SHASWATA KUNDU CHAUDHURI, Kolkata: Once upon a time, rock music was considered to be the language of protests. Sadly, that has passed on today. But former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters has kept that revolutionary spirit alive and kicking, using his influence for activism.
Recently at a protest in London demanding the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Waters recited a poem called Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega (Everything Will be Remembered) by Aamir Aziz, an activist, poet, musician and civil engineer based in Delhi. He described Aamir as “a young poet and activist in Delhi involved in the fight against Modi and his fascist and racist Citizenship law”.
Then he recited the lines:
“Kill us, we will become ghosts and write
of your killings, with all the evidence.
You write jokes in court;
We will write ‘justice’ on the walls.
We will speak so loudly that even the deaf will hear.
We will write so clearly that even the blind will read.
You write ‘injustice’ on the earth;
We will write ‘revolution’ in the sky.
Everything will be remembered;
This is not the first time that Waters has flexed his influential activism muscles for spreading much needed awareness about certain issues. He has been a vociferous opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as well as a brutal critic of US President Donald Trump, especially on the issue of building a wall on the US-Mexico border. During his 2017-18 Us+Them tour, inflatable pigs floated in the air with the message “F**k Trump and his wall”.
Inflatable pigs have been an inseparable part of Pink Floyd and Waters’ concerts since the release of the highly political album Animals in 1977, whose album cover showed a pig flying over the two chimneys of the Battersea Power Station. Loosely based on George Orwell’s Animal Farm, this album was a hard hitting socio-political commentary on Britain, where different classes of people are described as different animals with the political figures taking the mantle of pigs.
In 1990, Waters organized one of the most historic rock concerts, The Wall – Live in Berlin, eight months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He performed to a crowd of several lakhs on the empty land between Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
His last album Is This the Life We Really Want?, released in 2017, deals with the central theme of why children are being killed in several parts of the world, pointing to the bigger question of how humanity is okay with it. Designed as a radio play, he described the concept album as “part magic carpet ride, part political rant, part anguish”.
Watch the video of Aamir Aziz’s poem Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega: