Sunday, June 21, 2015

Chouchou, Wikileaks and the Nation’s beggars

Pin ThisEmail This
"Who wants to buy? Who? Ministers and deputies for sale" sang comedy icon and comic genius Hassan Alaa’ddine – better known as Chouchou – in 1973. Forty-two years later, documents published by Wikileaks finally prove him right.

Recent documents published by Wikileaks reveal the names of Lebanese journalists, media owners, religious figures, politicians, ministers, members of parliament, even presidential candidates who queued at the Saudi embassy in Beirut to beg for money.

Got me thinking of Chouchou and his classic song Chehhadin ya baladna -Beggars my dear country: Our lands are for sale / To foreigners, my dear country / Our newspapers are for sale / To embassies, my dear country / Our consciences are for sale / To spies, my dear country / Going once, going twice, who wants to buy? Who? / Ministers and deputies for sale / Managers and employees for sale / Poets and writers for sale / All of them, all of them for sale.

Upon its release in 1973, the Lebanese authorities banned the song under the pretext that it was a threat the state security!

Over forty years later, recently released Wikileaks documents prove he was right – but we all knew that already, didn’t we?

Most importantly it shows that the real threat to Lebanon state security is not a song or a play or a book or a film, but all these politicians and media people ready to sell their voice to the highest bidder, begging embassies and foreign countries for money in exchange of various services.

If there’s not much we can do about it, at least we can still sing. We can sing Chouchou’s song. We can sing Chehhadin ya baladna


Beggars, my dear country
They call us beggars
Pickpockets, my dear country
They call us pickpockets
Who are we, my dear country?
We’re nothing but poor people
We are wronged, my dear country
We swear, we are wronged

We are thirsty, my dear country
And water is overpriced
We are hungry, my dear country
And we have no flour or rice
We are broke, my dear country
And all the banks are full
We’re not sure, my dear country
Why we complain, we’re not sure

Our lands are for sale
To foreigners, my dear country
Our newspapers are for sale
To embassies, my dear country
Our consciences are for sale
To spies, my dear country

Going once, going twice, who wants to buy? Who?

Ministers and deputies for sale
Managers and employees for sale
Poets and writers for sale
All of them, all of them for sale

You didn’t ask us why we steal
We steal because they stole from us
You didn’t ask us why we sell
We sell because they sold us
The big shots have robbed us
The big shots have sold us

And we are but insignificant little thieves, so insignificant

Beggars, my dear country
They call us beggars
Pickpockets, my dear country
They call us pickpockets
Who are we, my dear country?
We’re nothing but poor people
We are wronged, my dear country
We swear, we are wronged


(English adaptation by Maya Macaron)

No comments: