Dear Cedar Supporters and Community Members,
I’m writing to announce that Falis Abdi Mohamud, the female lead of the Somali hip-hop collective Waayaha Cusub, will be unable to join the rest of the group for their month-long Midnimo residency in Minnesota. Midnimo is a program launched in 2014 by The Cedar and Augsburg College that presents Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world to increase understanding of Muslim culture through music.
Waayaha Cusub was formed in Kenya in the early 2000s. Known for its artistry as well as its activism, the group’s mission is to challenge militants, violence, oppressive leadership, and extremist politics. As such, the artists have endured death threats and violent attacks in an effort to silence their message of peace. When tensions between Kenya and Somalia heightened in 2014, four of the group’s members, including Falis and her husband Shiine Abdullahi Ali, were forced to seek asylum in the Netherlands, leaving their young children with family in Kenya. The bid for their children’s asylum was a difficult two-year battle, but just three weeks before their Minnesota residency, the family was reunited. Sadly, however, two of their children fell ill and were hospitalized. While one child has since been released, in the most recent turn of events, the family lost their apartment due to family size regulations, and Falis and the children have returned to a refugee camp.
It’s hard to see this incredible group face such obstacles. But for many of the artists that we present as part of Midnimo, challenges like this continue to impact their lives and art form. That is part of the reason why this program exists. We hope that it can continue to serve as a vehicle for these artists to share their music, stories, and even their challenges with people here in Minnesota. I believe in the power of Waayaha Cusub’s music to communicate hope, peace, and understanding, and ultimately to inspire a world that is more unified, just, and peaceful.
The residency is going strong and will continue on until November 4 with activities and performances Minneapolis, Mankato and St. Cloud. The Cedar, along with our partner organizations Augsburg College, Paramount Center for the Arts, St. Cloud State University, and Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music Performance Series, stand united in support of Waayaha Cusub members Shiine, Lihle, Dikriyo, and Dalmar here with us in Minnesota and with Falis and her children in the Netherlands.
To help show our support, we are gathering statements of solidarity for Waayaha Cusub and Falis from the community. If you would like to share a message of support with the artists, please feel free to email your short statement to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cedar Cultural Center