The Real Lebanese National Anthem

A survey released this week by the National Campaign to Memorize the Lebanese Anthem says only five percent of a countrywide sample group of 2,000 people could recite the words of “Kulluna lil Watan,” or “All Together for the Country” by heart.

The survey comes amid controversy surrounding possible plagiarism of the national anthem.

Well done, patriots.

Meanwhile, a friend passed something along that I want to share with my peeps. It’s an irreverent, but thoughtful and poignant revision of the national anthem lyrics that expresses the disenchantment and frustration of so many Lebanese.

Undermined as citizens, unwanted as workers and underestimated as students, youth in Lebanon feel at once suffocated and constrained by a patriarchal society, bound up in a web of kinship ties and religious indoctrination. Ardently judged according to a sectarian identity they did not choose, they are forced to live with the ugly scars inflicted by a depraved generation, and the pervasive, but tacit fear that war will return.

So I’m not going to give attribution to this piece, because I’d like to believe that it’s not just the voice of one young Lebanese, this is the voice of us all.

“We carry the blood of our nation
The collective history we forged
We are the brutal enemy of prosperity
A once gorgeous nation we gorged
We’re a burden to life, where war can be scourged
We steal from the poor and spend it on whores
Our trees, once there,
Not a Cedar no more

To breathe in the city, a sweet taste of decay
Build our city with cement, build our values on clay
Raise our children to play where our mines still lay
Beirut a7la madeene, is all we can say

Our streets house anger, our homes house hatred
Our schools teach saying sorry is never related
A court run by law is always belated
Our men are all drunk, our women sedated

You can’t see the beach from the waterfront street
Your debt holds you ransom but you go out to eat
Wear the wrong color you’ll get a treat or get beat
Your maid raised your children now she washes your feet
But if you’re lucky you meet a woman who’ll keep things discreet
Build your house out of straw cause concrete saviours the heat
Keep your eyes to the floor ‘cause you don’t have to greet
Saying ‘hi’ is as pussy as cleaning your sheets

Our security is on steroids
Our children on drugs
Our mothers on pills
Our fathers are thugs
Our hope is a dream but a dream that we lost
What we had we then sold at a minimal cost

And all for the nation
A nation as one
We live by the Lords
We die by the gun

We stand as a unit
Kulluna lal watan!
We’re as brutal as demons
And like us there are none.”

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