‘In the face of adversity, the musician cannot sit idly by’
|What is the role of the musician in a conflict zone? The New York-based magazine and online forum The Mantle invited four emerging musicians from areas of conflict to bring their perspectives on this question in a virtual roundtable discussion.
‘The virtual Roundtable’ is The Mantle’s flagship element wherein emerging thinkers from a variety of backgrounds debate and discuss the merits of a given question. This roundtable, entitled Future Weapons, can be viewed online here.
The participating musicians were
• Obaash (Tehran, Iran),
• Sheba (USA / Ethiopia), and
• Aaron Shneyer (Jerusalem, Israel / Palestine)
“We [the Yellow Dogs] are an underground band from Iran, a country in conflict, in which the government thinks that they are the voice of the majority of society. The government only wants the people to hear their own voice, and their side of story,” said guitarist Obaash. “Musicians and artists like us are the voices of the isolated part of the society. It is our duty to show the rest of the country that the isolated, unheard elements are alive!”
“Across the globe and throughout history, music has served as a tool to not only inspire and motivate the suffering, but to liberate them as well,” said Omékongo Dibinga, a poet and hip-hop artist based in Washington DC in the US.
“Use your music to defy boundaries. Use your music to bring people together, to understand each other, to reflect on where we are and where we should be,” declared Jerusalem-based musician Aaron Shneyer.
All four participants agreed that the musician can never disengage from morally complex and emotionally difficult experiences. “Be it the divisions in Jerusalem, the violence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the oppression of Iran, or the structural violence in the United States, these musicians make great demands of themselves. For all of them, to stand idly by while injustice continues is unthinkable,” wrote The Mantle.
The Mantle writes on its website that it provides a forum for the next generation of leaders, artists, innovators, and visionaries to express their opinions and ideas. “The Mantle encourages emerging voices from around the world to participate in the shaping of social and political discourse. The Mantle critiques popular and influential international books, literature, film, and elements of society and culture, as well as hosting blogs and virtual roundtable discussions on timely political questions.”
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