Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kufiyaspotting: French Socialist Party

In the office of the French Socialist Party in Cergy, a Paris suburb
(Corentin Fohlen for The New York Times)

This photo appears in today's New York Times (April 22, 2012), in an article entitled, "In France, Using Lessons From Obama Campaign." It tells us that three young Frenchmen who studied at Harvard and MIT and are members of France's Socialist Party "witnessed the successful campaign of President Obama" and are now "back in France, using American models of canvassing to get left-leaning voters who would normally abstain to instead cast ballots. Their work, said Mr. Liegey, 31, is concentrated in the banlieues, poorer suburbs heavily populated with ethnic minorities, where alienation and abstention are high."


The photo is taken in Cergy, a banlieue ("suburb") of France, where there is a high concentration of immigrants and their offspring. According to wikipedia, Cergy-Pontoise, the town in which Cergy is located, has a far higher crime rate than the national average. 

The French wikipedia article says that Cergy typically votes on the left side of the spectrum. 

I have no idea whether the woman in the photo is wearing the kufiya to appeal to young banlieue potential voters of Maghrebi background, or if it is just a matter of stylishness. Or is it both?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sayed Darwish fails this time at Tahrir

Sayed Darwish (picture courtesy of the Friends of Sayyid Darwish Association; found here)

From a report in Egypt Independent on yesterday's massive demonstration at Tahrir.

A lonely island in a sea of Salafis, the National Coalition for Change stage boasts a handful of people, mostly in their early twenties. "We all remember Sayed Darwish and his beautiful lyrics," one youth bleats into the onstage microphone to a scattering of an audience (many of whom are wearing Abu Ismail badges and pins). "Here's one of his most beautiful songs, which we all know and love. It's called 'So It Goes.'" The youth begins to sing, but his voice is easily drowned out by the pro-Hazem stages on both sides. The small crowd disintegrates.

I am guessing that the song in question by Sayed Darwish is "Aho Da Lli Saar." On the run-up to the anniversary of the overthrow of Mubarak, the BBC produced a radio program by Reem Kelani, in which she explores the music of the revolution and in particular, the importance of Egyptian composer and singer Sayed Darwish in it. I posted about the program on the Merip blog, but I did not discuss what was said about "Aho Da Lli Saar." Given what happened yesterday, it is useful to go back to Kilani's program.

She opens by introducing Khaled Abu Naga, who co-produced and starred in the acclaimed 2010 film Microphone, about the underground art scene in Alexandria. Although the film was produced before the outbreak of the revolution, it in many ways seems to anticipate it, in its depiction of a vibrant artistic scene that is frustrated in its efforts to develop and put on its work (particularly the music) in public. Frustrated both by the bureaucratic agencies of the state, backed up by the security forces, and by the Islamist forces. (If you've seen the film, then what occurred yesterday feels like a cruel throwback.) The animators of the scene depicted in the film are the same educated, enthusiastic, creative youth segment of Egypt's urban population who did much of the demonstrating and fighting at Tahrir in late January and early February in 2011. And it is well-known that one of the positive effects of the revolution was both to release all kinds of creative and artistic energies, as well as bring into public view artistic movements and tendencies that had been repressed and marginalized under the Mubarak tenure. No wonder, then, that many, as Reem Kelani observes, regard Microphone as the film of the revolution.

Khaled Abu Naga tells Kelani that it was Said Darwish who the youth in Alexandria went back to, fo find lyrics that depicted the situation they were living in in early 2011, in the days of the revolution. And the song that really depicted how they all felt, he says, was "Aho Da Lli Saar," which Kelani translates as "This Is Where We're At." The song dates from the 1919 Revolution, which erupted in part due to the frustrations of Egyptians who felt that their active participation in the First World War (around a one and a half million Egyptians were conscripted into the Labor Corps) should have earned them independence from Britain.

Kelani provides a translation of some of the lyrics of the song (written, in fact, by Badi' Khayri; Darwish wrote the music):

Egypt, O mother of wonders
Your people are great and your faults are not
Watch out for those who love you
For they are the champions of your cause


In the background, we hear the Darwish song, performed by the Alexandrian group, Massar Egbari ("Compulsory Detour"), who are also appear in the film Microphone.



