Music, just like hope, is a universal language. In a world where every institution exists to divide, music emerges as a unifier. You might not understand the language, you might not understand the tradition it comes from but when a song plays, it is the same seven notes of human connectivity.
There is joy in listening to Bhuper Hazarika, an Assamese singer who sang a Bangla version of Paul Robeson’s Ol Man River. Or remembering that Hum Dekhein Ge emerged as the voice of the people in India 34 years after Iqbal Bano sang it in defiance of a Pakistani dictator.
Music is internationalist. Music offers solidarity. Music offers ties that extend beyond lines in the sand.
Its mere existence is revolutionary.
- Bhupen Hazarika, Bistirno Parore
- Fela Kuti, Zombie
- Ramchandra and Pradeep, Kitna Badal Gaya Insaan
- Arethera Franklin, A Change is Gonna Come (originally sung by Sam Cooke)
- Nina Simone, Mississippi Goddamn
- Iqbal Bano, Ham Dekhain Ge
- Eddy Grant, Gimme Hope Joanna
- Hugh Masakela, Bring him back home (Nelson Mandela)
- Bob Marley, Redemption Songs
- Tracy Chapman, Talking about a Revolution
Ali Raza is an Associate Professor of History at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. His research and teaching interests include the social and intellectual history of South Asia, comparative colonialisms, decolonization, and post-colonial theory.
His work has appeared in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East; South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies; Itinerario; South Asian History and Culture; and Contemporary South Asia. He is also the co-editor of The Internationalist Moment: South Asia, Worlds, and World Views, 1917-39 (Sage 2014), and the author of Revolutionary Pasts: Communist Internationalism in Colonial India published by Cambridge University Press.
He tweets at @tareekhdaan.