“Isii Nafta”: A Recent Diaspora Anthem

Mekdes Shiferaw

A&E Editor


In this day and age, we turn to TikTok for many reasons. Do you want to check on a friend without having to send the “how are you doing?” text? Send TikToks—they would appreciate your care, I’m sure. Do you want to laugh at the absurdity of economics? Are you a new plant parent that would like advice on your growing collection? TikTok has got you covered. It is the people’s university (next to libraries, of course). If you are on TikTok, or live in the diaspora on Twitter like I do, chances are you have come across the incredibly catchy tune, “Isii Nafta,” in the past few weeks. According to her newly created Spotify Artist page, Nimco Happy—full name Nimco Elmi Ali—was raised in Kenya by Kenyan and Somali parents. Nimco has been making music for the better half of the decade. In fact, “Isii Nafta,” commonly known for its English lyrics, “I love you more than my life,” was first released in 2017 and has become an anthem at Somali weddings.

So when the 20-second performance footage of “Isii Nafta” went viral on TikTok, users including Cardi B, Drake, the British actress and rapper Stefflon Don, Trevor Noah and more joined the ever-growing club of fans. Yes, it’s been living in our minds rent free and with grace, too. And as much as we are grateful for TikTok for being the platform that has allowed this to reach into corners of the diaspora, it is not uncommon for creators to be robbed of the glories that come with going viral. Obviously, as a result of this traction, the demand for a clip longer than 20 seconds grew. Both Spotify and YouTube had unauthorised versions of the song on their platforms that were attracting loads of traffic. This past week, Nimco was signed by Polydor Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group. She now has an official artist page on many major streaming platforms, so we can keep jamming to the song through those pages and auntie can collect her coins.

Nimco grew up listening to Somali artists and she picked up a guitar and started performing at a young age. In “Isii Nafta,” Nimco—a multilingual icon—sings, “I love you” in Arabic, English, Kiswahili and Somali—it is East Africa wrapped in a song. With the record deal, we can’t wait to hear more of her work and for the world to experience what she has to offer.

QR code: https://nimcohappy.lnk.to/IsiiNafta