I happened to see Karim Nagi perform at Georgetown last Wednesday evening, and one of the numbers he did was "Aho Da Lli Saar," which he translated as "This is what happened." Nagi is a fabulous dancer and a multi-talented percussionist and buzuq player. He is the animating force behind Turbo Tabla, whose two albums I highly recommend. He is also a great lecturer -- if you are looking for someone to provide an excellent introduction to Arabic music, be sure to hire Karim.

But I particularly loved Karim's performance of Sayed Darwish's "Salma Ya Salma" and "Aho Da Lli Saar." Before singing them he translated both songs into English -- and I regret not recording these. In his program notes, at least, Nagi provided a translation of a few more lines of "Aho Da Lli Saar":

This is what happened, you cannot blame us
The wealth of our country is beyond our reach
Let us not fight nor envy
Unite our hands, and be strong for the cause


Here are some more versions of the song:

Ali Haggar's -- which predates Massar Egbari's, and on whom Massar Egbari's version seems modelled.

Fairuz does a version too. (I'm pretty sure this is from her Live at Beiteddine 2000 album, the title transliterated as "Ahoua dalli sar.")

An amazing performance of the song, from January 10, 2011 (two weeks before the start of the revolution), done at Al Sawy in Cairo by members of the cast of Microphone, "In solidarity with the victims of terror in Alexandria." In reference, clearly, to the terror bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria on December 31, 2010, that killed 21 and wounded at least 96. Many blamed the bombing on the regime.

Fairuz's celebrated son Ziad Rahbani also has a version, very similar to his mother's. Apparently recorded in Damascus in 2008.

There are other versions as well, but it would seem that Ali Haggar, Fairuz and Ziad Rahbani in particular have played an important role in keeping the song alive in Arab popular memory.

Unfortunately, I cannot find a version of Darwish's version on youtube -- I assume there are downloads available, probably of dubious legality.

Here are the Arabic lyrics, with a transliteration and a translation into English, which I found here. I've changed a couple things. There are some discrepancies between what is below and the translations I've posted above, so if someone wants to help out and fix these, and provide some more commentary that would be terrific.

اهو دا اللي صار, و ادي اللي كان
aho dalli sar w dalli kan
this is what happened, this is what was!

 مالكش حق
malaksh 7a2
you don't have the right

ملكش حق تلوم عليا
malaksh 7a2 tloom 3alayya
you don't have the right to blame me

تلوم عليا ازاي يا سيدنا
tloom 3alayya ezay ya sayedna
how can you blame me sir ?

و خير بلدنا مهوش في ادنا
w 5air beladna mahoosh fe edna
and the wealth of our country is not in our hand

قولي عن اشياء تفدنا
2olli 3an ashya2 tefedna
tell me about things that help us

بعدها بقى لوم عليا
ba3daha ba2a loom 3alayya
then you can blame me

مصر يا ام العجايب
masr ya 2om el 3agayeb
Egypt, the mother of wonders

شعبك اصيل و الخصل عايب
sha3bik aseel wel 5sl 3ayeb
your people are noble, your faults are not

خلي بالك مالحبايب
5alli balik mel 7abayeb
take care of your loved ones

دول انصار القضيه
dool ansar el 2adeya
those are the supporters of the matter

بدال ما يشمت فينا حاسد
bdal ma yeshmat feena 7asid
instead of the gloating of jealous people

ايدك في ايدي نقوم نجاهد
edak fe edi n2oom negahid
let's hold hands and fight

احنا نبقى الكل واحد
e7na neb2ael kol wa7id
we all become one

والايادي تكون قويه
wel 2ayadi tkoon aweya
and hands become strong

(Footnote 1: While working on this post I found this blogpost that accompanies Reem Kelani's BBC piece. It is an invaluable resource about the significance of Sayed Darwish and about the music that was performed on and played on and around Tahrir during the days of the revolution. Please have a look.)

(Footnote 2: on the treatment of Egyptians in the British army: the noted novelist E.M. Forster lived in Alexandria during the First World War. He took up with an Egyptian tram conductor named Muhammad al-Adl, who became the love of Forster's life. In an attempt to improve his position within the government bureaucracy, Forster was able to help Mohammad get a job with the British military on the Suez Canal, where he did low-level intelligence work. Al-Adl described himself as a "spy." Muhammad eventually came down with a fever, received miserable treatment in the badly run hospital and nearly died. Upon his recovery, he used to let Forster know that his British military employers treated him like "dirt," as they treated all Egyptians. Muhammad was arrested and sentenced to six months in hard labor, after an incident in which he and a friend encountered some Australian soldiers in Mansourah, who offered to sell them a revolver. Muhammad considered himself innocent, but he was humiliated, bullied, and badly fed in prison. Muhammad, whose health was impaired by both his time spent in a horribly run British military hospital and in prison, died of consumption in November 1922.

