DJ Stiletto Raises Awareness For South Sudan
Mari Malek, aka DJ Stiletto, is hard to miss. Not only is she a woman in the male-dominated world of DJing, but she has the striking beauty of a runway model- because she is one. Oh, and she always performs in a pair of the towering heels that give her her name. But Malek is trying to use all the attention she attracts for good, raising awareness for her homeland of South Sudan.
DrJays caught up with Malek at a recent party celebrating the collaboration between artist Adam Dare and mensware line Darring USA, where DJ Stiletto was working the turntables for the evening.
Born in the Wau village of South Sudan, Malek’s family left the country as refugees in 1998. They eventually came to the US and first lived in Newark, NJ, which Malek told one site “was even crazier than Sudan.” They moved in with family in San Diego, but Malek came back to New York in 2006.
She and a cousin founded Southern Sudan Initiatives to aid several issues facing the nation.
Declared independent from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan is the youngest nation in the world. Unfortunately, it continues to be wracked by internal violence, largely along ethnic lines- just this week, reports of bloodshed and an attempted coup have come from the country, with the US urging any citizens there to leave immediately.
“We focus on bringing self-sufficiency into South Sudan, by providing clean water, education, health, agriculture, and small business for women and widows,” Malek told DrJays.
She also mentioned a new initiative called Knowledge Is Strength (KIS) South Sudan, aimed at reducing the illiteracy rate in the country. South Sudan currently has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country, with about 70% of adults unable to read or write. Illiteracy is even higher among women.