Hédi Bouraoui was born in Sfax, Tunisia. Educated in France and the United States, he is University Professor Emeritus at York University, Toronto, Canada. He is the former Chair, French Studies, and former Master, Stong College, where he created the multicultural program.
A member of the Royal Society of Canada and Officer in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, he is the author of twenty books of poetry, a dozen novels, and a number of books of literary criticism, including The Critical Strategy (1983) and Transpoétique: Éloge du Nomadisme, which was awarded the APFUCC (Association des professeurs de français des universités et collèges canadiens) Prize for the Best Scholarly Work published in French in 2005. His novel, Ainsi parle la Tour CN, was short-listed for the Ontario Trillium Award in 2000, and another novel, Cap Nord, was short-listed for the Prix des Lecteurs de Radio-Canada, and for the Trillium in 2009.
He is Writer in Residence at Stong College, and founded the Canada-Maghreb Centre (CMC) (Stong/ French Studies) in 2002. In 2003 Laurentian University, Sudbury, conferred on him a Doctorate Honoris Causa for “his creative works and books of literary criticism which have earned him a national and international reputation.” His latest novel, La Méditerranée à voile toute, is scheduled for publication in October, 2010.
THE MEDITERRANEAN : A CREATIVE METAPHOR
I would like to begin with a poem I wrote many years ago in praise of my mother land.
When I started my writing career, the word “Mediterranean” itself had an important impact on my world view. The title of my poem, “Ma Médi-terr-anée”, implies meditation, or mé-dire (to badmouth). Be it meditation or badmouthing, it is always a question of words. The creation of words builds the terrain, the land. “Né” means to be born, and “Ma Mé” implies the mother, as “Terra” suggests the Mother Earth, or motherland. A position I have taken during my whole career is a creative process growing out of proximity to the sea. I was born in an underdeveloped country, which was then being colonized and exploited by the French. If we examine Tunisia from an historical point of view, my land has Carthage on its shore, which in ancient times was the principal port both for commerce, and for wars waged in the Mediterranean basin.
Carthage was founded in the ninth century B.C., Rome only in the seventh century, which means that my shore of the Mediterranean was more prestigious in the past than it has proven to be in the present. There is, therefore, a dialectic between the north and south of the Mediterranean.
Part I : Narrative poem
My Mediterranean : Sfax where I was born,
Ariana or Moulinville, my quarter a few steps from the sea
Greets the arch of the gulf touching on the other side
Kerkennah, Djerba, Carthage, Tunis
Algiers, Oran, Ceuta, Tangiers… My Maghrebinity
Root and head of a continent, IFRIKYA
Conscious of its identity, fascinates but is often overshadowed
By this umbrella cutting off the horizon:
Palermo, Naples, Rome, Genoa, Nice
Marseille, Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga… This EUROPE
Serving as our cultural capital, as if we had neither spirit nor flesh,
We must lift it before revering our forgotten ancestors,
Our governors of dew fascinated by the quadrille
Sfax was also Taparura, in a Latin asserted and rejected…
Inscribed in my gestures and my text-body living today
In the shade of other races, of pluri-phonies… even the American,
Whose recent knowledge
Is only a rocket on a banal cross, admits to me:
— Morocco was the first nation to greet and recognize America
in the family of nations… Then she begins to admire the exaggerated movement of my arms, concluding that I only speak with my hands,
underlining the harmony of gestures and the clarity of concrete words:
Traces of Aghlabides
In the well-oiled machines of the olive capital
The Olive: peace branches
The oil is Baraka
To eat, cure and create household light
Then Ouahrane, founded by Andalusian
Moslems in 903, that fortress town,
Port of pirates and exchange center with the whole world, with foreigners. Today
Launching towards the recovery of patrimony:
My Maghrebinity reasserted
In each breath around the olive tree. But
Our palm trees dominating the countryside
Turn a deaf ear. They are all preoccupied with gathering grain
From the four winds of illegality
Tangiers: homeland of Ibn Battuta, geographer and historian whose boundaries
Are still not fixed today. This city, first a Phoenician center, then Carthaginian
Becomes a “free zone,” or duty free, all calibers of fortunes and lands
Mix the bitter brew of possession. And who can say if this ancient capital
Of Mauretania (Tingi), which became Muslim
After the Vandal and Byzantine invasions,
Can establish the free exchange of ideas
So that all our Maghrebinity
Can be consolidated once and for all:
I brandish my Sfaxitude, my Ouahranity, my Tangierity
My decentered Maghrebinity, outside the capitals
My occidental Maghrebinity;
I leave aside the Eastern Mediterranean with its conflicts
Not from any lack of interest in its fate. But we must note that written exchanges are only achieved with difficulty on the horizontal axis. Connections which should have been natural because of the cultural heritage and the present configurations (Third World, developing nations) remain problematic and often ignored.
