Preserving Music and Culture in Saharawi Refugee Camps

Ethnomusicologist & Project Leader Violeta Ruano writes about Stave House in the Sahara early childhood music education project and the socio-cultural landscape of the Saharawi refugee camps in Southwest Algeria.

Anywhere I go, few people know what on earth I am talking about when I mention that I teach music in refugee camps in the middle of the Sahara desert. Wait, what? Refugees? Western Sahara, is that a country? But are they Algerians? Nevertheless, despite being rather unknown, the Saharawi is one of the longest protracted refugee stories in Africa. The country where these refugees come from, ex-Spanish colony Western Sahara, is still pending decolonization since Morocco annexed it to its territory after Spain left in early 1976, forcing more than half of the population to flee and seek refuge in the nearby harsh Algerian desert. And there, daily battling with extreme temperatures, sandstorms, dust and lack of resources, the resilient Saharawis have been building their own nation in exile for the past 40 years.

stave campView of the Saharawi refugee camp of Boujdour, by Violeta Ruano

One of the most important survival strategies for the Saharawis has precisely been to preserve and bolster their traditional oral culture, which has always had music at its heart. Closely linked to the musical traditions of other parts of West Africa, especially Mauritania, traditional Saharawi music combines powerful poetry in Hassaniya – their local Arabic dialect – with a musical system based on modes, usually sung accompanied by instruments such as the tidinit (lute) and the tbal (drum). Throughout the past decades, the Saharawis have introduced many changes to their music, including revolutionary lyrics documenting their struggle and new instruments such as the electric guitar and the keyboards.

In addition, the Saharawis have also worked hard to provide as many varied educational opportunities for their children and youth to grow strong and independent. Since 1976, they have joined international grant schemes, built and managed local primary and professional schools, and supported a vast number of collaboration projects such as children’s libraries, art residencies, film festivals, concerts and much more. Stave House in the Sahara, officially launched last February 2016, is one of the newest additions to this list.

This project consists on the facilitation – and by facilitation we mean working collaboratively, without impositions – of early childhood music education through the English language in primary schools in the camps. Our methodology aims (we’re still developing it!) to combine oral traditions with innovative and fun music teaching method Stave House (www.stavehouse.co.uk), which has already been successfully implemented in many schools around the world. This method is based around captivating stories and light and portable teaching materials; it doesn’t need electricity nor fancy equipment, which is ideal for the living conditions in the camps.

stave children

Between March and April 2016 I worked alongside 3 Saharawi teachers – Gejmula Mohamed, Fatimetu Melainin and Tekwen Mohamed – to develop lesson plans and activities that link in with and enhance the Saharawi children’s daily study routines, while teaching a pilot project with a group of 30 children. It has been wonderful to see the children thrive with the stories in the lessons while learning basic music concepts and a few useful words in English. Apart from the music curriculum, we also aim to develop a full English language course that draws on poetry, stories, and song lyrics.

Stave House in the Sahara has a simple, but very powerful idea at heart – every child should be able to experience the joys of making music (any music!) no matter the circumstances.

Stave House in the Sahara is a collaborative partnership between Stave House, British charity Sandblast, the London College of Music, the Saharawi Ministries of Culture and Education, and the primary school of Lal Andala, in the refugee camp of Boujdour (although we hope to be reaching other schools soon!). If you want to get involved, visit our recently launched JustGiving fundraising campaign, and please consider making a contribution if you can!

http://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/sandblast/stavehouseinthesahara

Find general information about the Stave House here: http://stavehouseinthesahara.weebly.com/

 Or check out their “sponsor a child” campaign where you can give a year’s worth of music education to a child in the refugee camp: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1Nvmu8QFRGgRmZOSmJndGlDTGs/view
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“Weeping”- An Anti-Apartheid Song Written By South African Songwriter, Dan Heymann

sowetoWe’ve just reviewed the new Bala Brothers cd on Warner Brothers records which showcases two of the most widely known anti-apartheid anthems.  Our last post shared the background of the song: “Something Inside So Strong”.  Here’s more about singer-songwriter, Dan Heymann and his powerful song: “Weeping” which appears on that same cd, but has also been covered by a host of artists both in South Africa and around the world.

Although it’s hard to find a great deal of information on the author of this song, we do know that Dan Heymann is a South African citizen who spoke out against apartheid and recorded a 1987 version of his song, “Weeping” with his band, Bright Blue.  That original version played on the radio in South Africa and included a refrain from the “illegal” anthem of the African National Congress.  Checking out Dan’s webpages, you can see he was actively involved with many artists, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Vusi Mahlasela, many of whom risked life and limb to express their desires for freedom and equality.  In 1999, readers of the South African Rock Encyclopedia voted “Weeping” the “All-time favorite South African Song”.

