Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Somali hip-hop band fighting al-Shabaab for hearts and minds

Somali hip-hop group Waayaha Cusub
Somali hip-hop group Waayaha Cusub record material in a makeshift studio in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

Waayaha Cusub remain defiant despite bearing the scars of the Islamist group, whose reach has extended to Nairobi

Clar Ni Chonghaile in Nairobi
The Guardian
Dec 27, 2011
Shine Ali doesn't scare easily. If he did, he would not be with his band in a basement studio in Nairobi, rapping lyrics that challenge the Islamist rebels who control much of his homeland, Somalia – and whose reach extends deep into the Kenyan capital.
Ali is well aware of the risks he is running. Three years ago, members of the al-Shabaab group broke into his home in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighbourhood and shot him.
"They said, 'Your message is anti-jihad. You are telling the youth to give up jihad,'" the 29-year-old says in halting English. Ali edges down his baggy checked shorts, pulls up his hooded sweatshirt and shows a scar on his right hip. He has another one on his left arm.
"When they shot me, I knew that if I stopped the music, they would win but if I continued, my power would win."
Ali is a founding member of Waayaha Cusub, an 11-member hip-hop group that includes Somalis, Kenyans, an Ethiopian and a Ugandan.
The band is, in its composition, a defiant challenge to the al-Qaida-linked rebels of al-Shabaab and to the thorny political realities of the Horn of Africa.Continued

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