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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Monday's Connector: K'Naan

May 18th, 2010
06:50 PM ET

"They'll call me freedom, just like Wavin' a flag": so opens this year's official World Cup anthem by Somali-Canadian poet, rapper and musician K'Naan.

K'Naan is your Connector of the Day.

K'Naan is your Connector of the Day.

It's an uplifting hip-hop number, taken from his recent album Troubadour.

In an art form that relies on story-telling, K'Naan's own background offers a tale of overcoming adversity. He escaped life in violent somalia, and achieved fame in his adopted country of Canada and around the world with his African-influenced rap tunes.

He's proven an articulate spokesman for Somalia and the continent as a whole, yet the use of one of his songs for the South Africa World Cup theme has generated some controversy for the simple fact it wasn't written or recorded in Africa itself.

Critics have compared K'Naan's sound to both Bob Marley and Eminem, but he describes his work as "urgent music with a message".

He has taken part in some high-profile musical collaborations: working with British band Keane in 2009 and more recently with American artist Jason Mraz.

So here's your chance to ask K'Naan a question about his career and his involvement in the World Cup.

Leave your questions below, and don't forget to tell us where you're writing in from.

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Jurgen R. Brul

    Hello Keinan Abdi Warsame (K'naan Somali: Keynaan Cabdi Warsame, Arabic: كنعان وارسام‎) and CNN friends,

    I would like an answer from Keinan Abdi Warsame to the following questions:
    – What needs to be done to realize One world under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All?
    – What needs to be done to really Stop Terrorists, Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass destruction Worldwide?
    – How can we all make Africa AIDS and HIV FREE?
    – WHO will win the South Africa World Cup?
    – What can we expect from you in 2010?
    – How are you inspiring people all over the world to make our world a Better Healthier and Beautiful Place?

    I am awaiting Keinan Abdi Warsame’s replies.

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Hometown: Paramaribo
    Country: Suriname

    May 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Reply
  2. Ashiru u gabasawa

    Which country U visit as a musician. Ashiru kano Nigeria

    May 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  3. Esteban

    Who is the artist you most want to collaborate with that you haven't done a song with yet?

    May 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  4. mahmoud

    when will you release your next album?

    May 19, 2010 at 12:44 am | Reply
  5. Abdinur Mohamed A

    K'naan i am from the country that you described in your song of waving flag as stronger than Rome, poor people zone
    My question is would you like to visit Mogadishu in order to bring those people togher?

    May 19, 2010 at 9:37 am | Reply
  6. Tesfa Mohamed

    Selam Selam

    I am Ethiopian Somali and I lost most of my families in Somalia. I had two brothers left who were recently killed by Ethiopian soldiers they were only 14 and 16 returning from the market.

    Do you plan to say anything about the crimes that the Meles regime of Ethiopia is commiting both inside Somalia and inside the Harar region of Ethiopia were a lot of my families also perished just because they were Somalies. There are a lot of stories like mine. The world needs to know about.

    Thank You,


    May 19, 2010 at 11:36 am | Reply
  7. Barre

    Do the big rappers J-Z , Kanye West acknowledge you ?

    May 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  8. NYC

    K'naan was not a child soldier. Where, CNN, did you get THAT from?

    And for the critics who complain that Wavin' Flag was not created in Africa I say, K'naan was created and born in Africa, and the song was created and born from him and his African life experience. So that makes Wavin' Flag legitimately African regardless of where it was recorded.

    May 19, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  9. Abdirahman takar

    first of all god bless, you all. my question is. k'naan why don't u give any concern to Arab, whom i think they are near to you. in another way, i mean why don't we heard any arabic song in your album?

    May 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  10. Ryan

    No one is going to buy an album produced by a Somali-Canadian rapper (except for Somalis and other "Ah-la-la's" out there).

    Thanks, but not thanks.

    May 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  11. Marie-anne Canada

    You make me so proud to be a Black Canadian. Being a role model is something that happens whether you like it or not. You have been kissed by fate. How do you deal with the idea of being a role model?

    May 20, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  12. Sam

    I first looked you up on YouTube a few months ago when I read about you on CBC. Loved the song and couldn't stop listening to it. Thank you for putting your heart and soul into such inspirational lyrics. I hope you achieve your dream and end up helping those in need.

    Keep up the good work!

    May 20, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  13. Kaleem

    Salaam Alaykum brother..

    What made you pursue a career of music?

    How do you feel about music being banned at the moment in parts of Somalia?

    Do you think positive music can bring people togheter in Africa and around the world, if so then how can it be done?

    And if it can be done, what are the major obstacles that prevents it from happening? (industry-wize and culture/society-wize)

    Looking forward to read your opinion to these questions.

    Thank you very much, and good luck with opening for World Cup.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  14. Alex Scungio

    Hi there, i got a copy of your album and it is fantastic, congratulations on your success, if you're ever in australia i'd like to see you. Also do you have any tips on how to get rolling with songs, i'm white and i have spacers in my ears so i dont think the industry would be very welcoming to a rapper that looks like that. And if you do the editing and mastering yourself what program do you use? All the best.

