By Erin Waks
Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, famous singers from across the Middle East and North Africa worked together to release a single and raise money for those suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic. Carrying a message of hope and strength during these difficult times, in April 2020 the song, Enta aqwa, in English ‘you are stronger,’ encourages people to retain their faith and stick together to get through this worldwide catastrophe.
From the perspective of those involved, the piece aimed from the start to reach as large an audience as possible. The song, an operetta containing the features of a ballad, was composed by Egyptian Amr Mostafa, with lyrics by Egyptian Dr Medhat El-Adl. The video was directed by Palestinian-American film director, Tarek Al Eryan. This star-studded production team made for the release of a powerful music video.
In terms, then, of those singing, the line-up boasts many of the Arab world’s most famous singers. Headlined by the Egyptians Mohamed Mounir and Tamer Hosny, along with Carole Samaha and Wael Jassar from Lebanon and Samira Said and Saber Rebai from Morocco and Tunisia respectively, the song reflects a real pan-Arab movement to revive hope during the pandemic. The artists donated the proceeds from the release to those suffering in 2020.
The song itself depicts themes of hope, solidarity and human kindness, particularly throughout times of difficult. The opening brings to light the notion of hope, igniting faith amongst all those struggling through this period:
كل يوم الشمش تطلع تملى بـالنور الوجود
هي نور الإنسانية اللي بيعدي الحدود
Every day the sun rises and spreads the existence of light,
It is the light of humanity which crosses borders.
These lyrics highlight, from the start, the constant imagery of hope, of ‘light,’ which emanates from humanity during times of crisis. This solidarity of optimism, as such, is so powerful that it can cross borders. An idea which, evidently, is put into practice, with the multi-national lineup and production team partaking in this awe-inspiring project.
Later, this idea of humanity as one, transcending borders, is revisited. In line with the acts of generosity and kindness we have all seen in the world during this global crisis, the artists sing:
(…) كلنا في الأصل واحد أب واحد وأم واحدة
مهما هـتكون الديانة او شعوب باللغات ولون
We all have one origin, one father and one mother (…)
Whatever your religion, your language, or the colour of your skin.
Playing on the idea of solidarity as a way to cope with, manage and survive the effects of the pandemic, here Carole Samaha sings of the way the pandemic affects us all. Regardless of one’s background, we have all been affected in some way. And, incidentally, we must rely on one another and support others to survive. Friendship, unity and encouragement are paramount.
What, then, is the significance of this music? Given the turmoil of its context, I think it is safe to say that the message of hope, and of harmony with others, gains particular weight. Mirrored by its international cast, Enta aqwa can inspire all of us to support one another, and keep our hope up throughout this seemingly endless crisis.
Image Credit: Egypt Calendar