Benefit album for Afghan women: with wit, anger and blue burqas

A stylistically diverse compilation of bands and artists sharpens the view of the injustice that is happening to women and girls in Afghanistan.

Three people with burqas in front of a lake

Must sing anonymously against the Taliban: The Burka Band Photo: Frank Fenstermacher

Irony can be a warm weapon – in the case of the burqa band, a warm feminine weapon. This burqa band is a music trio founded in Afghanistan, who like to show themselves in blue or black full veils and sing in their songs against the Taliban and ultra-patriarchal Islamic structures.

“Oh it’s true/ The burka still is blue / Because I care for you / You can only see my shoe”, says the song “I Care For You”, which is almost suitable for swaying. Swinging guitars, beater bars and accordion sound while the burqa band singer talks about what it’s like to be locked up: “My prison is my room / My life is on computer / With nothing else to do”.

This song can now also be found on a compilation that draws attention to the desperate situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. “Hope for Her Future: A Compilation for Girls’ Education in Afghanistan” is the name of the sampler, published by the Berlin Underground Institute, which is run by the Berlin musician Mary Ocher, among others.

The proceeds go to the Afghan Women’s Association in Hamburg, which supports education, professional training and medical care for girls and women in Afghanistan.

The Burka Band, founded in 2002 as a German-Afghan collaboration project by Kurt Dahlke and Saskia von Klitzing (members of Der Plan and Fehlfarben) during a stay in Afghanistan, is the only band with Afghan participation.

The group’s singer now lives in exile and, like the other members, remains anonymous because she doesn’t want to endanger her family at home; the band’s output is slim. In addition to her, the avant-garde pioneers Felix Kubin and Gudrun Gut as well as the US experimental duo XiuXiu are also involved.

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The music is stylistically diverse: (Arabic) folk, indie rock, electronic soundscapes, experimental sound art can be found among the 25 songs. Joke and subversive charm often flash gratifyingly. The Hamburg eccentric Felix Kubin, for example, knows how to convince with jumping synthesizer sounds in “Full video watch Yourself”, in his song text he formulates the categorical imperative for the age of digital narcissism: “The Categorical Imperative / Of web narcissism / According to the guidelines / Of Immanuel Kant is: / Full video watch yourself.”

The Canadian songwriter Michelle Gurevich, on the other hand, delivers a melancholic chanson piece – all those people who live in dictatorships and suffer under them can perhaps draw hope from her song: “Goodbye, my dictator, goodbye / ‘Cause everybody’s sick and tired / We’ll all be dancing when you die / goodbye, my dictator, goodbye,” she sings, musically Brecht/Weill and the Dresden Dolls could have been the inspiration for the piece.

Music for the driving ban

The Burka Band is not the only one concerned with patriarchal structures. Electronics producer Gudrun Gut sings about the driving ban for women in Saudi Arabia (and its lifting): “Baby I can drive my car” captures the vibe of the entire album well with its fluffy electronic beats and laid-back demeanor.

Various: “Hope for Her Future – A Compilation for Girls in Afghanistan (Underground Institute),

Unfortunately, the topic of Afghanistan has largely disappeared from the news in terms of attention economy, although it is more urgent than ever to keep it on the agenda these days: The federal admission program for persecuted Afghans got off to a disastrous start and has been stopped for the time being. Cultural workers are also being persecuted, the case of singer Musa Shaheen only recently became known – he was arrested and tortured by the Taliban. His family has asked for support from international aid organizations. Shaheen’s case is one of very, very many – that’s why it’s so important that there are initiatives and samplers like “Hope For Her Future”.

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