Thursday, April 17, 2014


Watchdog

U.S. Diplomat Sings A Song For Malala

"It was me coming from my heart for the girls of Pakistan," says Shayla Cram.
"It was me coming from my heart for the girls of Pakistan," says Shayla Cram.
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The moving story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban in October, struck such a chord with Shayla Cram that she decided to strike a few chords in return.
 
Cram, a 29-year-old public diplomacy officer at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, was so inspired by Malala, who was targeted for her outspoken advocacy of girls' education in Pakistan, that she wrote a song in her honor.

"Jenaiy," which means "Girl" in Pashto, is Cram's catchy tribute not only to Malala but to girls across the country who hope for a better future, a future where they are allowed to go to school and participate fully in society.

WATCH: "Jenaiy" by Shayla Cram


In the handsomely produced video for the song, dedicated to "all the courageous women of Pakistan," Cram plays guitar and is ably accompanied by a musician on the rabab, an ancient instrument similar to the sitar. (The song features a few memorable rabab riffs.) The musicians sit in a peaceful pastoral setting and play for a small group of smiling Pakistani schoolgirls.

Cram sings in Pashto:

What is your dream, girl?
Your future is bright.
Is it in your own hands,
Or has your voice been blocked?
Nothing is fair in this world.
But efforts still continue.
We can work together,
We are independent and fearless
 
Girls, girls, keep hope.
Girls, tomorrow change will come.
Girls, girls, keep hope.
Girls, tomorrow change will come.
 
Courageous, strong girl,
Support is with you.
The nation is tired of this fighting.
Where, now, is peace?
 
Girls, girls, keep hope.
Girls, tomorrow change will come.
Girls, girls, keep hope.
Girls, tomorrow change will come.
 
Girl, fear not.
Your future is in your own hands.
Girl, fear not.
Your future is in your own hands.

Cram, who speaks five languages, previously served in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, where she learned to play the guitar and first wrote songs, at that time about child trafficking and HIV/AIDS. She told the French news agency AFP that she hopes "Jenaiy" encourages young girls in Pakistan to become young leaders.

Because the movement of U.S. diplomats is so tightly controlled in Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment runs deep and violent attacks are common, Cram says music is an ideal way to make contact with the Pakistani people:

How can you do that for example in Peshawar when you can’t leave the [consulate] gates? How do I reach someone’s heart and let them know who I am and what I'm about as an American when I can't physically go out? One of the most effective ways I think is through music, because it’s something people can connect to and understand in a simple way.
 
On her Twitter feed (@shaynacram), Cram describes herself as "dedicated to engaging people in meaningful dialogue."
 
She chose to sing in Pashto, she says, rather than Urdu, English, or any other language because it is the tribal, Pashto-speaking parts of Pakistan that are riven by the insurgency and the repressive edicts of the Taliban.

In an interview in October with RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, before her song hit the big time, Cram said she learned Pashto during a nine-month course for diplomats at a school in Virginia, which she said gave her an excellent overview of Pashtun culture and language, both of which she said she found "very interesting."

Cram said most Americans' impressions about Pakistan's Pashtun areas are informed by the negative press in the West. "It is only about terrorism and only about bad things," Cram told RFE/RL. "But my experience was a little bit different."

In an interview with Dawn.com, Cram acknowledges that there are those who may think her song is some sort of silly U.S. propaganda, but she dismisses such criticism: "It was me coming from my heart for the girls of Pakistan."

She says she received no financial support from the U.S. government for her song, which has been sent to radio stations around northwest Pakistan in the hopes of receiving airplay.
Pakistani President Asif Zardari greets Malala Yousafzai during his visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on December 8.
Pakistani President Asif Zardari greets Malala Yousafzai during his visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on December 8.
Malala herself, meanwhile, continues to make "steady progress" in her rehabilitation at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, where she was visited on December 8 by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his daughter Asifa Bhutto.
 
Zardari then traveled to Paris, where he is attending a conference on December 10 titled "Stand Up For Malala -- Stand Up For Girls' Rights To Education!" The event, organized by the Pakistani government and UNESCO, is aimed at accelerating efforts to ensure the right to education for all girls in Pakistan. As UNESCO notes:
 
Malala’s struggle highlights a devastating reality: Girls make up the majority of the world’s 61 million out-of-school children. They are less likely than boys to enter primary school. Harmful practices such as early marriage, gender-based violence, discriminatory laws, prevent them from enrolling in or completing school. Educational disparities start at the youngest ages and continue into adulthood. Women represent two-thirds of the world's 775 million illiterates. Despite making breakthroughs in higher education, women still account for just 29 per cent of researchers.
 
Malala, who before her attack bravely published a blog about life under the Taliban, was targeted because of her outspoken stand against the militia, which had banned girls' education in her native Swat Valley. Two other schoolgirls were injured in the same attack. Incredibly, the Taliban said at the time that if Malala survived, the militia would come after her again.
 
The Paris conference, which is taking place on Human Rights Day, will establish a Malala Fund, started with seed money from Pakistan, that will be used to support girls' education around the world.

-- Grant Podelco
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari delivers a speech during the "Stand Up For Malala" event in Paris on December 10.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari delivers a speech during the "Stand Up For Malala" event in Paris on December 10.
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Comments
     
by: raman malhotra from: charlotte, usa
December 10, 2012 15:29
let the word spread all around the world. music can win the hearts of enemies sometime. i hope malala will be able to change not only pakistan., but other parts of the world too.

by: Bill Web from: Phoenix Arizona USA
December 12, 2012 14:28
The muslim men have decided to eliminate one of the basic concepts of human relations, the relationships between a man and a woman. Throughout history, those relationships have moved mountains, launched ships, inspired dramas, the Taj Mahal, music, songs, but they want to tear them from people's minds and hearts and throw them in the trash. They want to enslave women because they fear their power.

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