K’naan plays at CIGI

Rapper K’naan is known to the public for his diverse talents. The Somalia born Keinan Abdi Warsame is a musician, instrumentalist, lyrical poet and dedicated political activist.

On the afternoon of Sept. 16 at the opening of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) campus in uptown Waterloo, he was introduced by Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie simply as “an extraordinarily decent man with a heart.”

K’naan, equipped with his ever present fedora, performed three songs to a small crowd honoured with an invitation to be the first of the public inside the CIGI campus.

After opening with an acoustic version of the song “Take a Minute,” K’naan performed “Fatima” and finally “Waving Flag,” the song that was selected to be the anthem for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

For his rendition of “Take a Minute,” K’naan was joined on stage by a choir of children selected from schools based out of Toronto and K-W.

The kids were visibly excited by their proximity to the famous musician, who ran through the group delivering encouraging high-fives at the end of the performance.

The soft-spoken musician appeared humble as he said to the crowd, “It’s a real pleasure to be here for me, as someone who hasn’t had much schooling.”

K’naan’s performance was the last of the day, immediately following speeches by Balsillie, Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran and Shirley Blumbery of KPMB Architects, the firm responsible for the aesthetic of the campus.

The newly opened CIGI campus, which housed K’naan’s intimate performance, is the completed vision of CIGI founder and chair, Balsillie.

The school is intended to help build Canadian capacity in international affairs. The campus is comprised of CIGI itself, the Balsillie School of International Affairs, a unique partnership between CIGI, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, and other proposed graduate programs.

While only a small number were privy to K’naan’s performance at CIGI, the event was available to the general public via a live webcast.