You can see two video versions of the song below.  The first is by popular American artist, Josh Groban, performing live on the David Letterman show.  The other is from Dan Heymann’s band, Bright Blue.


2008 – Josh Groban’s Performance of “Weeping” on the David Letterman Show

Bright Blue’s Version of “Weeping”

Lyrics – Weeping
Written by Dan Heymann/Copyright Bright Blue)

I knew a man who lived in fear 
It was huge, it was angry, it was drawing near


Behind his house, a secret place 
Was the shadow of the demon he could never face 


He built a wall of steel and flame and men with guns, to keep it tame 


Then standing back, he made it plain 


That the nightmare would never ever rise again


But the fear and the fire and the guns remain

It doesn’t matter now 


It’s over anyhow 


He tells the world that it’s sleeping 


But as the night came round 
I heard its lonely sound


It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping

And then one day the neighbors came


They were curious to know about the smoke and flame


They stood around outside the wall 


But of course there was nothing to be heard at all 


“My friends,” he said, “We’ve reached our goal 


The threat is under firm control 


As long as peace and order reign 
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain”

What Does The Lyrics Mean?  

Although it’s easy to grasp the concept behind the song, the author explains the symbolism behind the lyrics in his own words:

“I’ve been asked many times about the symbolism in the Weeping lyrics, so maybe I should say something here. The man referred to in the Weeping lyrics is the late P. W. Botha, one of the last white leaders of South Africa before the end of the Apartheid regime; The demon he could never face (in the Weeping lyrics) refers to the aspirations of the oppressed majority, while the Weeping lyrics also refer to the neighbors, literally the journalists from other countries who were monitoring the situation in South Africa.”

Check out Dan’s webpages, resources and other songs which can be found at the links below.  He is an incredible writer with a wealth of talent as well as powerful songs and valuable cultural resources.

Resources

Dan Heymann’s Webpage for “Weeping”
http://www.weeping.info/index.html

Dan Heymann’s “Compressed History of Apartheid”
http://www.weeping.info/anti-apartheid-movement.html

Background of the Song: Something Inside So Strong

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/something-inside-so-strong-a-powerful-anti-apartheid-song-and-much-more/

The Bala Brothers – New CD release on Warner Brothers Records
https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/do-you-know-the-bala-brothers/

Do You Know The Bala Brothers?

bala long shotAlthough the Bala Brothers – Loyiso, Zwai and Phelo – are household words in South Africa, they’re not so familiar to American audiences. Until now.  This month, a new Warner Brothers CD release, a PBS documentary and a DVD will certainly bring this superbly talented trio of brothers into the US spotlight.  A US tour is scheduled for May 2015.

Who are the Brothers Bala? Here are the basics. Born into a poor household in the Kwa-Nobuhle township of apartheid South Africa, the family household was filled with music. Everyone in the family sang and the children’s parents met while participating in church choirs. The boys’ grandfather was a choral composer who saw the talent in the children and even asked Zwai to help with musical arrangements. By age ten, Zwai had his own choir and his stunningly beautiful voice won him a place in the then-segregated Drakensberg Boys Choir.

Although it was extremely difficult to be the first young black man in a high profile, all-white choir, Zwai, persisted and eventually made way not only for his 2 brothers but for a host of other talented singers to follow after him. Eventually, two of the brothers would form a group and then recruit the third. Finally in 2013, this beloved group would wow an audience of 55,000 when they performed a powerful concert tribute to Nelson Mandela in December of that year.

How can audiences in the USA experience the Bala Brothers? Their powerful music and personal saga is chronicled by the PBS special and the DVD (links below), but you can also purchase their latest cd which is a live recording of many of their most popular songs including “Circle of Life” (from Elton John’s score for The Lion King), Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies”, “Masibuyelane” (A love song in the Xhosa language) and the album’s centerpiece – a powerful anti-apartheid anthem entitled, “Something Inside So Strong”.

This short video is a great introduction to the latest release plus the powerful story of this majestic trio. Below, you can also see a full length video of “Something Inside So Strong” sung with the famous (now integrated) Drakensberg Boys Choir.

Links and Resources

Official Bala Brothers Website  http://www.BalaBrothers.com  

Purchase Links – Amazon, Itunes and Spotify

http://www.balabrothers.com/newalbum/

CD:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S1QQ8TW

DVD/Blu-ray:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S2T3U1M

A Song To Remember Fallen Leaders – “Abraham, Martin and John”

abraham recordPopular music in the USA in the 1960’s spoke out on many topics.

