Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ode to repression

No, not in the political sense, in the psychological one... Just thought I'd share a piece of an excellent Siwi poem that struck me as characteristically North African, with a theme reminding me strongly of Dahmane el Harrachi's song "Khabbi serrek yalghafel" (Hide your secret, neglectful one). Obviously, it doesn't work as well in my attempt at translation, but here goes:
Whatever you can, tie up and hide,
Don't give anyone a secret, on any side,
Just swallow it, it won't hurt inside.
If you let it out, it'll do the rounds.
Keep what happens to you underground,
By God alone to be finally found.


delmo said...

hi there Lameen

speaking of music, i hope you can help me a bit... maybe bulbul told u something about me, i'm the one writing about rachid taha and i have some questions for u, the most accute at the moment being: original arabic word for transcribed latin version of "guellal" (drum) and a kind of pipe called "ajouag"... was trying to find these online but failed... anyway, there would be some more things i'd like to know, but those would be better to write in an email, so please, contact me at

Anonymous said...

Please post the original of the poem, Lameen, in transliteration. I'd like to see how it rhymes and scans, even though I won't understand a word.

Anonymous said...

Rhymes quite well as not an easy task to achieve a good rhyme while trying to be accurate! Would be interesting to read the Siwi version though.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lameen,
I've just discovered your rather interesting blog and research topic, I hope you are having a great time in Siwa (if you are still there?). I am Kabyle myself and have always wondered if the Siwis (or the Neffusis for that matter) felt they belonged to a larger North-African Berber group as is mostly the case with Moroccan and Algerian Berbers. Does the word Amazigh exist there or does it ring any bells?
Enjoy your stay and take care mate!

PS: I guess Boumediène rather got his nickname from two saints of the Oranie region where he served during the war: Sidi El Houari and Sidi Boumediène but am not sure.

Glen Gordon said...

Gee, I can't help but feel that this is a rather depressing poem but the ethnologist midget inside me is looking for a greater cultural-specific meaning behind this.

Is there any cultural values or philosophy behind this poem that sheltered North Americans should know about? Or is this actually the product of longstanding political turmoil (although you did say that it wasn't political repression)? What is the context of these "secrets"? What are the limits to secrecy in these societies?

Just some fun pedantic questions I want to put out there. And I agree, the original language version would be nice to see alongside the translation.

Lameen Souag الأمين سواق said...

The word "Amazigh" is known, but only through contact with Algerians and Moroccans; those less familiar with the term tend to ask if it's really true that there are lots of Siwis in Algeria, and a few are quite surprised to hear that people that far away speak related languages. But in general Siwis think of themselves as having come from the west.

Boumedienne's name did come from Sidi El Houari - but Sidi El Houari's name came from his tribe, which was a fairly widespread one.