January 22, 2009

Gaza… even some Zionists are horrified

Filed under: testimonies — newritings @ 8:35 pm


On the 15 January 2009, I wrote to Professor Stephen Zunes from the Department of Politics of the University of San Francisco whom I know as both a progressive Jewish activist and advocate of non-violence. I wanted to get progressive Jewish voices to speak in this blog of how they see the GAZA massacres and what was the future of non-violent action. Not all the questions I posed were answered, but this response from a busy academic, intellectual and comrade.

Dr. Zunes is a foreign affairs columnist for the National Catholic Reporter and a regular contributor to the Common Dreams website and Tikkun magazine.

Hi Hassen, Nice hearing from you. Here are three articles I’ve posted in recent weeks on the Gaza situation: Congress Defends Israeli War Crimes in Gaza (Alternet Jan. 13, 2009), Democrats Are Cowards in the Face of Israel’s Brutality (Alternet Jan. 6, 2009) and America’s Hidden Role in Hamas’s Rise to Power (Alternet Jan. 4, 2009). The key issue for me is not just the flagrant war crimes committed by the Israeli government, but the fact that the only reason they have been able to get away with it is as a result of the military, diplomatic and economic support of the United States. Without that, the international community would be able to impose international sanctions or other pressure that would have put a stop to it early on or, more likely, just the threat of such action would have prevented this kind of thing from happening in the first place. As a result, while I have long advocated the Palestinians escalating their nonviolent resistance instead of terrorism and other forms of armed struggle, I believe the most important place for nonviolence resistance is here in the United States to force the U.S. government to end the unconditional support for Israeli militarism. Incidentally, even some people who identify as Zionists (in the sense that they identify as Jewish nationalists but open to sharing the land with Palestinian nationalists) are horrified with what’s been happening in Gaza. With a blank check from the U.S., however, the most hard core and racist tendencies within Zionism have come to dominate. I’ve long argued that the United States is “supporting” Israel out of geostrategic interests, not because of an all-powerful Jewish lobby. The United States was quite willing to support Indonesia’s brutal oppression of East Timor and has been quite willing to support Morocco’s ongoing oppression of Western Sahara without a domestic minority group forcing our hand to do so. If the American foreign policy elite decided it was in the U.S. interest to drop support for this kind of thing, they could do it in a moment. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts and for an opportunity to share mine. In Peace, Stephen


January 20, 2009

Barcelona FC gets its supporters early

Filed under: re-creating — newritings @ 5:34 pm
Get them early

Get them early

Saturday 17 January 2009
8pm- Camp Nou. Barcelona

8 months old FCBSoci nr 169674, watched her first live match of her club Barça beating Deportivo (5-0), with two sons of Africa (Thierry Henry – France – and Samuel Eto’o) both scoring two goals each, and with Lionel Messi (Argentinian great) scoring the other.  Her grandparents Antoni and Angeles have signed her up (then September 2008, the club had 169674 registered, paying members) and it is not seen as a big deal but quite normal in Catalunya. This, amongst other measures, effectively ensures that the supporters  control their club, unlike in England and even our beloved South Africa where companies and oil sheiks are even in charge of our leisure time. Her grandfather saw his first match when he was 3 years old, and Marta and her brother when they were much younger.

All that may be remembered in years to come is that she came, Barça conquered, and L spent the second half eating a lot of bread and from time to time jumping out of fright, as her uncle Jordi screamed GOAALLLLLL. Barça is a family supported team that represents the nationalist sentiment of all Catalans, and generally there is not very much noisy singing. She generally speaking was cool and collected, but for the occasional Mexican Waves and sporadic chants. Of course, if this team wins many awards, she can truly say that she was both a paid up member who witnessed the journey to many victories. Barça have scored so many goals and the likes of Henry (best player of the night), Eto’o and Messi have scored amongst them more goals than the whole of Real Madrid during this season.

Whilst winning is always joyous, especially if they are playing the game as all clubs should: simple and elegant, we must remember that Barça is more than a club, a concept woven in its struggle against Francoism. The club says of the slogan “more than a club” that it is open-ended in meaning.

