A musical prayer for Libya

For over 6 months, ordinary Libyans have sacrificed, fought and died in order to finally rid themselves of the terror & opression they’ve lived under for almost 42 years. At this point, victory & freedom for Libyans may finally be close.

In the last week, towns and cities all over western Libya have been freed. Only Tripoli remains, and it seems as if tonight and tomorrow may begin the final stand against the dictator. Many of us are holding our breaths.

So, in support of Libya and Libyans, a small bit of Libyan music & other notes…

Last Friday, I spent an hour in the CKLN studios with Paul Corby, chatting and playing some music. I played about 10 minutes of some Libyan music and talked about the country a bit, and my experiences with Libya and Libyans.

I started with a short excerpt of Gaddafi’s YouTube hit, “Zenga Zenga”:

In one of  his first speeches after the people’s uprising began, Gaddafi vowed to hunt out the “rats” house by house, alley by alley. In Libyan Arabic, “alley by alley” is “zenqa zenqa”.

A Libyan journalist & musician, Noy Alooshe, watched this speech and Gaddafi’s “trance”-like movements and speech. He auto-tuned Gaddafi’s words with a song, “Hey Baby” by rapper Pitbull. Conan O’Brien rechristened it “Zenga Zenga”, and Gaddafi was a YouTube star

At every Libyan event I go to, people break out into song: improvising ant-Gaddafi lyrics to Libyan football songs, and although I don’t understand much Arabic, I always hear the words “zenga zenga”

Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBY-0n4esNY


Next, I played a bit of the song “I Will Remain”, written and sung by Dr Adel Idris Almsheeti. The song was written in the early days of the revolution about the people massing in the streets and squares of Benghazi. I also hear this song at most Libyan events.

“We will stay here until the pain [Gaddafi] goes away”

“Ya Bladi” (My Country)
by Ahmed Fakroun, a popular Libyan singer from Benghazi. He is one Libyan singer who has had some success in Europe, but I admit I find some of his music a bit too “Euro-pop’y”, but I like the sound of this song.

“Oh my country, loving you is always on my mind
Nothing in the world is more precious than you”


I then played a couple of pieces of Amazigh (Berber) music.

The Amazigh people are the original inhabitants of North Africa. (The Arabs moved in in the 7th century). Today they are a minority, but their presence extends from Libya west to Morocco.

They struggle to maintain their culture and language in most of those countries, but none more so than Libya where Gaddafi has done his best to eliminate traces of their culture. (Even outlawing the use of Amazigh names for babies).

But Amazigh means “Free Men”, and they soon joined the fight against Gaddafi, experiencing horrific attacks and shelling in the Jabal Nafusa (“Western Mountains”) of Libya. I have been to almost all of those towns, so followed that news carefully.

As of this week, that whole region has been liberated.

On Paul’ s show, I played some of this song, recorded in 2007 or 2008 by the group Ossan from Zuwara. The photos are like a travelogue of the area; I recognize the whole area.

And there’s this short piece, by an unknown (to me) musician, played on two guitar strings
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_uOv5St8OE?wmode=transparent]

For more about the situation regarding Amazigh culture: http://english.libya.tv/2011/07/11/amazigh-culture-reborn-in-libya-revolution/


I did not play any Toureg music however, as I had earlier played a song by Bombino, the Touareg guitarist/singer from Niger (I have posted other notes and videos about him). However, you can hear some Libyan Touareg music here: http://www.musicme.com/#/Touareg-De-Fewet/albums/?play=3259119783121


And beyond my CKLN  selections:

A YouTube page with some traditional Libyan music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw28B_xflHk&playnext=1&list=PL4D02B9AC…

My (lengthy) journal of my first trip to Libya in 2006: www.jookjoint.ca/libya.  My Libyan blog: www.libyatoronto.com, and Libyan twitter feed: @libyatoronto

And finally, a voice from the grave:

The first international interview with a Libyan “rebel”, was done on Feb. 19. Mohammed Nabous was one of the inspiring figures of the Libyan revolution, a citizen journalist who helped start Libya’s new free journalism. This clip remains one of the iconic moments of the Libyan revolution.

He pleaded for help from the outside world. That help came exactly one month later… the same day he was killed by a sniper

Asked what help he was asking for, he said:

We want our freedom.

Tell Gaddafi to LEAVE. We want him to leave. Its enough! We have suffered for 42 years! Ask him to stop killing us. We just want to live FREE… We want our basic human rights.

I’m not afraid to die. I’m afraid to lost the battle.