It feels like I’ve met Tunisia, through Yasmine. Not only did I discover that I can understand a lot of the Tunisian language through the common roots of the Maltese language to Arabic, but I was also drawn to her love for and very good understanding of her home country. She is a beautiful 21 year old student of English Literature & Civilization, with Theatre Studies at the Higher Institute of Human Science. She is very passionate about Tunisia’s history, most especially the more recent Tunisian Revolution which began in 2011, and which played a major role in the start of the Arab Spring.
Apart from her interest in the revolution, she has also developed a love for Rap music since the revolution and has been following a number of Tunisian rappers since then. According to Yasmine the rappers became very famous after the revolution because they began to speak out about the reality of the Tunisian people and their real experiences. They often challenged the system and were very well engaged with the current issues in their country. In fact, rap music became the most famous genre in Tunisia, because it became so influential. Young people, as young as 6 year olds listen to it, and understand the deep meaning behind the lyrics. They are very explicit with their music, rapping about social classes, extremism, rape and inequality, and all these issues go right to the core of the people, as she says.
People in Tunisia waited so long for a change, they were under the same President for 28 years and finally they stood up, and as a nation they became stronger. Music was one of the tools they used to express and empower themselves. Rappers can no longer worry about insulting the government, they no longer think about the consequences they will face for speaking up. In fact, one of the Rappers she mentioned, Klay bbj, was jailed for doing so; others like Hamzaoui were badly beaten by the police. This upset the fans, mostly university students, who make up the numbers at their crowded concerts in Tunisia. Their government speaks of freedom, but when they practice it or speak out about it, they are punished. Young people who are trying to make a change are jailed. Why can’t young people be active? Yasmine questions.
For a long time Rap music was not accepted as an art form, it doesn’t have a good reputation in Tunisia. This makes it difficult to compare it to popular music, because the music industry relies on this popularity, but rap can be a very effective method to spread a message. As a Theatre student, Yasmine understand the power of performance and with a substantial number of followers, these rappers have great potential. As opposed to Tunisian politicians, rappers are considered like heroes to the Tunisian people. They represent them very well, and do a humble job in doing so. They are risking their position for the sake of their country, their fans, and their people.
When speaking about her viewpoint on the Tunisian people and their capabilities, Yasmine believes that the young people must hold their hands tight together to break the system and succeed in their continuous revolution. The social network was the most effective way to start it, and most users of the social networking site, Facebook for example, are the youth. However, she also strongly believes in the power of music. Fear is put aside and everybody is involved in whatever way they can to help their country. The people are organizing themselves; they feel responsible for their country, even more so at this time. People are conscious and intellectual enough, so they strongly believe that they don’t need the help of Europe or USA. Yasmine believes they can do it on their own, they are very courageous people. It is in their hands now; Tunisia’s future depends on ارادة الشعب “the will of the people”.