It seems that Forster's knowledge of the evils of colonialism and the bad treatment meted out to Egyptians during the war, mostly via Muhammad, motivated him to write a historical summary for a pamphlet, called The Government of Egypt, put out by the Labour Research Department in summer 1920. Forster did not go so far as to argue for Egyptian independence, but for Egypt to be put under a League of Nations-sponsored mandate. It appears as well that Forster's relations with Muhammad had a great deal to do with the critiques of colonialism that are expressed in his famous novel Passage to India. Forster used to put on Muhammad's ring every day, a ring that Muhammad had willed to him, and when he finished the last lines of Passage to India, Forster put down his pen and picked up a pencil that had belonged to Muhammad and wrote in his diary that he had finished the book.

All this, I learned from Michael Haag's Alexandria: City of Memory, Yale University Press, 2004.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More on Moroccan rapper al-Haqed

from Torie Rose DeGhett, writing in The Guardian on USA tax day. (I posted previously -- last night! -- on al-Haqed here.)

Abdelhak Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Read about the demo in support of al-Haqed on September 11, 2011, here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Gay Tunisia Kufiya


This is the cover of issue two of a new monthly gay publication out of Tunisia. Check out Gayday's online site. I guess that the kufiya here serves as a sign of cultural legitimacy. 

Moroccan rapper al-Haqed charged with "insulting" song

Al-Haqed ("The Vengeful One"), charged on Friday March 30 with insulting the monarchy, for his song, Kilab al-Dawla (Dogs of the State). Read about it here. Read ANHRI's statement about his arrest and imprisonment and an earlier charge here. And watch the video, below. I hope someone produces a translation. In the meantime, here's a translation of his song, "Baraka Men Skate" (No More Silence).

Chinese kufiyas and Hebron (al-Khalil)

A play, presumably about how kufiyas are mostly made in China, is being put on in Hebron on April 18 (and after, elsewhere in Palestine). Hebron (al-Khalil), of course, is the site of the last remaining kufiya factory in Palestine. I have no further information about the play, other than what is on the poster itself. It is presented (and presumably funded) by the A.M. Qattan Foundation, and the al-Malki al-Falamanki Theater. It's good to see some attention being paid to this critical issue. If you're gonna buy kufiyas, please buy Palestinian.

Israeli officer assaults peaceful international protester (in kufiya)


On Saturday, April 14, between 100 and 250 demonstrators (depending on which account you credit) took part in a bike protest against the harassment of Palestinian cyclists and drivers on Route 90, the main north-south highway in the Jordan Valley. A senior IDF officer launched an unprovoked attack on a peaceful international protester. Read about it here and be sure to watch the shocking video.

But maybe it wasn't really 'unprovoked'? Maybe the red kufiya drove the officer mad.

Two inventions that have transformed relations between the Mediterranean and northern Europe...

"two inventions, as far apart in technology as could be imagined, have transformed the relationship between the Mediterranean and the north of Europe in the second half of the twentieth century: the aeroplance and the bikini." David Abulafia, "A globalized Mediterranean: 1900-2000," in David Abulafia, ed., The Mediterranean in History (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003), p. 312.


Micheline Bernardini models the first modern bikini, 1946

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Songs of Tahrir Square: Music at the Heart of the Revolution

Torie Rose Deghett (check out her blog here) reviews a multimedia documentary from France24 on Egypt's revolutionary music. (I found the doc itself a bit hard to navigate, but well worth a look.)

Syria's social unrest, climate change, drought

Check out this very important and illuminating article about the role of drought in the Syrian unrest. Here are a few of the scary excerpts.

From 2006-2011, up to 60% of Syria’s land experienced, in the terms of one expert, “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago.”...


In 2009, the UN and IFRC reported that over 800,000 Syrians had lost their entire livelihood as a result of the droughts. By 2011, the aforementioned GAR report estimated that the number of Syrians who were left extremely “food insecure” by the droughts sat at about one million. The number of people driven into extreme poverty is even worse, with a UN report from last year estimating two to three million people affected.