It is perhaps this flexibility that makes it so appropriate for defining the complexities of FC Barcelona’s identity, a club that competes in a sporting sense on the field of play, but that also beats, every day, to the rhythm of its people’s concerns. This than is the club that our daughter is a member of…

P.S. On this night Marta, L and I saw the match courtersy of the absence of the season holders L’s grandparents, who were out of town, skiing.

January 19, 2009

SONG FOR PALESTINE, poem by Don Materra

Filed under: poetry — newritings @ 7:21 pm

This poem was written not for this recent onslaught against the Palestinians, but remains relevant. Materra is a South African Poet – the bard of liberation.

Bra Don Mattera by Anton Hammerl

Palestine, O Palestine
land of miracles wondrous,
of idols stern and ancient
a plundered place of plenty
of scourged, purged prophets,
and histories of blood, battery and bondage.

Today, when the feet and hands of Africa
are still bound by ethnic enmity,
and most states enjoy sovereignity
and belong to the global family
but you, beutiful, beloved Palestine
are orphaned by the tyranny of Israel
and their Martian masters.

Africa sings from its deep heart
Africa, that witnessed the first outbreak of creation,
the same Africa
that gave succour and sanctuary
to the Chosen Messengers of the Book
Lo, the stars dance over Jerusalem,
a mesmerising moon swoons in Gaza
as children challenge chicanery
with slings and stones,
torn flesh, bruised brows and broken bones.

Palestine, O Palestine,
Your hour is come…

Besieged, beleagured Palestine,
not here, are we to decry
your solemn, dynamite reapers
the ultimate harvest of their sacrifice,
nor say what anthems
may speak or measure the devastation
by an unheeding, unfeeling world.

Even this frail poetic fragment
cannot assuage your loss
nor renew the lost days and broken nights
but did not our caring breath
keep fresh the flowers of your affliction,
and memory, write the scroll
of your patience and conviction.

We know the remembered carnage
sucks deep the soul of Palestine,
that the yearning for nationhood
should be made a mockery
and your cause, a compromise
when so much was given by you
yet so little gained.

This song,
daughters and sons
of beautiful, beloved Palestine,
is for you,
sung from the deepest soul of Africa…

by Don Materra

About the poem and the man, briefly

Although written 10 years ago, it remains both fresh and relevant, facing bullets and stale words of zionist propaganda, let’s join bra Don as we sing for Palestine. This poem was written during the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s official state visit to the Republic of South Africa, where Don Mattera, the bard of liberation, was his guest. Date: august 1998.

Mattera says:

I was born into the struggle. When the first Dutch came here in 1652 and engaged with the people, that was the start of the the struggle. The struggle to me has no phases. The struggle began when colonialism began in this country and the aborigines of this country were oppressed. My grandmother comes from the Xhosa and the Khoikhoi and in her time the struggle was there, in her mother’s time, the Khoisan women, the struggle was there. It was in my genes. The fact is I was born in a certain family and classified by the apartheid overlords. It stands to reason that that is when the struggle began, from the time of my birth. However, I graduated, I am sure, at a specific point.
I became a street kid and a gangster fighting in the street and we saw this political parody being played out before our eyes.  We heard the leaders speak out against the system of apartheid and its progenitors as well as its functionaries.  For me, Don Mattera, it was just a matter of time before I would break the hold of the street, the poverty, the gangsterism, and the socialisation process that was taking place at the time.
In 1950, 1951, 1952 Sophiatown was a hub. Sophiatown is the legendary township outside Johannesburg city and a great cosmopolitan population of people including Italians, Scots, Jews, you name whatever European tribe, lived there. This is where I came from. In 1952 there was the defiance of unjust laws campaign.

(For more of the interview with Madi Gray go here)

PS ABOUT THE PHOTO: The post carries a beautiful photograph of the poet by Anton Hammerl, which you can see in his blog along with other of his works. We reproduce here the text that accompanies the picture: The Sophiatown tree, an English Oak believed to be over 100 years old, survived the removals of the cosmopolitan community in the 1950s and 1960s. Members of various gangs living in the ghetto suburb used it as a meeting place. Poet, writer and former gangster Don Mattera refers to it in his book Gone with the Twilight. Religious leaders and activists also used to rendezvous under its branches. However, there is also a sad side to its history. It became known as “the hanging tree” when two people hanged themselves from its branches, one objecting to the forced removals from Sophiatown.

