With her charming smile, radiating energy and compelling stage presence, Tunisia's Nawel Ben Kraiem took to El-Geneina's stage on Thursday 25 July. She brought audiences to their feet, dancing and clapping along to the beats of her electro-rock music with a hint of Tunisian folklore.
Ben Kraiem started the night with a traditional song with a pop arrangement about a Tunisian woman who is in love with a Dutch man during the French colonisation of Tunisia. "He is a double enemy of French and Tunisian people," Ben Kraiem told Ahram Online before the show. "It is about that irrational feeling, when you're not allowed to feel something but you feel it anyway," she explained.
Her music is inspired by real-life stories, socio-political issues and sometimes from abstract dreams or thoughts.
Upon starting her second song of the evening in both French and Arabic dedicated to the Tunisian revolution, 'Ya Tunis', Ben Kraiem offered her condolences to slain Tunisian opposition political Mohamed Brahmi, who was killed earlier that day. "Bless all the martyrs of the Arab revolutions," she said.
'Ya Tunis' is a revolutionary song about the euphoric feeling that something is not totally under control, something that is powerful, but makes one afraid at the same time. On revolutions where seemingly the oppressor is gone, and people are happy, but the repercussions are more complicated than that.
Many of Nawel's songs discuss socio-political issues. 'Refugee' is about immigration and the view that that grass would be greener on the other side. 'Revolution' is about breaking past personal limits not political ones.
One of Nawel's most interesting songs is 'Safsari', which has an official video clip. Safsari is about the Islamisation of Tunisian society where women started wearing the veil around ten years ago. "Safsari is the traditional Tunisian scarf that many women used to wear for cultural reasons, which was replaced by the traditional religious scarf," she explained. "It is a message that we forgot our identity and culture, we have to be careful not to let our culture be dominated," she added.