Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Kuffiyeh is Arabic (music video)

Great new song from Palestinian MC, Shadia Mansour, featuring M1 of Dead Prez.

Arabic translations of verses and chorus (h/t Seham and Inanna):
Good morning cousins, welcome, you honor us,
What would you like us to offer you,, Arab blood or tears from our eyes? “
I think that’s how they expected us to welcome them,
That’s why they got embarrassed when they realized their mistake,
That’s why we wore the keffiyeh, the white and black,
And now these dogs are wearing it for fashion,
No matter how they redesign it, no matter how they change its colour,
the kuffiysh is Arab and will remain Arab.

Our kuffiyeh, they want it, our culture, they want it,
Our dignity they want it, Everything that’s ours, they want it.
We shut up for them, we allow(excuse) them, (1)
Why, why, it suits them, Stealing something that’s none of your business,
They imitate us, what we wear, all this land, enough of this (2), they’re greedy,
About Jerusalem, the Holy City, know how, be humane,
Before you ever wore a kuffiyeh, we’re here to remind you this is our keffiyeh, against the will of your damn fathers (3).

That’s why we wore the keffiyeh, because it’s patriotic, the kuffiyeh is Arab, That’s why we wore the kuffiyeh, it’s our essential identity, the kuffiyeh is Arab. Come on, raise the kuffiyeh, raise it up for me, the kuffiyeh is Arab

Raise it up Bilad as-Sham (Greater Syria or the Levant), the kuffiyeh is Arab and it will remain Arab.
There’s none yet like the Arab people, Show me another nation in the world more influential,
It’s clear, we are the cradle of civilisation, Our history and culture testify/bear witness to our existence,
That’s why I wore the Palestinian ‘tob’, From Haifa, Jenin, Jabar al-Nar to Ramallah,
Let me see the kuffiyeh, the white and red, Let me raise it up to the sky,
(next 3 lines unclear – Palestinian accent is confusing me)

Record! I am Shadia Mansour and this is my kuffiyeh (4)
From the day I was born, raising consciousness was my responsibility
Because I was raised between destruction, between evil, between religions between aliens (interlopers) (5) between the poor. I’ve seen life from both sides.
I’m like the kuffiyeh, Wherever you wear me, wherever you toss me away, I remain true to my origins, Palestinian.

(1) These lines are interesting because they are a play on words. They can mean ‘We shut up for them, we allow them’ but the she says them splits what is a single word in Arabic into two words which means Half the country, half the land. So I think she is trying to convey both meanings.

(2) The Arabic for ‘Enough of this’ is ‘bikaffi al ghinnij’, which means literally means ‘that’s enough spoiling of them’. In other words, we allowed them (the Israelis) to get away with too much, they’re taken too much away from us.

(3) The Arabic is ‘ghas min 3an abukun’ which is tough to translate. I’ve translated it above but Haytham’s translations are also acceptable.

(4) I’ve translated ‘sajjal’ as ‘record’ since that is the way that Darwish’s poem is translated and, in Arabic, to listen and to record are two different words, which the translator above should have known!

(5) the Arabic dakheel means aliens or interlopers – she’s referring to the invasion of the zionists of Palestine

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