From ALQ: Football Chants and a Football-issue Playlist

The most recent FOOTBALL-themed issue of ArabLit Quarterly features, among other things, bilingual football chants from five countries, curated by Leonie Rau:

Leonie has also put together a playlist of chants, and we also share one below, selected & translated by Khadidja Bouchellia.

Ouled El Bahdja – Babour ElLouh بابور اللوح

selected & tr. Khadidja Bouchellia

The word hogra is part of the daily vocabulary of Algerians, expressing the bitterness of enduring a regime that oppresses and suppresses its people. Young Algerians have found clever ways of self-expression that transcend censorship. Through football chants, their collective echoing pains and frustrations have reached Algerians beyond the pitch. Ouled El Bahdja is a collective of USMA football fans that has embodied that resistance through self-expression since the 1990s. This chant reflects the intersections of football, politics, socioeconomics, migration, and the feelings of hogra. For those who want to escape the ills of the homeland, the wooden boat is often a symbol of their freedom.

I cannot bear this suffering

Time is fleeting

Whatever I do turns sour

though my intentions are good

this life is at an impasse

I say ‘that’s it’

But I make the same mistake over and over

Overthinking has its hold on me

I say ‘that’s it’

But I make the same mistake over and over

Let me leave my heart is broken

Let me leave in the wooden boat

Let me leave my heart is broken

Let me leave in the wooden boat

Things are getting worse there’s no solution

Distance is a must, and I must follow

I cannot come back, and you know why

You (Algeria) became a home for foreigners

A mixing of genders

They wanted it this way

Build prisons

Women work while young men sleep

A mixing of genders

They wanted it this way

Build prisons

And women work while young men sleep

Let me leave my heart is broken

Let me leave in the wooden boat

Let me leave my heart is broken

Let me leave in the wooden boat

I am thinking hard

I am thinking of a good solution

To live at peace with myself

I have tirelessly tried

But only found failure

Awake an hour and oppressed a year

Those who escaped and made it

Their lives are long, and their path is written

Among honorable people

Very few are still holding on

Those who escaped and made it

Their lives long and their path written

Among honorable people

Very few are still holding on

Let me leave my heart is broken

Let me leave in the wooden boat

Let me leave my heart is broken

Let me leave in the wooden boat

*

For more football chants, photos, poetry, short stories, and essays, get the most recent issue of ArabLit Quarterly digitally through Exact Editions or Gumroad, or in print via Am*zon and participating bookshops.

For a broader discussion about this issue, listen in with BULAQ’s Football & Literature episode.

mlynxqualey

Leave a Reply