A gospel band started by three young ‘rebels with a cause’ more than two decades ago, they still have us humming to their iconic songs
Morung Express News
Dimapur | June 25
In 1992, still in their teens, three ‘rebels with a cause’ from Dimapur’s Servanthood Bible College released a gospel album in Ao language. This is a time when international bands like Guns N Roses, Nirvana and Metallica were ruling the tempo of the local youth- many of who were also hooked with substance abuse.
The album simply titled on the band namesake “Samaro” (literally naughty, rebellious or self-willed), the original trio of Wati Jamir, Saku Longchar and Temjen Victor right away struck a chord with the listeners. It forever changed the format of gospel music, especially among the Aos. According to the band, ‘Samaro’ is combination of two words in Ao language, ‘Sama’ – lost and ‘Aro’ – returned or came back –thus, implying someone who was lost, but came back for good.
Musically innovative, casual fans and curious listeners were hooked to their repertoire of acute social commentary, wavering souls and spiritual ambiguity confronting the society, the Church and its congregation.
The songs become runaway hits, not only among the Aos; it transcended language barriers, and become familiar tunes with others too.
Numbers like ‘Merenba melenshiogo’ (Meren has Changed), Ongpang Lu (Far-flung Field), Takari Auer Tsubur (The Rich Fears the Thief) or ‘Narola Youth Camp Nung Aten’ (Naro Attended a Youth Camp), Tasen Chira [If You Eat Sour (fruits)] and other hits become a common refrain.
Samaro’s success is in cleverly merging melodious tune with humorous or candid take on various social issues-something that was missing in gospel albums at that point of time. It clicked instantly with listeners.
For instance, Ongpang Lu (Nearby Field) is an acute commentary about Naga’s fascination for going out of country for ‘missionary work’ when there actually are bigger missions at home. In ‘Tasen chira,’ the trio mused about how children usually follow the footsteps of their parents – either good or bad.
For their second album, Temjen Victor was replaced by Arenba Japu as the former had to go for further studies. Samaro did not disappoint their fans as they continued with their social commentary on everyday issues like passing matriculation, wasted youth and many more.
For the third album, Lima Imsong replaced Arenba Japu. Since then, Imsong, Wati and Saku have collaborated together from the third Album till the thirteenth.
Apart from being a regular feature in almost all events of the Aos, the trio had also withstood ‘challenges’ from other act, transcending effortlessly from tape to latest digital music, cultivating more fans along the way.
While the silver jubilee of Samaro was held on February 2017 at its alma mater- Servanthood College, a thanksgiving programme was also held at Mokokchung Baptist Church (MTBA) on Sunday, June 25.
As part of the jubilee celebration, there was also a free concert was held for citizens of Mokokchung Town on June 24. The celebration will continue with performances in Kohima and Dimapur, thereafter. The silver jubilee celebration of Samaro band is supported by a group consisting of K. Temjen Jamir, Anungba Sanglir and Dr. Sunep Imchen.
Speaking to The Morung Express, Wati Jamir, who has composed over composed 200 songs, said, “How wonderful it is to compose and sing songs in one’s own language. We are extremely thankful to God that by singing in Ao language, many people especially the elders have been blessed.”
“Mizos usually sing in their own language and the Nagas should also try to uplift one’s language by singing in their own language,” he noted.
A fan as well as an active supporter, K Temjen the Editor of Ao Local Daily Tir Yimyim commented that “The silver jubilee celebration of Samaro band is celebration of the spiritual success of the band and the people. Their songs have transformed many lives and they have saved many perishing souls.”