Born in the night. This is what her name meant. She was born a fighter; a fighter for her freedom and for her innocence. A fighter to one day see the light that was always kept from her. Laila loved to write about all that she saw and experienced. From the time she was a young girl, Laila always wrote poems and sang songs about her life in Morocco. She would sit by the water in her hometown of Tanger and sing songs to her baby brother Nasir. What Laila longed for the most though was to study at the university. She ached to make friends in her classes and learn.

“But why can’t I go to university like Ahmad?” She would ask her mother.

“Please not now, Laila. You know what your father said.” Her mother would always sigh back.

Every time, this answer crushed her. Laila knew that if it were up to her mother she would be at university with her older brother Ahmad. Laila loved her father, but could never get a word in whenever she brought up university. She wanted so desperately for her father to see how much it killed her to not go. No matter what she said to him, it was always the same answer.

“Your mother needs help at home with the house and Nasir, Laila. You know this.” Her father would say.

If she tried to bring up the matter again, her father would just get angry with her and tell her to help her mother cook dinner.

One day when Laila was walking home from the medina, she saw a flyer for a music event at a cafe nearby. She quickly pocketed the paper and hurried home. Later that week, Laila showed up at the cafe, nervous. She had never been to a cafe without her friends or brothers. But what she saw that night would change her life in more ways than she could imagine. There were men and women performing poems, songs, and raps about their lives in Morocco and the Arab Spring. Laila had never witnessed women in her community speak with such freedom and power. Over the next couple months Laila went back to this cafe every week and watched women perform.

One night, she worked up enough courage to perform a song she had written. The crowd received her offering better than she could have ever imagined. Laila began to realize that she had found another outlet for her. She knew that there were so many women who did not have voices in her community. Not only did Laila want to perform for the women of her nation, but for every Muslim who was misjudged, or perceived as a terrorist. Laila wanted to empower her people and show the world that she had so much to offer as a Muslim woman. And the rest is history.


One Response to “laila”

  1. dominiquegabriella Says:

    Note: The music video is performed by Shadia Mansour, a Palestinian rap artist. Lyrics written by Shadia Mansour, Music written by Sandhill, Produced by Johnny Juice. This video is used solely to supplement to the writing piece above.

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