It is unclear exactly when
“To me, my father was an abstract character. I know him from the photos that occupy the corners of my house. I know his voice from an old recording of him on the Palestinian Broadcasting Service…. Through this abstract knowledge of Ibrahim, I was able to form an image of this man, like a mosaic made up of small stories, each beautiful in its own right, and each collection of them telling a sequence of events.”1
- 1. al-Tarifi, Yusif ‘Ata. Ibrahim Touqan.
As a child, Ja'afar attended school in Nablus, the same school that his father had both studied in as a child and later taught in after graduating from university. Every morning, he joined the other children at his school in lining up to sing Mawtini – the words written by his father, a piece of the mosaic ever-present in Ja'afar’s life.1 Mawtini remained Palestine’s unofficial anthem from the 1930s until 1972 when the Palestinian Liberation Organization adopted the song Fida’i as an official national anthem.
- 1. Ibid.
Algeria - When I first started school in 1985, I had been memorizing several Palestinian anthems from listening to the radio program Voice of Palestine that my father followed regularly on the Algerian National Broadcasting Service. One of these was Mawtini, which I memorized by heart because it found a special place in my ear and heart.
The teacher asked us: “Who has memorized the national anthem?” I was the most enthusiastic, so he called on me and I launched into an enthusiastic performance of Mawtini, voice raised and eyes closed, unaware that the teacher was correcting me: “This is the old Palestinian anthem, I am talking about the Algerian national anthem Qisman”, as a wave of laughter surrounded me.
In the evening, as I headed home, I climbed onto a large rock and started to sing Mawtini, while other children gathered around the rock singing the Algerian national anthem. It must have been one of the rare moments that the two songs merged into one, a spontaneous embodiment of the connection between the two peoples.