In the heart of the ever-resilient Kurdish community, a courageous and pioneering figure has emerged whose voice resonates with the echoes of conflict and the call for unity. Hani Mojtahedi, a name that has become synonymous with bravery, has not only captured the attention of her fellow Kurds but also enraptured audiences worldwide with her profound story and captivating melodies.
Born in Sanandaj, a city nestled in eastern Kurdistan (rojhilat) within northwestern Iran, Hani's journey as a singer began in 2000. Her path was far from conventional, shaped by haunting memories of religious figures and Sufi chants. She was raised in the sanctuary of her grandfather's home, where spiritual gatherings echoed with the dhikir, a kind of ritual prayer, and the timeless melodies of the Sufis. This ethereal atmosphere infused young Hani with a sense of purpose, laying the foundation for her remarkable musical odyssey.
A harmonious heritage
Hani's artistic lineage can be traced back to her mother, whose poignant and impassioned voice instilled within Hani a burning desire to sing freely. The constraints of tradition and circumstance had shackled her mother's voice, a fate Hani was determined to transcend. Her mother's untold longing to express herself through song became a catalyst for Hani's pursuit of a voice unburdened by limitations.
Reflecting on her youth, Hani fondly recollects the influence of her uncle, an ardent admirer of the late Kurdish vocalist Ali Merdan. This familial connection further fueled her musical aspirations, intertwining her destiny with the threads of Kurdish musical heritage.
War, resilience, and unyielding identity
Hani's childhood unfolded amid the backdrop of conflict, where the sounds of bombs and artillery played a discordant symphony. Her earliest memories are marked by the sight of her mother's bloodied hands, treating wounds amid the chaos of war. These formative experiences forged an indomitable strength within her, propelling her toward a life of purpose.
Her mother's enduring lessons during those tumultuous times left an indelible mark on Hani's consciousness. The mantra that “Kurds do not live for themselves when they are born” became her guiding philosophy. This unwavering commitment to collective well-being and unity became the cornerstone of her identity, even as she carved her path as a singer and artist.
A musical ambassador in exile
In 2004, Hani embarked on a new chapter, leaving behind her homeland for Germany. Her exile was a conscious choice driven by the yearning to amplify the voice of her divided nation on the global stage. Through her music, Hani sought to showcase the creative prowess and innate talent of Kurdish women, shattering preconceived notions and crossing cultural boundaries.
Hani's musical spectrum expanded as she collaborated with German and other Western musicians, melding Kurdish melodies with diverse styles. Her partnership with these musicians was not merely transactional; it was fueled by their genuine appreciation for her sound and the message she conveyed. This collaboration is at the heart of the electronic album Hazhirok, a mosaic of her childhood memories set to an evocative canvas of sound.
The call of Kurdistan
Hani's devotion to her homeland is unwavering, evident in her performances, where the national songs and the name Kurdistan are steadfast companions. She remains resolute in the face of criticism, seeing her music as a steadfast beacon against oppression. Hani's melodies are not just songs; they are anthems of resistance, testaments to the enduring spirit of a people yearning for self-determination.
In recent years, Hani extended her artistic reach into the world of cinema, acting in Turaj Aslani's film Be Nishtiman. This cinematic endeavor connected her with fellow Kurdish artists from all four corners of Kurdistan, amplifying her commitment to sharing the narratives of her people with a global audience.
When speaking with Hani, one cannot help but be swept up by her hopes and dreams for the future. Her heart swells with aspirations for the Kurdish youth, encouraging them to embrace self-confidence, pursue education, and reach for the stars. Her vision for Kurdistan is one where progress in music, art, and science becomes a hallmark of a vibrant and thriving society.
Hani Mojtahedi's story is one of resilience, inspiration, and unwavering commitment to her identity and her people. Her melodies bridge continents, cultures, and hearts, weaving a tapestry that honors her heritage and kindles a flame of hope for a brighter future. In an ever-changing world, Hani's music remains a steadfast reminder of the power of the human spirit and the unbreakable bonds of community.
Hiwa Selah is both a journalist and a musician, having also served as the head of the Music Department at the Fine Arts Institute in Rwandz.