Iraqw Girayda

What is Girayda?

An interesting genre of Iraqw oral literature is Girayda. It is not clear when and where Girayda was created exactly, but it is claimed that the contest is over 500 years old. The tradition has been changing over time, but the general content or the performance itself is a poetic duel and has a specific style and vocabulary.

The Girayda is sung between a couple of poets, who often work together. As in the past Girayda was more restricted to men only, it is now widely accepted that women also participate. The aim of the contest is to best your opponent in singing lines and the use of beautiful language with a veiled meaning, for example metaphorical or archaic language, even words from neighbouring languages. In principle, Girayda is improvised, but there is a high portion of overlap on all levels between Giraydas sung by the same couples and in general.

In the videos in this section you can learn more about the performance and beauty of Girayda. Below is an explanation of a performance for a quick overview.