Humanitarian Bazaar | Event: Rap Against Violence Mogadishu
Humanitarian Bazaar produces projects focused on how peope survive war and disaster.
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Humanitarian Bazaar’s work with front line musicians for youth outreach eventually crossed over with counter-violence and counter-extremism work. With Somali hip hop group Waayaha Cusub, the musicians had committed the last ten years to protesting against war crimes, piracy, and, increasingly, violent extremism which plagued their country. Humanitarian Bazaar founder Daniel J Gerstle had also worked on reducing violence through aid programming in Iraq, Chechnya, and Somalia, so the organization began contributing to the counter-violence movement.


As part of the Mogadishu Music Festival 2013, Somali hiphop group Waayaha Cusub and Humanitarian Bazaar produced a rap concert with former Alshabaab and Alqaeda fighters in the Serendi prisoner-of-war camp in Somalia. Waayaha Cusub rappers Digriyo Abdi and Lihle Muhudin gave detainees, who were on the course for demobilization and eventual release and reintegration, a chance to share their stories with fellow detainees, to debate and discuss the process of rebuilding the country. Participants, who were long told by extremist cult leaders that music was sinful, as the cult leaders wanted to prevent them from listening to information coming on the radio, also got a chance to rap or sing as they showed they were ready to rejoin Somali society.




While Humanitarian Bazaar remains committed to reducing violent extremism and mitigating conflict more broadly, the team has been considering future actions beyond music and youth outreach. Specifically, Humanitarian Bazaar believes that most people who join violent extremist groups, or consent to them, are much more influenced by factors of economics, religion, and psycho-social issues. Additionally, violent extremism is something affecting all communities, not only the Islamic world but also the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist worlds, as well. Right now we are focused on our War Survivors Advisory project. But in the future, we may offer former fighter reintegration projects which would attract vulnerable youth for job-skill and culture-skill building and then use that platform for introducing them to more diverse education to help them find more peaceful paths back to society.