This has led to a massive exodus of farmers, herders and agriculturally-dependent rural families from the countryside to the cities. Last January, it was reported that crop failures (particularly the Halaby pepper) just in the farming villages around the city of Aleppo, had led “200,000 rural villagers to leave for the cities.” In October 2010, the New York Times highlighted a UN estimate that 50,000 families migrated from rural areas just that year, “on top of the hundreds of thousands of people who fled in earlier years.” In context of Syrian cities coping with influxes of Iraqi refugees since the U.S. invasion in 2003, this has placed additional strains and tensions on an already stressed and disenfranchised population.

And be sure to check out the entire article. While the Mediterranean may be under severe threat in the long run, the outlook is not all that great for much of the US as well. In fact, it's disastrous.

Famous Alexandrians: Cavafy (and the Denshawai Affair)


It is often, in fact one should say, nearly always, claimed that the celebrated Greek Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), lived his life in almost complete isolation from Egyptian Arabs. Hala Halim, in her unpublished dissertation, The Alexandria Archive: An Archaeology of Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism (UCLA, 2004), suggests that the reality is somewhat more complicated. She suggests that his work is in some ways Orientalist, but that his Orientalism "both could be qualified and undercut by a disaporic affiliation that goes beyond binaries and makes for a more cosmoplitan attunement to otherness and other textualities" (107-108).

One of the pieces of writing that she cites in evidence is this poem, written in response to the notorious Denshawai affair.

27 June 1906, 2 P.M.

When the Christians brought him to be hanged,
the innocent boy of seventeen,
his mother, who there beside the scaffold
had dragged herself and lay beaten on the ground
beneath the midday sun, the savage sun,
now would moan, and howl like a wolf, a beast,
and then the martyr, overcome, would keen
“Seventeen years only you lived with me, my child.”
And when they took him up the scaffold’s steps
and passed the rope around him and strangled him,
the innocent boy, seventeen years old,
and piteously it hung inside the void,
with the spasms of black agony–
The youthful body, beautifully wrought–
His mother, martyr, wallowed on the ground
and now she keened no more about his years:
“Seventeen days only,” she keened,
“seventeen days only I had joy of you, my child.”

You can read the full story of Denshawai here, which involved a dispute that broke out when British soldiers shot some pigeons owned by Denshawai villagers. Villagers were angered, attacked the soldiers, the British opened fire on villagers, wounding five, one of the villagers hit an officer with the stick. An officer who escaped died of heatstroke.

The British responded by rounding up 52 villagers, conducted a summary trial, and sentenced five to hanging and 27 others to various terms of hard labor and flogging. The hangings were carried out quickly, only two weeks after the "incident." The effect was to inflame nationalist sentiment in Egypt.

My source for the poem is here.

A couple other remarks:

The family name of Cavafy is of Turkish origin; it comes from the word ayakkabici or "shoe seller."

Philip Mansel, the source for the above (Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean, Yale UP, 2010), also notes that it is highly unlikely that Cavafy's poems could have been published in any city other than Alexandria (with the exception of Paris). His erotic poems, Mansel observes, would have doubtless raised moral hackles and caused the author and publisher to be sentenced to jail. Cavafy's poems were published in Alexandrian literary magazines after 1919, and a book of a complete edition of his poems was published in Alexandrian two years after his death, in 1935 (144). Published in Greek, of course.

More evidence of the tolerant character of Alexandrian cosmopolitanism.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jewish Morocco

I want to give a shout out to this fabulous blog, Jewish Morocco, and its obsessive search for and commentary on music by Jewish Moroccans. And sometimes Algerians, like Blond Blond:



Well worth following!

El Menfi (Banishment): Akli Yahiaten & Rachid Taha



Rachid Taha first recorded "Menfi" on his 1998 album Diwân. He reprised it on his Rachid Taha Live album (2001), giving it a real kick-ass rock treatment (listen here), and by he also performs it with Khaled on Faudel on the famous 1-2-3 Soleils album (1999) (you can listen here).

I just came across a version of the original, which you can check out above. The song was written by Algerian Kabyle composer and singer Akli Yahiaten, who migrated to Paris in 1952, was a supporter of the FLN (the Algerian National Liberation Front), and composed "El Menfi (Banishment)" while in prison (for the second time), in 1959, for collecting funds for the FLN.

