape
Fate drove me far away from you
It served me a bitter cup of longing[1]

Oh mommy, the interrupted flood of tenderness
Oh mommy, the generous moonlight[2] Oh mommy, the morning light when it shines

Oh Zeinuba[3],
Your child is suffering in the roads of longing
Neglected, deprived of love and tenderness
Oh mommy, the flooding Sea of affection
Oh mommy, the flame of hope with an added shine
Oh mommy, the cluster of words and poetic verses
Oh mommy, the sensible tune that rings with yearning
My tears overflow thinking of you.

Oh mommy, I remember you at dawn,
When the breeze of air sings
When you rise in the morning to care for me
When our rooster starts to crow
And the little birds start to sing
As you cheerfully brought the milk
Oh mommy, I remember you at daybreak
Preparing the fire and baking bread[4] And telling me, “Eat, it’s good!”

I remember you, oh mommy,
At night wearing the smile of a child,
When I’m up alone shepherding the stars
As the people around me lie down and sleep

As longing spreads its wings and hovers over me
I shout your name in my imagination
And your shadow passes over me
I hope the moments last longer
But your shadow suddenly disappears.

I remember you, oh mommy
When people from the countryside visit
Fine dust covering their bodies
The smell of dates on their clothes
And the color of earth blended in their skin
Yet, the longing still torments me
When I thought it will subside.

I remember you, oh mommy,
When the visitors head towards home
When they carefully fold their clothes.
And they board the lorries heading north[5] Leaving me alone with no company
How can I bear my loneliness?

They’ve carried my greetings
God willing they will reach to you

Oh mommy,
When they tell you they saw me
In a safe place, content, relaxed and secure,
Be pleased,
Oh fountain of tenderness
Time bears witness to my situation

Oh mommy,
send me your forgiveness,
It may save me from the injustice of Time.

[Now it’s time to enjoy the music…]
[i] [بحر ﺍﻟﻤﻮﺩﺓ Bahr Almeweda. [literally, A Sea of Cordiality translated as “A Sea Of Longing”].
[1] In Arabic it is “jerraaAni Kas” and it could mean, gave me a dose, made me drink, etc.
[2] ﺑﺪﺭﻯ ﺍﻟﺒﺸﻊ is the original and it contextually interpreted.
[3] An endearment of his mother’s name, Hajja Zeineb.
[4] ﺻﺎﻻﻛﻰ ﻧﺎﺭ ﺍﻟﺪﻭﻛﻰ, this could be expressing the difficulty in working close to fire, as in cooking.
[5] Gebbel means “headed North”, and the land of Shagiya tribe is north of Khartoum.

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  • Rodab

    እዛ ጋንታ …
    ኣብ ምንታዩ ሓይላ ምስ በሉኒ
    ኣብ ዳንኤል ኢለዮም መሲሉኒ
    መሲሉኒ ኣይኮነን ሓቀይ ነይረ
    ንሱንድዩ ታሪኽ ዝገበረ
    ቀዳማይ ኤርትራዊ ብሙኻን
    ኣብ ኦሎምፒክ ዝተወዳደረ።

    ኣብ ምንታዩ ሓይላ ምስ በሉኒ
    ኣብ ናትናኤልን መርሃዊን ኢለዮም መሲሉኒ
    መሲሉኒ ኣይኮነን ሓቀይ ነይረ
    ኣብ መድረኻት ዓለም ዝደመቑ ሰብ ስረ
    ሽም ሃገሮም ዘጸውዑ ሽም ኤረ።

    ኣብ ምንታዩ ሓይላ ምስ በሉኒ
    ኣብ መኽሰብ ደበሳይ ኢለዮም መሲሉኒ
    መሲሉኒ ኣይኮነን ትመስክር ርዋንዳ
    በዓል ሓቦ በዓል ስሑል ዳንጋ
    ቻምፕዮና ሙሉእ ኣፍሪቃ።

    ኣብ ምንታዩ ሓይላ ምስ በሉኒ
    ኣብ ልሙድ ዓወታት ኢለዮም መሲሉኒ
    መሲሉኒ ኣይኮነን እሱዩ ብተግባር
    ዝርአ ኣብ ባይታ ብዓይኒ ዝምስከር።

    • saay7

      Engineer Rodab:

      Well done; somewhere, wedi Tkabo is smiling.

      You probably should change the sequence of your stanzas so that Mekseb Debessay gets top billing because he is now on top of the Eritrean cycling food chain.

