The cover of Samaro’s debut self titled album, which was released to roaring success in 1992. (Photo Credit: Ali Imsong)
Morung Express News
Dimapur | December 3
Twenty five years ago, three teenagers still in college hit the marquee by releasing a gospel album in Ao.
Titled ‘Samaro’ (literally naughty, rebellious or self-willed), three ‘rebels with a cause’ from Dimapur’s Servanthood Bible College struck a chord with the audience with a hitherto unknown genre format of gospel music, especially among the Aos. And the rest is history. The Band is 25 now and still going strong.
According to members of 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.
“Samaro came as a ship to rescue us 25 years back,” said K Temjen Jamir, the Editor of the Ao vernacular Tir Yimyim speaking at the culmination of the Band Silver Jubilee Celebration at the Dimapur Ao Baptist Church Dimapur, here today.
The celebration kicked off at the band alma mater at SBC, Chümoukidima in February. Later, it was observed in Mokokchung and Kohima in June and September respectively with tribute concerts and thanksgiving services.
The event in Dimapur, which saw a tribute as well as band performance in December 2, was the culmination of the year-long event.
While Wati Jamir, Saku Longchar and Temjen Victor were the original trio of the band in the first album; for their second album, Temjen Victor was replaced by Arenba Japu, as the former had to go for further studies. Samaro continued with their social commentary on everyday issues like passing matriculation, wasted youth etc.
The present line-up of Wati Jamir, Saku Longchar and Lima Imsong has been going strong, with 13 albums in the repertoire and more in offing next year. They have visited more than 120 churches and are almost a regular fare in many student and other events.
Musically innovative, casual fans and curious listeners were hooked to their repertoire of acute social commentary, wavering souls and spiritual ambiguity confronting the society, Church and its congregation. The songs became runaway hits, not only among the Aos; it transcended language barriers, and became familiar tunes with others too.
One of their most popular hits ‘Merenba melenshiogo’ (Meren has Changed) was so effective upon its release that a parent, whose ward was studying in Chennai, came searching for them to their campus and gave them Rs 5000. The trio used the same to pay their hostel fees as well as their lodging needs. Through their music, the band has been meeting their needs as well as the needs of others, as they walk together into the next phase of their journey.
On Sunday, as the trio performed some of their poignant songs at DABA, many were humming along during popular songs, while becoming teary-eyed on other numbers. Most of the DABA’s pastors, who also grew along with the band, were humming enthusiastically along.
According the Wati Jamir, who writes most of the songs, their songs were written depending on the situation over the years. As the band matured, their songs have also transcended from mostly peppy numbers to heart touching sermon in recent years. From anthem hits 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), the band is now singing “Kotak li tonger (Upon reaching Heaven” or “Tounung Yisu dangi” ( To Christ Tonight).”