Across the Universes: Somali Music Stands Against War

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been killed or inflicted with grave suffering by the Bush-backed Ethiopian-led "regime change" in their country, and we have tried to document some of that suffering here. But it would be inaccurate and demeaning to allow the very real and manifold travails of the Somalis to be the only picture ever presented of them, as if they were simply eternal victims, vague, helpless creatures worthy only of pity – instead of fully fledged, individual, complex and engaged human beings like the rest of us.

The article excerpted below from the Pakistani paper The News provides some of that greater context which is necessarily omitted in stories that focus on the criminal damage wrought in Somalia by the machinations of Washington's Terror Warriors and other power-players. And this greater context speaks to one of the most important – and most thoroughly neglected – realities of the world today: that the Somalis are real, live, individual fully human beings – just like the Iraqis, just like the Afghans, just like the Iranians, and everyone else. When you kill them and dispossess them, when you bring death and ruin and filth and chaos to their world to promote your own political agenda, it is exactly like doing it to your own parents, your own siblings, your own children, your own friends, all the nice "normal" people you went to college with or you see at your megachurch every Sunday or you hang out with at the mall or work with in the office. The pain they feel when they see a loved one ripped to shreds or their house blown apart is exactly the same pain you would feel.

But the absolute inability to recognize this basic, obvious fact has always been one of the major flaws in our chaotic and conflicted human nature; and it is certainly one of the driving forces of the horror and carnage and hatred we see all over the world today. We simply cannot see that every human being is an equivalent center of the universe, just like our own sweet selves. And so we go on killing – or countenancing the killing – of countless inviduals, day after day, hour after hour.

But here, some of those equivalent centers of the universe from Somalia are fighting back against the dehumanizing forces that have long plagued their land:

Somali exiles use music to slam war (The News)
Excerpts: Upon entering a tiny recording studio in a grimy Nairobi building, Felis removes her face veil, slides headphones onto her ears and starts singing in a high voice: “Girls are raped. Warlords are to blame”.

Over a soundtrack of world music and rap, Felis Abdi (pictured right) and the group Waayaha Cusub, made up of some 20 young Somali refugees, crudely slam the war that has torn up their country for 16 years, almost all their lives. “All the people have been killed. Let us repair the country. There is no school, there is no peace,” sings Waayaha Cusub, which means “New Era” in Somali…

Waayaha Cusub spares no player in Somalia’s war from its criticism: warlords who have imposed their own laws for years; Islamists who controlled south and central Somalia at the end of last year; Ethiopian troops who deployed in Somalia last year to help the government oust the Islamists; and Somali authorities who they accuse of “collaborating” with Addis Ababa.

One song, “Freedom,” rails against the Islamic Courts Union which banned music and imposed a strict dress code for women during its six-month rule at the end of last year. Somalis generally practise a moderate form of Islam.

“We don’t want that religious extremism. We want our freedom, the freedom to listen to what we want. We want to see women’s faces,” the group sings.

Waayaha Cusub claims to preach peace, despite the violent tone of certain songs, such as “Somalia”, which criticises Ethiopian “colonisers”: “The Ethiopians are forming indirect colony with the world watching. May Allah lead them to the grave.” The group’s rapper, Dikriyo Abdi Ilmi, defends the harsh lyrics.

“We wrote that story when we were very angry. We are not telling the Somali people to fight against the Ethiopians but to find a way to work together so that the Ethiopians leave,” explains Ilmi, who is too tall to stand up straight in the tiny, barely soundproofed studio.

Some of Waayaha Cusub's music can be found here and here.