The Zimbabwean rapping for human rights

By BBC Newsbeat

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And it hasn’t been easy to get her message heard.

Until this year, Bulawayo had no commercial radio station. AWA says many male music executives wouldn’t listen to her tracks.

“Because we [female artists] love hip-hop so much we create our own spaces. We go around, sometimes in front of the shops, we just talk to them, ‘Can we perform here?’ We organise our own shows.”

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AWA’s style is assertive.

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She raps quickly, in the Zimbabwean language Ndebele.

She dresses in bright clashing prints and decorates her skin with white dots of toothpaste.

She’s in the UK to perform as part of Voices of the Revolution, a collective of 15 female musicians from 10 countries including Egypt, Brazil and Venezuela.

Put together with just three days of rehearsal, their styles range from dancehall to folk.

The group played their first UK festival, Shambala, at the weekend.

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“The UK crowd is so, so amazing,” says AWA.

“Hip-hop is not really that big in Zimbabwe, but people here appreciate you as an artist. I rap in Ndebele, so no-one hears what I’m saying here, but people still say, ‘Oh my God, you rock.'”

But her outspoken nature has got her into trouble at home.

A few weeks ago she was arrested for taking part in a protest against Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe.

“It was a peaceful protest,” she says. “We were just marching, and singing, and then the police came.”

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The protest was part of #ThisFlag, an anti-government movement spreading across Zimbabwe via social media.

Its supporters say the government isn’t addressing problems like unemployment.

“Luckily I got out, I had friends who came to rescue me the very same day.

“As much as I’m scared, I’m not going to stop. The world is supposed to know about what’s happening in our country.”


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