M.I.A. was told her father was dead when she was younger to “protect” her.
The rapper-and-singer was born in the UK but her parents took her to Sri Lanka when she was just a baby. Her father Arul was involved in a rebel group who were fighting in the civil war in the country during the 80s.
It meant M.I.A. – real name Mathangi Arulpragasam – and her mother Kala and sister spent time in hiding and didn’t see Arul much.
“We saw him once a year, for ten minutes at a time,” she explained. “My mum said, 'That's your uncle - your dad is dead.' It was to protect us.”
The 36-year-old can remember how difficult that time was. People were fearful of getting too involved with the family in case it made things hard for them.
“We lived in hiding for so long. We were just moving from village to village and from house to house,” she is quoted as saying by British newspaper The Sun.
“Nobody wanted to put us up - we were untouchable. Everybody knew about us in Sri Lanka and nobody wanted to deal with us because we brought so much heat. The army would follow. We were living in big-time poverty, stealing mangoes off someone else's tree.”
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