The Tunisian poet Amin al-Ghazi did not expect, while writing the words of his poem “My Word is Free” years before the revolution, that it will be sung on January 14, 2011 in Habib Bourguiba Street by thousands of throats who praise freedom and search for dignity and automatically singer.
The songwriter, Amal Mathlouthi, chanting the song “My Words is Free” with thousands of protesters and sit-ins in the main street of the Tunisian capital, did not expect that these sincere, spontaneous and resounding words would become the reason for the escape of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from Tunisia, and the cause of the Tunisian revolution. To spread these expressive words, “I am free, do not fear, I am secrets that do not die, I am in the midst of chaos meaning, I am the voice of what does not sound, I am the right of the oppressed, I am free and my word is free”, like wildfire on social media platforms and global media, and you grab them The Arab masses frequent the squares as an expression of their longing for freedom. Let these words and the song be classified internationally after that as a hymn to the Arab revolutions.
In addition to writing revolutionary poetry in Tunisian colloquial and classical Arabic, Amin al-Ghazi, who now resides in France and holds a BA (BA) and then Tabriz (Masters) in History from the Tunisian University, was an activist and a prominent contributor with a group of educated youth in the Tunisian revolution by organizing demonstrations and inciting youth. And their incitement to confront the tyranny, injustice and suppression of the previous regime.
In addition, he is interested in cinema and directed two short films produced by the Tunisian University of Amateur Filmmakers, in addition to writing the story in which he released a short story collection entitled “The Shadow of a Devil Behind My Image”, and he took an interest in the novel, as he released in 2019 on Zainab Publishing House his first novel “Zendali .. The night of January 14 (January) 2011 ″, which is trying to inspire and rewrite the epic of the Tunisian revolution and build its narrative and the values on which it was built of freedom, dignity and a demand for work, and it tries to bring up the questions of the revolution that people still ask today, all through the music of Zindali and Odessa Popular, lyrical epic, storytelling, and crazy zurbouia dance for the symphony of the revolution.
Through this special meeting on Al-Jazeera Net, we tried to recall and recall with the poet and writer Amin al-Ghazi the moments of the Tunisian revolution in its tenth anniversary, its scenes, its details and its secret secrets, and we also tried to dive into the details of the novel “Zindali”, which talks about the Tunisian revolution during the night of January 14 / January 2011, and the rest of the events. As well as many other revolutionary and cultural issues that you will discover in turn. So to dialogue.
- How do you retrieve today through Memory Probe the events of the Tunisian revolution 10 years after their occurrence, especially the recent days in which you were a strong participant? How do you evaluate this decade of the revolution’s life? As a young man who contributed to the revolution, are you satisfied with what was achieved from the revolution?
When the events of Sidi Bouzid erupted, I transmitted with friends and friends videos and news of peaceful marches that had to leave from everywhere in the Tunisian capital, from the sides in front of the headquarters of the labor union, and in Paris in front of the headquarters of the Tunisian embassy. I participated with friends in a secret session to organize one of them after the system closed schools.
We were more than believing that the Ben Ali regime would fall. The youth were like hidden staff, moving at almost the same times and everywhere
I find excuses today for all those pedantic people who attributed the revolution to invisible, Masonic, American, amphibious forces .. We were only more confident that the Ben Ali regime would fall. The youth at the time were like a hidden staff, moving at almost the same times and everywhere.
I remember how we were moving enthusiastically. We went out with Tunisian women and Tunisians to participate in the organized protest over what is happening and the impossibility of a regime stifling our breath for years. The barriers and high walls that Ben Ali raised around the word, organization, mobility, collapsed quickly. Freedom is finally, and the beginning of a path towards dignity and justice .. But the cost was exorbitant, martyrs, wounded, prisoners, clandestine migration, migration of competencies, impoverishment, a cold and dry decade before January 14, a hot and stormy decade after the revolution, a new system of government that does not work, freedom of speech Without new, corruption and disruption of a contract that brings Tunisians together. Today I am more pessimistic than before.
