Somali musician's residency canceled at Minn. venue after visa delayed

- A London-based Somali musician had to cancel a month-long concert hall residency in Minnesota due to visa delays, the hosting group announced Wednesday.

Several groups, including the Cedar Cultural Center and Augsburg University, invited musician Aar Maanta and his band The Urban Nomads to Minnesota as part of a program that presents the world’s leading Somali artists to increase understanding of the culture through music.

Other groups leading the residency include Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music Performance Series in Mankato, Paramount Center for the Arts and St. Cloud State University.
 
Maanta, the only Somali and Muslim in the band, has yet to receive his visa, even though the group was scheduled to arrive Sept. 28 and begin their residency in Mankato this week. The Cedar submitted the required documentation to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services back in May.

While the Consulate granted visas to the other four band members, Aar Maanta was the only member placed under “Additional Administrative Processing.”

On Sept. 19, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison’s office contacted the Consulate requesting the timely processing of Maanta’s Visa. On Sept. 24, Maanta contacted the Consulate requesting information about the status of his visa.

The Cedar has hosted Aar Maanta twice before without issue.

While the venue has previously faced visa challenges bringing Somali artists to Minnesota, Program Manager Fadumo Ibrahim noted that “securing visas has become increasingly difficult over the past year since the travel bans have been put into effect.”

As of Wednesday, Aar Maanta has not received his visa or any communication indicating when his visa would be likely to be approved. The Cedar and its partners canceled the residency. Maanta was scheduled to perform at the Cedar Cultural Center on Oct. 13.

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