Brilliant song for the Arab Spring by one of my absolute favourite Egyptian bands Iskinderlla.  I had the absolute pleasure of attending their concert one month before the revolution began in Cairo.

– Samah Sabawi

Samah also provided the following translation:

They say …
What do they say?
They stole our country
The sons of what?
They say
…Once upon a time
They stole our country
The Americans
They say that
Generation after generation
Israel stole Palestine
At midday they will come for Baghdad
And at sunset they’ll come for Egypt

(repeat first part fast)

They say
Oh grandchildren
America took Baghdad
They say
It is so sweet
The US’s bombs are gentle
They’re conquering Baghdad at midday
By sunset they’ll conquer Egypt

They say
There was a summit
But no one knew how to say a word
They say that oppression became vicious
And the blood was pouring from the newscast
They say that we were silent

(really slow rhythm now)

And we soaked in our misfortune
We sunk to our chins in humiliation
We sunk to our eyeballs in humiliation
Good thing we could at least cry
It was mercy that we were asleep
That our lanterns fell into darkness
But sadly we didn’t even dream
They say that … what shouldn’t be said

(now fast again repeating first part and second part)

They say that we were silent

(music stops applause then slowly start again)

Rise and push away this darkness
That has covered our path
Pull our children away from the dance
To the beat of the sectarian fire
The light has gone out in our homes
The dreams died in our eyes

But our silence was not silence
No nation lives and dies
They say …
What do they say?
Our people held the light in their hand
They say …
What do they say?
Once upon a time
Our people got what they wanted
They say …
Generations were born
In Egypt’s Tahrir square
They say …
To our children
The sun of revolution
Was illuminated by our martyrs
They say
Our freedom
Our revolution is an Arab revolution
Dawn, noon and after noon
Tunis, Libya, Syria, Egypt
They say
There will be a summit
Where there will be justice and strong will
They say that our dawn has broken
And the flowers are growing in the streets
They say that
The light is ahead

(applause and repeat the last part)


Eskenderella was formed in 2001 by a group of passionate musicians from the city of Alexandria, Egypt. Throughout the first year and a half of their existence, they performed live concerts in different cultural spots in their city. The band subsequently went on hiatus for a number of years, but recently resumed its activities with renewed vitality and an increased line-up.

Upon returning to the stage, they added some original compositions to their musical repertoire, with texts written by leadings poets Fouad Hadad and Naguib Shehab el Deen, and young poet Ahmed Hadad, among others. Relying chiefly on Eastern instruments in its live set-up, Eskenderella also performs famous songs by Sayyed Darwish, Sheikh Imam and Ziad Rahbani.

Eskenderella’s music and lyrics provide a vital commentary on current social conditions in their home country, oftentimes bordering on open criticism of their elders’ passive attitudes; they bring to life the dreams of their nation’s youth, those millions of young people eager for change… The band even goes regional at times, criticizing Arab leaders in the song “Guevara died”.

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