      Unless somebody is a cycling fan, it is next to impossible to understand the different categories they use to rank them; it is made particularly more difficult when Eri-TV has a super fast talking sports reporter:

      Check this:

  • Rodab

    Selamat Club Saturday,

    I think it’s Saturday already, at least somewhere.
    The following Robel’s song is NOT one of my favorites. But with over 2.28 million hits, it is the most youtube viewed Eri song of year 2014. The number is significant considering there are PROBABLY around one million Tigrgina song listeners around the world, out of which a small portion with access to youtube.
    Queen Helen Meles’ ‘fikri Hamime’ is trailing second with over 1.8 million views, followed by Korchach’s ‘amani libey’ approaching a million views.
    Fikri Hamime. Funny. The countless Tigrigna singers have described fiqri in every which way, I don’t recall hearing ‘fikri Hamime’ before this song came out.

  • Semere Andom

    Today’s Saturday song is dedicated to the Eritrean who was an Eritrean before Eritreans knew they were Eritreans. The beginnings of Eritreansim. The state of Eritrea has responded to dawit with the following Canadian song.

    About the Singer

    Shania Twain is a Canadian Country singer, who has sold over 80 million copies of her albums. From here humble beginning in Timinis, Ont, Canada, she has the received of the Order of Canada in 2005. Twain’s most successful albums were the “Woman in Me” and “Come on Over”, which sold 20 million and 40 million copies world wide respectively. Her story is a story of struggle and triumph.She started singing when she was about 9years in bars to support her family. She is a beloved Native Canadian.

     Today Hagera Eritrea responded by singing the lyrics of this great Canadian in response of daiwt’s nonchalant attituded towards Eritrea and Eritreans


    That Don’t Impress Me Much”

    I’ve known a few guys who thought they were pretty gallant

    But you’ve got being right down to an art

    You’re a regular original, irreverent a know-it-all

    Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re a hero

    Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re something else

    Okay, so you’re a an Eritrean before everyone else

    That don’t impress me much

    So you got the words but have you got the gut

    Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright

    But that won’t keep me safe from my enemies in the middle of the hostile region

    That don’t impress me much

    I never knew a guy who carried a mirror in his pocket

    And a comb up his sleeve-just in case

    And all that extra hold gel in your hair oughtta lock it

    ‘Cause Heaven forbid it should fall outta place

    Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re special

    Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re something else

    Okay, so you think you are my savor

    That don’t impress me much

    So you got the words but have you got the gut

    Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright

    But that won’t keep me safe in the middle of hotile region

    That don’t impress me much

    You’re one of those guys who likes to shine his gun

    You make me duk before you let me get in

    I can’t believe you kiss your gun good night

    C’mon baby tell me-you must be jokin’, right!

    Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re special

    Oh-oo-oh, you think you’re something else

    Okay, so you’ve got the love of a coutry

    That don’t impress me much

    So you got the moves but have you got the gut

    Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright

    But that won’t keep me safe from the tyrannt

    That don’t impress me much

    You think you’re a hero but have you got the gut

    Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright

    But that won’t keep me safe on the long, cold and lonely pariah state

    That don’t impress me much

    Okay, so what do you think you’re Isiais or something…


    That don’t impress me much!


    Alright! Alright!

    You’re Che’ Guevara !


    Abdurahman Babbu!


    That don’t impress me much!

    This is a song by the famous Canadian Country Singer Shania Twian.

    This are changed from the lyrics sung by the sate if Eritrea to dawit

    • saay7

      iTegadalai Semere:

      That deserves “slow clap”, canadian style. How about Jamaican bobsled, Sem?


      PS: Shania sucks:)

      • Semere Andom

        Thanks Sal;
        I told you we walk turtle sytle, selay enda belana, Wadi Haiget and Mahmuday would say tekesh 😉
        But you did not say slow clap is for Shania or Wed Andom for modifying, doing “sewrawi sirQi” 🙂

        • saay7


          The slow clap is for Wed Andom,not Shania, obviously. The clue was “Shania sucks”:)


  • Yemane Johar

    Thank you Awate team!

  • Kokhob Selam

    Thank you awate team. I keep feeling it sitting alone remembering my mother and all mothers of the world. this song and the translation written by awate team plus the wonderful reading of brother Tesfabirhan makes me think of our past history all. who loves a human being more than his mother? no one. what is her feeling when she see by her eyes the death of her son? I gave all credit to our mothers first for every accomplishment. This leads me to the idea that we should give more chance to our sisters daughters and mothers in reconciling our political differences.

    once again thank you. KS

  • disgusting
  • Tesfabirhan WR

    Dear Awatistas,

    I decided to read the lyrics of this magnificent song. First, I did it for me thinking that hearing can let me contemplate on each stanza. And later, I decided to convert into video (not edited of course) and share here with you. I am afraid if I violated any copy right if I did Awate team has all the rights to make what is right.


    • Mahmud Saleh

      Salam tes
      Good heart and burning energy, keep it up. Thank you. Even hardened people won’t escape the longing of their mother. Ustaz Saleh did a wonderful job. Translation is not easy; however, even reading it in English, the poem has not lost its effect. Thanks both. I tried to locate it on youtube, but could not. There is a tech problem on the posted one, I am sure AT is aware of it.