Although this balled (written in 1968 by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion) “spoke out quietly”, it tied together a string of assassinated leaders that were loved, admired and changed the course of American politics.

On MLK Day 2015, we thought we’d share the lyrics and video with you. Mentioned in the song by name are Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. The video below is a moving version of the song, remade by Marvin Gaye.

“Abraham, Martin and John”

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
You know, I just looked around and he’s gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he’s gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked ’round and he’s gone.

Didn’t you love the things that they stood for?
Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?
And we’ll be free
Some day soon, and it’s a-gonna be one day…

Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.

“Cap In Hand” – A Song For Scottish Independence

sunshineAlmost everyone is familiar with a group from Scotland called the Proclaimers. Comprised of twins; Craig and Charlie Reid, they are probably best known for a song with the chorus “I Would Walk 500 Miles” that appeared on their “Sunshine on Leith” album and became popular all over the globe.

Recently, however, this pro-independence musical pair have been back in the spotlight as a song they wrote back in 1988 called “Cap In Hand” has been rising rapidly on the download charts. Activists seeking a Yes-vote for Scottish independence have been behind an enthusiastic social media push to drive the song up the Amazon download chart as a way of voicing their opinion on the referendum.

Although the song speaks about Scotland in particular, the lyrics are oddly reminiscent of any country or group that has risen up and sought self-rule.  Among some of the most poignant lyrics are:

We fight – when they ask us
We boast – then we cower
We beg
For a piece of
What’s already ours

I can’t understand why you let someone else rule your land, cap in hand
I can’t understand why we let someone else rule our land, cap in hand
I can’t understand why you let someone else rule your land, cap in hand

Although it’s not clear which way the vote for Scottish independence will go, it is certain that music is allowing people to express their opinions, their frustrations and feel that their voice and point of view are heard.

Here’s a video of Craig and Charlie Reid singing “Cap In Hand”.

“Plyve Kacha” – A Ukranian Folk Song Mourning The Dead of Maidan Square

As long as there have been wars, there have been sad songs about war – and losing children or loved ones to the devastation of war. However, with the recent protests in Maiden, Ukraine, this old song has taken on a new life, mourning the loss of those killed while unarmed at the recent protests.

“Plyve Kacha” or “Plyve Kacha Po Tysyni” translates literally to “the duckling swims”, but the lyrics are a dialogue between a mother and a son going off to war, according to the BBC’s Irena Taranyuk. She translates two of the most moving lines of the song this way:

“My dear mother, what will happen to me if I die in a foreign land?”

“Well, my dearest, you will be buried by other people.”

Dozens of people were killed by snipers in Maidan on February 18th and 20th, 2014 and were buried and mourned in a mass funeral on February 21st, with this song being used to memorialize their lives.

You can see images of those lost in that conflict in this video along with a version of this poignant song.  Lyrics to the song appear below (in Ukrainian).

“Plyve Kacha”  (Lyrics in Ukranian)

Plyve kacha po Tysyni,
Oy, plyve kacha po Tysyni.
Mamko moya, ne lay meni,
Mamko moya, ne lay meni.

Zalayesh my v zlu hodynu,
Oy, zalayesh my v zlu hodynu.
Sam ne znayu, de pohynu,
Sam ne znayu, de pohynu.

Pohynu ya v chuzim krayu,
Pohynu ya v chuzim krayu.
Chto z my bude braty yamu?
Chto z my bude braty yamu?

Vyberut mi chuzi lyude,
Oy vyberut mi chuzi lyude,
Cy ne zal ty, mamko, bude?
Oy, cy ne zal ty, mamko, bude?

Oy yak z meni, synku, ne zal?
Yak ze meni, synku, ne zal?
Ty na moyim sercyu lezav,
Ty na moyim sercyu lezav.

Plyve kacha po Tysyni,
Oy, plyve kacha po Tysyni.
Mamko moya, ne lay meni,
Mamko moya, ne lay meni.

An Earth Day Song – In Spanish

Although Earth Day began in the USA in 1970, the idea of loving and caring for our planet is a universal concept. When I was growing up, I remember hearing a Native American group sing the words: “The Earth Is Our Mother, We Must Take Care of Her”. All over the globe, people express their love for “Mother Earth” through music, songs, culture and in so many other meaningful ways.

