Mogadishu festival helps move past sounds of war

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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Fueled by the high-volume music and fast-talking rappers, the Somali crowd danced, shouted and sang. Mogadishu's first music festival in decades acted as another step in moving past a city soundscape once filled with gunfire and mortar shells.

The Reconciliation Music Festival was organized by a Somali rap group who moved overseas. Last week's performances attracted international artists to a capital city that until recently was music-free.

The militant group al-Shabab ruled Mogadishu from 2006 until the fighters were forced out in August 2011. No lyrical stanzas were allowed in al-Shabab-controlled areas. The al-Qaida linked militants banned music as a "sin" punishable by public flogging.

Music is gradually returning but Somalia still has a long way to go to regain its rich cultural past.

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