- How do you recall your writing of the poem and lyrics of the song “My word is free” that Amal Mathlouthi sang on January 14, 2011 in Habib Bourguiba Street? How do you feel when you re-watch those moments on social media?
Of course, pleased with the reputation my words and the song achieved. Especially happy because the world has finally listened to the words of a Tunisian other than the words “live you” and “peace”. History has done fair to “my word is free”, waiting to do justice to the owners and owners of free speech and free mind in the Arab world.
- Your newly released novel is titled “Zindali .. The Night of January 14, 2011”, so what is the secret of this direct title? What implies it in terms of a victory for the music and expressions of marginalized popular classes and prison music?
The novelists chose Tango, Concerto, Waltz, and I chose Zindali.
The Tunisian Zindali is, contrary to what some have argued, not the music of the prisoners – even if the novel included a prison song – but a kind of male folk music that dances closer to the roukh, also called the shawarie, and it is the metaphor that I chose in my novel about an event after the general’s escape .
My novel “Zindali” is a popular Odessa, standing at the start of a new phase of consciousness forming.
- Do you think that this short time distance from the history of the Tunisian revolution is enough to make the idea of writing about the revolution brew well in consciousness until it emerges mature? Is it an easy task? Don’t you consider yourself taking too much risk while trying to evoke the revolution in a creative work?
The idea of writing about the revolution remains very attractive, especially in its time, but the most difficult thing is to rewrite it when its killers appear to defend it before it is buried. My novel was not a mourning for a failed revolution, or an evocation of its spirit, more than standing at the beginning of a new phase of consciousness, after the departure of Ben Ali.
- Between the realistic documentary dimension and the fictional narrative fictional dimension, where is the novel “Zindali” classified especially with the direct subtitle “The night of January 14, 2011 ″? Is it a documentary historical novel, or is it an artistic stunt and an attempt to delude realism?”
In my novel I drew many details from published reports and oral testimonies. I also relied on collecting several characters who lived through the events, each in a special way, and this is what made the novel take that documentary direction, but it was also fictional because all of these characters are not related to real events. “As it is usually said,” the shooting incident in the last painting of the novel did not happen at all, while the second shooting occurred, for example, based on a real incident mentioned in one of the reports I have seen. I also had a real desire not to kill any of the characters in the novel, which was totally unrealistic in those days.
- The novel “Zindali on the night of January 14, 2011” is trying to rewrite the story and epic of the Tunisian revolution and build its narrative and the values on which it was built of freedom and dignity and a demand for work, and it tries to bring up the questions of the revolution that people still ask today, all through Zindali’s music and its various manifestations, so does this represent The novel Odessa folk, lyrical and narrative epic of the symphony of the revolution?
It is actually a popular Odessa. The novel may not find a place between the Odyssey of Homer (the Greek mythical poet) and the Irish writer Ulysse Joyce, but Penelope (Odysseus’ loyal wife in the saga) is still waiting for her husband, ready in turn to shoot for him or for herself. Bloom in Ulysse Joyce turns into Ali Aldo .. to Ali Al Douaji without a pen, and in the end feels that he is living a chapter waiting for Godot (the Irish play by Samuel Beckett).
- The absence of a unique and unique hero for the novel in contrast to the multiplicity of the presence of the simple, contradictory and different voices and characters within the events of the novel, such as the student, the disabled, the former prisoner, the marginalized, the homeless, the lawyer, the professor, the slaves and the drunk, is this a metaphor and a reference to the fact that the real heroes are the different groups of people who made the revolution? What is the intent and artistic symbolism of this absolute heroism for the people?
The characters of the novel are a group of simple people, from the mute “the nickname of one of them the dumb” and they found themselves in a public space that they did not participate even once in organizing or defending it. They are “counter heroes”, each trying in their own way to coexist with events that confirm that the unity of peoples and the unification of ranks are nothing but constructive sentences.