January 13, 2009

Another African footballer speaks out… and is joined by his Catalan coach

Filed under: opinion article — newritings @ 5:28 pm

Seydou Keita, born on the historic 16 June (for South Africans), has spoken out in favour of Palestinian rights and against the bombings of Palestinians in Gaza ( The player, also from Mali, used to play for Sevilla FC alongside Kanoute, and now plies his trade at Barça.

Meanwhile Sports (web and article) gave the thumbs down to the Spanish football association for imposing a fine on Kanoute. They point out that Kanoute should not be fined for “using his freedom of expression, a basic right in a democratic society.”

zapiroIN a latest article, the web of Sport reports that Pep Guardiola joined in the outrage against the fine, saying that it was disproportional as Kanoute had limited his statement to only the name Palestine. The player has been fined 3000 euros.The paper further reports that Guardiola realizes that players do not live isolated from society and that the massive killings in Gaza prompted Kanoute to speak out.

Guardiola believes the fine must not be used in circumstances like this as it would stop players from expressing an opinion: “the fine is totally disproportionate. If fine such as this were always applicable, there would be no journalists giving their opinion. Any war is absurd and too many innocent people have died…”

January 12, 2009

For Nevaeh: loving you and finding closure

Filed under: testimonies — newritings @ 12:48 am

Marcelle Moses, a mother and trade unionist with the National Union of Mineworkers affiliated to COSATU, uses writing as therapy to heal herself and hopefully other sisters who have experienced stillbirths. Stillbirths, defined as babies born dead during the last 12 weeks of pregnancy, are still to be systematically counted in many countries, but are estimated to run into millions. This is her story, unsolicited, and as family I know it took exceptional guts for her to write and share it. May great joy, camaderie and love find you, Marce. In solidarity. Hassen

This was written a week after the passing away of my baby girl whom I was carrying for just over 7 and 1/2 months.  Today, the 12th of January 2009, is exactly one year and yes the pain is still as fresh as ever and I still remember how I had to give birth to my stillborn baby.  I wish to thank the father for being by my side throughout this traumatic time for both of us, where I had to be in labour for one whole day before I finally delivered our stillborn baby girl.

I share this experience with family and friends as a way of saying thank you for standing by our sides during these times. A special thank you goes to the father of our baby girl and his family for the love and support. Most of all, I write this for all the women who have gone through the same experience as I and are still struggling to find closure. I hope in a small way that our story may assist them in coming to terms with their loss.

I pray that you will be able to freely let go of your little angels as well so that they too will find their resting place.


My special little gift from God
I prayed and hoped for a miracle.  And was overwhelmed when I was blessed with a special gift when my little Angel started her precious little life within me.

A special feeling that one cannot express entirely and a feeling only a mother knows.

I carried her for almost eight months, until she was called home to Heaven, which was her rightful home. Maybe that is why we called her Nevaeh which is Heaven spelled backwards. She shared a very special place within our hearts, which will always be treasured. But if it were my responsibility to carry baby Nevaeh for just that period so that I could prepare her for her rightful responsibilities in Heaven, then I am truly honored and grateful to have been awarded that precious Gift of carrying her and the life I shared with my baby Girl for just that brief a period.

She was our beauty and knowing how Angelic she was within me, especially during spiritual encounters, I am certain that she makes a Beautiful Angel wherever she is.  We will always love you dearly Nevaeh and will always remember the special place you filled within our hearts. We will always remember the special moments we shared with music, dancing, praying and just talking. Remember you will always be young and beautiful to us. Our first and last looks of you as well as your physical beauty are something we will remember, but we will always treasure the eight special months you brought into our lives and the times we shared with you, our special little Angel.

Love you always until we meet again.  Mummy, Shannon, the Moses and Chetty Family.


