The Jasmine Revolution and Tunisian music

This article is also available in: Italiano

Tunisian music was profoundly marked by the Revolution, an event which profoundly marked the cultural fortunes of the country and, in general, of the Arab world.

A pre and a post

Talking about Tunisian music, we realized how closely it was linked with the Revolution, a true great historical event in the country in this century. The so-called Jasmine Revolution was the backbone of all the “Arab springs“, marking the first step towards a freer and more democratic Arab world. Unfortunately, in countries like Egypt or Syria, they were not successful but Tunisia represents the heroic exception to everything, capable of affecting this also on art and culture, marking a real “pre” and “post” revolution.

A brief summary and let’s move on to the music. In 2010 the country was in increasingly dramatic conditions with the dictator Ben Ali in power since 1987 and a people who are living worse and worse. The problems are mainly linked to corruption and lack of prospects, which, combined with a rise in food prices, will fuel a drone destined to overwhelm everything shortly thereafter. On December 17, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young greengrocer from Sidi Bouzid, was confiscated his cart, his only means of livelihood; his desperation for the system will lead him to burn himself alive in front of the police barracks, a fire destined to change Tunisia forever.

The 2 extremes: Balti and Emel Mathlouthi

On January 14, in fact, after less than a month of protests, Ben Ali is forced to flee to Saudi Arabia, where he still lives today. To fully understand musical development, it is necessary to observe this date, comparing it with what happened to the artists of this week: Balti, Akram Mag, Kafon, Redstar Radi and Emel. The first, not surprisingly considered close to the “previous government”, disappeared from the scene for about a year and then returned after a year with the piece “Stop violence”. The second and third, on the other hand, will debut for the first time on the scene starting from 2012/2013, bringing genres and rhythms that make happiness their main focus.

Emel Mathlouthi, the angel of the Revolution

The last 2, on the other hand, will be directly involved in the events of the Revolution, in particular the singer who, following a brilliant interpretation during the clashes in Tunis, revealed herself to the world. His song “Kelmti horra” became one of the strongest symbols of the protest, leading it to play even at the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. These changes are not accidental but profoundly influenced by the changed cultural and political attitude, which is then revised. even in very different artistic fields. Indeed, it will be in 2011 that she will make the public appearance of her eL Seed, probably the greatest Tunisian writer of our days, ambassador of the current called “calligraffiti” which sees the appearance of her just that year in Kairouan, Tunisia. If you are interested in learning more about the topic, you should definitely read “Arabpop” edited by Chiara Comito and Silvia Moresi.

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eL Seed
A work by the Franco-Tunisian artist eL Seed

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