sharif kanaana – bringing back what never went away

my dear friend ( passed along a link to an interview with sharif kanaana, the editor of speak bird speak again, the book of palestinian folktales that is the namesake of this blog. sharif kanaana shares with electronic intifada his decades long struggle to compile this collection of palestinian folktales – some which are recounted daily to children and others which hide in the memories of our elders, elders who perceive their safekeeping of these stories as remnants of old traditions, as “old fashioned”. but since when is telling stories old fashioned? must they be the western celebrated [bastion of orientalism] alf layla w layla [a thousand and one nights] most famously compiled by orientalist [and turban donning] sir richard burton? or tales of greek lore?

why must our stories, the stories of arabs, people of today with a deep and poetic and sexually and socially liberal history be hidden and considered “old fashioned” – even by those who hold the last remaining keys (literal and figurative) to a heritage that has been disappearing under conquest – from zionist colonization of palestine to western corporate entities sprouting multimillion$$ buildings along the nile and the spread of western culture disguised as progress and modernity at the cost of… us??

so here’s to folktales, palestinian folktales, sharif kanaana and abu alfaraj alasfahani and those who believe in arabness – the rou7 the space the language and the people – and celebrate it and share it.

interview can be found here: []


When we are well-informed about our culture, history and society, and then borrow from the West, we are bound to merge it with our culture rather than having it imposed upon us as an alien element.

– sharif kanaana

Reminds me of something I read by Aime Cesaire in his Discourse on Colonialism:

They talk to me about progress, about “achievements”, diseases cured,  improved standards of living. I am talking about societies drained of their essence, cultures trampled underfoot, institutions undermined, lands confiscated, religions smashed, magnificent artistic creations destroyed,

extraordinary possibilities wiped out.



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