|Waayaha Cusub, a group of young Somali refugee musicians in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, advocates freedom of musical expression in Somalia
“We don’t want that religious extremism. We want our freedom, the freedom to listen to what we want,” the group sings. Their 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 2006.
Waayaha Cusub sings about AIDS, peace and reconciliation, and atrocities in Somalia, and their videos feature modern beats, unrestrained dancing and modern dress. Girls wear trousers and their hair is uncovered. Such behaviour is banned under Islamic law according to conservative Somali Muslims.
One of the bands members, Jamila, had her face cut up and now has a large scar on her cheek. She was attacked by members of her family, who disapproved of the band and her membership in it.
“They say we are eroding the Islamic culture,” said Shino Ali, 20-year-old leader of the band: “We’ve suffered hardship. We’ve been attacked. But we will keep singing,” he said to UNCHR’s Janet Adongo.
Fled to Uganda
Waayaha Cusub consists of 11 young Somali refugees based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Since Waayaha Cusub – which means “New Era” in Somali – was created in 2004, they have made four albums, 14 music videos and one movie. Their videos are broadcast widely across the Internet.