      • Saleh Johar

        Mahmuday, I thought you were one of those who watch over the website 🙂
        Yesterday the website was down for hours and something went wrong with the link; but it was repaired exactly 24 hours ago. Try it again.

        • Rodab

          H.E., SaleH,
          I think people are clicking on the youtube image at the top of the page and getting nothing. Lol. Funny.
          I did that myself few times. So did Kim Hana.

          • Tesfabirhan WR

            Dear Rodab, I have uploaded it and it working good so far. if it is playing, well. And for opening, open, youtube and search using the title, “A sea of Longing: A gift to all Mothers” hope it is on the web address.


        • Mahmud Saleh

          Ustaz Saleh;
          Thank you, now I got it, also thanks to Rodab hint. I honestly thought the video at the bottom was some sort of commercial.
          I was aware of yesterday’s interruption, I just thought one less call for obvious matter would be one less distraction. So, I went for a long drive with a friend. Thanks again.

    • Kokhob Selam

      very nice job Tesfarirhan Hawey. I heard This touching song but I didn’t knew it was written by Eritrean thanks to

  • Tesfabirhan WR

    Dear AT,

    Thank you so much for your noble work. But, one thing disturbed the taste of this beautiful translated work, “the bet you did”

    I was thinking again and again on this statement while reading, “If this song doesn’t wet your eyes, your heart might be encased in a concrete shell!” We challenged him to a bet trusting the sensitive readers of love their mothers and their country; we believe they are kindhearted.”

    I was watching my tears to come instead of hearing my heart. I let my feelings come first and I can say I almost failed. Again, I read it, again, the pre-guided expected feelings couldn’t leave me free. I will be forced to read it again after may be a week so that my hearts will shade its feelings. In between, I see the beauty of each stanza.


  • Semere Andom

    An Eulogy for Jebena

    ፍቅርኺ ምስ አስተማቅርኩ
    ወጃዕጃዕ ምስ ተወልፍኩ

    በዓል ሻባይት እንክለዋ ዝሸምገላ ብሓጥያት ዝተላዕጠጣ
    በዓል ምስከረም እንክለዋ ብነገር ዝተብከላ
    እኒ ኣለናልኪ እንከለዋ ብሓሶት ዝተሸመማ

    ናይ ትማሊ እንዲኺ ዉልዶ
    እንታይ ሃወኽኪ ናብ’ቲ ናይ መወዳእታ ግዕዞ

    ክሎም ደልዮሚኺ
    ዓይኒ ሰብ ኮይንኪ
    ግን እቲ ዝፈጠረኪ ወዲ ፈራዲ*
    ካብ በየነልኪ
    ኪዲ ይቀብልኪ ባዕሉ ‘ቲ ሊቐ መላእኽቲ

    ምስ ማሕሙዳይ ዝጫረቅላ
    ምስ ቅድስ ሳልሕ እሂን-ምሂን ዝበሃለላ
    ካብ ዳዊታይ ዝዕቆበላ
    አወል ክሳብ ደረጃ ወረጃ ዘጻርረላ
    ካብ ኾኾባይ ዝመሃረላ

    ገዲፍክኒ ክድኪ
    አብ’ዛ ዓለም ጨካነ
    እዋይ ‘እዛ እንተርነተ
    ዘይትኽዉን ምልእተ

    ወዲ ፈራዲ* For Sal, can you translate this 🙂

  • Apologies Jebena visitors,
    The Jebena page has reached to almost 1100 and we cannot have it go on indefinitely. As you might have noticed, the architecture of the page is not proper; we had to stop it for short time until awate 8.0 is launched, hopefully very soon. awate 8.0 will have a blog section which will be a better format. Anyone interested in writing about music and arts, can have a blog, provided they add value to the links they wish to post, just like Sal explained earlier today. Until then, we will be present you one such piece on music and arts, at least bi-monthly–naturally help is welcome.

    Old Jebena Page is here:

  • Semere Andom

    Hi AT:
    Thanks for this work, amazing translation.
    You forgot to translate this: “asHarr berray wo araA al-nijum”
    I am the only insomniac shepherding/counting the starts

    • Saleh Johar

      Thanks Semere, our ambassador To Sudan 🙂
      Indeed, that line was forgotten–now added:
      “I am up alone shepherding the stars”

  • Kim Hanna

    Dear Awatestaff,
    Most likely, it is on my part, but I could not play it. I waited long enough for the problem to be solved by others but no luck. Are you sure everything is posted right? I could play the Jebena posts but not this one.

    • Kim Hanna

      I came back to it and found toward the bottom and enjoyed the present. Thanks,

  • Tzigereda

    Thank you Awate Team!