- The language of the novel is a mixture between classical Arabic and Tunisian vernacular, so are the marginalized, popular, stubborn, homeless and insane characters who chose and imposed on you the language of dialogue that brought the Tunisian dialect with all its contradictions, obscenity, obscenity and simplicity? Do you think that this uncompromising language is capable of shaking the image of Arab despots?
The language of the novel is Arabic, and the dialogues sometimes come in the Tunisian dialect, expressing the characters’ utterances at that moment and the realistic event that imposes itself. This explicit and sometimes shocking language may be less vulgar than the tyranny, oppression and domination that dictators want to impose on brains, bodies and aspirations.
Freedom of expression has become a kind of risk with the rising voices of all populists, and we need it to express our anger, cynicism and despair.
- The question is: What did we gain and what did we gain from freedom of expression? The most frequently asked question during this first decade of the Tunisian revolution, and everyone poses it from his own logic, so what is your answer to this burning question?
We need freedom of expression to express our anger when something offends us, to mock or laugh when we discover the relativity of ideas, attitudes, and the limits of human effort. We need to freely express our feelings of love, desire, pain or frustration.
It is a human queen, one of the natural rights of every human being, and it is not the property of some authority, and it is not the preserve of intellectuals and writers. Today we feel that freedom of expression has become a kind of risk with the rising voices of all populists. It should only be recalled that millions of voices were previously absent, and no one really knew how these sounds interacted before or when they turned into crowds.
- Ali Aldo, one of the protagonists of “Zindali” novel, says, “I will continue to follow what is happening. Writing a novel without a pen. Creating a mental map for the random walk of the whole country. Every step forgets what came before it, all regimes lose their memory at every step, but they move forward, backward, To the right, to the left, to God or to the Devil, not a specific destination .. “Do you think that the true epic of the revolution that should be addressed and its history is the one that is written in these virtual open gates without noise?
What Tunisians produced in the first years of the revolution on social media platforms really deserves to be worked on by multidisciplinary scientific research units. We have all participated, each according to his capacity, and each according to his abilities, in an epic that has not disappeared since its first day after its tragic and comedic tragedy, and the limitations of our revolutionary action in it in front of the day that overwhelmed us and in front of Al-Zindali, who brought out the worst of us into the public space that has become like a bar without a roof.
- Our generation was raised on voices such as Sheikh Imam, Marcel Khalife, the poems of Ahmed Fouad Negm, Mahmoud Darwish, Munawar Samadh, Samih Al Qasim, Adam Fathy, Ahmad Matar, and Amal Dunqul. The next generations?
Every day, I enjoy dozens of poetic voices and alternative musical works coming from everywhere in the Arab world, and this is evidence that the cultural arena is capable of adding many experiences inevitably different from those of the former, and who, fortunately for us, never became priests in the Temple of Committed Art.
- Do you think that the current historical moment is conducive to the exit of the Arab prisoner from the caves of darkness, and a suitable opportunity for the realization and implementation of the “theory of the Arab revolution” as theorized by the late Egyptian thinker Ismat Seif al-Dawla?
I believe in the current comprehensive Arab revolution. If there is a need for one after a while, then let it be first for citizenship, education and employment available to all without discrimination and shame. Thus, a safer path can be paved for freedom, dignity and pride.
- Many believe that the epistemological time and the epistemological moment before the Arab Spring revolutions are not the same after them, so what do you think are the most important challenges that are presented today to the Arab intellectual in light of this new reality? Is it able to meet this challenge and these rapid transformations?
Yes, we are at a different moment, but it is not a difference. A moment without an epistemic rupture (epistemology) with the previous, plus what is happening at the global level of globalization of information within a monopolistic capitalist framework, which further weakened the social position of the world and the decline of its symbolic authority in a world that has become like an archipelago with similar and divergent islands. The question about the role of the intellectual today must also be posed to the politician and the owner of the institution: what is the reality and what future do we want?