I located a transliteration of the Arabic lyrics here. And a translation of most of the lyrics here, where there are also some more versions of the song. I've tried to correct some mistakes in both the transliteration and translation, but there's a lot more to be done, and I'm sure I've made mistakes. So this is a work in progress -- and I hope someone will see this who knows Algerian dialect and will help out.

UPDATED, April 16, 2012. I came across this article, which has a better transcription, and translation (in French), of verse three, so I've made some more changes: Hadj Miliani, "Variations linguistiques et formulation thématiques dans la chanson algérienne au cours du XXe siècle: Un parcours," in Jocelyne Dakhlia, ed., Trames de langues: Usages et métissages linguistiques dans l'histoire du Maghreb, Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, 2004, p. 433.

REFRAIN
Goulou lemmi ma tebkish Ya el menfi (Tell my mother not to cry/O banishment)
Weldak rebbi ma yikhelik Ya el menfi (God will look after your son/O banishment)

Aw ya dakhal fi wast bibaan Ya el menfi
Aw al-saba‘a fih el gadaan Ya el menfi  (bis)
Aw galouli kashi al-doukhaan ya el menfi
Wana fi wasthum dehshaan ya el menfi

REFRAIN

Aw ki dawni le tribunal Ya el menfi (When they took me to court)
Aw djadarmiya kbaar wa sghaar Ya el menfi (Gendarmes large and small)
Aw tisensla tewzen qantar Ya el menfi (And the chain weighs a ton [one qintal, 100 kg.)
Aw derbouni b‘aam wa nhaar Ya el menfi (And they beat me for a year and a day)

REFRAIN

‘Ala dekhla haffuli al-ras Ya el menfi (When I entered they shaved my head)
Aw ‘atawni zura wa paillasse Ya el menfi (And gave me a blanket and a straw-filled mattress)
Wel prévôt ‘alaya ‘assaas Ya el menfi (The military police who surveils us)
‘Ala tamenya tesma‘a silence Ya el menfi (At eight you hear: silence)

REFRAIN

Ah ya gelbi wash dak taif Ya el menfi (My heart is revolted)
Aw el-soupa dayman kif-kif Ya el menfi (The share [of food] is always the same)
Aw el gamila ma‘amra bi el ma Ya el menfi (The bowl is filled with [mere] water)
Aw li gralou ionim [?] fiha Ya el menfi (And cockroaches swim in it)

And here is a link to some more vids from Akli Yahiaten.

Monday, April 09, 2012

US mercenaries against Abdelkrim

Very illuminating post about US mercenary pilots who were recruited by the French to fly missions against Abdelkrim's Riffian rebellion in Morocco (1921-1926).

"In the end, US government concerns about violations of neutrality and hostile public opinion brought the chapter of the Escadrille Chérifienne to a close after only six weeks of combat operations."

 US public opinion at the time, if you can believe it, was very much on the side of Abdelkrim and against the Spanish and French colonialists.

 For instance, there is "The Riff Song," from the Broadway production, The Desert Song, which opened on Broadway in 1925 and was very successful.

"If you're the Red Shadow's foe
The Riffs will strike with a blow
That brings you woe."

 

To be continued...

As Israeli politics move further to the right, Palestinian gourmet cuisine gets more trendy

At least in Tel Aviv.

"Palestinian tartare"..."Arabic ravioli"..."At Jaffa/Tel Aviv, the new restaurant by chef Haim Cohen, the godfather of Israeli cuisine, knafeh is one of the most popular dishes on the menu."


 The acceptance and celebration of Palestinian food in current Israeli cuisine marks the peak of a long and gradual process, just as the identity of Israeli cuisine has started to reveal itself. When we think about what current Israeli cuisine is, a mix comes to mind: Jewish ethnic foods, excellent produce, young chefs with high culinary education and strong Arabic influences. Arguably, as the Israeli scene has become more established, it is able to credit its sources of inspiration. 

Another explanation for the rising popularity of this food is strictly political. This trend is limited to the city of Tel Aviv and its surroundings. “In Tel Aviv it’s considered ‘cool’ to be pro-Palestinian,” said Gil Hovav, a leading culinary journalist and television personality. “The culture encourages it.” In the past few years, Tel Aviv has shifted further left on the political map, positioning itself as the liberal refuge and natural habitat for Israel’s young creative community. Raising the banner of pluralism, the residents of Tel Aviv express their discontent with the government agenda not only with social activism, but also in their food culture.