Nevaeh you filled a very special place within my heart, for just a brief period. Brief because I would have opted for a lifetime with you. I do however respect God’s wish, so if it were his wish that my responsibility was to share your life for just this brief eight months I am truly humbled with my brief responsibility. It is however human that we sometimes never understand that we are all but just passing through, and no matter how hard it is for me to endure that even though you will always be my baby, you did not belong to me. I was the chosen one for only that brief a period. Even though it was so brief the beauty that grew within me was so special and very precious a gift indeed, which I will always Treasure.

Your briefness and your sudden leaving left an empty shell within me. I however choose to create a haven where I will fill that emptiness with all the special moments I shared with you during the most precious eight months of my life and of sharing your life with you.

Farewell my little Angel until we meet again love you dearly Mummy.


January 11, 2009

The people take to the street

Filed under: opinion article — newritings @ 1:04 pm

Poster of the demonstration in Barcelona on January 10, 2009

Poster of the demonstration in Barcelona on January 10, 2009

– Homage to Gaza, Palestine

The global protests against the attacks on Gaza are the only light on a very dark period of our epoch. An epoch, it must be said, where might is right and they try to fake their right as might, but we are not biting. The people are seeing through all these mis-rulers and are speaking out with their feet.

The thing that galls me, is that some – let’s say the chosen ones – anointed, armed and “protected” (in more ways than you can imagine) by the USA government and the European Union leaders (not to talk of the so-called mediator Tony Blair) can kill and maim, mutilate and do whatever they want to Palestinians in full glare of the media and TV cameras (despite journalists not being allowed in by Israel) and world public opinion. I recall a discussion with one colleague whom I work with in one global organization: I concluded that at least now these events are in the open and transparent, and what must inevitably follow is that the perpetrators of these “crimes against humanity” must be made to account. (Many have said that this must be before the International Criminal Court, although both Israel and the USA are not signatories to it, which will make it difficult. This, however, must be a subject for another discussion, suffice to say that where there is a will there can be a way. Yet I fear there is no will, thus I will evade the question of structure and stick to the principles of accountability.) Transparency and accountability are to paraphrase a popular classic like love and marriage or a horse and carriage. The light shines on those who do wrong, we then are able to record the names and histories of the victims, the survivors and the violators of gross human rights. This as usual will be a victors’ justice, but the victory must be the people… the best values and aspirations of human beings, which have endured years of repression as the tortured lexicon of liberation and justice itself took a beating by those who were once victims. Governments and other elites are not willing to speak the truth to the men with bigger guns, most of them their clients and or friends – allies. So this has been left once again to “we the people” to march and shout that we remain steadfast, with guts to speak the truth to power. Their response is tortured and injured words (like self-defense, survival, proportionate force, surgical strikes), and bombed out morality – not in plain English but pained propaganda –, itself a weapon of mass deception, aiming at defeating reason and evidence.

Yesterday the march against the horror of the Israeli attacks attracted what organizers say was over 100 000 people. Organised by a coalition of organizers and coordinated by, it was one of the biggest that I have ever attended… and we (mum, baby and I) could not see the end nor the start of the march, as we walked from down Via Laietana into St. Jaume square – the home of most protests in Barcelona.

The march was lively and waves of groups marched under their organizational – community banner, singing their songs of outrage in their own tongues, Arabic, Catalan, Spanish and a few in English. The banners were as diverse as the groups that marched, which I will touch on later. Children too were in attendance as were those who walked with their bicycles, their dogs, with lovers, in family groups or simply alone: united in the outrage to these serial killings

Organizers had waves of people enter the square where the manifesto was read out and the liberation hymn written by Lluis Llach – L´Estaca – was sang in Arabic and in Catalan, to at least 5 or 6 waves of protestors. This song is known to Catalan nationalists and progressives and was sung to packed houses during the dictatorship of Franco at in particular Camp Nou amongst other venues.

Composed by Lluís Llach 1968, it remains a beacon for those fighting for justice internationally, and the various factions of Palestinians doing battle today: it calls for unity in action to achieve freedom.

The first time I heard this song sung was by a Tunisian singing it in Arabic, at the outskirts of a GCAP meeting in Montevideo, with a beaming Marta screaming “it’s our song, our song…” IN fact, it is now a universal song and even the Solidarność – the union movement in Poland – adopted it as their anthem. It’s ours, truly… below we will reproduce the words in English, and Spanish and its original Català.

