As the civil war continued and the situation in Somalia continued to deteriorate, K'naan's mother, Marian Mohamed, petitioned the US embassy for an exit visa . In 1991, on the last day the US embassy remained open as the government of Moh Mohamed Siad Barre was collapsed, their visa was approved, and they boarded the last commercial flight out of the country. They joined relatives in Harlem, New York City, before moving to Rexdale, Ontario, where there was a large Somali Canadian community, and his family still lives. In his new country, K'naan began learning English—and also began to start rapping. He dropped out of school in grade ten to travel for a time, rapping at open mic events, and eventually returned to Toronto, Ontario.
My Old Home
My old home smelled of birth, boiled red beans, kernel oil, and hand me down poetry. It's brick white washed walls widowed by first paint. The tin roof top humming songs of promise. The wind locked in to demonic rhythm with the leafs. Hugging them, loving them a torturous love. The round cemented pot kept the rain drops cool. Neighbors and dwellers spattering their foreheads softly. Loud children playing football with a sanded sock. No one knew they were poor. All innocent of greed's judgment. The country was combusting with life like a long hibernating volcano.
Farmers, fishers, fighters, even fools had a place in production. The coastal line, the coral reefs, the elastic shore, the sand's hue, the glorious mosques, the magical night collapsing willingly over it's inhabitants, the sun of june, the guarding moon, the nap at noon, the freedom poets, the rampant wisdom, the magnetic tongue: Somalia selfishly blanketed vicious ownership over the world's most intense beauty.
Then one day it came.
It came like a message,
Like a heart attack sudden.
And with a cancerous fume.
Selling proud folly.
But with a diligent mock.
A morning, a night, or a mythical tale.
Brief and long, unjust and wrong.
A blow, a sound, a deafness in glee.
With warning, without and certain in doubt.
A shock, unfathomed like caves beneath.
They came, they maimed, they raped and killed.
They took, they stole, and prayed in filth.
We flew, we walked, we begged in shame.
We ran, we pled, we shed our names.
Oh I must tell you.
Our roads have seen electric hate.
Our women labor beneath stubborn fate.
Our farms produce guilty grub.
Our kids depend on shifty luck.
Our fled are fed on by desert carrion.
Our news is life for death is old.
So don't blame me for truth i've told.
See they rack bodies not grain.
Chop limps not trees.
Spend lives not wealth.
Seek vengeance not truth.
Moist pain not plants.
Sharpen feuds not minds.
Defend kinship not honor.
Nothing is left of my old home.
Goodwill is looted.
Religion is burnt down.
Kindness is shackled.
Justice is raped.
Murderers hold post.
The land vomits ghosts.
Pistols with eyes.
Corruption and lies.
Death without brakes.
Bandits are leaders.
Rumors are law.
Sedatives are faith.
Rapers are praised.
Demons dress well.
Infants are nailed.
Spirits are jailed.
Grudges grow tails and wings and.
Things aren't easy at my old home.