Manouba, Tunisia: A Palace, an Escape Route, and a Women’s Prison

“Now is the time for the country to shake off the destructive forces within itself and to live in the freedom and security that Tunisians both desire and deserve, a new peace not presided over by autocrats, army, or police, but one managed by the voluntary cooperation of a free people.” Continue reading Manouba, Tunisia: A Palace, an Escape Route, and a Women’s Prison

Golden Mezwed, Part I

I think we’re about ready for a new feeling to enter music. I think that will come from the Arabic world. ~Brian Eno Meeting Gaddour We encounter Abdelkadr, who is better known as Gaddour, at our local café, where we often see him coming and going. He’s a friendly guy with a lot of friends, but we don’t pay him much notice until we see him performing on television with a large mezwed ensemble, singing and playing bindir (a lap drum like the Irish bodhrán, but played with the hands) and dharbouka (an hourglass-shaped drum held between the thighs and … Continue reading Golden Mezwed, Part I

The Tunisian Cafe: Caffeine Oasis in a Wayward Urban Desert (Part I)

“I’d much rather hang out in a cafe. That’s where things are really happening.” – Joe Sacco My husband, Ahmed, promises me a special treat: he’s going to take me to his favourite café. My vision of an incense-clouded grotto with belly dancers twisting to the dherbouka and mezwed is soon vaporised by the sight of a grimy cafe with a grimier, all-male clientele, one big room furnished with old plastic garden furniture whose original whiteness is embarrassed by stains and scratches. The thick tobacco smoke fails to mask a melange of unsavoury odours. “This is your favourite cafe?” I … Continue reading The Tunisian Cafe: Caffeine Oasis in a Wayward Urban Desert (Part I)