A female rapper surprises in Kabul

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A female rapper surprises in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - Sporting a long leather coat and Western jeans under a head scarf, Soosan Feroz looks like many modern women in Kabul.

But she is a surprising new phenomenon in this conservative Islamic country - the nation’s first female rapper.

Her lyrics though are not unfamiliar for many of her fellow countrywomen - she raps of rape, abuse and atrocities that Afghan women have endured during decades of war in a country gripped by poverty.

“My raps are about the sufferings of women in my country, the pains of the war that we have endured and the atrocities of the war,” Feroz told AFP in an interview in the office of a local company that is helping her record her first album between local performances, including at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Like most fellow Afghans, the 23-year-old says her life is filled with bitterness - memories of war, bombing and a life at refugee camps in neighboring Iran and Pakistan.

She worked as a carpet weaver with her other siblings for a living until she discovered her new talent.

“If rap singing is a way to tell your miseries, Afghans have a lot to say,” Feroz said.

She recalls her woes at Iranian refugee camps in her first recorded piece of music, “Our Neighbors,” which has been posted on YouTube and viewed nearly 100,000 times:

“What happened to us in the neighboring country?

“We became ‘the dirty Afghan’

“At their bakeries, we were pushed at the back of the queue.”

The lyrics are borne from personal experience, Feroz said. “As a child when I was going to bring bread from our neighborhood bakery, the Iranians would tell me, ‘go back, you dirty Afghan’. “I would be the last one in the line to get my bread,” she said.

Millions of Afghans still live in Iran and Pakistan, which together hosted about seven million refugees after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Feroz was too young to remember the bloody battles of the 1980s between the Russian soldiers and freedom fighters known as mujahedin, but her first song is full of war tales, with one line proclaiming: “We went to Europe for a better life, [but] in refugee camps, we rotted.”

Afghan pop star Farid Rastagar has offered to help the young artist release an album, the first song of which will be released in January. One of the songs is called “Naqis-Ul Aql,” which can be translated as “deficient in mind” - a common belief about women among Afghan men.

“In this rap, she sings about the miseries of the women in Afghanistan, about abuses and wrong beliefs that still exists about women,” Rastagar said.

Feroz, the daughter of a former civil servant and an illiterate housewife who remarkably let their daughter sing, has already made scores of enemies. Anonymous callers have threatened to kill her.

“I’m not deterred,” Feroz said, her father Abdul Ghafaar Feroz nodding his head in agreement. “Somebody had to start this. I did and I don’t regret it and I will continue. I want to be the voice of women in my country.” AFP
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