Update: ‘Raise your keffiyeh, raise it,’ Mohammed Assaf sings, and there is jubilation in Palestine


Updated with tonight’s performance.

Ramallah June 21, 2013 (photo: Joseph Dana)


It’s the final night of competition on Arab Idol, and Mohammed Assaf sang his trademark song Ali Keffiyeh, and the crowd is going wild both in the auditorium and throughout the Arab world including of course…Palestine.

Here’s Mohammed singing the song, recorded in Gaza circa 2008, and we all know what happened in Gaza that same year.

The song is sung in a pure Palestinian dialect, and Assaf sings it with his Gazan tilt.
The song lists several names representing different singing and music styles of the Levant– in the same way that blue grass and the blues are associated with certain regions in the US– but in this case Ataba, Mijana, Diheya, Jafra are all folk music styles very popular in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Here are the Lyrics:

Raise your Keffiyeh Raise it
Sing the Ataba and Mijana and enjoy it

Shake your shoulders tenderly
Jafra, Ataba and Diheya

And let guns contribute and make it more fun [interesting double meaning, the song so far has been describing a wedding where people are singing the Ataba and Mijana and doing dabka, traditionally those were always accompanied by shooting guns in the air]

Raise the flag in Ramallah and Mountains of fire [Nablus’s nick name]
your proud head band is a symbol of grit and determination [Keffiyeh as a head dress was traditionally associated with head bands 3qal]
The first bullet tells the story of the journey
When the time comes, we make what’s up go down [rearranging an old Palestinian proverb]

Raise your Keffiyeh Raise it
Sing the Ataba and Mijana and enjoy it

We grew figs and olives in the orchard
We brought the wheat seeds and the lemon trees

When you call my country .. we will be ready
Lighting the victory paths in the battle day

Raise your Keffiyeh Raise it
Sing the Ataba and Mijana and enjoy it

It’s time to celebrate.


Previous posts about Mohammed Assaf here, here, here, and here.

Proceeding post 6/22; ‘A voice we will remember’ — Palestine waits to learn if Mohammed Assaf has won Arab Idol–UPDATE: Mohammed Assaf IS Arab Idol!!!

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