Report: Somalia

Somalis enjoy first major music concert in two decades

Mohammed Sheik Nor

Music is back in Mogadishu after being banned by Islamists who controlled much of south and central Somalia two years ago. A concert this week saw a top Somali performer appear before a happy crowd, which included government officials.


Rock, rap and love songs, which most Somalis deem among their few pleasures in life, were banned by al-Shebab, who ordered music off the radio waves and, of course, forbade live performaces.

Al-Shebab - who are they?

The music ban faded away once al-Shebab pulled out of Mogadishu and other parts of the country over a year ago, paving the way for a return to security in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country.

Since then Mogadishu has seen rapid growth and developments in the music sector as Somali singers based in the diaspora have returned to entertain Somalis in the capital Mogadishu - a hugely symbolical and significant gesture.

Among the singers was Mohamed Hassan Lafoole, who is one of the most revered Somali music artists admired by many music-loving Somalis. His songs have became a real hit in the Somali music industy in recent years.

He performed one of his latest albums to hundreds of spectators in Mogadishu for the first time in two decades with government officials also in attendance.

Mogadishu mayor, Mohamud Ahmed Nur, also known as Tarsan, was present at the show. In his opening remarks he praised the Somali musicians for their contribution to creating peace in their country.

The mayor also added that the Somali musicians, singers and poets have had bad days, so that the government will give them the courage and the value they deserve.

“Where you now stay is Mogadishu," he told them. "I understand that some of you may think are in London or New York but actually we are in Mogadishu, the theme of this show is 'Mogadishu at night' this is Mogadishu at night.

"We are really very delighted the homecomings of the Somali singers in the diaspora like Lafoole. This move is a clear indication that Mogadishu is regaining it is lost glory, so we need the people to make the most of it and enjoy yourself.”

Everyone was happy as this was the first live performance in the city since the fall of central government of Somalia.

There were many colourful dancers enjoying the vibrant music with many participants from the diaspora hitting the dance floor as the audience applauded and everyone tapped their feet in step to the beats.

Music and songs are what brings relief from anger, frustration, depression, fatigue and other emotional and physical pain, audience members said.

”The last 20 years we have been suffering but now we have a beautiful life," said Rahma Hassan, who joined the dancing. "I am telling every Somali especially those of us who live abroad, come back, business is booming, we all have a peace now, we need people to come back.

"Please bring your flowers and new kids back home and your lovers. Happy Valentine night!”

"This is really amazing that Mogadishu is now 100 per cent safe and seen people coming here mostly young enjoying, dancing, partying, chatting," said Yusuf Ahmed, who has returned from the UK. "It is really amazing so it is something that I can really tell my friends, it is something that I can tell my friends to come back here now and see how Mogadishu is improving.”

Many Somali artists, actors and singers have fled the violence over the last two decades, especially as al Shebab cracked down on any forms of art they deemed unislamic according to their strict interpretation of sharia law that they adhere to.

The tradition of Somali music can be traced back to the war of independence. Many freedom songs were composed, which called for the awakening of the people to rebuild their ideals and the nation in turn.

The awakening songs of Somalia still continue to inspire the people of Somalia.

At the present time in the country new challenges are emerging but music can make a call and help eradicate the social evils that are emerging from corruption, drugs and bribery.

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