Having attended multiple red carpet award ceremonies, I decided this year to attend to my first blue carpet event: the fourth annual Somali Entertainment Awards at the Cedar Cultural Center on December 18.
The SEA awards celebrate the best movies, sports, music, and arts of the year and are described as a “Blue Carpet Event.”
I must say I was impressed.
The ceremony was conducted just like a Hollywood event: photo ops in front of a SEA banner, distinctive gold statuettes, attractive winner envelopes, various presenters, live singing, skits, video clips, and music played when acceptance speeches became lengthy.
The host of the occasion was Somali comedian King of BBE AbdihakinBR, who kept the night’s activities at a high level of humor and energy.
This was Abdihakin’s second time as MC, his first speaking in two languages. “Hosting in English is a little bit scary,” he said.
The SEA Family Board selected the award recipients; categories included movies, sports, music and art that honored local Somali talent, even a Best Promoter and Best DJ category.
Jeylani Omar won Best DJ and was a popular celebrity at the ceremony. He serves as DJ at Somali weddings, graduations and social events.
DJ Jeylani focuses on Somali music and said his culture enjoys hip-hop, R & B, and reggae. “Somalis like [singer] Lil Wayne,” he said.
Mark Johnson, director of events for the Cedar, said this was the first year SEA was held at the venue. “We’re trying to do more with the Somali community,” he said.
Johnson, who was also an award presenter, said the Cedar was splitting the $15 entry fee proceeds with SEA.
(Above) Somali Entertainment Awards host King of BBE Abdihakin BR
The awards ceremony began small, but by the time things got moving it was a packed house.
“Somalis are a different audience,” said Johnson. “People get up and leave, come back and move around.”
Best Professional Artist went to Aziz Osman, a Somali painter who received a MFA in Florence, Italy in the 1970’s, returned home and then fled Somalia’s civil war, arriving in Minnesota in 1991.
A video showed Aziz at his canvas and some of his colorful artwork. Receiving his award, he told the audience: “I hope in the future, you can see my art.”
A standing ovation greeted Lifetime Achievement Awardee Omar Dhuule, whom presenter Mohamud Duale described as “legendary.” A video of Dhuule playing the traditional Somalia guitar was shown as he came on stage to accept his recognition.
The ceremony also included tributes to non-Minnesota Somali entertainment personalities such as supermodel Iman Mohamed, actress Waris Dirie (Desert Flower), musician Knaan Warsame, and singers Farhiya fiska, Hawa Kiim, Abdi Dini and Ahmed Biif.
Abdihakin hosts a reality televsion program on Somali American Media and played a humorous clip from their show about an elderly Somali man’s encounter with an imigration officer.
Sports are a vital element of the Somali community and players and teams in soccer and basketball were presented SEA awards.
Mohamud “Tallman” Duale, founder and president of Somali Arts and Music Association of North America, told audience members that Somali artists and entertainers face financial insecurity and their industry lacks promoters. Copyright infringements are a big issue, Duale said, yet Somalis lack funds to hire attorneys to help.
Abdimalik Askar, CEO and founder of African Institute of Leadership and host of Somali Media for thirteen years, presented a bouquet of roses and Special Honorary Award to Sahro Siyad.
Appreciation to sixteen SEA sponsors was listed in the program that ranged from Somali Film Agency to KFIA and Somali Radio to Nawahi TV.
Nearly one in three people with Somali ancestry in the U.S. live in Minnesota, according to a 2010 report by Minnesota Public Radio.
(Above) DJ Jeylani, center, won “Best DJ” at the 2011 SEA awards. Helping celebrate are Hassan Ali, 19, and Abdi Aden, 21.
(Above, below) Mohamud “Tallman” Duale, left, founder and president of Somali Arts and Music Association of North America, opened the awards ceremony and talked about issues facing Somali entertainment and arts.
(Above) Quman Aden helps at the SEA award statue table.
(Above) Ayaan Aden, background, listens to Mohamud Duale’s opening remarks.
(Above) Somali Entertainment Awards gold statuettes.
(Above, below) SEA host King BBE Abdihakin BR looks over his script.
(Above) Soundboard check.
(Above) Waiting in the lobby of the Cedar Cultural Center.
(Above, below) The audience started small, but grew to pack the venue.
(Above) Video clips and live performances were part of the well-organized Somali Entertainment Awards celebration.
(Above) DJ Jeylani, center, accepting his Best DJ award.
(Above, below) Recognition of Somali sports was also a part of SEA.
Somali Entertainment Awards 2011 Winners:
Best Rap Group: Wayaha Cusub
Best DJ: DJ Jeylani
Best Album: Abdulkadir Jubba
Best New Artist: Ahzaab
Best Promoter: Abdiyare Gurhan
Best Youth Group: Young Achievers
Best Professional Artist: Aziz
Best Coach in Somali History: Ibarahim Sudani
Special Honorary Award: Sahro Siyad
Favorite Singer Female: Hodan Baradaro
Favorite Singer Male: Noor Mo’Alin
Best Basketball Event Organizer: Abdirizak Bihi
Best Soccer Team (s): Boston and Somali Tigers
Best Basketball Team: Via Roma
Lifetime Achievement Award (s): Omar Dhuule and Abdi Basher Indhobur
Best Style Music Video-Female: Rahima Abukar
Best Lyrics Music Video-Ikran Carale
Best Collaboration Music Video Male and Female: Guled & Fartun
Best Style Video-Male: Aar Maanta
Best Lyrics Music Video-Male: Jabir Jarkabood
Searching Light Actress: Sahruuja
Searching Light Actor: Happy Khalif
Best Director: Nabil
Best Supporting Actor: Haynoosh Sanqool
Best Film: Ismaqabato
Watch the first portion of the Somali Entertainment Awards.
Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Collaborative.