    May 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  15. Stephan

    Hey K'Naan, first of all let me congratulate you on the beautiful song you will bless the upcoming World Cup with. My question concerns the recent release of Nas and Damian Marley's distant Relatives album, what made you decide to join this project, and could you picture yourself creating such a collaboration of different genre's? If yes, with who?

    Stephan from Switzerland

    May 20, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  16. Janaile

    Blessings from NYC, I think you are an amazing person and an amazing rapper. What country have you been to that has surprised you the most (good or bad)?

    May 21, 2010 at 3:01 am | Reply
  17. Kenn Wainaina

    good work knaan. do you have plans 4 social work programme 4 tha people o somalia n kenya?

    May 21, 2010 at 4:52 am | Reply
  18. Zamzam


    I am a Somali born and brought up in Kenya.

    I am so proud of you my brother.Keep up the good work.


    May 21, 2010 at 5:36 am | Reply
  19. Shu

    K'Naan, congrats on your accomplishment. I first heard you on CBC radio while riding on a TTC bus into work in a brisk winter morning. The song Strugglin' stuck with me and I went out and bought your CD. Since I moved away to Middle East, I haven't been following your music, so you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I came across your song again on a Dutch webcast one day – that's your song with Keane. You have a truly unique voice and gift – best of luck.

    So having said all that, my question is there seems to be more pain and suffering in your first CD, and now a lot more uplifting and inspiring. What has changed? And how do you feel about it?

    Abu Dhabi, UAE

    May 21, 2010 at 7:33 am | Reply
  20. tanja from germany

    salam k'naan,
    i would like to know if you are reading any somalian literature? i've read books of farah and liked it very much. it's really giving a deep look insight the somalian culture and society. by the way, i also want you to know that it's really frustrating for me and for many africans that not yours, but shakira's song made it to be THE official world cup song...!!! really a pity!
    i wish you all the best, may god be with you!

    May 21, 2010 at 9:14 am | Reply
  21. Angella

    Hi K'naan,
    Your music is beautiful, I heard it on CBC Radio 2 over the winter. Was there really a Fatima or equal inspiration for that song? The song is a beautiful testament to her life, I'm sure she would be very proud.

    -Angella from Nova Scotia

    May 21, 2010 at 9:32 am | Reply
  22. Mauricia

    Hi Knaan,

    I will like you to re-mix your World Cup Song with Marchel Mantano, Soca artiste From Trinidad and Tobago. The song waving flag is similar to Soca music.
    My question is Would you consider doing a collaboration with Caribbean artiste(Marchel Mantano).

    May 21, 2010 at 11:28 am | Reply
  23. Dominic Ukelo

    Hi K naan. I want to ask you about, what is our duty me and and all Africans who livie out side Africa, what is our duty to devolope Africa?
    Thank I like what you are doing, go head my Friend.
    I am living in Finland, Helsinki.

    May 21, 2010 at 11:29 am | Reply
  24. farah ofle from djibouti

    congratulations4 your song thateveryone liked it even i dont like westeran song my Question is did yoy trry to have eny roll the problem of somalia

    May 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Reply
  25. Keira

    Hello all,

    My question is: who do you identify yourself musically with?



    May 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  26. Ollie

    Hey K'Naan,

    I'm a big fan. What I like most about your music is the fact that there is a positive and real message in it, especially in songs like "Smile" and "Strugglin". How did you learn to stay positive despite the things you went through?

    Also, being Somalian and growing up in Canada, where do you feel most at home?

    Keep doing what you're doing.

    May 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  27. Pharah Ghani

    What Do You think of The somali pirates ?

    May 21, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  28. Trevor ikenna uzomah

    hi K NAAN .........what is the inspiration behind your music and lyrics ?any of your true life experiences ?and what massage do you have for the african kids who are sadly engaged in modern slavery ,human traficking ?.....will you consider being an activist someday to fight for the african children

    Trevor ikenna uzomah

    May 21, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  29. freedom from abuja,nigeria

    you've put the key into the ignition and turn it on what is that one thing that gave you freedom.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  30. abdirahmaan


    K'Naan you are both insanely talented and inspiring, but sometimes it feels as if you were to want to turn through, losing themselves on the road. Why??

    I love your music

    AbdiRahmaan S A
    Oslo NORWEY

    May 25, 2010 at 1:15 am | Reply
  31. dcd3


    Just to say that Fatima remains the most emotionally connected song I have ever heard and it never fails to move me – which is kind of embarrassing sitting on a transcontinental flight with tears streaming down my face each time it comes up on the in-flight jukebox.I know you make this claim that is it about celebrating life or at least her life but then again the loss of what could have been is simply overwhelming and it reflects the stories that repeat themselves over and over again across Somalia.

    May 29, 2010 at 12:55 am | Reply
  32. connecttheworld.blogs.cnn.com

    Future connector knaan.. He-he-he 🙂

    April 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Reply

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