Soultana: ‘The Voice of Women’ Raps in Morocco

Round Earth Media's unique journalism model includes partnering young journalists from the U.S. and abroad and publishing in major media outlets in both countries. For this reason, we often archive multiple versions of each story in different formats and languages.

Listen in English
Read it in English.
Originally broadcast on PRI's The World.See Original Version.
PHOTO: Shalea Harris
PHOTO: Shalea Harris

This week marks the two-year anniversary of Morocco’s version of the so-called Arab Spring. It didn’t unseat a dictator. But, tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets demanding democracy. Morocco’s powerful King diffused the protest by offering a few reforms. But little has changed for most Moroccans – especially the country’s young people. Many have found their voice in rap music.  From Morocco on The World, with stunning photos by student photojournalist Shalea Harris.  The latest from Round Earth Media’s groundbreaking collaboration with SIT Study Abroad.

Originally published in PRI's The World.See Original Version.
Soultana (Youssra Oakuf), 27, was the first recognized female rapper in Morocco and is still one of the only women on stage. Soultana rose to international fame first as a member of the band, Tigresse Flow. Then, again, as a solo- artist in 2011 with her first single "Sawt Nssa", or "The Voice of Women," a rap against street harassment of Moroccan women. "The guy he can't, he can't, feel what I feel when I'm walking on the street. He can't feel that." PHOTO: Shalea Harris
Soultana (Youssra Oakuf), 27, was the first recognized female rapper in Morocco and is still one of the only women on stage. Soultana rose to international fame first as a member of the band, Tigresse Flow. Then, again, as a solo- artist in 2011 with her first single “Sawt Nssa”, or “The Voice of Women,” a rap against street harassment of Moroccan women.
“The guy he can’t, he can’t, feel what I feel when I’m walking on the street. He can’t feel that.”
PHOTO: Shalea Harris

Soultana and her band won Morocco’s biggest amateur music competition a few years back and promptly became the most recognized female rap group in Africa.

Soultana’s hit single “The Voice of Women” is her anthem.

“She gave him money, love and life,” Soultana raps. “He gave her lies and violence. This is the Moroccan woman. This is one of a million.”

Soultana raps about the challenges facing women in this North African country: illiteracy, poverty, domestic violence, and daily harassment on the street.

Soultana’s real name is Youssra Oukaf and she’s 27. She walks a fine line, calling for change in Morocco without criticizing the King.

Other Moroccan rappers have ended up in jail for crossing the line but Soultana says she loves the King.

She implores him to improve life for his people–especially young people like her.

“We need jobs, we need education, we need health, we need a lot of things. We sing that we need change. I want to see all of my brothers and my sisters in Morocco working, have jobs,” she says.
Shalea Harris and Ouiame Mitali contributed reporting to this story. It was produced in association with Round Earth Media and SIT Study Abroad’s Morocco journalism program.