Listen to a Grammy Award winner's song about world hunger. It's simply stunning.

A haunting plea.

In 1993, four-time Grammy Award winner and British-Nigerian singer Sade released a song called "Pearls," and it's become one of her most enduring hits.

But did you know this song is about a woman and child living in the 1992 Somali famine?


Sade rocks out. Photo by Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images.


That fact flies by some because one doesn't really need to listen to the words Sade sings to get the effect of her music.

The main character in Sade's story is picking "pearls" off the side of the road. These aren't actual pearls but grains of rice that have fallen off relief trucks passing by her. To her, they are as precious as pearls because in her life, they are just as rare. Mothers in Somalia's food situation are forced to live a life where they can't just pop over to the supermarket to get some food.

Here's what the lyrics in "Pearls" mean:

Somalia has had three separate famines in the last 25 years: In 1992, from 2010-2012, and in 2014.

The famine (a period of extreme hunger) Sade is singing about claimed 220,000 lives in 1992. The 2010-2012 famine claimed another 260,000, and in 2014, the death toll of the ongoing war caused partially by Somalia's hunger problems is still climbing.

As of September 2013, there were more than 1.1 million Somalis displaced internally and nearly 1 million refugees living in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen.

The population of Somalia is 10.5 million; a tenth of the country is displaced from their homes without their choosing. That's a lot of people.

You know how many? 125 football stadiums of people.

One-third of Somali children are underweight.

According to the World Health Organization, 32.8% of Somali children younger than 5 are underweight and malnourished. America and other countries have been sending aid to Somalia since 1993, but still the problem has persisted. For every 1,000 Somali children, about 146 won't make it to age 5.

It's hard for people in drought and famine situations to even think about the situation they're in day in and day out.

This one is a little less fact-based, so I'm going to ask you to use your imagination: You know when you get a new pair of dress shoes and the leather is crisp, stiff, and unwrinkled ... you almost don't want to wear them yet because they're so doggone perfect? And then you put them on and walk out the door, and you already have blisters on the edges of your feet and want to take them off? This is what I think Sade means.

What can we all can do to help?


Somali refugees in Kenya after fleeing the 2011 famine. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

All this time, I never thought about what I should do. She's speaking about a problem — hunger in Somalia — that has been a problem since I was 10. I'm 32 now.

  • Keep up with what's going on in Somalia by visiting Oxfam. (If you scroll to the bottom of this page, there is news about what they're doing to help.)

  • You can donate to Oxfam or UNICEF, if you'd like.

  • Most important: Be vocal, share news and articles about it, and keep it fresh on peoples' minds. If we aren't talking about a problem, how are we going to help fix it?
More

Mom and blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom regularly shares snippets of life with her two children on her Facebook page. One particularly touching interaction with her daughter is melting hearts and blowing minds due to the three-year-old's wise words about forgiveness.

Even adults struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Entire books have been written about how and why to forgive those who have wronged us, but many still have a hard time getting it. Who would guess that a preschooler could encapsulate what forgiveness means in a handful of innocent words?

Keep Reading Show less
Family

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

The U.S. women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, but the victory is marred by the fact that the team is currently fighting for equal pay. In soccer, the game is won by scoring points, but the fight for equal pay isn't as clearly winnable and the playing field isn't as even.

We live in a world where winning the World Cup is easier than winning equal pay, but co-captain Megan Rapinoe says there's one easy way fans can support the team: Go see games.

Some people argue the men's team deserves to get paid more because they are more successful and earn more money for the United States Soccer Federation. Pay depends on merchandise and ticket sales, and in general, men's sporting events tend to draw a bigger crowd than women's sporting events. It's not about sex, many argue; it's about the fact that people just prefer to see men play.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

You think you know someone pretty well when you spend years with them, but, as we've seen time and again, that's not always the case. And though many relationships don't get to a point where the producers of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" start calling every day just to chat, the reality is that sometimes partners will reveal shocking things even after you thought you'd been all shocked out.

That's the case for one woman whose Reddit thread has recently gone viral. The 25-year-old, who's been with her boyfriend for five years, took to a forum for relationship advice to ask if it was normal that her seemingly cool and loving boyfriend recently revealed women shouldn't have a fundamental right. (And no, it's not abortion — although there are a lot of "otherwise best ever boyfriends" out there who want to deny women the rights to bodily autonomy, too.)

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended