All posts tagged: Abdulla

Traffic Lights and Uyghur Black Humor

On April 13, 2014 Abdulbasit Ablimit a 17-year-old from a small town near Aqsu was shot twice. It appears as though he had run a red light on his electric motor-scooter and, rather than stop and pay a fine, he had fled. According to his friends, three kilometers later he was shot. The official state narrative, posted a few days after the incident, says he attacked the police with stones, tried to grab their guns and so on. Abdulbasit died within hours. His body was given to his family for burial. But he was not buried. Instead his body was carried, wrapped in a white shroud with a procession of hundreds of his friends and family on a march toward the town center. They demanded that the officers who had killed Abdulbasit be arrested. As you can hear in the video above, they chanted “God is Great” – one of the few Arabic phrases that everyone knows and understands. Realizing their mistake, security officials seized Abdulbasit’s body again and arrested many of the grieving protesters …

A Uyghur Chinese New Year

The Uyghur language Spring Festival song and dance spectacular “New Xinjiang, New Melody” is back! After a five year absence following the disasters of the Year of the Ox, the Xinjiang Ministry of Culture in association the Bureau of Public Relations has welcomed in the Year of the Horse with a line-up of all the usual Uyghur superstars. Headlined by Abdulla (53:25) and supported by Möminjan (51:45), Six City (42:32), Ablajan (22:59), Berna (15:55) and a host of others, the event was intended to introduce a “brand-new Xinjiang style” to the nation. The multicultural event even featured a Han singer Wang Jian (39:19) singing a famous song from Kumul in Uyghur and the write up for the concert boasts of Hui, Kazakh, Kirgiz and Mongol involvement in the performances. Perhaps the most moving moment came with the great Ekber Qehrimin singing “Oasis Poplar” (Tёrek Bostan) (26:37)  – a heartbreaking classic from the golden age of the 1980s. Here’s to a year in Xinjiang where moments of happiness like these come often.

Abdulla, King of Uyghur Women

This is the third post in a multi-part series on Abdulla Abdurehim hosted by The Art of Life in Northwest China Abdulla, the undisputed king of Uyghur pop, receives 1000s of love letters from Uyghur women. According to those who traffic in insider knowledge of Uyghur models of masculinity, Abdulla’s effect on women first became a subject of manly discussion in the early 2000s when his song “Ranjima” was released. As you will see in the linked music video of that song, the camera lingers on a young woman while Abdulla, clad in a bad-ass Harley-Davidson t-shirt, crones lines such as “Don’t be sorry, let’s just be friends” – a clear allusion to a failed illicit affair with the distracted young woman. Young Ranjima swoons. Abdulla basks in love letters which rain down around him from his female admirers. Despite this direct appeal to his sexuality in the images of the song, Abdulla carries on a line from Sufi poets who were devoted to “one true thing.” He sings: “Our souls cannot share the same flame.”  Thirteen years …

Abdulla, King of Uyghur Pop: His Themes

This is the second post in a multi-part series on Abdulla Abdurehim I wrote last week about the way Abdulla’s poetic voice corresponds with his deep literacy in Uyghur culture. But clearly Abdulla does much more than lean on the traditions of the past.  Although this attention to cultural symbolism and spiritual ritual are an important aspect of his public persona, Abdulla is also deeply engaged in the everyday life of increasingly urban Northwest China. In order to understand the depth of his appeal, I will outline the themes which emerge from his catalog and then analyse one of these themes. Put simply, Abdulla sings about love, moral struggle, and parents. If you take a random sample of his song titles you will see that nearly all of his songs fall into these categories: Songs of love: Embarrassment, They say I’m black, My flower you are not here, My nightingale, If I miss you, A word to my lover, Hey girl, I give you my everything, First Love, I can’t forget about you. Songs of morality: A …