‘Oh, the People!’ —the chants of the Algerian diaspora (Pt. I)

The ‘DZ Protest’ grouping have been organising Saturday marches for nearly four months; today is their nineteenth consecutive event.

Beginning on either Trafalgar Square or Marble Arch, drawing between fifty and two hundred and fifty people, the events have three consistent features. First, intransigence; second, an absence of either trade unions or political parties (Algerian or otherwise); and third, a popular composition, with the resemblance then less to the Sudanese diaspora’s protests (notwithstanding the similarities), than to the gilet jaune movement (notwithstanding the differences).

The chants presented below are comprised of repeated, four- or five-beat couplets. To give an example of the specific quandary this form presents, al-Ḥurriyyah is typically translated as ‘freedom’, and al-ʿadālah as ‘justice’: sharing a final syllable (‘ah’), with the words’ end-rhyme and the couplet’s basic rhythm therefore near-indistinct. Preserve the rhyme-rhythm — ‘liberty, equity’? — or err towards semantic likeness?

The following were recorded with permission on 11 May, at the group’s first waqfah (static demonstration), held in place of the usual masīrah (march), on account of Ramadan. They were led by an MC, and sung roughly in the order given below; Pt. II will display the more elaborate shʿarāt (poems; chants) of the event’s second MC.

I

فري، فري، الجيريا
فري، فري، الجيريا
داون، داون، العصابة
داون ،داون، العصابة

Frī, frī al-Jīrīā
Frī, frī al-Jīrīā
Dāwn, dāwn, al-ʿiṣābah!
Dāwn, dāwn, al-ʿiṣābah!

Free, Free Algeria!
Free, Free Algeria!
Down, Down with the Gang!
Down, Down with the Gang! [1]

II

لا نريد، لا نريد
!عصابة من جديد
لا نريد، لا نريد
!عصابة من جديد
لا نريد، لا نريد
!مزورين من جديد

Lā nurīd, Lā nurīd,
ʿiṣābah min jadīd!
Lā nurīd, Lā nurīd,
ʿiṣābah min jadīd!
Lā nurīd, Lā nurīd,
Muzawarīn min jadīd!

We don’t want, we don’t want,
Some new gang!
We don’t want, we don’t want,
Some new gang!
We don’t want, we don’t want,
Some new fraudsters!

III

مسيرات، مسيرات
!مسيرات الحرّية
مسيرات، مسيرات
!مسيرات العدالة

مسيرات، مسيرات
!ضمانات الإصلاحات
لا نريد الشعارات
!ضمانات الإصلاحات

Masīrāt, masīrāt,
Masīrāt al-Ḥurriyyah!
Masīrāt, masīrāt,
Masīrāt al-ʿadālah!

Masīrāt, masīrāt,
Ḍamānāt al-Iṣlāḥāt!
Lā nurīd al-Shʿārāt
Ḍamānāt al-Iṣlāḥāt!

Marches, Marches,
Marches of Freedom!
Marches, Marches,
Marches of Justice!

Marches, Marches,
[We want] Guaranteed Reforms!
We don’t want slogans,
[We want] Guaranteed Reforms!

IV

رافضون ، رافضون
رافضون ، رافضون
! للعصابة ، رافضون

لا نريد، لا نريد
!عصابة من جديد
لا نريد، نريد
!حكم العسكر من جديد

Rāfiḍūn, rāfiḍūn,
Rāfiḍūn, rāfiḍūn,
li-al-ʿiṣābah, rāfiḍūn!

Lā nurīd, lā nurīd,
ʿiṣābah min jadīd!
Lā nurīd, lā nurīd
Ḥakum al-ʿaskir min jadīd!

Rejectors, Rejectors,
Rejectors, Rejectors,
A new Gang, Reject them!

We don’t want, we don’t want,
A new Gang!
We don’t want, we don’t want,
A Military Government!

V

يال العار، يال العار
!بعاو الدزاير بدولار
يال العار، يال العار
!بعاو الدزاير بدولار

بركات، بركات
!من التزوير، بركات
!حكم العسكر، بركات

Yāla al-ʿār, yāla al-ʿār,
Baʿū Jazāʾīr bi-dūlār!
Yāla al-ʿār, yāla al-ʿār,
Baʿū Jazāʾīr bi-dūlār!

Barakāt, barakāt,
Min al-Tazwīr, barakāt!
Ḥakum al-ʿaskir, barakāt!

Oh! the shame, Oh! the shame.
The sold Algeria in dollars!
Oh! the shame, Oh! the shame.
The sold Algeria in dollars!

Enough, Enough,
Of the fraud, Enough!
The military government, Enough! [2]

VI

يا الشعب، سير، سير
!حتى تحقوق التغير
يا الشعب، سير، سير
!حتى تحقوق التغير

مدنية، مدنية
!هذا الشعب هو الشرعية

Yā al-Shʿab, Sīr, Sīr,
Ḥta taḥaqiq al-Taghīr,
Yah al-shʿab, sīr, sīr,
Ḥta taḥaqiq al-Taghīr,

Madanīah, madanīah,
hdā al-Shʿab huwa al-Sharʿīah.

Oh, the People, go, go,
Until you,
achieve change!
Oh, the People, go, go,
Until you,
achieve change!

Civil [action], civil [action],
Until the People,
Are Sovereign! [3]

VII

فري، فري، الجيريا
فري، فري، الجيريا
داون، داون، العصابة
داون ،داون، العصابة

لا دستور لا إنتخابات
حتى ترحل العصابات
حتى الشعب راهو فاق
جاي نهارك يا سراق

Frī, frī al-Jīrīah
Frī, frī al-Jīrīah
Dāwn, dāwn, al-ʿiṣābah!
Dāwn, dāwn, al-ʿiṣābah!

Lā distūr, lā īntikhābāt,
Ḥta trḥal al-ʿiṣābah,
Ḥta al-Shʿab rāhum fāq!
Jāī nahārik yā sarāq!

Free, Free Algeria!
Free, Free Algeria!
Down, Down with the Gang!
Down, Down with the Gang!

No Constitution, no Elections,
Until the Gang Leaves,
Until the People’s opinion is First!
Your day is coming, oh Thieves!

[1] The only Anglo-Arabic chant; frī (‘free’) is borrowed from English.

[2] The word is barakāt, literally, ‘blessings’ — ‘barakāt upon you!’. Maghrebians sometimes though use the word, as above, to say ‘stop’, or ‘enough’ — ‘blessings [on you if you stop]’, maybe.

[3] Or, ‘Until the People // Are Legitimate’

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