Friday, 31 August 2012

Always together

This is a song that I have kept hearing in Port Said. I've heard fleeting snippets of it from passing cars, and from ignored TV sets in the corners of busy coffee-houses, and from the shop units lining Palestine Street, on top of which is built a promenade, where courting couples feed each other ice-cream and gaze at the supertankers heading seawards from the canal.

The song is called دايما مع بعض | dayma maʕa baʕḍ | Always together, and was recently released by Mobinil, one of Egypt's largest mobile networks, who tend to release a new jingle at the end of Ramadan. Capitalising not only on the collective atmosphere at the end of the fasting month, but also the struggle for national unity as the country makes the transition to democracy, the song has been well designed to go viral.

علشان لازم نكون مع بعض
عشان شايلانا نفس الارض
عشان بكره اللي مستني
ومش عايز يفرق حد
ʕalašān lāzim nakūn maʕa baʕḍ
ʕašān šāyilānā nifs ilʔarḍ
ʕašān bukra illi mustanni
wi miš ʕāyiz yifarriʔ ḥad
Because we have to stay together
Because we are carried by the same earth
Because of tomorrow, which is waiting
And tomorrow doesn't want to separate anyone

Interestingly, each verse represents a different geographical community in Egypt. The first verse is the Nubian artist Hassan El Soghayar, then a large crowd represents the Ultras, the football fans whose presence in Tahrir Square helped maintain the revolutionary momentum. The next is a band from Port Said, whom the new friend I met in the port claims to know. This is my translation of their verse:

هيلا هيلا يا مركب وقوم شد القوع
وتكالنا على الله يالله ماحدش فينا هيموت مالجوع
في معدية واحد ماشي مانعرفوش ومد اديه
سحب شبكة وخد سمكة وسلم وراح
hīla hīla ya markib wi ʔūm šidd ilʔulūʕ
wi takalna ʕa_llah ya_llah mā-ḥadš fīna haymōt m-iggōʕ
fi_mʕaddiyya wāḥid māšī mā-naʕrifūš wi maddə ʔidīh
saḥab šabaka wi xud samaka wi sallim wi ṛāḥ
Heave-ho! Up with the sail, lads!
Our trust is in God that none of us will starve
A stranger walked over the bridge and held out both hands
Pulled up a net, took a fish, greeted us and off he went

After this merry band of sailors is the shrill voice of Jihan Maghawry in the style of rural music from the banks of the Nile. After the repeat of the chorus, a hip-hop band from Alexandria by the name of Asfalt have their twenty seconds of glory, followed by Hany El Saaeidy representing Upper Egypt, then Oka wi Ortega with a type of electronic pop heard all over the country, and finally a group of Bedouin singers from the Sinai.

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