September 2005


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Reflections - Cry, The Beloved Country

Three Thoughts I may or may not expand into independent notes on the coming days or weeks

1. Cry, The Beloved Country, the 1948 novel by South African novelist Alan Paton

I watch everyday on TV the ongoing war in Iraq, the killings, chaos and confusion, the deliberate material and psychological destruction of Iraq, the tearing apart of Iraq's social, cultural, ethnic and religious fabric and identities; a systematic evil plan to bomb Iraq back to Stone Age or at least to the level of the most backward countries of the world.
Recently, while watching this unfolding grotesque drama, I suddenly remembered Paton´s novel which my generation read in Arabic translation and admired in the fifties and sixties in an Iraq, which we logically were not satisfied with and even loathed, but know we know that that Iraq compared with the inferno of today was a paradise.

And I think to myself: wouldn´t be nice to put "Cry, the Beloved Country" in the subject line of the messages I send to Iraq list?

I will send for your information a note about Paton's novel.

2. Iraq

(English: Jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. German: Vom Regen in die Traufe. Spanish: Llover muerte sobre mojado. Arabic: Min sayi' ila aswa').
I love these proverbs. They describe the situation in Iraq, always moving from bad to worse.

It is by now quite clear that in today's Iraq to argue about who did, or is doing, what to whom, when, how, why and for what purpose is to engage in fruitless and nonsensical discussion.

I am not overly interested in this anymore.
This maybe interesting for those who are taking-stock today in preparation for that bright day in the future when we will take millions of data on CDs to that good for nothing old men chatter club you call UN Security Council to start a century of demanding compensation for all the destruction inflicted upon Iraq by so many countries, international mercenaries and organized crime.
Caution: don´t fall from your seat while examining that long list. It is indeed very long.

The who is who issue in Iraq is solved and the answers are given.
The only urgent and useful problem formulation for Iraq is to say: what is the way out of this nightmare, and how to organize the exit from this diabolic vicious circle?

This is the only hope that remains.
I think it is our duty to dedicate few moments everyday to think about this exit project and find ways for action. (Note that I am not using the term "Exit Strategy". After seeing it being abused by so many idiots, I started to hate the term.)

3. Arabic e-zine Elaph published a report few days ago about a celebration in my home city of Kirkuk to honor the lifework of my dear friend novelist and playwright Jalil Al-Qaissi, one of the founding members of our literary Kirkuk Group (other founding members: Mouayad Al-Rawi, Sargon Baulus, Jan Dammou, Anwar Al-Ghassani, Salah Faiq Saied, Fadhil Al-Azzawi. Many other joined the group later.)
Two photos were published with the report written by Nussrat Mardan, a Kirkukian journalist.

In one of the photos, on a cloth hanging from a wall announcing the name of the activity I could read three lines of a poem I wrote in 1993 about Jalil's internal voluntary exile in Kirkuk. Of all the founding members of the Kirkuk Group he was the only one who decided to stay in Kirkuk. All others left Iraq and went abroad.

The lines read:

When you walk in the streets of Kirkuk,
the building crumble down
to let the stone breathe.

Read the full poem in Arabic at my site:

The other interesting detail: in his report Mardan is suggesting that streets in Kirkuk are named after Kirkuk Group members.

Read the report in Arabic and see the photos: http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWeb/ElaphLiterature/2005/9/89090.htm

Anwar Al-Ghassani

(Lame Philemon protesting:

- Killings? You should know, there are different categories of physical elimination of persons. Also there are systems of arguments that may or may not justify them.
- I don´t care who is killing who and why. Nothing can justify killing human beings, creatures or whatever. I am against all shapes and forms of violence.
- You are using words like "I hate" and "idiots". You are becoming aggressive.
- Members of my broader Iraqi family are being killed everyday and you call me aggressive. What do you want me to do, say, "Fine, give us more of the same."?
- ....
- ..... )

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