Abu Arab: Voice of Refugees’ Return
The whole story is that I want to return to my land
A liberated country, free of all false pretenders
However much you try to tempt me with money, I will not drop my rifle
Until I liberate the mountains of my homeland and return to the land of my ancestors
Known as the poet and singer of the refugees’ return, Abu Arab was born Ibrahim Mohammad Mattar in the small Galilee village of Al-Shajara in 1931. After his uncle was killed and his father injured while defending the village in 1948, Abu Arab and his family fled to Lebanon and then to Homs in Syria.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, a poet during the Arab Revolt in the 1930s, young Abu Arab gained notoriety singing patriotic songs at public events in the camp. In 1980, he formed his first musical troupe - the Palestinian Popular Folklore Troupe - which performed in refugee camps in Lebanon. When his cousin Naji Al-Ali, the infamous Palestinian political cartoonist, was assassinated in 1987, Abu Arab renamed his band the Naji Al-Ali Popular Folklore Troupe.
Abu Arab’s more than 300 songs - many of which have become anthems of the Palestinian liberation movement - typify Palestinian patriotism through such themes as refugee return, freedom for political prisoners, and the centrality of struggle to attain justice.