During the last month, Somali piracy has gained increased media attention, with various groups of rogue sailors reportedly hijacking oil supplies, weapons and cash. Outlets such as the BBC and the New York Times have given various accounts of the attacks happening off the shores of Somalia, but Hip Hop artist K’NAAN [click to read] paints a decidedly different picture.
“It’s really complicated [and] people here just don’t understand,” says K’NAAN. “Either you’re watching TV and it reminds you of Pirates of the Caribbean and you think it’s funny. Or you’re like, ‘These crazy Somalis, what are they doing now?'”
In 1991, K’NAAN took a similar platform to address the United Nations‘ handling of the 1991 Somali Civil War at the UN‘s 50th anniversary concert in Geneva. As a native of Mogadishu, Somalia “The Dusty Foot Philosopher” can speak on the situation firsthand.
“Most Somalis will tell you they cannot readily condemn pirates,” K’NAAN adds. “Private companies are hired by governments to dispose of nuclear toxic waste. Since the early ’90’s, when the government of my country collapsed, these companies have illegally been dumping nuclear toxic waste containers on the shores of Somalia. It got to the United Nations Security Council, and it was ignored. These fisherman mobilized themselves, got street militiamen and brought them on board.”
K’NAAN explained that what began as a grassroots protection movement has since been changed by the lure of greed and money. His most recent song, “Somalia,” chronicles the issue, and it is available for free download on his MySpace page. K’NAAN also hopes to address Somali piracy via an opinion/editorial in the New York Times.