Before signing off, let me share briefly some of my observations:

– The blatant killings and the denial of basic rights to all Palestinians has brought to the fore the only peaceful “action” to global civil society, of boycotting, disinvesting and isolating Zionist Israel as was so successful in the case of Apartheid South Africa.

– The Israeli military strategy is in part aimed at weakening Hamas and boosting other forces more pliant to Israel and the US interests (see BBC) in the short term, is not working. At least in the court of international public opinion, who see this as gross bullying which impugns what is human in all of us.

– These protests/marches globally have come out despite the mass media, which in the main tried to show “objectivity” in showing suffering on “so called both sides” of the “war”. I watched a CNN broadcast recently, where they even try to show the military forces on the ground and the commentator was at pains to try and show some sort of military parity “on the face of it the Israeli army is one of the best resourced, etc. but Hamas rockets, smuggled…” blah, blah, it was obvious to all viewers who are watching from afar that there was no balance of forces here. In addition, what cannot be denied is that the weapons used by the Israeli army are made in the USA. “Just last September, Congress approved a $77 million dollar deal to sell a thousand Boeing GBU-39 bunker-buster “smart bombs” to Israel. The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that these small, GPS-guided missiles have now been used on underground tunnels and launchers in Gaza.” And innocent people are dying.

– It is reported that Israel is using white phosphorous as a weapon and not for illumination, banned by international law… and it is killing people.

– The mass and indiscriminate killing despite smart bombs directed from high in the sky or cushy seats in the Israeli cabinet is fermenting anti Israeli sentiments which may spill over into anti Jewish sentiment. During the march, we saw at least two posters in the march (clearly a minority) which read “Hitler is not dead, I saw him he lives in Tel Aviv” drawing reference to the methods used by the Israeli government which many associate with fascism. These views are more an expression of great disappointment that some of those who have suffered violence and genocide do not learn the lessons of their own oppression…

– The majority of signs at the rally spoke of an end to the killings and for us not to accept this indignity of the attacks: my favourite was “Si tolerem l’intolerable ho fem possible” / “if we tolerate the intolerable we make it possible”.

– The earlier demonstration of 2 January (same square but no march through the city) was attended by a substantial number of the protestors coming from the Arab speaking community (living and working in Catalunya, with many hundreds of Catalans too) and for the first time, I saw the reappearance of the indefatigable shoe as a symbol of protest, thanks to George Bush. In addition, I noticed for the very first time people using their faith to express solidarity and probably to indicate their political leanings towards the legitimately elected government in Gaza of Hamas. This they did through the mass reading of some surats in the Quran. (kalema shahadat and al hamdulila)

– The march of 10 January was truly a broad church with people supporting an end to the war on Gaza and not Hamas, although they acknowledge that they won the election and they were never allowed to show us what they could do, when Israel and other states including the USA undermined them at every turn using all at their disposal, blockades and even assassination and finally war. I would say the protests were Jamas to war on innocent people of Gaza rather than a Yes to Hamas, the party.

– The ilogic of collective punishment meted out by Israeli army was illustrative. If the logic and the right of Israel (which condones attacks on innocent citizens) is granted to others by the US government, EU, particularly Tony Blair and others – then they will be condoning terrorism. But they do not oppose it now? why? Is it not a clear statement that Palestinian are not regarded as humans and therefore it is easy to condone the killings. Add to all this the incessant pressure on Palestinian groups, in particular Hamas, to accept Israel’s right to exist, but with no reciprocal right to the Palestinians right to exist in their land with full rights and the right of refugees to return to the place of their birth. This is scandalous.

