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Lyrics translation

Swed Ellil – Blackness of the night

Swed Ellil – Blackness of the night

Translated to English by Hella Grichi
Edited by Znous


“Swed Ellil” is a narrative of the history of slavery in north Africa and a solemn stare at the reality of persistent racism against black people in Tunisia.


Listen here
Let me tell you a thing or two
My heart is overflowing in a country consumed by racism
Come here
I’m not gonna judge you for your color or from where you hail
This gorilla-brown people thinks it’s a lion
Listen here
Let’s talk a bit about history
My heart is overflowing in a country blinded by revisionism
Come here
I’m not inventing things or hiding anything from you
This is the truth that the winners chose not to write

We were living together
My first grandfathers never stole anything from anyone
Then Arabs and Europeans came
and took those of us who survived
We crossed the desert in heavy chains
And until this moment, despair still runs in my blood
They brought us here and called us slaves
And my grandfather was sold on a scale like a animal

Come here
You might have forgotten but I didn’t forget
I don’t bury my head in the sand, ashamed
Listen here
When you call me “Ka7la/Blacky” (1) – to me it’s the color with which I live
But I know your inner sickness and your the dirty lies you tell yourself
Come here
Who deceived you and told you that you originate from Beys (Tunisian nobelty/royalty)?
Tunisia was governed by only a couple of families

And before that they invaded you the same way they invaded us
in the name of religion
You think you slept one night only to wake up the next morning as a Muslim?

I don’t think so, you know-it-all
Your hand is exposed, the cards you’re dealt are shit
Don’t tell me anything, don’t you explain
I’ll fucking slaughter you if you call me a servant (2)
one more time
Hypocrites, racists
Living in an exile of ignorance, generation after generation
Bright skinned and gullible brats
With the expression “my nigga” on your tongue!?
You worthless rapper!!

Night! oh blackness of the night
You and me, we’re the same…

Speak of what happened to/at both of us
Speak and don’t be afraid

Oh night, the burden’s so heavy
You and me and history…
Speak of what happened to both of us
Speak and don’t hide a thing

Outro (audio recording of a TV interview where a young black person speaks about his exposure to racism in Tunisia by the Tunisian community)
“I experienced many racist expressions and so-called “jokes” in Tunisia.
“Wssif”, “cleans the blood” (3), they look at me in a certain way
and also say “don’t come near me”, things like that.
It’s as if someone is stabbing me with a knife in my heart.”

(1): “Ka7la” is a slur used against dark-skinned/black
Tunisians posing as a nickname
(2): “Wssif”: Another dangerously normalized slur against
dark-skinned/black Tunisians, originating from the Arabic word
meaning “servant”
(3): To say that a black person “cleans someone’s blood”
means that intercourse with a black person has medicinal and
healing powers, further feeding into very pejorative
sexualization/voodoo stereotypes.



سواد اللّيـــل

سواد اللّيل هي سرديّة لتاريخ العبوديّة في شمال إفريقيا و وقفة تأمّلية لواقع
العنصريّة ضد السّود في تونس
تعالى نڨلّك كلمة ولاّ ثنين
نا ڨلبي فاض في بلاد كلاها الرّاسيزم
مش تا نحكم فيك بلونك لا منين جيت
الشعب البنّي غوريلا ماشي في بالو صيد
تعالى نڨلّك نحكو شويّة عالتاريخ
نا ڨلبي فاض في بلاد عماها التحريف
مشني تا نزيد و لا مش تا نخبّي عليك
هذايا الحق الما كتبوه المنتصرين
كنا عايشين في نفس التريب
جدودي لولين ما فكو متع حد بالسيف
جاو العربان و لوروبيين
وهزو الي ڨعدو منا حيين
شڨينا الصحرى مسلسلين
و لتوّة القهرة تجري فدمي بعد سنين
جابونا لنّا و سمونا عبيد
و جدي باعوه عالبسكولة كي البعيرأرواح
كان انت ناسي نا راني ما نسيت
ما نحشي راصي كي النعامة نحشم بيه
كي تڨلي كحلة هاكا لوني عايش بيه
أما أنا نعرف مرضك أصلو و تحشي فيه
شكون الي غرك ڨلك أصلك مالبايات؟
تونس هذية حكمو فيها زوز عايلات
و ڨبلها جوكم كيف ما جونا بسم الدين
رڨدّو و صبحتو لڨيتو رواحكم مسلمين؟ما ضاهرليش… يا بو العرّيف
كفّك محلول و الجرية فريش
ما تحكيليش… ما تفسرليش
نسلخ ديربك كان مازلت تڨلي وصيف
منافقين… عنصريين
عايش في منفى عالهامش جيل ورى جيل
بيّوضيين فروخ بهاليل
و كلمة ماينيقا على لسانك
رابور ذليلليل يا سواد اللّيل
أنا وانت الزّوز كيف كيف
أحكي قول لي صار فيا و فيك
أحكي و ما تخبّيش

ليل و الحمل ثقيل
أنا و أنت و التّاريخ
أحكي قول لي صار فيا و فيك
أحكي و ما تخبّيش