Which Soldiers Do You Like? By Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.
Ahmad Abu Baker is all you would imagine a performing artist to be - ranging from handsome, sleek, cool, and captivating to most thoughtful and kind on-stage and off-stage. I thought it was rap that I was listening to, but he says it’s more than rap. His new album this year features trance and hip-hop. I loved him so much following his performance in Taybeh last year that I knew that the Old City Soldiers Hip-Hop Team would be included in Taybeh Oktoberfest 2011 as part of our commitment to give venue to well-known artists and introduce new musicians to the community - even though Ahmad demands extra space in the programme to include their specific subtitle “Entertainment Life Style.”
The Old City Soldiers Team started in 2003, and they are the first to admit that without their fans they wouldn’t be where they are today. In Ahmad’s words: “…we thank everyone who supported us and was there for us … we love the music; we have faith in ourselves and in our people.” He truly believes that the group can change something - keep it original but include a new taste. “People love change and change is our name. Old City Soldiers will give you what you want to hear. We just want to present our music to people.” These words of his convinced me to extend an Oktoberfest invitation, not to mention the fact that Ahmad has worked on his unique style with four of the best DJs in the world. He is very positive and explains that the hard times that they had previously faced have turned into great times. He has a very optimistic point of view not just towards music but towards life in general. This optimism brought him to perform in Ramallah last July and as far away as Sweden in August. Since 2006 he has performed in many places in Palestine and has travelled two to three times a year for live performances abroad.
Ahmad is 24 years old and lives in the Old City of Jerusalem. He is a half-breed, the product of an Egyptian mother and an African father. His musical talent finds its roots in his father, who was a jazz artist. His family includes five brothers and one sister. Recently he announced his engagement.
The O-C Soldiers Hip Hop Team also includes Raed Bassam, Mohammed Aglone, and DJ Mr. Fantastic. The best way to describe O-C Soldiers music is that although it includes rap, it’s not just any rap. Everything that they do is taken from the streets and from people’s lifestyles; from school, work, governmental laws, and almost everything and anything that happens in their daily lives.
Ahmad’s motto is pretty much what I try to advise my own children to follow “Don’t worry, be happy, that’s our life example.” In 2006, O-C Soldiers released the single called “Ethabset al Nafes”(Imprisoned Soul). In 2007, it was “Mish Mouhtaref” (Not a Professional). In 2010 their single was called “Kilamet al Haq” (Word of Truth), and the biggest single yet was just released in 2011 with DJ Marwan Asad and is entitled “Hareekah” (Fire), which Ahmad considers his number one track. He continues to look for the right support for this new album.
Since the first Oktoberfest in Palestine (2005), I have personally tried very hard to create a festival schedule that would include traditional music, dance, modern music, and children’s programmes during the day with bands at night. There’s usually a different group on stage every hour on the hour to celebrate cultural heritage. The most interesting characteristic about Oktoberfest is trying to share our local traditions with others while at the same time having great fun in welcoming bands on stage from Brazil, Germany, Greece, and England, as well as dancers from Japan and Sri Lanka. Performing both nights this year we even have an American Palestinian comedian, Amer Zahr, from Washington, D.C. I pray for peace so that the joke will not be on me. Furthermore, some Oktoberfest favourites such as Cultureshoc, DAM, Toot Ard, Mina Band, and Al-Rowwad Culture and Theater Society will be in Taybeh for this year’s celebration, not to mention the new band Eurasica. Designer Aiman Salaymeh will also exhibit his handcrafted jewellery in the old city of Taybeh.
The Taybeh Beer campaign promoting “Taste the Revolution” finds that O-C Soldiers reflect the concept of doing great things in their field to be successful in showing a different face of Palestine. Not all revolutions are fought with guns and lethal weapons. Taste the Revolution in Taybeh means making great beer and great music in celebrating life and wanting to be normal people with normal activities that reflect our basic human rights. Ahmad Abu Baker sees the celebration of Taybeh Oktoberfest as a big chance for him and his team. Come join us in the highest mountain region of Palestine and support our local products - Taste the Revolution!
Dr. Maria C. Khoury is organising the Seventh Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest in Taybeh, Palestine, on 1 and 2 October 2011. She has served as a community volunteer since 2000 and is the author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land. volunteer since 2000 and is the author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land.