In 2004, I adapted a new version of the beautiful African-American spiritual: “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and added lyrics based on a project done with elementary school students. Since that time, the song has been used in China, Singapore, South America, Scotland and in dozens of other venues across the world. This year, a wonderful bilingual blogger translated the lyrics into Spanish.

Spanish Translation

The Spanish version was written by Cecilia Fencer, head and heart of Spanglish.house.com . She loves diversity and equality.  Translating this spiritual to an Earth Day captured her imagination because she believes God made us responsible to take care of his creation.

(Lyrics to the original “We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands” song can be seen below as well as a video of a project using the song in Malaysia.)

Tenemos Todo El Mundo En Nuestras Manos

New version of lyrics in English
c 1994 Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou
c 2104 Spanish translation Cecelia Fencer

Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.

Debemos reciclar, ahora que podemos.
Reducir, reusar y reciclar
Reducir y reciclar ahora que podemos.
Tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.

Tenemos plantas y animales en nuestra tierra,
plantas y animales en nuestra tierra.
Tenemos plantas y animales en nuestra tierra.
Tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.

Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.

Tomemonos de las manos, como hermanos.
Tomemonos de las manos como hermanos.
Tomemonos de las manos como hermanos,
tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos

Encuentra tus sueños y haz lo que puedas,
ten tus anhelos y lucha por ellos.
Encuentra tus sueños y haz lo que puedas,
tenemos al mundo en nuestras manos.

Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.
Tenemos todo el mundo en nuestras manos.

We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Hands

(Sung To The Tune of: He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands)

new lyrics © D.A. Marmaluk-Hajioannou

We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

We should recycle now – all that we can
Recycle now – all that we can
Recycle now – all that we can
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Be kind to the plants and animals – of our land
Be kind to the plants and animals – of our land
Be kind to the plants and animals – of our land
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Join hands with sisters and brothers – throughout the land
Join hands with sisters and brothers – throughout the land
Join hands with sisters and brothers – throughout the land
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Clean up pollution – everywhere we can
Clean up pollution – everywhere we can
Clean up pollution – everywhere we can
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Dream your bright dream – then do all that you can
Dream your bright dream – then do all that you can
Dream your dream – then do all that you can
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world, in our hands
We’ve got the whole world in our hands

Resources

Free During April 2014
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rock Out! E-book of 10 Recycled Musical Activities
http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

History of Earth Day
http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement

DARIA Songs For Earth Day – from TeachersPayTeachers
www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/EARTH-DAY-SONGS-DARIA-SINGS-FOR-EARTH-DAY-545561

DARIA Songs For Earth Day – From Itunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/daria-sings-for-earth-day-ep/id428500463

The “I Have A Dream” Song Shares MLK’s Message With Kids

MLK is one of my heroes.

Not only did he do the right thing.  But he did the right thing, under the toughest of circumstances and in the right way.  He overcame hatred with the transforming power of love.  He stared down ignorance with  understanding.   And he fought not only for a portion of the population, but for well-being of the entire world, demonstrating his concept of the beloved community.  To me, that’s incredibly inspirational.

But how do you share these huge ideas and big concepts with little ears and young listeners?  As a musician, I felt moved to write a song and try to put some of these concepts into the lyrics.   I hoped the song would be a singable way to talk about MLK’s dream as well as a good place to start conversations about these big ideas and what they might mean to our classrooms, families and communities as we move into a new era.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the landmark “I Have A Dream Speech”,  we’ve offered the song as a free download as well as coloring pages that share powerful quotes from many of MLK’s inspirational speeches.

We hope that people use and enjoy these resources as they not only look back at this historic event – but dare to look forward and continue to dream!

The direct link to the download is:  http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php.

You can also find DARIA’s free MLK coloring pages at TeachersPayTeachers site here:

Coloring Page With One Quote For Younger Children

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/MLK-Rainbow-Coloring-Page-for-Younger-Children-475121

Coloring Page With Many Quotes For Older Children

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/MLK-Rainbow-And-Popular-Quotes-Coloring-Page-for-Older-Children-475123

For more information, visit my site or contact me at daria at makemusicwithme dot com.  I’d love to hear from you!

I  HAVE A DREAM

Words and music by  Daria A. Marmaluk-Hajioannou

There’s a man I think you’ve heard of

His name is Martin Luther King

He wanted a world of peace and love

He said “I have a dream”

Chorus:  I have a dream, I have a dream

I’ve been to the mountaintop and I’ve seen…And, I have a dream

 

He said: “I know that this is possible

I know that this can be

If each one can learn to live with love

Then we can all be free”

 

If you share this vision

You know it’s not a difficult thing

We can build a world of peace and love

And we can all be queens and “kings”

 

 

World Fair Trade Day – A Great Time To Explore Musical Instruments from Around The World

Almost everyone can relate to this.

