A Somali singing star who left her life in Minnesota to return to her homeland and serve in parliament was killed Wednesday in a drive-by shooting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
The folk singer Saado Ali Warsame, who the Star Tribune reports lived in St. Cloud and Minneapolis from 2007 to 2012, was a household name in Somalia.
She left Minnesota in 2012 to become a lawmaker in the troubled Horn of Africa nation, the Associated Press reports.
Warsame performed in St. Cloud during a 2010 Somali independence celebration, the St. Cloud Times reports.
“She was legendary,” Ahmed Ali Said, who grew up in Somalia but now lives in St. Cloud, told the Star Tribune. “She was like Michael Jackson to Somalis.”
Somali community activist Omar Jamal told FOX 9, “For the last 40 years, she was on the frontline of the arts, theater and performance. She was very popular, very well-loved and liked in the community – not only in Somalia but in East Africa.”
The Islamist extremist militant group al-Shabab took responsibility for the killing, the BBC reports. A group spokesman told the BBC she was slain for her politics, not her music.
Warsame and her driver were both killed when gunmen ambushed their car as they made their way to a hotel, the Associated Press reports. She was the fourth member of parliament killed this year.
The singer was the victim of terrorists aiming "to cripple the country,” Mohamed Ali, a Somali lawmaker, told the AP.
The nation's prime minister hailed Warsame in a tweet:
The BBC reports the singer had a "daring" career because she was critical of those in power. The song that made her famous was "Land Cruiser," in which she sings that former President Siad Barre – who was overthrown in 1991 – drove around in fancy cars and then sought international aid to feed the nation's starving citizens, the BBC notes.
FOX 9 reports the Brian Coyle Center in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is organizing a Thursday night event to help celebrate Warsame's life.
In this video, Warsame speaks at an engagement in St. Cloud:
FOX 9's report:
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