Cherrie: The Scandinavian RnB star with Somali roots – BBC Africa

Cherrie: The Scandinavian RnB star with Somali roots – BBC Africa

When my music first started going viral on the internet, it
was definitely the Somali diaspora that helped make that happen. In northern Europe, I’m definitely the only Somali girl and one of the few black girls that pushed the door open and I’m really proud of that. Cherrie is a Norwegian singer with Somali roots. She runs her own record label – and she’s
had some big hits across Scandinavia. After moving from Norway and Finland, her
family settled in Sweden. But her mum remembers what life was like in
Somalia. The culture and the homes we come from are Islamic, we are Muslims, we have to teach our kids the Islamic practices, and it is
how I was raised. My parents taught me. When you decided Somalia was no longer safe and to move from there to Northern Europe do you think looking at what your children do now, the
opportunities you have now, do you think it was worth it? I can answer that – a lot of Somali parents
in Europe, in America in the diaspora aren’t that happy to be here really and truly. I think they’re happy for us, but they know
what they had to leave behind. We have a whole country that we love, that’s
wartorn, and they know what it used to be, and how much better it was, and what it used
to be. I think there’s a lot of hurt there, but
knowing about the opportunities for the children, they’re happy…there’s definitely a bittersweet
feeling to it. Rinkeby has a tough reputation. But to Cherrie, it’s home. One of the best we have in Rinkeby. He’s Rinkeby’s angel, he’s looked after
us since I was a baby Really? Of course. So you remember when Cherrie first came here? Of course! The happiness she always had with her. What stuck out when you guys first met? She was more lively, more happiness – you
can just see from her always that she is going to be a leader. It’s so important to have not only her, but more of her because it’s tough, living in Rinkeby. Its so tough – the situation and everything…its
so hard for people to see what we are doing that is good. So you have to do something even better to
show people that live on the other side. For them to accept it. She was among the ones that would fight, to
do something right, the best. Lots of artists they sing but you can’t
learn from them, but you can from her. And these kids, when they see her, they think
this is someone I can learn from. She is here, and I will never remove her from
here. She’s the best. Families from all over the world live here. Some have left countries at war, to find peace. But some politicians have had enough. If you’re not happy with the actual situation,
if you want a change, a real one, there is only party you can vote for. When Cherrie’s family arrived, The Sweden
Democrats were a fringe group. But they picked up support in the 2018 elections and now, a far right party with origins in neo-Nazism is the third largest in
Swedish politics. There are too many immigrants. We should take care about those that are already here,
20 years. They cannot speak even Swedish. This election could determine whether or not
Sweden will continue taking in more migrants or if we’re not going to do it. So we will have to choose a way to go. It was racist from the beginning, but he has
gone in front and changed that. When I caught with up with Cherrie at her
studio, the votes hadn’t been counted yet. But she knew why the message was going mainstream. I think it’s a thing of people of the world not learning
from past mistakes or what the older generations have done. But that’s what they do, because before
us it was the Turkish, and it keeps on going like that. And the Somalis came in early 2000s, we came
in a lot because of all the wars and the famine that’s been going on in Somalia. So we come, and in the beginning they wanna
call you alphabet, they don’t know how to speak Swedish, they can’t get any jobs,
you know? They say stuff like that. But then after a while… we are a very strong
people. We know how to persevere. Now you see most of the nurses are Somali. There are Somali people doing a lot of stuff… and people like me, in music. Hip Hop wasn’t huge in Sweden just a couple
of years ago. But then Somalis came into the mix. We are really cool people, but people just
hate what’s unknown. Like for instance, as a woman of Somali heritage,
going back home, I wouldn’t be considered fully Somali. And being here in Sweden I’m not considered fully Swedish. But I feel like both – but not fully if
that makes sense? Because I’ve never been to Somalia and I
definitely don’t feel Swedish and I don’t look Swedish. So there’s always been a sense of uncertainty
because of that. I don’t have any roots like that anywhere. And growing up, if you don’t have that,
that will confuse you. So Cherrie doesn’t feel 100% Swedish or
Somali – because she’s found her own way to celebrate both. Really and truly because I come from two different
backgrounds, the real culture that I’ve been a part of is the one in Rinkeby – where
ive grown up around Chileans, and Kurdish, and Turkish, Iraqi, and Gambian, and Eritrean
and Ethiopian and Somali people, all kinds of other people – where I’ve eaten their
food, and spoken their languages, and there’s Swedish slang where you have words like Tabanja
– which means gun – or Nas, that means stupid in Somali. You have all these different cultures that
merge into one place that created its own culture, with time. And I feel that’s the culture that represents
me the most. It came out of nothing. It came out of unity. And it’s that culture that is bringing people
together – from Sweden to Somalia and beyond.


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