Kisses, selfies and lots of wild wild women at the Matinée Marocaine in Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam. Khadija Margoum and Khadija El Bidaouia sang Moroccan songs about joy, suffering and love
by Charlie Crooijmans
Before the concert started, the documentary Aïta of film director Izza Genini was screened. The movie brought us back to 1988. Khadija El Bidaouia was one of the young women that traveled along with the Bedouin group of chikhates (female singers) and chioukhs (musicians). In the Q&A Genini explained that this music genre was popular among the people but had a low status. The women were traveling with men, smoked, drank, danced and waved their long hair. Women of loose morals. They ought to stay at home. But nowadays the music is considered respectful and important. This is mainly due to the efforts of Brahim El Mazned, director and founder of Visa for Music in Rabat among other festivals.
El Mazned compiled the price winning anthology Chikhates et Chioukhs de l’Aïta to preserve Moroccan musical legacy. He hopes that Aïta will become as strong as Flamenco in Spain, Fado in Portugal or Cumbia in Colombia.
Amsterdam – The Egyptian pop star Hakim (aka the Lion of Egypt) gave an unique performance on the 21st of September in the Melkweg in Amsterdam. The announcement of the concert on Melkweg’s website accurately described Hakim as an innovator of both the Jeel, popular youth music style, and the more folky dance Sha’bi. This is a story worth telling as it gives an idea not only about an important chapter in the development of popular music scene in Egypt, but also about how it always relates to and interacts with the different social classes. For decades there has been a musical answer offered to fit the social mobility and changing tastes of different classes. Let’s go briefly over this story before commenting on the fantastic show he gave in the Melkweg.
The story begins at the second half of the 1970s. There was a kind of a gap in the popular music market in Egypt. On one hand, the young audience of the urban middle class did not feel attracted to the folkish nightclub music of Ahmed Adaweyah. This music was socially regarded as that of a lower class that has become the nouveau riche.
News and Noise! was invited to a musical event at the Immigration detention center or asylum seekers reception center (AZC for short in Dutch) located at a former military hospital in Utrecht. Moroccan poet, musician and spoken word artist Walid Ben Selim (N3erdstan) gave performances. This event is a collaboration of the organizations Vrolijkheid and Culture Connection.Continue reading →
Utrecht is the center of the Netherlands, the headquarters and crossroads of the national railways. Here you see the Dutch from all provinces and all walks of life changing trains at the central train station on the eve of every weekend. Utrecht is a celebration of the diversity of the local people. At the heart of it lays Rasa, a magical venue in a small alley. Once you walk into Rasa, you never know where you’re taken to. Music and dance of all genres from literally all over the world are featured there. A place where people from very different backgrounds and beliefs get a chance to practice their shared humanity. A good exercise for these times, I would say.
Amsterdam – On Sunday, June 15, a group of Arab writers, artists and journalists, gathered in the famous pop venue the Melkweg, to tell their stories in word, song, film, and theater. This event called Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region, was organized by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch. The program featured music and keynote addresses by Reem Maged and Yassin Al-Haj Saleh.
The Egyptian TV journalist Reem Maged is one of the major voices of the revolution on Egyptian TV between 2011 and 2013. Yassin Al-Haj Saleh is a Syrian writer and political activist. Photojournalists from Algeria, Tunis and Egypt talked about their work, and you had to choose between watching the keynotes or the movies, ‘Return to Homs and ‘E-Team’, which we (Charlie Crooijmans and me) had to skip.
There was also a play especially made for the occasion, telling the story of the revolution through the eyes of two women. All of these stories tell so much more than what the mainstream media present us, far more human and therefore easier to identify with.
Today, July 18, South Africa is celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday. President Zuma praised him with the following words, from the moment Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela strode out of prison on the 11th of February 1990, we knew that South Africa would be a different place” (BBC News). This event coincides with the tour Paul Simon and his South African colleagues are making in Europe. Continue reading →
The 28th Imagine Festival in Amsterdam showed the Indonesian movie Madame X, directed by Lucky Kuswandi. It is a hilarious yet multilayered film about the extravagant superhero Madame X starring Amink Sugandhi, a well-known comedian in Extravaganza on Trans TV. One of the layers of the movie is a social complaint against religious fanaticism. The film’s premiere coincided with the passing of the anti-pornography law in 2010. This law is widely regarded as a step towards a strict Islamic Law. The nightlife people like dancers and transsexuals are at risk at being arrested or, like in the movie, attacked by homophobic gangs.