My Old Home-K’naan

K’naan is a Somali Canadian Hip Hop artist who rose to fame after his single, Wavin’ Flag, which was 2010 World Cup Theme song. He was originally from Somalia but fled his country in 1991 when a civil war erupted. He and his family was a Somali diaspora who moved around various places such as Kenya, Canada, and the US. K’naan was first introduced to Hip Hop when he was an adolescent. According to Dr.Marisa Clark’s book “Hip Hop In Africa”, K’naan was able to master English through Hip Hop. Moreover, he became engaged with the music as he thought it was “the new poor people’s weapon”. In 2005, K’naan produced an album called The Dusty Foot Philosopher, which he performed a piece called My Old Home. In this song, he reminiscently talks about Somalia. The song’s portrayal of Somalia at the beginning is peaceful as K’naan says,

Kids playin football with his hand and sock
We had what we got, and it wasn’t a lot
No one knew they were poor
We were all innocent to greeze judgement
The country was combusting with life like a long hibernating volcano
With a long tale of success like J-Lo
Farmers, fishers, fighters, even fools had a place in production

On the contrary to Hollywood’s common portrayal of Somalia, K’naan in this song portrays his country as a peaceful society. He does this by using kids, soccer, farmers, as a symbolism of peace. Somalia may not have been affluent country, but it was harmonious, as everyone was satisfied with what they had. However, things changed with the eruption of the civil war.

K’naan explains this sudden change as,

Then one day it came
Spoiled up a ray like rain
Like oil in a flame, it pained
The heart attack sudden
Odder than eleven
Harder than a punch in the womb
Harder than the lunch you consume
or us, it had a cancerous fume, more lust

K’naan from these lyrics explains how drastic the Somali Civil war was through metaphor. He says how the war spoiled Somalia, turning the country into flames. The damage which the war had inflicted to the people was tremendous as it was “harder than a punch in the womb” and was a “cancerous fume.” The war brought contentious environment in Somalia as K’naan explains,

Religion is burned down -in my old home
Kindness is shackled -in my old home
Justice has been raped -in my old home
Murderers hold post -in my old home

It is unfortunate how the image of Somalia changed at the end of the song. However, this reflects Somalia’s reality today. K’naan may have fled Somalia when he was young. However, as a member of Somali diaspora, he is sentimentally depicting Somalia to the Western World. What is interesting is that for the first time, Somalia is not portayed as a barbaic battlefield, such as how it was portrayed in “Black Hawk Down” or “Captain Philips”. Instead, he portrays his country as a peaceful, harmonoius community which violence and greed had had consumed. For K’naan’s eyes, Somalia is a victim of a Civil War. This song suggests that even though K’naan may have left Somalia in an early age, he has not forgotten his home.

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