Rahima Mahmud- always singing for the home

One of the rainy day in London, I went to the Yunus Emre Institute London Turkish Cultural Centre to attend the fifth Open ceremony of Eurasia and Central Asia Book Forum & Literature.

The festival was attended by writers, poets, artists, diplomats and politicians from 20 countries: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Norway, etc.

During the opening ceremony, I saw a very familiar face, Rahima Mahmud. She came here with her ensemble to perform for the festival. Rahima Mahmut, born in China. Also, she is a Muslim and she speaks Uyghur(Turkic Language). She is now a human right activist in London and a singer of the band called “London Uyghur Ensemble.”

At the northwest part of China, lives nearly 10 million Uyghur people. Uyghur is an ethnic minority in China. The place they lived for thousand years is now known as “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”. “Xinjiang” means “new territory” in mandarin. “I don’t really like the saying of minority”, Rahima said: “because in our land, we are the majority, we are the owner of that land”.

As the human right activist she now attends most of the human right events around the world, makes speeches on behalf of her community in China. Just like this day, before she started her song, she talked about her home town and her beloved people back in Xinjiang.

Their ensemble prepared a Muqam for the audience today, Muqam is a traditional fold song that shared by some middle east countries like Uzbekstan and Turkmanstan, also, it is shared by Uyghur too.

After she finished her song, she translated one of her favourite poem from Uyghur to English. Every one was so moved by her emotional express.

I still remember when we first met, she recited one of her favourite Uyghur poem during the interview, written by an ancient poet and linguist Alxir Nawayi.

You can feel how much she love her home town, her culture and everything about it. Due to some reason, she haven’t go back to China for almost 14 years. “I want to go back to the place where I grow up, even if it means that I would loss my freedom”. This is what she told me when we met last time.

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