Music for peace: Of dolls, dreams and a girl-child in Sindh

Published: April 16, 2014
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Meena, the latest offering of the Jamshoro-based Sindhi band The Sketches, brings forth the issue of education for the girl-child as well as peace and harmony in a soft package.

Meena, the latest offering of the Jamshoro-based Sindhi band The Sketches, brings forth the issue of education for the girl-child as well as peace and harmony in a soft package.

KARACHI: 

Soft music, vocals, pretty cinematography and the moving image of a little girl-child from rural Sindh clutching her doll on her journey to school. Whether or not you understand the Sindhi language, this song’s video will strike a chord. Meena, the latest offering of the Jamshoro-based Sindhi band The Sketches, brings forth the issue of education for the girl-child as well as peace and harmony in a soft package that will tug at the heart strings of viewers.

As Saif Samejo, the lead vocalist for The Sketches, croons in the backdrop of the scene of a child’s journey between dreams and reality, the seriousness of the problem hits home. And for once in a post-Malala world, the girl-child from a part of Pakistan other than Swat is the focal character.

This is the band behind the Lahooti Music Aashram, the first ever formal music school in Jamshoro and Hyderabad. The band became famous via Coke Studio 4 with the song Mand Waai.

It is encouraging that a song sung in a regional language is inspiring interest and making viewers think about the plight of the child who both wants, and deserves an education, but finds an empty ghost school staring back at her when she and her doll reach school. However, this sadness is coupled with hope at the end. This child grows up to be a teacher in the same school, teaching other little girls like her. One would hope that Sindhi language channels, as well as mainstream prime channels, will give this song its due acknowledgement.

While being simplistic in its approach and trying to squeeze in more than one social message in a single song makes it a bit heavyheaded, the effort is one that needs to be lauded. Both the messages tackled in the song are important ones. With some 5.5 million Pakistani children out of school, according to the latest UNESCO report, Pakistan has the second highest number in the world for out of school children. Equally important is the sensitisation of people towards pluralism. “There is a dire need to provide a counter narrative,” is what Saif Samejo had said in an earlier interview with The Express Tribune, talking about the powerful impact of narratives that lead to extremism and sectarianism. He had added that “Sindh is a place where Ramdas and Allahdita are buried together, and nothing should threaten such pluralistic values.”

The stereotypical image of the people of Sindh as complacent and not into full-throttle social activism may be changed through the work of Sindhi musicians of today. They are out there with their messages, proactively talking about what they believe in, whether through satire like Ali Gul Pir, or through message-laden music like Saif Samejo. These musicians deserve a pat on the back for throwing a pebble in still waters. A ripple effect may well have begun.

Sindhi language and music  stemming from the culture of Mehran already have an advantage when it comes to mysticism and spirituality. The message of peace thus comes naturally to them. It is also interesting to note that the message is coming from a province, the inherent history and culture of which boasts of harmony and peaceful co-existence. Thus, The Sketches have drawn upon the province’s inherent reservoir that brims with the message of peace. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Hameedullah
    Apr 16, 2014 - 11:01PM

    Simply fantastic.

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  • Raj - USA
    Apr 17, 2014 - 3:29AM

    Fantastic song, very good melody & message. Though do not understand Sindhi, loved this video.

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  • Munawar Ali Rind
    Apr 17, 2014 - 3:44AM

    The Sketches has once again proved to be the marvelous sufi music band of Pakistan having with very crystal and clear objectives to bring pluralism, women-empowerment, peace and tolerance in the society through music.
    “Meena” song is such a brilliant addition in the right direction.
    All the best lead vocalist Saif Samejo.

    Regards: Munawar A. Rind, Islamabad

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  • Abdul Samad
    Apr 17, 2014 - 6:35AM

    I watched the song it is marvelous, amusing and very inspritional hats off to The Sketches, the discription of the song,Sindhi Culture and Sindh by tribune is also a lot worthy as it dipicts real journalism,promotes possetive thinking and encourages the vissionary people.. as post malala era is described in story I want to add one thing that as for as woman is concerned Sindh is the place where in muslim world a woman Tara Bai doughter of Dodo Soomro ruled for the very 1st time in 11th century A.D Razia Sultana doughter of Altamash ruled about 150 years latter to Tara Bai as Razia Sultana’s era is 1236 A.D so Sindh is place which has been offering freedom and respect for all irrespective of Cast,Creed, Gender and all worldly considerations …feeling happiness and satisfication

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  • Maqsood
    Apr 17, 2014 - 10:04AM

    Awesome track! Keep up the great work team Sketches.

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  • Happy Listener
    Apr 17, 2014 - 1:30PM

    This band is indeed a breath of fresh air in a country that seems to be going down each passing day. I don’t understand a lot of complex Sindhi language but have always taken an interest in and love all the Sketches’ songs; their work has always been incredibly melodious. And there is very unique sweetness and almost magic like quality to the lead vocalist, Saif Samejo’s voice that elevates any song way above what much of the competition currently offers. Please keep up the good work and please continue to produce more songs. The music school is an excellent initiative too that will no doubt help spot and groom more musical talent.

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  • Happy Listener
    Apr 17, 2014 - 1:53PM

    And what a lovely song this is too with soothing music, great lyrics and vocals and an
    excellent music video. Also the band deserves kudos for highlighting the importance of girls’ education. Education is key to female empowerment and to help achieve equal rights for men and women access to quality schooling is vital. Finally a big THANK YOU for singing for harmony, tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
    Lovely lovely song indeed. You guys truly rock!

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  • meji
    Apr 19, 2014 - 9:30PM

    Saif! u always putted ur efforts with great music and gr8 vocals and had meaning behind every song and i think dis album will also get reward as u got same from main sufi hoon surmasta well done…once again Rocked…..:)Recommend

  • SSR
    Apr 20, 2014 - 7:28AM

    Thankyou for this article, please send me contact details of Saif Samejo so I can arrange for an interview for our radio program in Perth WA. Regards

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