Most of us can hardly take on the role of a resident of a less-developed country with a huge number of economic and social problems, full of internal conflicts and instability. Sometimes it seems like there is a lack of space for creation cramped by the urgency of survival, and nobody will hear the voice crying out in the wilderness. Nevertheless, what if this voice is beautiful, and its owner also has strong convictions based on principles of freedom of expression? And, in addition, what if the owner of the voice is a woman wearing bright, figure-hugging dresses and long uncovered hair in a country with, putting it mildly, patronizing attitude towards a woman? Has she a chance to become a famous person and conquer thousands of fan’s hearts?

It is not obligatory to go far for any examples – a well-known Afghan pop singer Aryana Sayeed recently gave a concert in the centre of Kabul. An ordinary event for Western countries, concerts of popular music are quite rare in Afghanistan. A significant part of Afghan society does not accept entertaining music and women performing onstage, according to tradition religious morale. However, despite the high level of terrorist danged and different kinds of threats from conservatives sensitized to head off from making Aryana’s performance (supposed as “blasphemous and sinful”) anyhow, the concert got a success. The young did not scare any threats and supported their artist. By the way, the proceeds purchased from the concert were donated to the families of those killed by Islamic militants.

The creator’s duty to her country

Afghanistan has always been a turbulent region. People living there have grown up according to Islamic norms of law and morale. Religious leaders and conservative population actively resisted attempts of external powers and local rulers made to change the situation and westernize the society. After plenty of exhausting wars between very different rival forces, Afghanistan is staying quite a traditional country. Nowadays Afghanistan tries to revive after troubled years, and the younger generation desires a breath of a fresh air in the culture of their fragile homeland.

Aryana is involved in show business since 2007. She sings about Afghanistan, love and struggle. Her repertoire has classic Afghan songs, patriotic things encourage Afghan sportsmen, shrilly songs describing the pain of the women of Afghanistan. Her creativity is closely connected to the problems of the country where she was born. Fractured Afghanistan has always experienced a necessity of unity and solidarity; Aryana Sayeed sings both in Pashto and Dari – two prevalent languages Afghan people speaking. Her dedicative love to the home country could be expressed with the words said by herself before the selfsame “dangerous explosively” concert:

“I am taking this as a very good excuse to be able to give a bit of happiness to my fellow Afghans, who are in dire need of it at the moment”.

Stigmatized but not surrender

She expresses feelings openly and bravely. Certainly, her activity often causes a controversial reaction in the society, and sometimes it turns even into death threats. Several times she was accused of blasphemy and dishonouring Afghanistan. Once, after she had performed, dressed in a nude-coloured outfit in Paris, some people blamed her for being naked onstage; she had to burn her dress to prove its material existence!

  

The song “Banoo e Atash Nasheen” caused waves in a whole country. It sheds upon the theme of the position of a woman in Afghan society, which is supposed to be taboo in a traditionally Muslim republic. It provoked an immediate reaction from religious circles. Unfortunately, she is one of the few activists living in an Islamic country who stays against sex oppression. But in Afghanistan, where every man, as it seems, may be a permanent militant, as the volcanic reality requires, where the value of human’s life is very low (and even less, if we speak about woman), it is extremely difficult to protect women’s rights – and Ariana tries to do it via her song.

But Aryana is not going to stop her activity. Moreover, she sees her mission in the enlightenment of Afghan people; she is a convinced supporter of open, free society without any superstitions and narrow-mindedness. “There are certain people in Afghanistan who have been against music, against celebration, against even New Year, Eid and everything. I feel like today we need to stand together and fight against it”, she says. “At the end of the day, we are also human beings and these are basic human needs – music, celebration, Independence Day, New Year”.

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