Archive | December 2013

My blog statistics: 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Muslim singer Maher Zain performs in South Africa

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Lebanese-born singer Maher Zain is currently the Muslim world’s most popular alternative to pop music. He produces music inspired by Islam and this year toured 13 countries, while five million of his CDs have been sold globally.

Zain is also the Muslim artist with the most views on Youtube. His music videos have had at least 115-million views while unofficial fan-made videos have had 200-million views.

Picture Supplied

Picture Supplied

He is scheduled to perform at Growthpoint Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Saturday December 14 and Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday, December 15.

Q: How did you get into making Islamic music?
A: I am originally from Lebanon, having lived there for eight years, before moving to Sweden. I come from a musical family – my father was a local singer and there are many beautiful voices from my mother’s side too.
I started singing only a few years ago and was a producer before being a performer. After soul-searching a few years ago while I was in New York, it occurred to me that something was missing.
When I returned home to Sweden, I rekindled my love for Islam. It was then that I decided to create Islamic-inspired music.

Q: Who do you have in mind when recording your music?
A: My music is for everyone, for Muslims and non-Muslims, and people young and old. My target audience is anyone interested in positive messages. It’s about being a good human being, and sharing the message of Islam. It has mixes of Western and Eastern influences and shares the story of my life, where I’ve come from, and where I hope to be one day.

Q: Is there a market for this music?
A: My first album Thank You Allah sold 1.5-million copies and Forgive Me sold 3.5-million copies this year. Thank You Allah is the highest selling album on Amazon in the world music section and number eight in the R&B section. We picked up 40 platinum awards for that album.
My second album Forgive Me picked up 25 platinum awards in Indonesia alone. We are blessed that there is indeed a market for this kind of music. The support has been overwhelming.

Q: What are your thoughts on Islamic music, which some say is haraam (the Islamic term for forbidden)?
A: There have been a lot of discussions concerning this among sheikhs (religious scholars in Islam). I feel more comfortable with the opinion that argues that the message is more important.
Everyone has a story to tell, we all just deliver it differently and music is a powerful medium. People the world over can relate to music, and this is just my way of sharing my journey respectfully.
For me, it’s a message of love, respect and life, celebrating my faith, and glorifying the name of the Almighty.

Q: What is the career path though for a Muslim musician?
A: It’s a challenging career path for anybody, but my aspirations have always been to spread the message of Islam as far and wide as possible. Recognition for my work, in the form of awards, is always a bonus, but to know that the messages reach those who are open to it makes it meaningful to me.

Q: How did the South African tour come about?
A: I love South Africa. I’ve been there twice before on visits, and it’s always been on my list of places to perform. Local organisers approached us based on the local interest.

Q: Do you see yourself as a pioneer of Islamic inspired music?
A: Not at all. There are so many artists, many of whom I look up to, who have walked this road long before me. I try and show that you can do what you love, without jeopardising who you are, and what you believe in.

Tickets range from R150 to R1 000 and can be bought at Computicket. 

Brazilians look to Mandela in fight against racism

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A small bunch of roses marked the signage on Nelson Mandela Street in the Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro where locals this weekend reflected on the world leader’s fight against racism.

The street is about 500 metres in length and has a park, train station, bus stop, a few restaurants, banks, a pharmacy, clothing stores as well as offices.

Nelson Mandela Street in Rio de Janeiro. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Nelson Mandela Street in Rio de Janeiro. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

In the busy street of passersby retired Oswaldo Da Motta remembered Mandela as “a big man”.
“He fought against apartheid and he traveled all over the world,” said Da Motta.

Mariana Goulart said: “He was amazing. He did so much for the world.”

“We learned about him in school, about what he did and how he fought for equality for everybody. In Brazil, we are very mixed. It helps to see that everybody is equal and we shouldn’t differentiate,” said Goulart.

“The message that we should not have racism is important in any country. It’s time that people realised we are all the same.”

Sergio Andrade who teaches dance and philosophy at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro said Mandela’s non-racialism message could do Brazil good.

“Brazil has a history of discrimination and racism. Everybody will say there is no racism in Brazil but it exists,” said Andrade.

“To have a street named after Mandela is to remember him. Everyday when we pass on the street and see his name we can remember his history.”

Andrade added: “His name is everywhere today in Brazil because he died. But on other days, nobody speaks about him.

“Many people know his name but many don’t know about his work and who he really was. His work was very important for questions about race. I have deep admiration for him and his life story.”

Cultural activist Daiane Ramos said Mandela “brought light with his actions and thoughts”.
“He taught society how to think about everybody as human, before we are black, white, red or yellow. When discovering myself as someone being black I identified very much with Nelson Mandela. He informed my self-construction,” said Ramos.

“Everybody resolved their differences with war. Mandela brings this idea that the way to resolve conflict is not war. We can have a conversation.”

In mid-November, the Back2Black festival in Rio de Janeiro celebrated the life and work of another anti-apartheid activist, Miriam Makeba.

American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson was a guest speaker at the event. Jackson had campaigned for sanctions against apartheid South Africa and Mandela’s release from prison.