2 June 2020
Afro-Pop musician and AR-Resident Lil Baliil has recorded a new song, Corona, to encourage Somalis and fellow Africans to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19.
Alarmed by reports that the Somali community has been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic in the diaspora, Lil Balill’s song encourages his millions of fans to stay safe.
“Diaspora communities around the world are often not a focus of public health warnings in their host countries. This song, composed in the midst of the outbreak, and now provided with translations and titles, is a beautiful way to bridge this gap. In the Nordic Region, for example, the Somali community has suffered disproportionately, and we hope the Somali and neighbouring diaspora communities heed Lil Baliil’s advice!” say Artists at Risk (AR)’s co-directors Marita Muukkonen and Ivor Stodolsky.
In the UK, 13-year-old Somali-British Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab was the first child to die from Covid-19. In Sweden, Somali-Swedes have criticized authorities for not doing enough to support the community during the pandemic. Among the first 15 deaths due to Covid-19 in Stockholm County, six were reported to be of Somali origin.
Lil Baliil hopes that his song will get the urgent message across. “My fans listen to me,” he says, “and will do the right thing for their families.”
In Africa, infections are lower than in most other continents, thought partly to be due to the continent’s experience from past epidemics such as Ebola, imposing lockdown early and the youth of the population. However, there are concerns about the lack of coronavirus test supplies as the lockdown begins to be lifted and the impact on Africa’s medical capacity if the virus is not contained. The World Health Organization has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic could kill 190,000 and is likely to “smoulder” in Africa for several years.
Born in Somalia, Lil Baliil is a musician, songwriter and performer. He grew up in Kenya and has worked with artists and producers including Magix Enga, Produza Paulo, Petra Music, KaashKeed, SoFresh, C-Black and King CK.
He has been targeted by militant groups who view his music as a threat to Somali culture. Following death threats, he is currently based in Europe and is an Artists at Risk (AR) Resident at AR-Safe Haven Berlin.
Lil Baliil is an Artists at Risk (AR) Resident at AR-Safe Haven Berlin. The AR-Network is curated by Perpetuum Mobile (PM) and is coordinated by the AR-Secretariat, co-funded by Kone Foundation. This AR-Berlin residency is funded by the Martin Roth Initiative (MRI).