– It is disturbing that what is happening in the Gaza is referred to as a WAR… I would accept if it means the war on Gaza which started many months before, in particular after the elections of Hamas whereafter Israel blockaded access to outside trade and travel and basic resources to the people of Gaza. Slow death, if you ask me. Staved of oil and spare parts for months before the attack as part of the plan to isolate and pre-kill, soften up the people of Gaza and Hamas for the kill. Not a fair fight by any stretch of the imagination. When pro Israel lobbyists insist as a basis for peace-ceasefire whatever, they insist that the tunnels used to transport food, weapons, etc. from Egypt be closed but they do not say that the military aid they get from the USA too be stopped. It is believed that the USA support for Israel runs into the billions, approximately 2 bn US dollars per annum, at a conservative estimate.

– Some reports informed us that things were so bad that the sewerage from Gaza has been dumped into the sea. The Grassroots Committee Against the Wall claims that the sewage dumping is one of a number of tactics being employed by Israel to “ensure that life along the Wall’s path remains unbearable”, adding, “Surrounded by settlements and under the control of an Occupation watchtower surveying the village, Brukin faces land destruction and home demolitions for the construction of the Apartheid Wall all along the northern stretch of its residential areas.”

– So when over-kill came with their F16’s and other callous weapons of mass destruction unleashed on a people who were already under seize and blockade, starved (literally short of food and basic necessities), it was clear proof that for the Israeli government and their cabinet the Palestinians are not human.

– To end, we must think carefully about this logic used in justifying the attacks against the people of Gaza – the Palestinians. The logic goes something like this: We are fighting Hamas. We are doing everything to avoid civilians. They voted for a group that we regard, and the world regards, as terrorist (implied, regrettably they must live with the consequences of their decisions). If we apply the same logic to Israel of any other country in the west, this could be regarded as supporting terrorism. As I write the Israeli cabinet approves the next phase of ground attacks inside Gaza? Does it make all Israelis equally culpable? The reported on global protests recently but ended with this: “Despite worldwide condemnation, the population of Israel appear to be strongly in favour of the bombing campaign targeting Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza.”

– A poll today suggested that some 95 per cent of Israel’s Jewish population supports the bombardment of Hamas. Eighty per cent of the poll of 800 people backed the operation “without reservation,” according to the survey published in the Maariv newspaper.

– Even the leftwing Meretz party, which normally opposes such operations, gave its blessing to the offensive

– For those who subscribe to the politics of hate must remember what Gandhi said: “an eye for an eye will make us all blind”. We cannot defeat terror with terror, nor deceit by deceit. Truth will expose Blair and others who continue to blame victims. So I do not agree with terror but in its place demand Justice: We demand those who kill innocent people must have their day in a modern day Nuremberg officiated by a jury of civilians and not military victors. Someday these “people” who dehumanize others through oppression and violence will have to account. Luckily, there are those inside who continue to say: not in our name. This is small but it is a sign that the human spirit is still alive. We must keep the flames burning.

L’estaca                                                The stake


L’avi Siset em parlava(*)              Grandpa Siset spoke with me
de bon matí al portal                early in the morning, in the frontdoor
mentre el sol esperàvem                  while we were wainting for the sun
i els carros veiem passar.                   and we saw passing the cars(*)

Siset que no veus l’estaca                   Siset, don’t you see the stake
a on estem tots lligats?                             where we all are tied?
Si no podem desfer-la                                  If we cannot undo it
mai no podrem caminar!                            we won’t be able to walk!

Si estirem tots ella caurà                If we all pull it, it will fall
i molt de temps no pot durar,                  and it can’t last much time,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,               surely it falls, falls, falls,
ben corcada deu ser ja.                        it must be worm-eatn by now.

Si jo l’estiro fort per aqu¡,                  If i pull hard towards here,
i tu l’estires fort per allà,                and you pull it towards there,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,             i’m sure it falls, falls, falls,
i ens podrem alliberar!                       and we’ll be able to be free!

Però ja fa molt temps ja!                   But it’s been a long time, now!
Les mans se’m van escorxant!                          My hands are peeling!
I quan la for!a se me’n va                           And when my force goes
ella és més ampla i més gran.                        it’s wider and bigger.

Ben cert és que està podrida,                       Yes I know it’s rotten,
però és que, Siset, pesa tant,          but you know, Siset, it’s so heavy,
que a cops la for!a m’oblida.                   sometimes force forgets me.
Torna’m a dir el treu cant:                      Say me again your singing:

Si estirem tots ella caurà                  If we all pull it, it will fall
i molt de temps no pot durar,                  and it can’t last much time,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,               surely it falls, falls, falls,
ben corcada deu ser ja.                        it must be worm-eatn by now.

