15 Aug, 2015
A rapper whose protest song about corporate pollution in an idyllic hill town in southern India has dragged the issue into the spotlight says she is totally overwhelmed by its phenomenal success, which has prompted a personal response from the CEO of Unilever.
Sofia Ashraf’s skit Kodaikanal Won’t – named after a tourist resort in the hills of Tamil Nadu state that was contaminated by mercury from a thermometer factory – has been viewed nearly 2m times on YouTube. A parody of the Nicki Minaj song Anaconda, the video features the 28-year-old, once known as the “burqa rapper”, dancing on a boat and sprawling on a train while demanding that Unilever clean up its “toxic shit”.
The factory at Kodaikanal, which was owned by Hindustan Unilever, closed in 2001. More than 1,000 former workers are alleged to have been affected by mercury poisoning, which can cause skin problems, sensory impairment and a lack of coordination.