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Editorial: Non but supported articles and topics

Eva Cukier, NRC (the Netherlands) Wednesday March 17, 2021 at 4.55 pm

Translation from Dutch to Englisch Gino d'Artali


Manizja is the terror of the conservative Russians

Manizja, the Russian participant in the Eurovision Song Contest, shatters all Russian stereotypes about women. To the anger of many.

The Russian-Tajik singer Manizja Sangin represents almost all groups with which Russia in the world does not want to be associated with. belga  An outspoken feminist with an Islamic and a migrant background. One that sings and raps and draws attention to women's rights and those of ethnic and sexual minorities. The Russian-Tajik singer Manizja Sangin represents just about all groups that live in Russia but that Russia does not want to be associated with in the world. Nevertheless, during a national telephone vote last week on International Women's Day, the 29-year-old was chosen to represent Russia in May at the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam. This year's festival is an edition with distance rules and far fewer visitors.

With the Russian-language rap song 'Russian woman' Manizja shatters all stereotypes about Russian women. <Who's roaring there? / Oh beautiful, are you waiting for a young man? / You're already thirty, hello, where are the kids? / You are beautiful, but you have to lose weight .> She won with 39 percent of the votes of a duo that sang of love and a slick indie band.

While progressive circles enthusiastically welcomed her winnings, among more conservative Russians, it sparked a wave of xenophobia, hatred for women and homosexuals, and allegations that the online mood had been manipulated. <Couldn't they find a Russian?> The newspaper Novaja Gazeta quoted a response to social media. The extremely conservative journalist Yuri Kotjonok wrote on Telegram: <Russia is represented on the Eurovision by an ethnic Tajik, who protects migrants and pederasts. A greater insult is inconceivable >. Right-wing nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky was shocked by the passage in the song about broken homes. '<What should Europeans think when they hear this? That children grow up here without a father? >

Manizja herself shrugged at the hate reports. <I know why I'm getting smeared. But I'm not nice weather, I can't please everyone, > she told news agency Tass following her election.

Fled from civil war

The singer is used to something. She was born in 1991, just before independence, in the Tajik capital Dushanbe as Manizja Chamrajeva. Shortly afterwards broke the poor Central Asian country fought a bloody civil war, which claimed tens of thousands of lives between 1992 and 1997. When their house was hit by a shell, the family fled to Russia. In Moscow, Manizja studied music and psychology and began performing from the age of fifteen. The arrival of Instagram, where she uploaded homemade music videos and photo collages, launched her career. She now has about 400,000 followers and uses her stage to address precisely those social problems that Russia would rather cover.

Feminism and identity are important themes in her music. The song 'Nedoslavjanka' ('Not completely Slavic') from 2019 is about migration, stereotypes and the feeling of not belonging completely anywhere. <I am an emigrant / In my own country / In my soul / I am already someone else>. In the accompanying clip, the singer undergoes a transformation in a taxi during a road trip. When a ninja steals her traditional dress and unibrow - stereotypical attribute for Central Asian women - she transforms into herself, but has also lost something of herself. The Diplomat called the clip an example of 'stjob', a typical Russian hold up. <By giving up who we really are - be it national, racial or cultural - we lose incredibly important components of our identity and become disoriented,> she said in an interview. She works for refugees and drew attention to the tens of thousands of Tajik labor migrants in Russia who were unemployed and homeless due to the pandemic. Since last December, the singer has been an ambassador for the UN refugee organization UNHCR.

When the Russian government decriminalized domestic violence in 2017, she launched the moving song 'Mama' (2019) with director Lado Kvatania. <To tackle the problem, we need to get men involved,> she said of the partnership. The project includes an app that allows victims to report domestic violence.

Manizja doesn't get her creativity and energy from strangers. She is the granddaughter of the Tajik writer and journalist Tajji Usmanov (1906-1968), her grandmother is a psychologist and encouraged her to take up music. Her mother runs her own fashion label and sews her daughter's stage outfits - an eclectic ensemble of folklore, pop and hip-hop.

Yet Manizja also felt the pressure of her traditional background, she said in an interview. In her Muslim homeland, her election not only aroused pride, but also shame and anger. Manizja doesn't care much about it. <I am a citizen of the world. Tajik and Slavic, a person who als speaks Englisch> she said last week at Radio Svoboda. <I have stopped sticking labels. I hate it when people do that and limit themselves'>.
Manizja mainly wants to be a role model and a mirror to others.>

And as the chief editor of I'd say: She's a rebel with a cause!!!

Gino d'Artali, feminist at heart.


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