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The New Afghan Idol…

Not with rattling machine guns and rifles, or thundering bombs, she intends to fight the Talibans with Music! Zahra Elham, the young Afghan girl who recently won the Afghan version of American Idol – Afghan TV Star, is steadily marching towards her goal. Zahra has already triggered a sensation by becoming the first female contestant to win this show in its 14th edition, as all the previous 13 editions of the show had been won by male contestants!
Zahra belongs to the minority Hazara community, an ethnic group native to the mountainous region of Hazarajat in Central Afghanistan, speaking the Hazaragi variant of Dari, itself an eastern variety of Persian and one of the two official languages of Afghanistan! They are the third-largest ethnic group in the South Asian country.

Zahra Elham

Zahra has won the hearts of her countrymen with her ‘high-pitched, raspy, but melodious’ voice! She performed Hazara and Persi folk songs during the show. And, she was looking confident in traditional colourful Afghan dress and high-hill shoes!
Many girls are trying hard to enjoy their basic rights in a country with a patriarchal culture in abundance, like Afghanistan. The US has already started holding talks with the Taliban militants, as Washington plans to withdraw forces from the war-ravaged nation… Therefore, the possibility of return of the Taliban era has triggered a fresh tension in Afghanistan. In such a situation, many Zahras are fighting against the patriarchal system!


Talking to the media, Zahra has confirmed that she will continue to fight! “I was very proud of myself, but at the same time shocked to be the first woman to win the contest. No one sings in my family,” she said. The girl, in her early 20s, also said that she was highly inspired to take part in the television show after watching YouTube videos of her idol Aryana Sayeed, the Afghan pop singer and social media star who is often likened to Kim Kardashian. Asked whether she, like Aryana, was a new role model for young Afghan women, Zahra replied that it would be essential for the women to be present in public spaces!
She continued: “Yes, my voice is important for the women of Afghanistan. Other girls would have the courage to sing, like I have been following Aryana Sayeed. When I saw a girl, like Aryana Sayeed, I thought to myself, if she can, so can I. She has two hands and two legs, as do I.

Afghan Singer Aryana Sayeed

When asked of the Taliban return to the power in Afghanistan, Zahra stressed: “I will fight with my music, because I want to make music my life! I see my future in music, and I can make my future bright with singing.
Meanwhile, Zahra has made it clear that she would never join politics!

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