They’ve had a job for which they were underpaid or underappreciated.  Well, picture that in a third world setting where people have few employment options.  They work in dirty, unsafe conditions with unreasonable work hours and sometimes cannot protest or complain without fear of retribution or brutality.  The recent fires in Bangladesh clothing factories have highlighted how the worst of these unfair practices can create deadly and tragic results.

Is there an alternative?  Especially if people want to purchase special items from other cultures, such as clothing, chocolate, coffee or musical instruments like these beautiful handbells from Nepal?  Yes, there is fair trade!  And May 11th marks World Fair Trade Day, so it’s a good time to learn more about this important topic.  You can check out the 10 principles of fair trade below.

One of my favorite fair trade stores was started by a Mennonite woman in the 1940’s named Edna Ruth Byler.  She knew that if people in third world nations or village settings could do what they loved such as traditional arts and crafts and they were sold at fair prices, then these people could live with dignity and keep vibrant, safe communities alive.  She named her project: “Self-Help Crafts Of The World”.  Over 60 years later, the store is now called Ten Thousand Villages and has numerous physical locations as well as an online store for purchases.

What does Ten Thousand Villages sell?  It has an amazing array of handcrafts, jewelry, coffees, teas, soaps and other items.  And musical instruments.  You can find rainsticks from Chile and colorful folded palm rattles made in India.  They offer delicate tingsha bells and beautiful singing bowls in a variety of shapes and sizes.  There are gourd rattles, kalimbas (pictured here) and drums from Africa, ocarinas and whistles from South America and an ever-changing array of products that have been purchased and certified fair trade.  For most items, you can read the story behind the artisans as well as how and where each object was created.

This year on World Fair Trade Day, I’ll be at my local Ten Thousand Village store sharing the magic of singing bowls – how each one is different and unique and can be used to create beautiful sound as well as for healing purposes.  If you can’t get to one of these stores, feel free to visit them online and consider purchasing some of the wonderful goods that they offer.

Purchasing “fair trade” makes a difference for the planet, not only in the lives of an artisan, but because it makes a statement.  It’s great to know that we can vote with our dollars for a world that treats everyone with dignity and respect!  And if you purchase an instrument “fair trade”, you’re contributing to world harmony – in more ways than one!

——————————

During the month of May 2013, you can win this beautiful rainstick made by a cooperative of artisans in Santiago de Chile.  (2nd give-away on page)

http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php

Resources And Links

World Fair Trade Organization

http://www.wfto.com/

10 Principles of Fair Trade

http://www.wfto.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&Itemid=14

Ten Thousand Villages – Home Page

http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/

Musical Instruments From Ten Thousand Villages

http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/products/musical-instruments

Enjoy Music From The Andes And Support Special Education In Peru

One of our long-time friends has established a special school in Cusco, Peru that provides outstanding education and a loving caring environment for children and young adults with disabilities regardless of their ability to pay.  Manos Unidas is a private school that serves approximately 50 children 3-24 years of age who are directly affected by an intellectual disability.

During April 2013, if you purchase DARIA’s new cd or E-book about the Andes, 50% goes to Manos Unidas. Since they have received a special matching grant this month from the Children Of Peru Foundation, your donation will be doubled and paid directly to the school.

There couldn’t be a better opportunity to enjoy the culture of the Andes while supporting it’s children at the same time!  You can learn more about the school’s history and activities below. There’s also a link to donate directly, if you prefer

Please consider purchasing and enjoying one of these items or sending along even a small donation of .99!  Every little bit adds up and will help the school and it’s students thrive for another year.

About Manos Unidas

http://www.manosunidasperu.net/p/camino-nuevo-school.html

Purchase Cd To Benefit Manos Unidas (5.99)

http://dariasvillagestore.storenvy.com/products/1300460-benefits-manos-unidas-cancioncitas-de-los-andes

Purchase Cd+ E-Book To Benefit Manos Unidas (12.99)

http://dariasvillagestore.storenvy.com/products/1300505-benefits-manos-unidas-cd-and-e-book-combo

Purchase E-Book (Only) To Benefit Manos Unidas (9.99)

http://dariasvillagestore.storenvy.com/products/1300487-benefits-manos-unidas-a-childs-life-in-the-andes-e-book

Direct Donation Link for Manos Unidas

http://www.manosunidasperu.net/p/donate.html