Palestinians have always documented their history through their art & cultural productions. They still do. They document their history not only in words but also in paintings.
Although Palestinians show pride in their art and culture, but many of them fail to identify the history behind each cultural production. It is essential for us to understand and know the historic background behind every painting and every song. This historic connection is what keeps our culture alive. In “Beyond Compromise”, we will start the series “Palestine: Art & History” to help preserve and document this history. The aim is to help build a bridge between Palestinian youth and their history. In return, the youth will be able to cross steadfast to their future.
Jafra is the most word connected to the Palestinian cause. A lot of newborns, Palestinian and Arab, are named Jafra. Few know the historic background behind this word. In Arabic, Jafra means the fat goat. It also means the wide well that was not built with stones.
The Palestinian poet Izzeddein Manasra published his famous poem “Jafra, the Forgotten Home” in Lebanese newspapers in 1976. Manasra talks about his lover Jafra AlNabulsi who was murdered in a Zionist airstrike on Beirut in 1976. Jafra AlNabulsi was a Palestinian student in the American University in Beirut. His poem was translated into more than twenty languages. It was sung by Marcel Khalifeh and Khaled AlHabir. Jafra was not only famous in the Arab world, its fame extended worldwide. Jafra was transformed into a Yugoslavian film that was screened in Moscow International Film Festival in 1980. It was also the title for a dance performance in Brno in Czechoslovakia. Jafra song was performed also by French singers on Müller’s theater in Paris in 1997.
Despite the big role of Manasra’s poem to make “Jafra” famous, but in the Palestinian culture, “Jafra” was born long before the publishing of this poem. One of the most famous Palestinian wedding songs is “Jafra, Oh Friends”. The story dates back to the forties of the twentieth century. It was born in the fields of a Palestinian village in Akka named Al-Kuwaikat.
The hero is a young man named Ahmed Abdel Aziz Ali AlHasan, also known as Ahmed Aziz. He loved a young woman, his relative Rafeeqa Nayef Hamada AlHasan. He called her Jafra and started writing poems about her. He stalked her everywhere she went. She did not love him back. She was in love with her cousin Mohammed Ibrahim AlAbdallah. Nonetheless, Ahmed and Rafeeqa married. A week into their marriage, Rafeeqa told Ahmed about her feelings towards Mohammed. Then she ran away with her lover, Mohammed. Ahmed Aziz married another woman but his feelings towards Rafeeqa (Jafra) never changed. He continued writing poems about his love to Jafra.
Both Jafra and Ahmed were later expelled to Lebanon with their families by the Zionists in 1948. Ahmed Aziz resided in Ein AlHilweh Refugee Camp. Jafra went further up north with her family to a Refugee Camp in Beirut and later on she lived in Hureik neighborhood. Jafra died in April 2010.
– Izz ElDein Manasra, “Jafra and the Discussions, the Hebronite Grapes poetry”, 2009 (Arabic Book)
Please refer to the Arabic Version.