This post is part of an ongoing series about displacement and migration in contemporary music. For intercultural literacy, art provides important perspectives.
There was a very promising music scene growing in Syria a few years before the war. One of the most successful musicians of that era was the band Kulna Sawa ( We Together ). They released five albums between 1998 and 2008. Their last is their most political, containing songs about life of Syrian youth during the first years of 21st century, war in Iraq and imaginary stories about a corrupted and miserable country, including displacement. The album plays as a radio broadcast, making it very haunting to listen to in 2016, during the actual war that it predicted. A very recommended listen for those interested in learning more about the political life in Syria before and during the conflict.
I chose a song called Nayem Ala Shat Albahr ( He Lies on the Beach ) from that album because, to me, it talks about a fear that has always existed within the society. A fear of certain people in control causing damage to the country. A prediction that became a reality only three years after the release of the song. It’s an example of artistic maturity representing the awareness of Syrian youth before the war. It would be interesting to observe refugees’ reaction to this song.
Kulna Sawa stopped due to displacement and war. Everything they talked about in their imaginary stories has come true.
Their front man, Iyad Alrimawi, is still notably making and scoring music as a solo artist in Damascus.
Kulna Sawa – He Lies on the Beach I كلنا سوا – نايم على شط البحر
He Lies on The Beach
He lies on the beach, his men surround him,
the sun would hide if he wants, people kneel for him
The voices of dead people call from the sea,
If you look closely, you’ll see their arms and faces
A war criminal,
With people’s souls he plays,
Their blood is his and his men’s favorite drink
He knows himself,
and the massacre is broadcasting on your TV tonight,
He lies on the beach, his women surround him,
a blonde one pets his hair, a brunette smiles at him,
the sea goes up and down following his fingers,
the wind is there to obey him
Time to play :
they gave him the map,
from which he picked a neighborhood and circled it,
His first target are school kids, even though he’s an academic
He lies on the beach, his sons surround him,
he does the glory sign with his hand, but his hunger killed him,
his older sons have died and only the youngest two are left,
you’ll see their funeral in the news tonight.
نايم على شط البحر
نايم على شط البحر, ورجالو حولو
الشمس بتتخبى بأمرو, والناس بتركعلو
أصواتون للي ماتوا , من البحر تنادي
اذا بتدقق بتشوف وجوهون والأيادي
برواح الناس بيلعب
من دم البشر بيسقى رجالو وهو بيشرب
والمجزرة منقولة الليلة على بيتك,
نايم على شط البحر , ونسوانو حولو
شقرا بتسرح شعرو, وسمرا بتضحكلو
الموج بيطلع وبينزل مع حركة ايدو
ريح انوجدت لتنفذ الليي بريدو
اجا وقت اللعب :
اختار من المنطقة حارة , وبقلم صار يحيطا
مجرم دارس ,
وأول مين بيعلن حربو عليهن , أطفال المدارس
نايم على شط البحر, و ولادو حولو
على ايدو علامة نصر . بس جوعو قتلو
راحوا ولادو الكبار , وبقيوا اثنين صغار
جنازتن بتشوفا الليلة , بنشرة الأخبار