Eurovision 2021 singer Manizha has been working as a social activist for a long time, contributing to an environment of tolerance and love for refugees in Russia. Recognising her efforts, the UN’s Nansen Refugee Award invited the “Russian Woman” artist to perform at the award ceremony.
The theme of the award is close to Manizha’s heart as she fled her birth country Tajikistan during the 1990s, when a civil war teared the country apart. Her family eventually settled in Russia’s capital Moscow. There, she faced issues such as racism and xenophobia, as she explained to us earlier this year.
At the Nansen Refugee Award ceremony, recently held in Geneva, Switzerland, Manizha performed her song “I Am Who I Am”.
According to the UNHCR, the Nansen Refugee Award “honours individuals, groups and organizations who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect refugees, as well as displaced and stateless people”. This year’s award went to the Jeel Albena Association for Humanitarian Development (JAAHD), which provided emergency resources to people who are internally displaced in northern Yemen as a result of war, hunger among many reasons to flee.
Manizha expresses her refugee history through her art
Starting as a musician, Manizha took her experiences as a refugee and turned them into music. Her song “Nedoslavyanka”, meaning “Not a Slavic girl enough”, talked about being seen as a foreigner in your own country.
Her Eurovision entry “Russian Woman” had a theme of celebrating the power from within. In her Evening Urgant interview following her Eurovision adventure, she called being a “Russian Woman” as having a certain state of mind. This includes a strength which every single person, no matter what gender or nationality, can identify with.
Manizha became a UN Goodwill Ambassador in December 2020. Back in March, the UNHCR celebrated her participation at the contest by saying:
“We’re proud to see that former refugee, Tajik-born singer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Manizha has been chosen to represent Russia in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after a national vote.”
Are you proud of Manizha? Did you like her performance at the Nansen Refugee Awards? Let us know in the comments down below!