Why all of Belarus is singing a Catalan song

In Grodno, not far from the border between Lithuania, Belarus and Poland, thousands came to the election rally of the Belarusian opposition candidate Svetlana Tichanowskaja at the weekend. Her husband, blogger Sergei Tichanowskij, was arrested in May in the city of three hundred thousand people, who wanted to run for the presidential election next Sunday.

People who stand for change gather in the park of international friendship and sing together in Belarusian the song “Walls”, which sounds like a soundtrack to this summer of hope: “Destroy the walls of the prison! / If you long for freedom, take it! ”Says the chorus of the song recorded by Sergei Tichanowskij together with Sergej Kosmas, the text of which is a re-poetry by Minsk poet Andrej Chadanowitsch.

The Polish songwriter Jacek Kaczmarski wrote the original lyrics in 1978. With the establishment of the first free trade union Solidarność two years later, it became an anthem of struggle against the sole rule of the Polish United Workers’ Party in Poland. The chorus reads: “And the walls will fall, fall, fall / And the old world will be buried!” The song by Kaczmarski indirectly contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall, because in Poland it became apparent that a bloodless end to communist rule in the Soviet Union The area of ​​influence is possible if only enough people lose faith in the omnipotence of the state apparatus. “Walls” describes how a song is adopted by the singing masses for their struggle and ceases to belong to the singer.

For his part, Kaczmarski took over the melody from the Catalan songwriter Lluís Llach, who wrote the hymn of the Catalan struggle against the Franco dictatorship in 1968 with “L’Estaca” (The Stake). Since the song was forbidden in Spain, Llach only hummed the melody – his listeners knew the text. For Llach, “the stake” was the symbol of a rotten state, which can be removed with common forces and thus freed the bound.

“What is incomprehensible is understood”

Polish poetry is a valuable currency at a time when the rule of law in Poland is being challenged by a democratically elected government. Parallel to the election campaign of Svetlana Tichanowskaja in Belarus, the American theorist for non-violent resistance, James Lawson, quoted the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz at the funeral of human rights activist John Lewis in Atlanta. In 1988, Miłosz wrote in the poem “Sinn”: “When I die, I see the world’s lining. The other side, behind the bird, the mountain and the setting of the sun. They call for deciphering the real meaning. What was wrong will be right. What is incomprehensible is understood. “

James Lawson recalls the beginnings of the black civil movement and the fact that nobody knew exactly what to do at the time. “We knew what was wrong and put it on the nation’s agenda. Black lives matters, ”echoes the mourning community in Atlanta. The only right way to take over John Lewis’s legacy today is to take the United States Constitution literally and grant equal rights to all, Lawson says.


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