Tales from Arab Detroit – New Day Films – Ethnic Studies – Anthropology


[Egyptian music] -You’re listening to
WDET FM, Detroit 101.9, the Radio Free Earth
program in progress. Next week, we’re gonna
have some visitors from Egypt, a couple of traditional
storytellers. And to prepare you for their
visit, we’re going to hear part of what they’ll
be performing. This is part of an epic,
the Abu Zayed epic, some traditional storytelling
from the Nile Delta region. [singing with
stringed instrument] -Sheikh Ghanim is a
professional storyteller. He recites the epic of the
Bani Hilal tribe, a tale sung by Arab poets for 1,000 years. The epic is 100 hours long,
and Ghanim is among the last generation of poets who
can recite it from memory. As a boy growing up in the
Nile Delta of Egypt, he learned the epic from his
father and uncles. Yet today, in
the age of television, Ghanim is not teaching
the epic to his sons. [epic and music continue] Like Arab immigrants in America,
he stands at the end of one tradition and the
beginning of another. [Yemeni music and singing] [calls to audience;
audience cheers] -I’m trying to push you into the
things that I want you to know. And for some reason, you’re
saying, “I don’t wanna see it.” -Well, no, we don’t do
that all the time, though. -Yeah, but enough. And you don’t even sit through
some of them all the way. You sit through part of it,
and then you start saying, “Can we go now?
Can we leave now?” And that ruined the whole
evening for me because I took you for a purpose,
and that purpose is nothing. -Well, Dad?
-Yeah. -This is serious. We do go to those things,
and a lot of them we enjoy. But we can’t go to all of them. [music and singing continue]