Dispatch

30 December 2011

Rapping for Reproductive Health in Yemen

SANA'A — Rap has won over Yemeni youth.

It was in a UNFPA-supported workshop gathering media and young people where the idea for a rap song to promote reproductive health was born. Ahmed Bazugifan and Akram Wageeh were among the participants in the workshop, writing lyrics as their contribution to the closing ceremony.

Bazugifan and Wageeh recited the rap lyrics without music, yet they still amazed the audience. Ghada AL-Khulaidi, a former UNFPA youth coordinator who is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Japan, thought it would be great if the song could be developed into a video clip in Arabic with English subtitles.

"Fe Mohem" is the results. The title means "What's important" in English, and it explicitly promotes reproductive health and reproductive rights issues in Yemen. Directed by Bakil Shamakh, it was produced with the support of the UN Population Fund, Yemen country office and Save the Children.

Staff of UNFPA in Yemen with the rappers. A new song focuses on reproductive health.
Photo: UNFPA Yemen

"While composing, we made sure to include the participants' perspectives and opinions," Bazugifan and Wageeh recalled. "Apparently, everybody loved the song. After receiving good feedback from those who listened to us on the stage, we decided to develop it into audio and video to be more expressive and have more impact. Luckily enough, we had support from UNFPA to transform this idea into a reality."

Bazugifan and Wageeh, who are university students, consider themselves not quite professional singers. But they adore rapping and singing, volunteering with the For All Foundation and elsewhere. "Shooting for the clip was hard, due to political unrest and refusal some of society groups to be videoed," they said. (Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has agreed to cede power to the country's vice president in recent negotiations to help end the conflict there.)

Bakil Shamakh, the video's director, said: "We did not have options to shoot in different locations. We had to be creative in using one location from different angles."

Bazugifan has liked rapping since he was child. “In the beginning, many people did not accept the rap, as it was considered a new thing in the Yemeni culture and is perceived as bad, an imitation of the West,” he said.

Now, rap has become a trend among Yemeni youth, and is winning young hearts.

"Fe Mohem" (Translated from Arabic)

There are things that matter and things that matter more
Blame yourself before blaming others
Be aware that prevention is better than cure
And know that eventually you are the most important

You need to know prevention to avoid disease
Using protection is not considered stupidity
Stupidity is underestimating things
Darkness is the absence of light
We shine with light to discover the need
We rearrange the thoughts and plan reproduction
So many Children very close in age
Makes you unable to protect little ones
Family Planning methods for men and women
Learn how to plan and avoid suffering
Learn about HIV/AIDS transmission and protection means
Avoiding the diseases is a message for the youth

There are things that matter and things that matter more
Blame yourself before blaming others
Be aware that prevention is better than cure
And know that eventually you are the most important

There are things that matter and things that matter more
Blame yourself before blaming others
Be aware that prevention is better than cure
And know that eventually you are the most important

Our religion encourages us to think about causes
Happiness has a door but problems have a thousand
Admonition on the parents
Parents should guide them to the right way path
Guide them to the right path and help them to know the right and wrong
Teach them to avoid making mistakes
Act rational, think responsible
Know and use reproductive health
Getting young people married is really strange
Getting young people married excused with destiny
Customs and traditions generate believes
Like female circumcision (FGM) and minors marriage
Boys and girls spread the information
Life will be better if our thoughts are clear

There are things that matter and things that matter more
Blame yourself before blaming others
Be aware that prevention is better than cure
And know that eventually you are the most important

There are things that matter and things that matter more
Blame yourself before blaming others
Be aware that prevention is better than cure
And know that eventually you are the most important