Samuel Johnson famously said that when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. We may say the same about someone who grows tired of seeing his fellow men dabbling in the expressive forms of an unfamiliar culture.
Like Russians holding a “Country & Western” festival, a Japanese man playing a bagpipe on a street corner, or African-Celtic fusion dance, there’s something delightful about people reaching across cultures — or oceans, or time — to essay the exotic. (Not everyone finds this spectacle enjoyable. For such single-minded ennui, see paragraph one above.)
Certainly, rap has exploded in the last two decades to become a universal language of youth, much as rock did in the 1950s. But you have to actually be pretty young, to think that that means it’s no big deal for Afghanistan to have rappers. Thirteen years ago, Afghanistan didn’t even have music.
Behold, now, the winning entries in a pre-election contest sponsored in Afghanistan by music promoters Argus and Sound Central. The rap artists here have put together “anthems” to encourage young voters. RFE/RL quote lyrics from the male category entry:
Go to the voting stations without any fear,
Go and exercise your voting right.
We witnessed suicide attacks, bombings, and blasts,
We witnessed the leaves of the trees turning pale.
The women, men, and youth are voting for their county.
Sure, it’s corny. But that’s what makes it real. We used to call that totally rock-and-roll.
The male category winner:
The female category winner: