Music Makes a Comeback

Date Publish: 
Somalia / Africa and Middle East

Born into turbulent warfare, and surrounded by a collapsed education and health system, young Somalis are often referred to as the “lost generation.” Abandonment and a lack of economic opportunity have resulted in many youth becoming detached from society or being recruited into militia and piracy. The repercussions are distressing; many become withdrawn and have difficulty in forging social bonds. To mitigate this, IOM’s Transition Initiatives for Stabilization programme is empowering and re-engaging disconnected youth through art and music by providing a platform to spread healing and social reconciliation messages. A talent competition called “Somali Idol” was relaunched in 2013 with over 500 aspiring singers, poets and performers auditioning for a place in the finals.

Contender Farah Abdi* broke out in cold sweat as he anxiously listened to the judges’ decision on his performance: “You can imagine the fear of getting on that stage. I have never been so afraid,” he said. The 22-year-old poet has been writing since he was eight years old, but never had the chance to explore his talent professionally. Farah succeeded to the finals, which will be broadcast on national television under the slogan Hirgeli Hammigaaga Faneed (Realize Your Artistic Dream) later this year. Speaking at the talent show’s launch the Mayor of Mogadishu said the event marked an important turn for Somalia’s youth: “There is a complete shift in mindset of the youth. It is very encouraging to see them engage in creative, innovative activities such as Somali Idol.”

Transition Initiatives for Stabilization (TIS) is a USAID-funded, quick impact programme promoting peace in Somalia. TIS supports Somali-ownership and aims to build confidence and cohesion between government institutions and its citizens by improving public services. Under the TIS programme, IOM is implementing over 200 activities in Somaliland and Mogadishu.

*Name changed