NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – “Al Shaabab are sending a bad message. We are telling al Shaabab to stop cheating the children. Fighting is not nice,” says Dikriyo Abdi. “Sometimes my parents cry when they talk to me, because they see what Somalia has become. They remember the time when they were living there peacefully.”,
Twenty four-year-old Dikriyo is a Somali refugee. As a young child, he and his relatives, who lived in the seaport town of Kismayu, fled to Kenya, to seek refuge from his war-torn country. Today, Dikriyo is a member of the Nairobi-based Somali hip hop group Waayaha Cusub, which started out in 2004.
Waayaha Cusub is a Somali phrase that loosely translates as ‘The New Dawn’ or ‘The New Era’. The group consists of seven Somali refugees, two Kenyans, a Ugandan and an Ethiopian. Waayaha Cusub has recorded a number of songs that denounce the al-Shaabab militant Islamist group, which currently controls parts of Somalia.
Text message threats
“In 2008 I was shot several times by people who came to my house,” says 29-year-old Ali Shine, one of the founders of Waayaha Cusub. “I am quite sure they were al Shaabab members.” As a young boy, Ali he fled his home in central Somalia.
In recent days, a number of people unknown to him have made enquiries about his whereabouts. “One lady brought a gift, but my relatives did not accept it, because they were suspicious,” says Ali, who has also received text message threats on his cell phone. Other group members have also been intimidated. A female member is in hiding after unknown attackers had seriously wounded her.
Songs about violence and AIDS
Waayaha Cusub has released a song called Yaabka al-Shaabab that describes the way “al Shabaab kills people for nothing,” says Ali. “They cut off people’s hands or they stone them.” He adds: “Using a gun to convince people is not good. If you use drums, a guitar or a piano, people will listen.” Once there is peace, he would like to return to Somalia.
Apart from denouncing al-Shaabab, the group also aims to create awareness about issues they feel are important to Somalis, both in Somalia as well as in the Diaspora.“We have this song about AIDS,” says Dikriyo Abdi. “People will tell you they have malaria, while in fact they have AIDS. We need to tell them that if you have AIDS, you should not deny it. Go to a hospital.”
Support group for Somali musicians
Waayaha Cusub regularly hosts meetings for Somali musicians in Nairobi, its aim being to discuss both professional and personal issues. “Somali journalists in Kenya have a support group. So do Somali women in Kenya,” says Ali.
“We think we should have one, too. At the moment we are trying to find out how to help one of our fellow musicians who is suffering from diabetes and also has a broken leg. We are trying to organise a fundraiser for her.”
(This report was filed by Michael Kaloki for Radio Netherlands Worldwide)