The Somali Artists To Watch Out For in 2015


Somali growth, innovation and artistry is, for the most part, only championed by other Somalis, which is why hashtags like #SomaliDiversity and #EastAfricanFeminism have gained a lot of traction in the last few months.

Whether or not it’s publicized, Somalis outside of Somalia are a diaspora to be reckoned with: they’re artists, thought leaders, entertainers and writers; they’re a generation of people— from the United States to England— defying convention and representing Somalis in positive and meaningful ways.

While their last names may be similar, these Somalis are only loosely connected.

They represent hope, resilience and prosperity. They’re continuing the legacy of diasporic greatness in the arts and entertainment, a legacy that counts Nuruddin Farah, Iman, K’naan and Kinsi Abdulleh among its ranks.

The 2015 artists to look out for: 

Diriye Osman is a British-Somali visual artist and storyteller. He is the winner of the 2014 Polaris First Book Prize for his first book, Fairytales for Lost Children. Described as “powerful” and “raw” by the author Roxane Gay, Fairytales for Lost Children features short stories about Somali queer youth.

Muna Ali, Community Organizer:  As the founder of Gashanti Unity, an organization dedicated to empowering Somali women, Muna Ali’s work takes on many forms. Whether she’s producing a documentary on colorism or leading self-love workshops, she’s centering young women of color— particularly Somali women— in all that she does.

Warsan Shire


Warsan Shire’s, Writer:  reputation as an award-winning poetess precedes her. Her work sheds light where there is darkness and uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of the lives of Somali women. Whether about female genital mutilation or about the indignities and hardships her mother had to endure, Warsan’s poetry is impactful and has heart. It’s no wonder Warsan is on her way to cementing her status as an important literary figure while also paving the path for other Somali poetesses like Hibaq Osman, Ladan Osman and Hamda Yusuf.

Nadifa Mohamed, Writer: Born in Hargeisa, Somalia, Nadifa Mohamed is the author of Black Mamba Boy and The Orchard of Lost Souls. Her work has won many literary awards like The Guardian First Book Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Black Mamba Boy, in particular, fictionalizes her father’s upbringing in Yemen.

Ifrah Mansour, Artist/Performer
Ifrah Mansour, Artist/Performer

Ifrah Mansour, Artist/Performer: is an interdisciplinary mixed media artist and performer. While her work is not well known, she’s made a name for herself in the theater world, establishing herself as a formidable costume designer and actress in many staged productions. As an environmentally conscious performer, Ifrah’s performances almost always includes recycled fashions.

Idil Ibrahim, Director/Producer/Actress/Writer: Ibrahim is a director, producer, actress and writer. She is best known for her work on the Vice film Fishing Without Nets. The film, which Idil acted in (and produced the documentary about), won the best directing award in the U.S. Dramatic Category at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, Idil has traveled to Somalia with relief organizations.

Faarrow, Musician: Farrow is a duo comprised of Siham and Iman, two sisters from Canada. Originally signed to Motown Universal, Faarrow are now with Warner Brother Records creating music that fuses their pop sensibilities with their Somali roots. Their album is slated to come before the end of the year.

Maya Jama
Maya Jama

Maya Jama, Presenter: As the host of MTV’s The Wrap Up, Maya Jama is the first ever Somali VJ, though before the fame she was a quirky presenter for many hip-hop publications and stations.

Source: Okay Africa