9/22/2023
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From Mogadishu to Minnesota: The harrowing journey of a fleeing Somali singer


Written by Girma Tsehay
Wednesday April 26, 2023


Abdi Dhanto takes a selfie while on the way to America.

Once a beloved and prominent figure in the Somali music scene, Abdinur Nihaye Ahmed, known by his stage name “Abdi Dhaanto,” was forced to flee his homeland due to escalating insecurity and threats to his personal safety.

With terrorism threats looming and musicians and journalists being targeted by militants in Somalia,
Dhaanto made the difficult decision to leave everything behind and embark on a perilous journey to
find safety in the United States.

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His journey to the U.S was not an easy one. It took him three weeks of navigating through treacherous routes, facing numerous hardships and risks along the way. His first leg of the journey was to Mexico, a country known for its challenges and dangers for migrants.

The journey began with a harrowing escape from Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. Fearing for his life, he had to leave behind his family, friends, and his music career, which he had worked so hard to build. Constant death threats by al-Shabab and attacks left him on the edge.

With just a small bag of belongings and his determination to survive, Dhaanto set out on a long and arduous journey, seeking refuge in the United States.

“I had to leave Somalia because the situation there was getting worse day by day,” said Abdi Dhaanto in an interview.

“There was a growing sense of insecurity, especially after last year’s election. Gang violence and terror attacks were on the rise, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to pursue my passion for music and live a normal life. Death threats became the norm.”

Abdi Dhaanto, known for his soulful voice and captivating performances, was a prominent figure in Somalia’s music scene.

He had a loyal fan following and was known for his powerful lyrics that often addressed social and
political issues. However, as the security situation in Mogadishu deteriorated, he made the difficult
decision to leave his homeland in search of safety and better opportunities.

“I had to leave everything behind – my family, my friends, and my music – but I had no choice,” Dhaanto said, recounting his journey. “I traveled through several countries, facing various challenges, including language barriers, financial difficulties, and the constant fear of being caught in conflict zones. It was a tough journey, but I was determined to find a better life.”

After arriving in Mexico, the 29-year-old singer continued his journey to the United States, where he hopes to find opportunities to develop his music career and share his talent with a wider audience.

“The United States has always been known as a land of opportunities,” he said. “I believe that with hard work and determination, I can rebuild my life here and continue pursuing my passion for
music.”

Abdi Dhaanto’s story is not unique. Many artists and musicians around the world have had to flee their homelands due to insecurity, conflict, and persecution.

They often face numerous challenges in their journey to safety and finding a new home where they can continue their creative pursuits.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to start a new life in the United States,” Abdi Dhaanto said. “I am determined to work hard and make the most of the opportunities available to me. I hope to connect with the local music scene, collaborate with fellow musicians, and share my Somali heritage through my music.”

As Abdi Dhaanto begins his new chapter in the United States, he remains hopeful and optimistic about the future. He is grateful for the support he has received from the Somali diaspora and the international music community, and he is determined to continue using his music to inspire and make a positive impact.

TOUGH ODYSSEY

Traveling mostly on foot, the singer crossed through several countries in Latin America, including treacherous forests and remote areas.

He faced extreme weather conditions, lack of food and water, and the constant fear of falling victim to human traffickers. Despite the challenges, Dhaanto remained resolute in his quest for safety and freedom.

Along the way, he encountered hunger and thirsty and faced threats from criminals who preyed on vulnerable migrants.

He witnessed the suffering and desperation of fellow travelers who had also fled their homelands in search of safety and a better life.

After weeks of grueling travel, he finally arrived in the US, his final destination where he is hoping to rebuild his life and music career and is also seeking asylum.



 





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