Archive for June 16, 2009

K’naan: A pirate, a guitar

Dressing the part

I was hoping somebody would bring this subject up and I’ll be allowed to give my distinguished opinion about it ;). Nobody did, so i decided to do the dirty work myself – with, ofcourse, some help from For, as the Home Depot commercial would tell you, doing it on your own doesn’t mean doing it alone.

For those of you who don’t know who the guy on your right is, his name is K’naan Warsame. He is a Somali-Canadian poet/musician/rapper born in the district of Wardhiigleey (“The River of Blood”) and brought up in “the meanest streets in the universe”, or ‘the risky zone’ as he calls it, “full of pistols and russian revolvers”.

His mission:
Seeing to it that the “average Somalis”, the “most forgotten people in the world”, have a voice other than all the voices that talk about them & drawn their’s. Voices of “violent warlords, or pirates hijacking ships off the coast”. He’s made it, the above mentioned website reports, L.A. Times’ “an artist to watch” list after:

His first album, 2006’s The Dusty Foot Philosopher, was a hit with critics here and abroad. His latest, Troubadour, features Mos Def and Damian Marley .. The Guardian called him “powerfully low-key, theatrical [and] witty.”

And what was it about him I was hoping a reader would bring up & i comment?!
In a word copyright. In two words, copyright violations. This up and coming Somali rapper has been accused by Ethiopians of violating international copy right laws; in the form of copying/stealing/taking without permission or acknowledgement some beats that are rightfully ours. The beats he allegedly copied/stole/took with neither permission nor acknowledgement are “the original composers and singers of Ethiopia namely Tilahun and Alemayhu eshte”. A special attention has been brought, both by and Jimma times, to this song.

I, being one of those who give more attention to the ‘giTim’ instead of a rhythm of a song ( although my Introduction to Poetry teacher at AAU, one Wondwossen Adane, another genius on his own right, repeatedly said a song won’t be a song without the beat), am no more bothered by it than I would by anyone around my age “kilil” winning the celebrity status. And he’s an awesome geTami, this ‘weriha’, of an experience most of us went through back home and continue to [go through] abroad, as this poem here amply proves. [Did i just add myself to the list of “most of us abroad”?! You’d think i’ve been “affer meGfatting” for 30 years, instead of 3 months; well.. the first 6 months are supposed to be the hardest :cool:].

More importantly, I believe in giving credit where credit is due. For it’s no secret to us how if there is something the Somalis are good at, it’s piracy. It’s not bringing their issues to the table and thrashing it out, it’s not having ambitions that are realistic by nature (Barre’s outrageous day dreamings and Aweys’ blabberings come to mind), it isn’t even going without “chaat” for a couple of days. It’s piracy. Taking what doesn’t belong to them and making profit out of it. [And ..oh yeah.. renting a room in groups that has a landline telephone; making long distance calls to their various relatives in the UK and Canada, talk for hours on end and disappearing when the bill shows up. They are good at that stuff!] Not to mention how “counterfeiting” is “tirsachewin neQlewu yaDeGubet muya”. But a friend of mine has been pretty chocked up about it, to the point of asking me to do a post on it [which I, loyal to my loyalty to the “Dusty foot philosopher”, refused], then giving VOA’s Amharic Service a call and alerting them of the theft. Then alerting me of the call. [I know, it’s pretty confusing :)]. “Well..”, I said to self last night (while pacing the room with a sleeplessness that bordered with insanity), “he’s been a ‘lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ these past few months, giving me pointers on what to do and when — to make the American transition easier. He’s also been my source for any mischievous act Meles or his government has committed lately :). Lemme google the songs and give the post a try”.

Here are my findings. I’ll start with 15 Minutes away, which just became one of my favorite songs of all times. [Tiny Western Union office on “Global Hintsa”, biresash Qegne yirsagn!!]. America, ABC’s and I come prepared.

You tube and The Official K’NAAN Website has a lot more.

June 16, 2009 at 11:04 am 6 comments


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

Life quote:

"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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June 2009

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