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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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A 'New Era' of Activism

Somali hip-hop group to perform at Minnesota State Mankato.

2016-10-28
Jenna Vagle, Mankato Free Press, 10-28-2016

Waayaha Cusub.

In Somali, this means “new era.”

In Minnesota, this is a Somali hiphop collective group which writes songs about nonviolent pleas for peace and social justice — particularly in the group’s native country.

Waayaha Cusub performs at 8 p.m. today at the Kato Ballroom, 200 Chestnut St.

The hip-hop collective was founded in Kenya in 2004 by lyricist and rapper Shiine Akhyaar Ali. His message challenges militant and extremist politics. In 2013, the group established and headlined the first Somali Sunrise Concert Tour for Peace, a series of concerts featuring hip-hop around East Africa.

The group is based out of Minnesota and Europe; three members live in Europe, the other two in Minnesota. The artists were reunited at the beginning of October and are doing a collection of performances through a program called Midnimo, which strives for an increased understanding of Muslim culture in Minnesota through music and arts. Their last performance will be Nov. 4.

A Minnesota-based consortium of colleges, universities and arts groups received a $500,000 grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity program supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Minnesota State University, Mankato was one of those universities.

“I am thrilled to be part of this three-year project. Midnimo will create many opportunities for both campus and community members to build meaningful relationships with our Muslim neighbors,” said Dale Haefner, Minnesota State Mankato Performance Series director. “The arts, and especially music, are an excellent means of communication. Music is a universal language and a universal feature of the human experience.”

Other colleges and arts centers in the project include: The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis in association with Augsburg College, and the Paramount Center for the Arts in St. Cloud in association with St. Cloud State University.

“The idea behind the grant is to present internationally known Somali artists,” Haefner said. “They will do a 6-8 day series. The first one will take place in spring 2017.”

With the residency, Haefner and the Performance Series will plan visits to K-12 schools, college classes, churchs and more. He wants to reach as many people as possible.

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 www.mankatofreepress.com.

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