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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Somalia Artist Series Coming to University

First performance is Oct. 28 at Kato Ballroom.

Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 9-23-2016

MANKATO — A grant will bring musicians from Somalia to Mankato over the next three years.

Minnesota State University, Mankato and community diversity leaders on Friday announced receipt of a $126,000 grant that will support five to six musician residencies at Minnesota State Mankato. The grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art will also support performances featuring local artists of Somali heritage.

Minnesota State Mankato is part of a collaborative with St. Cloud State University and Augsburg College that received $600,000. The Somali artists in residence will spend time at all three campuses.

The project is called Midnimo, which means “unity” in Somali. The mission is to “promote intercultural appreciation and understanding.”

“In light of the events in St. Cloud and the injustices that are taking place, I think this is a very special opportunity for us to celebrate the Somali community and to do so through the mediums of arts and collaboration,” said Minnesota State Mankato Associate Provost Bobby Fleischman during Friday’s announcement.

Minnesota State Mankato Performance Series Director Dale Haefner is leading Midnimo at Minnesota State Mankato.

He said five or six artists will spend approximately two weeks each at Minnesota State Mankato over the next 30 months, starting next spring. Prospective artists have been identified but their visits haven’t been finalized pending visa approvals and other logistical challenges.

Haefner said the musicians in residence will perform and educate at not just Minnesota State Mankato, but also K-12 schools and other community locations. Each visit will culminate with a concert open to the community.

In between residencies, the university will host performances by Somali American artists in a variety of mediums. The performances might range from dance to poetry readings, Haefner said.

The concerts will kick off on Oct. 28 with a performance by Waayaha Cusub, a trio from Somali that will happen to be in Minnesota thanks to another grant.

In conjunction with Midnimo, professor Danielle Haque said Minnesota State Mankato is creating classes devoted to Somali art, literature and history and many more classes will touch on the topics. “We will provide our Somali students with the opportunity to study their own culture and see themselves and the voices of their community represented in the classroom,” she said. “And it will give our non-Somali students a new perspective and a more defined sense of the history and culture they share with the Somali community that is a vital part of the Minnesota community.”

African American leaders joined Minnesota State Mankato representatives and a Mankato Public Schools leader in Friday’s grant announcement.

“With this project we’re going to understand the complexity of Somali culture,” said Mankato Diversity Council Executive Director Bukata Hayes.

“We’re going to get a more complex, vibrant and real experience of the culture through art and music.”

“This is going to have impact for years to come,” said Fardousa Jama, co-founder of Mankato’s Somali Community Barwaaqo Organization.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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