Si jo l’estiro fort per aqu¡,                  If i pull hard towards here,
i tu l’estires fort per allà,                and you pull it towards there,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,             i’m sure it falls, falls, falls,
i ens podrem alliberar!                       and we’ll be able to be free!

L’avi Siset ja no diu res               Grandpa Siset doesn’t speak anymore
mal vent que se’l va emportar                    bad wind who took him away
ell qui sap cap a quin indret                          he, who knows where,
i jo aquí sota el portal                        and me, here under the door

i quan passen els nous vailets                    and when new boys pass by
estiro el coll per cantar                          i strech my neck to sing
el darrer cant d’en Siset                              Siset’s last singing
lo darrer que em va ensenyar(*)                 the last thing he taught me

Si estirem tots ella caurà                  If we all pull it, it will fall
i molt de temps no pot durar,                  and it can’t last much time,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,               surely it falls, falls, falls,
ben corcada deu ser ja.                        it must be worm-eatn by now.

Si jo l’estiro fort per aquí,                  If i pull hard towards here,
i tu l’estires fort per allà,                and you pull it towards there,
segur que tomba, tomba, tomba,             i’m sure it falls, falls, falls,
i ens podrem alliberar!                       and we’ll be able to be free!

January 9, 2009

Kanoute is Palestinian, we are all Palestinians

Filed under: opinion article — newritings @ 11:14 am

On February 7th, after scoring for Sevilla FC against Depor in a Copa del Rey competition, Frédéric Oumar Kanouté showed that some footballers know more than balls, and have the courage to show it. After his goal, Kanoute lifted his jersey over his head and momentarily he became Palestinian (see photo) and there to full global exposure inscribed was the verb PALESTINE  in many languages (now they cannot say they did not know what was/is happening). For his efforts he wrongly got a yellow card, and is likely to be fined by the Spanish Football Association. If they fine him, they must be red-carded by us all. The word Palestine is under attack, and they can cut the player some slack.

ON the other hand, Kanoute is making a small sacrifice in comparison to the almost 600 Palestinians killed and close to 3000 injured. Kanoute knew beforehand that he would be yellow carded and probably fined.

The Palestinian embassy in Spain said that: “It is a very important step forward. Kanouté has proved to be a very brave person supporting our people in a public event. (…) Sportsmen are human beings and cannot suppress their feelings. They have the right to show their opinion on issues that attempt against human rights. All Palestinian kinds, who love Spanish football, must have loved his gesture.” Gesture that coincides with Mahmud Abbas visit to Spain.

I remember another reason I was proud of Kanoute. Although born in born September 2, 1977 in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon in France and having played at under 21 level for France he had a choice of whom to play for: Mali or France. He chose Mali, and has excelled as both a footballer and a person since. During the 2004 African Cup of Nations Cup he was joint top goal scorer for Mali and assisted his country to reach the semi finals.

On researching this short piece, I learnt that Oumar is a devout Muslim and contributes consistently to charitable courses, once bailing out a Mosque in Spain that run into a contractual troubles. Wikipedia says this of the player:

Frédéric Kanouté has been practising Islam since he was around the age of 20. This meant that his current club in the 2006/07 La Liga season, Sevilla, had to give him a brand-free jersey every match, because of the club’s sponsor (, an internet gambling site): gambling is against the principles of Islam. The company, however, agreed to give some money to an Islamic charity in return for Kanouté wearing the sponsored kit.

His foundation says that it aims for “Tackling poverty through jobs & opportunities – Not handouts”. His Trust sees that the “endless cycle of malnutrition and disease maybe the result of poverty, but the root cause of poverty in rural Africa and Asia is a lack of jobs and opportunities.” Current projects include:

PS – footnote: at the time of publishing this article spectators in the match Osasuna – Athletic of Copa del Rey two days afterwards demonstrated their support for the Palestinian people by holding amongst others replica flags of Palestine (it made the news on TV).

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