If there is one song that captures the feeling, aspirations and fears of a generation of young, moderate Bahraini, it is the haunting and bittersweet “Rebellion” by Bahraini folk singer/songwriter Ala Ghawas.
As we live in extraordinary times and witness an era that has ravaged our humanity, our peace and our nation, the words that resonate with us are that which we hear so achingly sung by Ala in this song.The song is originally a very personal one to Ala. It is perhaps his most personal of all his songs. It tells of his heartbreak at losing a dear part of him, a close friend, to cultural and social prejudices.
Let’s take a closer look at the lyrics of “Rebellion”, which starts with:
Father, I’m running through the fire
I don’t want to belong, I just need a place to admire
Which makes me think of how our Bahrain, the one we were all used to, before the recent tragic events that unfolded. It’s a cry for help, for someone to hear us, help us. It evokes an image of our country on fire, us running through trying to find salvation, our search for not a place to belong, but to embrace.
My friends are gone, one by one
To the fighting, they just can’t live without it
How many of us have lost friends because of what happened? Either because of our strong difference of opinions, or due to fear, or even a friend in one of those who had lost their lives?
And yet in spite of this bloodshed, we continue to fight each other. We continue to distance ourselves, as if fighting has become the only thing we know how to do, even though it was never in us before.
You know I’ve never lost the faith within
If God is with us, then who’s with them?
In the second line of this verse, we find perhaps one of the strongest statements ever put to song. “If God is with us, then who’s with them?” we all claim that god is with us and are sometimes blinded by faith so much that we forget the very basics of what makes us human.
Towards the end of the song, Ala spells out his guts, bears his soul out to us, and in those next few words, paints a picture of how perception, ideas and conflict can either break us or make us stronger.
I don’t wear the black
I don’t close my eyes and ears
To prove piety
I don’t grow my beard
I don’t preach slaughter
I don’t raise a sword for the lord
To show loyalty
And that’s what I see
What’s wrong with unity?
Indeed, what’s wrong with unity? If there is one thing we desperately need today it’s abandoning our own prejudices, religious phobias and piousness, and to remember why we were all here to begin with.