Student and Rapper Karima 2G Participates in "Better Days Festival"

Karima 2G

JCU Student Anna Maria Gehnyei, aka Karima 2G

Born in Rome of Liberian parents, Anna Maria Gehnyei, known as Karima 2G, is considered to be one of the leaders of the newly born movement of “second generation” Italian artists. A rapper, singer, dancer, and beatsmith, she was recently invited to participate in the “Better Days Festival,” organized by the Italian music platform The festival took place in Milan January 30-31, 2016.

What is the “Better Days Festival”?
It was an event dedicated to Italian creativity and digital culture. The two-day festival consisted of meetings, workshops and exclusive live events. Italian designers, illustrators, entrepreneurs, musicians, artists, scientists, and celebrities were invited to discuss the interesting phenomena of new movements in Italian art. The motto of the event was “What a time to be alive.”

What were you invited to talk about?
I hosted a workshop about the “Second Generation Movement” of musicians in Italy and how their music is making a difference. I was the only woman in the group, which I think is interesting.

The definition of the term “second generation Italian” is one of the topics I care most about. There are still many conflicting definitions, and I invite Italians to stop using terms like meticcio (“mixed race” or “half-breed”) or “black Italians.” Second generation Italians must not be defined by a color but by their culture and history.

Why do you think you were asked to participate?
I am known for my fiery political commentary and lyrics. My music explores issues of race, ethnicity, and national identity through a mix of reggae, afrobeat and electronic elements.

Was this festival important for you?
Very important. Differently from other events where I only got to perform, in Milan I came across as a person through my words and not only through my music. I feel like my voice has been heard.

Your 2014 album “2G” was a great success: did you expect that?
No, it all started as a game, I wasn’t expecting this attention! My lyrics are in Pidgin English, so I didn’t expect Italians to understand. Through my songs, I try to send deep messages, although I am never direct. I use a lot of irony.

What does 2G stand for?
“2G” stands for “second generation.” The album tackles biased Italian immigration and citizenship policies, especially the inequalities that second generation immigrants face. Despite being born in the country, second generation Italians must wait until they are 18 years old to begin the long bureaucratic process that will lead to citizenship.

The album also stresses how important it is for people of different backgrounds and cultures to maintain ties with their heritage. I truly believe that second generation Italians must stop acting like victims and connect with their roots, so as not to lose them.

You started studying at John Cabot in September 2015. What are your impressions so far?
I love it. I am still learning English through the English Language for University Studies (ENLUS) Program at JCU, but as soon as I finish, I want to continue here studying International Affairs or Political Science as my major.

What do you like the most about JCU?
JCU acknowledges and values the richness of both my Italian and my African heritage. The community here treasures both of my cultures and traditions equally. JCU allows me to understand my uniqueness.

Read the article Amir Issaa, Maruego, Karima 2G e Alex Chen: la musica delle seconde generazioni è già qui” (In Italian)