Dalida shares her Arab culture with Enrico Macias and Claude François



Dalida, born in Shobra, Cairo, to Italian parents. Enrico Macias, an Algerian Jew, born Gaston Ghenassia, in Constantine, Algeria. Both huge stars in France. Part of the secret of their successes was that their music sounded a bit exotic, but for them to have used their background in the Arab world as more than frills would have been met with racist hostility. The Arabness therefore manifests itself in small doses. As in this case, in some sort of variety show, where Enrico greets Dalida in Arabic, with "Ahlan wa sahlan Dalida, salamaat salamaat" (welcome Dalida, greetings, greetings). She responds, "Ahlan wa sahlan ya Enrico, ezzayyak? Kuwayyis, ilhamdou lillah?" (Welcome Enrico, how are you? Well, thank God?"(The clip is not dated, but perhaps it's after Dalida recorded her string of hits in Arabic, starting with "Salma ya Salama," and so now it was somewhat more acceptable for stars like her to refer to their Arab roots -- in her case, cultural roots.)

They proceed to do a duet of Dalida's first hit, from 1956, "Bambino." Watch Dalida do the original here, back in the days when she wore her hair dark.

It's worth recalling that Jean Dujardin does a version of "Bambino," in Arabic, in his hilarious spy spoof, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. You can check that one out here.

Enrico did not record in Arabic (other than some hints or a few words) until 1999, when he released his  terrific Hommage à Cheikh Raymond, his tribute to his teacher and father-in-law, the grand master of malouf, Raymond Leyris.

And then there is this clip, of Dalida with another great French star, Claude François. They open by speaking of the fact that they both were born in Egypt, and that one of Claude François' parents was Italian. They then proceed to sing some duets in Italian.

Claude François (author of "Comme d'habitude," the original of "My Way") was born in Ismailiya, Egypt, in 1939. His father worked as a shipping traffic controller in the Suez Canal. The family left for France in the wake of the Tripartite Aggression (a.k.a. Suez War) of 1956.

Dalida recalled her first meeting with Claude François in 1963, when they became friends, thus: “Nous nous sentions tous les deux déracinés...Ensemble, nous parlions en égyptien” (We both felt uprooted...Together, we used to speak in Egyptian -- i.e., Egyptian Arabic). (Catherine Rihoit, Dalida, 1995, p. 344)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Ramy Essam: Tribute to Syria

Ramy Essam, singer of the Egyptian revolution, who produced the unforgettable song "Irhal," has put out a song in solidarity with the Syrian revolutionaries. It may be his best song since "Irhal." Helpfully, the video comes with subtitles in English, and the Arabic is written below the vid. Check it out.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

New DAM video for Juliano Mer Khamis



On the first anniversary (April 4) of the unsolved murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the Palestinian-Israeli rap band DAM put out this very moving video. (Helpfully, with English subtitles.)

Juliano was the son of Palestinian-Israeli Saliba Khamis (who I met in 1985) and Jewish-Israeli Arna Mer-Khamis. His parents were Communists, and such "mixed" marriages were quite common in the Israeli Communist party in the 1950s. Julian was a movie and theater actor, and director of a well-respected documentary, Arna's Children (watch it here) about his mother's work with a children's theater in Jenin, a city in the West Bank. He is best known for founding Freedom Theatre, a community theatre that provided opportunities for children of Jenin Refugee Camp. Juliano was shot by a masked gunman in front of the theater, and the killer is still at large.

Check out Mark Levine's tribute to Juliano and his work here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Cheikh Zouzou

In anticipation of a future post on the film El Gusto, which is out now in France, this video of the Jewish Algerian master of Andalusian music, Cheikh Zouzou (given name Joseph Benganoun), born in Oran (Wahran), Algeria.

Apparently the group accompanying Zouzou is the "Orchestre de la Station d'Oran." On piano is Maurice El Medioni (also Jewish Algerian) and on guitar (in the long-sleeve shirt that looks grey in this B&W video), Blaoui Houari. Houari is mostly obscured and you can barely see the guitar, but he is there. And mostly we see Medioni's back. This would have been broadcast in the late fifties or early sixties, that is, prior to Algerian independence. The French authorities established television in Algeria in 1957, and they broadcast Arab music in part, in an attempt to co-opt the musicians. As a result, a lot of amazing music was produced on colonial Algerian t.v., much of which can be found on youtube.