When Gaza Meets Geneva

Dull, too quiet, too neutral…Those are usually the words used to describe Geneva by people who don’t know it that well. However, I can assure you that yesterday evening, Geneva was everything but dull, as it bounced and moved to the sound of the Palestinian hip hop band DARG Team. DARG stands for the Da Arabian Revolutionary Guys, a name that you can only find to suit them well when you see them sharing passionately their music, singing and rapping their unyielding love for their homeland Gaza.
The MCs Sami Srour, Bassam El Masry, Mohammed Antar and Mady M El Masry, along with their accomplices Fadi M.Bakheet, Maroof Abu Abdo, Adan Qudwa and Ahmad Badran, started their hip hop journey back in 2004, with too little means to actually record in a studio, let alone market their work. With patience and passion, they managed to build a growing local audience that supported them and released their first homemade album “Bel Ghorbah” in 2008, while participating in various events and concerts organised by local and international NGOs working in Gaza.
Organising concerts in Geneva while you’re living in the biggest open sky prison in the world is no easy task, and it was really marvellous that the Team managed to break the iron blockade befalling Gaza to come and make their voice heard in the City of Calvin.
It all started in February 2009, when Swiss film director Nicolas Wadimoff and journalist Béatrice Guelpa were in Gaza filming the documentary Aisheen-Still Alive in Gaza. Wadimoff and Guelpa met with the band, and started building a friendship that led the movie director to ask DARG Team to sign the documentary’s soundtrack. Aisheen is a must see, and the DARG Team’s music will slap you awake to the horrendous living conditions Palestinians in Gaza are put through, but also to their dignity and resilience.
Upon return in Switzerland, Wadimoff and Guelpa “felt that they had left their friends in jail” and decided to put them in touch with rappers from Geneva and Lausanne, leading to the hip hop project Gaza Meets Geneva. Swiss rappers such as La Gale, Rynox or Poh-Low collaborated with DARG Team to record an album, using every technological means at hand to realise this rather uneasy long distance exercise.
However, concerts had to be postponed, or organised via the Web because of the blockade preventing the musicians to move freely. No matter how many diplomatic efforts were deployed by the City of Geneva’s officials, it took almost a year to be able to grant DARG Team the necessary papers and authorisations.
And suddenly, on Sunday 20th of June 2010, there they were, in Parc de Bastions, so happy to finally be able to reach a wider audience, so enthusiastic that you couldn’t help but move along with them, and shout at the top of your lungs “Falasteen 7erra” “Free Palestine!”.
“Settle down and listen! It’s the first time that we see such a big audience in front of us, and what’s more, an audience that’s feeling our vibe while not understand a single thing. And you know why you’re understanding? Because we’re speaking to you from our hearts. What comes from the heart, everyone can understand”.
Have a safe trip back DARG Team, and come back to us soon.
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