The recent events in Tunisia have really been a blessing to my family and I. Having been there in the past and seen the oppression of my people, it was great to hear that the people were speaking up and making their voices heard. Already the demonstrations against the many social injustices is a great start to fight the abusive power of the Tunisian government. Hopefully this will serve as an example to the rest of the Arab world… I know it’s just the beginning but the Tunisian people must stay strong especially as their foe will do all in its power to maintain control even in the guise of keeping peace and restoring stability. The source of the many social problems must be addressed. National resources should, nay must, be used to help create jobs and attract good investors that will help the country grow. It cannot solely rely on tourism… so many Tunisians are very educated and are faced with little employment opportunities after graduation. They are forced to take menial jobs if any are present or rely on familial support and aspirations to find a job outside the country… Immigration being a temporary solution available to few.
For too long the people have been forced to keep quiet and accept things as they are for the sake of “peace” and “stability”…. But no more! I hope the people will be given a real opportunity to elect officials that will truly have the interest of the people and country at heart and not follow in the steps of greedy pampered officials whose primary concern is the sports vehicle they drive and the many mansions they occupy around the country.
“His riches and false position prevailed upon the Emir to appoint him deputy in that city—the sad process pursued by unwise governors. Thefts were then legalized; oppression was supported by authority; crushing of the weak became commonplace; the throngs curried and praised.
Thus does the first touch of humanity’s selfishness make killers of the sons of peace; thus does the early greed of humanity grow and strike back at humanity a thousandfold!” Excerpt from The Criminal by Khalil Gibran.
I sincerely hope the Tunisian people will build on the momentum generated by the manifestations against the social injustices and other recent events to create a better country. I’m confident in the uprising of the people for justice and equality: “Be glad, for Peace has carried me back safely to you, and humanity has restored what greed essayed to take from us.”
As a word of encouragement to my brothers and sisters, I would like to share some literary work by inspiring Arabic poets and writers.
The Country by Fathi Abul Nasr (Yemen)
The country in the news is not the one that lives on one meal a day, and these lovers who do not raise their voices with song resemble the poets who would never dare write an unmetered poem.
Both are among the main causes why we are punished with the presence of the president’s picture everywhere we look.
Translated by Akram Rhomdan
A Prayer by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)
I was less than seven years old when I said a prayer for the revolution.
One morning I went to my primary school, escorted by the maid. I walked like someone being led off to prison. In my hand was a copybook, in my eyes a look of dejection, in my heart a longing for anarchy. The cold air stung my half-naked legs below my shorts. We found the school closed, with the janitor saying in a stentorian voice, “Because of the demonstrations there will again be no school today.”
A wave of joy flowed over me and swept me to the shores of happiness.
From the depths of my heart I prayed to God that the revolution might last forever.
Excerpt from the New Age by Khalil Gibran (Lebanon)
The world today is torn between two currents of ideas, one fixed in the past and the other aspiring to the future. And because they are both lacking in strength and will, the ideas of yesterday will be vanquished forever.
On earth there is an awakening, for the sun is its guide and the dawn its army.
At the present time two masters inhabit this world: one commands and makes himself obeyed, even if he is a decrepit old man who is by the day. And the other remains silent, conforms to law and order and awaits quietly the arrival of justice, even though he is a colossus with muscular arms who, confident in his existence, knows his own strength and believes in his own values.
The Will of Life by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi (Tunisia)
If the people will to live
Providence is destined to favourably respond
And night is destined to fold
And the chains are certain to be broken
And he who has not embraced the love of life
Will evaporate in its atmosphere and disappear.
Translated by As’ad Abu Khalil.
From A State of Siege (2002) by Mahmoud Darwish (Palestine)
A country on the verge of dawn,
we have become less intelligent,
because we stare into victory’s hour:
no night in our artillery-glistened night
our enemies are sleepless,
and our enemies ignite the light for us
in the blackness of shelters
Translated by Fady Joudah
And I would like to end with Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi’s poem:
To the Tyrants of the World
Hey you, the unfair tyrants…
You the lovers of the darkness…
You the enemies of life…
You’ve made fun of innocent people’s wounds; and your palm covered with their blood
You kept walking while you were deforming the charm of existence and growing seeds of sadness in their land
Wait, don’t let the spring, the clearness of the sky and the shine of the morning light fool you…
Because the darkness, the thunder rumble and the blowing of the wind are coming toward you from the horizon
Beware because there is a fire underneath the ash
Who grows thorns will reap wounds
You’ve taken off heads of people and the flowers of hope; and watered the cure of the sand with blood and tears until it was drunk
The blood’s river will sweep you away and you will be burned by the fiery storm.
ألا أيها الظالم المستبد
حبيب الظلام عدو الحياه
سخرت بأنات شعب ضعيف
و كفك مخضوبة من دماه
و سرت تشوه سحر الوجود
و تبذر شوك الاسى في رباه
رويدك لا يخدعنك الربيع
و صحو الفضاء و ضوء الصباح
ففي الافق الرحب هول الظلام و قصف الرعود و عصف الرياح
حذار فتحت الرماد اللهيب
و من يبذر الشوك يجن الجراح
تأمل هنالك انى حصدت رؤوس الورى و زهور الأمل
و رويت بالدم قلب التراب اشربته الدمع حتى ثمل
سيجرفك سيل الدماء
و يأكلك العاصف المشتعل