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Lyrics and Life

 

By Caitlin Ward

09/16/2015
Soobax
K’naan

Basically, I got beef
I wanna talk to you directly
I can’t ignore, I can’t escape
And that’s ‘cause you affect me

You cripple me, you shackle me
You shatter my whole future in front of me
This energy is killing me
I gotta let it pour like blood, soobax

CHORUS
Dadkii waa dhibtee nagala soobax
Dhibkii waa batee nagala soobax
Dhiigi waad qubtee nagala soobax
Dhulkii waad gubtee nagala soobax

Nagala soobax, nagala soobax
Dadkii waa dhibtee nagala soobax
Dhibkii waa batee nagla soobax
Dhiigi waad qubtee nagala soobax

So for real, who’s to blame?
We lose lives over Qabiil’s name
Disregard for the soul
We just don’t give a fuck no more

Left alone, all alone
Settle your issues on your own
What to do? Where to go?
I got to be a refugee damn, soobax

CHORUS

Mogadishu used to be
A place where the world would come to see
Jaziira, sugunto liida, wardhiigleey iyo Madiina
Hargeysa, Boosaaso, Baardheere iyo Berbera
My skin needs to feel the sand, the sun
I’m tired of the cold, god damn soobax

CHORUS

I guess I could use the last bar to flow
I’m known as a lyrical rhyme domino
I’m cynical, well, oh, now you know
Put a hole in an emcee like cheerio

They don’t hear me though
I work for the struggle, I don’t work for dough
I mean what I say, I don’t do it for show
Somalia needs all gunmen right out the door

CHORUS

So. Today I read that while in Brazil, Canada’s prime minister locked himself in a bathroom until the Brazilian president gave in to his demands. His demands, apparently, were that toasts and speeches should take place during lunch, as opposed to afterward. Yes, I was also hoping for a more exciting reason for someone to lock himself in the toilets.

I can’t tell you how accurate this report is, but I can tell you that it’s gained a lot of traction online the past few days. I’ve seen it posted and reposted across several social media sites, commented upon, and despaired over. When I read it, I thought it seemed strange that our prime minister would be in Brazil during an election season, so I checked the date on the article to find that this alleged tantrum happened in August of 2011.

Well, that’s not exactly news, I suppose, but I’ve no doubt that the article’s sudden recirculation has a lot to do with current events. We’ve got an election coming up; it’s time to dig up all the weird things. The Conservatives are having a particularly rough week, between the revelation that one candidate peed in a cup in 2012 and it ended up on national television, and another candidate uploaded prank calls to YouTube in which he mocked people with disabilities. I have some sympathy for the first candidate, who apparently had a medical condition and was caught by a hidden camera. The other guy — well, I don’t have much fellow feeling for him at all. He seems like a dick.

I’m not sure I’d want a political party to lose an entire election based solely on a few exceptionally stupid incidents — I’m sure candidates from all parties have done some ill-advised things in their time — but it has been a nice diversion from some of the other things that have come up this election. You know, like that time Stephen Harper said we couldn’t bring Syrian refugees into Canada more quickly because of the security risk they posed. Because clearly, people so desperate to flee their homeland that they risk their own lives and those of their children must be terrorists. Then there was that time he said that the best way to deal with the refugee crisis was to escalate military intervention in Syria.

Sigh.

I should clarify my meaning. It’s not that I want to read about Harper’s histrionics in Brazil to be distracted from the humanitarian crisis in Europe; rather, I want to be distracted from how incredibly depressing it is that we have a prime minister who simultaneously seems to have no feeling for his fellow humans, and a very poor grasp of why people flee countries.

Perhaps Harper ought to talk to — well, someone who knows about these sorts of things. Perhaps K’naan, an internationally renowned rapper who fled Mogadishu at the age of 12, settled in Canada, and spoke to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees at 21, criticizing the UN’s failed peacekeeping missions in Somalia. Or perhaps Harper should chat with Giles Fraser, whose most recent Loose Canon column reminds us that the cornerstone of Christian faith, the eucharist, is built upon the Passover, a ritual that recalls a people fleeing violence and political oppression in the hopes of building a better life in a new place. You know. Kind of like refugees. Or exactly like refugees. Or, you know. Actual refugees.

Or perhaps I could tell him the story of a battered people — a family fleeing an aborted civil war. How involved that family was in the conflict seems to be a matter of debate. Their ethnic name implied they could be in the middle of it, but the particulars are fuzzy. They didn’t speak the right language for one part of the country, and they didn’t have the right religion for the other. I’m not sure they were even literate. And I don’t know how open Canada’s arms were at the time, but the family settled here, nonetheless, and eventually, they thrived.

It’s an older story than you might think — the story of my maternal grandfather’s family. Irish Catholics named Fitzgerald, leaving in the years around the 1798 Uprising to settle in what is now Quebec. In those days, they might have been called enemies of the Crown. These days, they might be called terrorists.

I won’t pretend that this story means I intimately understand the plight of contemporary refugees, because I certainly don’t. But I do wonder how many settler Canadians have at least one story like that in their genealogy. I wonder if Harper has a story like that in his own family history. I wonder how many of us would be here if Canada hadn’t opened its arms and its borders when we needed it. I wonder how many of us aren’t here because of the times Canada failed to do so.

And I wonder how many of us will think of any of those things when we go to the polls Oct. 19. If current statistics are to be believed, a lot of us will be thinking of those things. Or perhaps we’ll be thinking about that time our prime minister locked himself in the toilets to get his way. But to be completely honest, I’m past the point of caring whether this government gets ousted because of its pathetic economic, ecological, and humanitarian record, or simply because its candidates pee in other people’s cups. I just want them gone.

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings