Art and Culture

 Maqam Hileilawi - Chalghi al-Baghdadi

The Chalghi al Baghdadi is a maqam ensemble which plays multiple maqam genres from Iraqi maqam. The maqams or maqamat can be either sung or played by instruments. Generally playing the maqam requires an ensemble and many instruments in the same manner as the Al Andalus Ensemble. The Baghdad Conversatory of Music has gone to great lengths to preserve the Iraqi maqam from being destroyed by the continual destruction of cultural life within Iraq as insecurity still presist and divisions are not being mended or diffused by the central government. The Iraqi maqam is said to be the only remain 400 year old classical music in Mesopotamia region that is still played today. Due to the insecurity most maqam ensembles are not as eager to perform live music or concerts outdoors or in cafes as once the norm in Iraq prior to the war. Many Iraqis have grown accustom to remaining indoors at night. Security concerns has taken priority over musical performances. 

Some beautiful places from around the world

Ethiopia and history not seen
The cultural heritage  arts and origins of Judaism  Christianity and Africa's longest living monarchy connect Ethiopia to local, African and world history.

Saint Louis Du Senegal (French and Wolof) French documentary

The Silent Voices of Mani People in Thailand

Wealth and worth of Liberia 1972: Sweet Land of Liberty
The history of Liberian self sufficiency and development in Agriculture and industry

Liberia's Flourishing Post War Art scene

India Untouched: Dark side of India
This beautifully filmed documentary takes a look at the beliefs and strict albeit discriminatory caste system embedded in Hinduism and wider Indian society. India is the world's largest democracy in terms of population. Its also part of the BRICS, the "I" representing India that is currently experiencing a rising middle class, economic growth, enjoy a stable IT environment at home and abroad in the Silicon Valley as well as working on looking towards space industry. However, corruption in the judiciary, legislative and police is rampant and protests against the government occurs frequently across the country.

Islam in Ethiopia: The Untold African story (Hosted by Dr. Hakim Quick produced by Munier Parker & Xcon Films)

Cairo Citadel and Mohammed Ali Mosque in Egypt

The Golden Stool of the Ashanti People Ghana
The golden stool of Ashantemen or Ashanti Empire that lasted 256 years from 1701-1957 (Ghana became independent in 1957) made entirely of pure gold makes its pilgrimage throughout the Ashanti lands every few decades. It is symbol of royal power, Ashanti identity and ancestral spirituality. 

Kingdoms of Africa: The Berber Kingdoms

Yoruba Creation Story: The Universe and Humanity is born

Richard Pryor discovers the Truth about Ancient Egypt and African civilization

Afropean Oydsessy: The multicultural Europe not seen on TV

Resurrecting the Gods
Ancient Egypt's inspiration for Jesus:
Osirius (Ausar), Isis (Iset) and Heru (Horus)

Egyptian Christians: Copts of the Nile Valley

The beautiful and culturally significant village of Ma'lula, Syria 
The only place in the world where Aramaic is still spoken as a daily language
Home to the World's oldest Christian community

Ghanaian Coffin Art
Its a unique art form that celebrates the dead in addition to memorializing the passing of relatives, friends and lovers. Coffin artwork has been produced in Ghana for over three decades. It is just being noticed in Western countries. Across Accra and other cities throughout the country, family members and neighbors either come together to finance a creative coffin in the form of rocket ships, birds, ships and whichever other hobby or design the deceased enjoyed in life. It is the ultimate home going tomb art to a beloved family member and friend. 

African Wonders of the World: The Swahili Coast

African Wonders of the World: The Holy Land

Namibia: Struggle for Liberation, history and today

This is Our Country Too: Aboriginals of Australia

NTV interview foreigners in Japan

Japan Behind the Mask John Pilger
Looking at life in Japan, the industrial and economic aspects and revived nationalism 

Lesson from the Kama Sutra by Mahmoud Darwish 
the famed Palestinian poet 
In Arabic: Antaghrah, Wait for her

LE CERF VOLANT 1 (Tayara Mn Waraq 1) "طياره من ورق

A drama-comedy about the Druze people of Lebanon and Israel

Tattooing in North Africa, Middle East and Balkans

Algeria's tattoos: Myths and truths

When did Americans loose their British accents?
The history and origins of how American colonialists lost their British accents overtime and birthed the American accent of today. Enjoy the read

Eid under occupation in Palestine

Negrito People of Southeast Asia
The Negrito or the indigenous people of Phillipines, Malayasia, Indonesia in Sumatra, Andaman islands and Melanesia are descendants from ancient African migrations out of Africa to Asia and Pacific islands. The migration out of Africa was one of the earliest human migrations across the world. 

In Bazaar of Sexes: فیلم کامل بازار سکس در ایران - مستندی از سودابه مرتضایی

Contemporary marriages and sex in the fast pace metropolis of Tehran and across Iran. Despite being an Islamic republic, Iran is lenient with certain things such as dress or conduct within society when compared to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Sudan. It might be regarded as secular when Iranian youth are considered. Iran has a strong film industry that goes back decades. Hundreds of films are produced in the country each year on everyday life that place religion at the backburner of stories of ordinary Iranians going about their lives and meeting day to day challenges and triumphs. Iranian films are well known around the world but are rarely seen in the US unless at film festivals or independent channels. Yes American films regardless of the politics and diplomatic relations between the two countries are shown in Iran.  

Truffles: the Most Expensive Food in the World 60 Mins

Historical Armenia
A documentary from 1967 featuring Armenian Americans retracing Armenian roots and heritage within Turkey in search of finding the story of what happened to Ottoman Armenians before 1915 Genocide.

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Part 6

50 Unknown Facts and Photos about 1963 March on Washington

24 Spooky images from Sarajevo's 1984 Winter Olympic Site

AfroFuture: Science, Science fiction and speculative writing

African and Peoples of color in the Sci-Fi universe and science world
Science fiction and speculative fiction has been a diving board for authors, writers and creative artists to imagine and foresee what the world would be and look like in the near and distant futures. Science fiction is not a new genre. Societies around the world have been imagining what the future could and should be in terms of technology, culture, history, identity, politics and new economic systems. Beginning with the Ancient Egyptians, Ethiopians and other African, Mayan, Inca and Middle Eastern societies some 3000 years ago, society has looked to the Cosmos to calculate the stars, constellations and find methods to reach to the heavens or space. When one imagines the future, advanced technology and science usually come to mind. Technology has been advancing so fast in our current world that in the future technology and science are seen as the cure all for ending centuries old diseases as cancer, measles, pox, malaria, broken bones, deadly infections and viruses and deadly insects. Or transforming old technologies into a multipurpose gadget that does everything. Robots, androids and other mechanical humanoids as servants to human or rebellion against humankind see I, Robot or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Animatrix. 

In terms of technology, Japan has jumped far ahead of most countries in producing futuristic technologies that are two to four years ahead of our time. At the same time, Japanese writers and filmmakers have produced unique science fiction and speculative dramas, stories  and movies in the form of anime, graphic novels, games and movies that takes the viewer from a peaceful or post apocalyptic Earth to the depths of outer space to the edge of different galaxies and dimensions. American and European science fiction too has focuses on similar themes. Particularly mainstream, big Hollywood and even independent American science fiction and fantasy movies and books featuring a lone hero usually a blond man representing all or half of humanity (a supposed Raceless world and future) as the ultimate savior to overcoming an alien invasion or a mega disaster on Earth that is prepared to wipe out all of Earth recent movies include World War Z and prior District 9. It used to be that the hero would have to face Earth's oncoming doom on his own. However over the last three decades, the Sci fi hero is helped by a group of other brave or concern humans a big majority representing Europe and Asia and once in awhile one African companion or side kick. At the end of each story or movie, the American hero is most remembered by the audience despite help from his group or crew of dedicated friends and coworkers. Despite the success of well known movies such as Avatar, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Star Trek or the Hunger Games, Sci fi and fantasy audience rarely get to see (with the exception of Will Smith and Jadyin in After Earth, I am Legend, Independence Day or Men in Black) other saviors of humanity as a person of color or a hero of African and indigenous descendant in current mainstream Sci Fi or fantasy movies or TV series. It is worth noting that the protagonist in the Hunger Games are characters both human and aliens of various colors. Octavia Butler, one of first female Sci Fi author to win prestigious McArthur Genius award as well as national and international acclaim for her books and stories on religion, family, love and understanding across ethnicity  featuring well rounded and female protagonist of Africa, Asian, Latino and indigenous decedent as saviors and heroes with their own agency has shown the world that our future and a post apocalyptic world doesn't need Europe or the United States or the blond savior to represent humanity nor the only likable multidimensional character for the audience to identify with. There are multiple African, Asian and African American authors and filmmakers who have written and are currently producing their own films and books where heroes of humanity of colors are both the norm and heroes.A small but growing collection of sci fi, fantasy, speculative and superhero movies and books featuring characters and protagonists of color can be seen on online and downloaded. The stories are both diverse in terms of themes addressed and characters portrayed from group of friends to the lone hero to families. 

The Abandoned: A Digital Sci Fi series featuring a group of friends (an all A black cast) as the last human beings on Earth to survive a mysterious disaster while on a camping trip in the countryside. First episode is up and it looks good. 

The 99: A superhero comicbook and story inspired by Islamic culture, history and Society. 

Meet Viola Davis' New upcoming Sci Fi character

The Black Fantastic: Highlights of Pre WWII African and African American Speculative Fiction

Black Science Fiction Society 

Ultimate 21st Century People of Color Sci Fi List

Music and art isn't always political...

In search of a world language, music seems to the universal language of Earth regardless if the song is sung in Arabic or Spanish or Japanese or is recorded in Swahili. Humanity has been communicating through music longer than spoken language. Even now instruments in fusion music, local and indigenous and classical music still earns respect from warring factions and divided nations. Music has been used in the past and currently the present as a form of diplomacy sometimes backed by governments across the world in cultural exchanges by citizen led initiatives from film festivals, musical collaborations between national bands across borders or further away to call for understanding, cooperation and peace where politicians have failed to bridge the gap. Just as it has been used for diplomacy it has also become a tool of therapy for distressed people: soldiers and civilians suffering PTSD and daily stress of life in general. Than there is the role of music in propaganda and how it has been used to promote a jingoistic and exclusionary nationalism. But at the end of the day, music is still regarded as a culture and sound everyone around the world enjoys and immerses in.

Andalusian Orchestra Otmani Orchestra of Fes: 
Classical music of al Andulus (Islamic Spain & Portugal) preserved in Morocco 

Le grand rassemblement des orchestres Andalous

Classical West African music from Mali the homeland of the Griots
Griots were medieval bards that traveled across country and also played at the royal courts during the Mali, Songhai and Senegalese Empires

Tiken Jah Fakoly-Allah
A beautiful invocation of God (Allah) and the blessings one receives throughout life

La Diference Salif Keita
The beauty of being different but also human

"Ramona" and "La paraja negra" From the movie Latcho Drom Safe journey
Songs recalling the expulsion and exclusion of gypsies Romani people living in Spain today. Flamenco music is above the love songs 

Ramona-Latcho Drom

Artwork beyond the beauty lines

Art in is many forms can speak volumes in a literal sense than words can express a society or region. Artists through visual imagery or words has provided an eye into the identity and societies it paints. It has long serve as a form of non violent and creative resistance for occupied societies and peoples fighting against erasure or invisibility by hegemony and inhuman portrayals in media.

The Art of Annihilation in the same vein as Adbusters News e zine combines abstract and diverse artistic aesthetics to portray the hypocrisy of economic systems designed by Capitalism by hegemonic powers or strong armed alliances who benefited from the system for decades. The any means possible variety of a particular political system that pushes Western Democracy down the throats of countries in political transition attempting to implement locally grown Democracy or government that doesn't fit the definition of Westernized Democracy. The violence of exceptionalism has been portrayed by various artists throughout the world for decades rightfully critiquing the exceptionalism that places Europe, Canada, Australia and United States on a high pedestal of cultural achievement and political-social stability while dismissing the politics, identities, science and cultural traditions of African, Asian and Latin American societies. Art has broken through censorship both official via government and other higher authorities to self censorship to remind the world that imagery and words can reach the level of power and realistic representation of life itself.


Indigenous Canadians mark Aborginal Day in Montreal, Quebec
Never idle Gord Hill on Indigenous Resistance in Canada
Dacajawieh Spliting the Sky and Aborginal Rights in Canada

History lives! La historia que viva!
Liberia's 1847 constitution and declaration of Independence saved by a Safe

Liberia's historical documents including the original 1847 Declaration of Independence and original constitution that propelled Liberia onto the world's stage as the 2nd independent African Republic after Haiti (Ethiopia was a monarchy at this stage) has been discovered sealed safely in a large safe by Liberian historians in the Old Executive Mansion in Monrovia, Liberia. Alongside the Constitution and Independence declaration are other historical documents on concessions made between Liberian government and multinational companies in the early 20th century and a border document that set in writing Liberia's current territorial size and borders with Sierra Leone. Not only are the recovered documents a treasure trove of living history that tells the geopolitical and cultural history of Liberia but it also holds crucial keys to addressing the current social divisions and possible national reconciliation through understanding the past. The documents were coincidentally hidden by Liberia's president William VS Tubman during the 1950s as he thought to keep the documents a secret while he presided over an autocratic rule. Incidentally, the fragile documents survived both the 14 year old civil war as they were left untouched and decades of not seeing the light of day. 

Liberia: President inspects crucial historical documents

"Secrecy" reveals Liberia's 1st constitution and declaration of independence among other documents

Art of Self Defence
Martial Arts and self defense systems aren't just tied to one region but is found all around the world. For centuries Martial Arts has been practiced in Africa, Americas, Europe, Australia in addition to Asia. Where armies can't defend people, the people in the countryside and cities have developed methods and techniques to defend themselves from bodily harm, foreign occupation and invasion and everyday dangerous through defense systems that are diverse as the peoples and regions they came from.

Palestinian culture

Sabah al Kheir Palestine 

Palestinian culture has an ancient history 4,000 years that predates Israel's creation and Nakba of 1948. Palestinian culture is similiar to cultures and traditions of its neighbors across the Arab World & Middle East, particulary Lebanon and Syria. On a religious note, Christianity and Islam have played a major role throughout Palestinian culture for 2000 years. Palestinians, both Christian & Muslims claim descendant from the ancient Canaanites who originally lived in ancient Canaan before being exiled and expelled by the ancient Israelites who the Israelis claim descendant from. Many cities and towns long associated with Jesus, Abraham, Issac, etc and many figures of the Bible such as Nazareth, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Gaza, etc are all Palestinian towns and have existed for a millenium and are regarded as religious and culturally signficant and sacred to Palestinian society. Palestinian Christians regarded themselves as children of Jesus & Holy Land along with their christian brothers and sister in U.S., Europe and Africa who have been forgotten by the wider Christian World because of the conflict between Israel-Palestine constantly identified as a war between Islam and Judiasm with no reference made to the vibrant and surviving Christian Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in occupied East Jerusalem & West Bank under the same conditions as their Muslims brothers and sisters. The most famous and well known aspect of Palestinian culture is the debkah, a popular and ancient dance across the Arab world and in African countries. The debkah has symbolized the resistance of Palestinian people to continual Israeli occupation and land confiscation. It's a folk dance which tells the story of land, fellahin, history, culture, nature, freedom and poetry through fast rythms, music and dance. It is often danced by several Palestinian dance troups such as Al Juthoor (roots), Al Zaytoun and many others. The land and olive tree are greatly important to Palestinian identity, history, politics and culture. It's often plays with oud another famous instrument from Palestine and other Arab countries. The olive tree is renowned across the world as the symbol of peace and also for its strong, deep roots embedded into the soil, its ability to grow in the harshest climate and under stessed conditions. It has symbolized the determination and steadfastness of Palestinian people to remain on their lands as the Israeli occupation's destruction and illegal settlement growth literally eats up what remains of privately owned lands and farms in occupied Palestine. For many Palestinian families agriculture is still forms a large part of a suffocated Palestinian economy as most of Palestine relies on agriculture and light industry. Throughout history, families have always been connected to the land through farming, growing and planting orange, lemon, olive, date palm orchards, fishing in Mediterranean Sea, producing ceramics, textiles, distinct artwork and belonged to the fellahin class of society. In Palestinian poems, literature, art work, folksongs and folklore, the land is seen as a living being with feelings, a heart & with an identity of its own. Poetry is the most famous literature in Palestine and across the Arab World and has been so for several thousand years. 
Mahmoud Darwish was the epitome of modern Arab poetry, who introduced the world to the identity, struggle, exile, resilence & occupation of Palestine, the diversity and beauty of Arab culture, religion, art & literature and invented new words for Arabic while creating the foundations for modern Arab poetry in 1960s when he switched from writing poetic verses in the classical Arabic form or Modern Standard Arabic (the language of Quran) and language to using contemporary Arabic and free flowing verses. Darwish passed away in 2007 but his poetry, words and imagery of what Palestine is and was throughout his life have outlived him.

Walking tours connect Palestinians to their past
Culture helps strength identity

State of Siege by Mahmoud Darwish

State of Siege or Hilat Hissar
The story of refugees: past, present and future

A Palestine most do not usually see: Traditional dance of farmers in rural countryside

Congratulations Al Quds/Jerusalem as Arab Cultural capital

Despite 42 year old Israeli occupation, East Jerusalem or Al Quds in Arabic was named and won the prestigious title for Capital of Arab culture for 2009!
Al Quds 2009 Capital of Arab culture

Pictures from Palestine & Israel

Photos by Palestinians and Israelis on daily life in occupied Palestine particulary East Jerusalem and West Bank, olive trees, Aparthied wall, schools and neighbors dealing with occupation forces, etc. A little bit of everything else. Also includes images from Israel as well. The photos are part of an interesting slide show. Compliments to Active Stills
Jerusalem Dispossed
What U Think U See

Al Damir al Arabi (The Arab Conscience)

100 Arab celeberites from various Arab countries join together to sing for Peace and promote justice and equality between all humanity!
"Operetta featuring more than 100 Arab celebrities with English subtitles. The video documents international events took place in the world between 1998 and 2008 such as: 9/11 attacks, Danish cartoons, Israeli massacres in Lebanon and Palestine, Desert fox, Sharon entrance to Al-Haram Al-Qudsi and the second Intifada, assassination of Muhammad Al-Durrah, war on Iraq, Kenya and Tanzania bombings, bombing of southern Lebanon, war on terror, resistance, World Peace, terrorism, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, turning ethnic groups against each others, civil wars, the separation wall (apartheid wall) in the Palestinian territories, Golan heights, Abu Ghraib prison, human rights etc."-Mona A Poets for Human Rights

Al Damir al Arabi part 1, Eng sub

Al Damir al Arabi part 2, Eng sub

Al Damir al Arabi part 3, Eng sub

Al Damir al Arabi part 4, Eng sub

Palestinian Cinema


A brandnew award winning comedy film about what it means to Arab American and a human being, an immigrant in a new and strange land and part of the 

Palestinian Diaspora

The Land Speaks Arabic

Director Maryse Gargour's 61-minute film The Land Speaks Arabic documents the founding of the Zionist movement and the expulsion of Palestinians in the early part of the 20th century. The historical narrative is reconstructed by weaving archival materials such as photographs, films, news reels and official documents, with the testimonies of Palestinian survivors of the forced expulsion of 1947-48, referred to as the Nakba, and the findings of British-Palestinian historian Nur Masalha.

