The haunting Pulaar song in ‘Black Hawk Down’


This movie directed by Ridley Scott, is based in war-torn and famine ravaged Somalia where over 300,000 civilians have died and a large  United Nations peacekeeping operation were operating. With the bulk of the peacekeepers withdrawn by 1993, the Somali militia have declared war on the remaining UN personnel. In response, United States Army Rangers, Delta Force, and 160th SOAR are sent to Somalia to capture Mohammed Farrah Aidid, self-proclaimed president of the country.The movie begins with a heart wrenching song titled ‘Hunger’ in Pulaar language. This language is spoken in the Senegal river valley, Mauritania, Gambia and Mali. This song is sung by a Senegalese singer,  Baaba Maal.


Peace is a long time coming
Peace is my prayer for this earth
Bloodshed grows on this earth
Famine is everywhere
And life is getting harder

Let’s wake up, all together
And take action before it’s too late
Bloodshed grows, famine increases
Sons of the earth must rise up together
To prevent this before it’s too late

Life is getting harder on earth
Bloodshed grows and hunger is upon us
It’s late, in the night, the stars sparkle
I wake up suddenly because I cannot sleep
So much I am suffering for humanity.

Baaba sings primarily in Pulaar and is the foremost promoter of the traditions of the Pulaar-speaking peoples who live on either side of the Senegal River in the ancient Senegalese kingdom of Futa Tooro.


The movie opens with a quote from Plato: “Only the dead have seen an end to war.” An earlier cut of the movie opened with a quote from T.S. Eliot: “All our ignorance brings us closer to death.”

 Apparently Plato never quoted “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” It is attributed to Plato, but actually written by George Santayana in his book ‘The Life of Reason.’ It was first misquoted in one of retired general Douglas MacArthur’s farewell speeches and then crept into popular use.


One comment

  1. It’s a wonderful, moving song, thanks for sharing the lyrics and the quotes as well – very relevant at the moment when Western powers are moving to intervene in Iraq.


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