Salt of This Sea
A new film by Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir that follows a young Palestinian American woman played by real life poet Suheir Hammad returning home from U.S. to occupied Palestine. While seeking to trace her family's roots in Yaffa, she finds love with a local Palestinian man while experiencing and witnessing the occupation first hand and its effects on Palestinian people, society, life and culture.

French trailer for Salt of This Sea. This film was also under French production.

Closed Zone:

One of the creators of Oscar-nominated animation Waltz With Bashir has made a short film to alter Israeli perceptions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. A 90-second film Closed Zone has been launched online in support of the human rights group Gisha, which advocates freedom of movement for Palestinians. It shows a Palestinian boy chasing a bird but having his path blocked.

Closed Zone official website

Gish: Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement of Palestinians. A human rights groups based in Israel advocating, demanding and calling for freedom of movement of palestinians in the occupied territories particulary Gaza that has endured a 2 year long Siege, war, holocaust and continual occupation by Israeli military.

Arab Film Festival
Right to Education
Fundamental right of children, protected by International Law, Human Rights and guaranteed by UN Charter, Right to Education, an educational campaign launched by Birzeit University in 2000 to promote the right to education for Palestinian students, teachers, children, highschool and university students who are impeded and have their education disrupted due to the more than 620 Israeli military checkpoints, closures and roadblocks across occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. In Gaza continual bombing has destroyed all educational buildings including nursery schools, universities, colleges, day care centers, libraries and ministry of education. This is no way for a child to live. Birzeit University was also the target of Israeli closure during the first Intifada in 1987-1993. Many alternative underground schools were found during the first Intifada to continue educating Palestinian school children while protest and violence between the stone throwers and army were on going. Today many children impeded at checkpoints simply attend their classes at the checkpoints as protest and resistance to occupation. While Gazan students must improvise or not recieve an education at all due to the recent war and carnage.

Visit Palestine & experience Palestinian culture

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Despite the continual violence from settlers, Israeli military, continual land confiscation & checkpoints, there are many Palestinian, Western and Israeli organizations that offer trips, delegations, fact finding missions, study abroad programs and cultural exchanges & activist programs to occupied Palestine to experience Palestinian culture, art society and life. These programs offer rare opportunities for anyone to see what life and reality is like in occupied Palestine beyond the headlines.

Palestine Summer Encounter

Palestine Summer Encounter (PSE) is a one, two, or three month service learning and cultural immersion program in Bethlehem, Palestine. Participants study Arabic in and outside of the classroom setting, live with a Palestinian host family, meet with both Israeli and Palestinian NGOs and peacemakers and volunteer with one of thirty-seven participating nonprofits and organizations.

Holy Land Trust
Holy Land Trust seeks to deepen international awareness and advocacy by presenting unique travel and encounter programs as well as authentic and comprehensive media and news programs. Holy Land Trust recognizes the important role played by the international community in advocating for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It also hosts Palestine Summer Encounter

Siraj Center
Siraj is a non-governmental organization based in Beit Sahour, Palestine.
Siraj aims to create links between Palestinian people and people from around the globe through educational tourism, interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, and culture and youth exchange programs. Through its many local connections, Siraj works directly with communities and organizations in Bethlehem and the West Bank. Through its connection with the Rapprochement Center and the Greek Catholic Church, Siraj has broadened its impact, reaching out to grassroots communities throughout the Holy Land.

Zochrot, Hebrew for remembering is an Israeli organization & group dedicated to remembering and teaching Israeli society about the 1948 Nakba in which 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed and forced from their homes during the creation of Israel from April to May 1948. Zochrot organizes trips around Israel to some 500 Palestinian villages destroyed by Jewish forces during the Nakba.

Other Voice-Srderot, Israel Interfaith Peace Builders

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