On the vertical axis is the vector of exchange, of competitions tainted with love/ hate and mimicry, with demarcation/ dirty work.
— Europe always holding the high card (especially Paris, the orchestra leader of creativity in the world artistic chorale).
— Africa in permanent competition offers the European capitals the fermentation
necessary to its survival, to their survival.
And I would even say that because of this state of affairs, its literary and artistic productivity seem to take the lead in innovating form and content.
Thus the Maghreb, on the level of writing, is today at its zenith. But at its nadir on the level of the distribution of its cultural products.
From the conceptual point of view, there exists an infernal binarity between the Maghreb and Europe, a trap into which African writers from the south shore of the Mediterranean often fall. To subvert and explode this binarity I have introduced (thanks to my own life path) a third cultural dimension outside the Mediterranean.
My “Bloomingtonic” and “Ithacaducity” U.S. (note the echo of Greece – chase nature, it will return at the gallop) to add to my Torontonian Canaduitude.
My inner sea raises its African head, bathes its feet in Europe, licks parts of Asia, dialogues with the Atlantic not only through the language of the Strait of Gibraltar, but also through the intermediary of a new continent mapped by Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, James, and more recently Margaret Laurence.
But I only want to aim my fire
At the limited terrain of a few internal tensions in this “Inner Sea” which “rises”
Against closure, knowing in advance all the seisms working the depths
Of its productive body:
VÉSUVIADE, the title of my fourth collection of poems
Establishing the volcanigram of other “nocturnal fractures of my Verb” unveiling
The Age of Maghrebin fortitude whose politics of deconstruction only began
With our independence mining from within their exoticism, creative flesh
Of Salammbô (Flaubert)1, Fromentin, Pierre Loti, and other Immoralistes (Gide)
To cite only a few French authors (among so many others) who conquered
Our literary space to transform it into a bizarre residue invested in
Colonial ideology whose principles are based on exclusion and reduction.
In the second part of the book, Phénixode, I refuse the “Mona Lisa Smile”
Disseminating the metaphor of the title which explodes in fragments
of verbs taking flight
towards other poetic spaces, once the language revolution
in the scriptural economy of part of our heritage –
gap and determinism. Crossing our
genres like riders changing the landscape
We will discover our narrative space,
with its transparencies and limits. Fragments of biography recommence on this side of the Maghrebian bank
Ibn Khaldoun and his Kitab-al-Ibr evoking the history of the Arabs, the Persians, the Berbers, and whose Muquadima inaugurates new sciences: sociology and the philosophy of history.
When knowledge is born on our land, what power does it have over us? What
impact does it have on the other shore? Isn’t the Mediterranean mission to
assimilate equitably all the pathways?
The route of the Greek navigator Ulysses, this “duplicitous man” who triggers conflicts and attracts lovers was nourished on my isle of the Lotus-Eaters.
Djerba, a playful narrative
Experience extended towards its own unknown, and verbal rashes
Scratching and dominating the Homeric song preparing an interrogation
On the specificity of writing.
An ambivalent discourse in the matrix of the poetic state:
A textual universe quartered with strategies of domination in the name of historicity.
Thus myths are born which inspire us to travel by sea
Eternal motherland to which we haven’t always had a right.
Even moreso today! They suck our blood like an ungrateful leech
Displaced with respect to the intercultural,
Our traditional specificity.
Camus drawing his “substantifique moelle” from the very Algerian land
Whose Arab shines by his absence at Oran (La Peste) and elsewhere, a stranger
On his own soil, he is killed, eliminated like an obstacle disturbing the harmony of the day by one Meursault who does the doublesault
To find his life again beyond absurdity.
A frequently taught text of an ethic translated into thirty-six tongues sowing to
the four winds “the humanism” to justify a century which declares clearly:
— “I believe in justice, but I will defend my mother before justice.”
Paradox of paradoxes: History takes charge of contradictions
And makes truth triumph: The independence of Algeria, of the Maghreb and the African continent restored, not without sacrifice, alas, of its sons and daughters
Who proudly endorsed the Algerian nationality denigrated by
the Camus, Audisio
Louis Bertrand and others exhausting themselves in praise of “the Eternal Mediterranean” or “the Eternal Hannibal” without agreeing to endorse the burnoose
Of the Algerian passport.
So we must await The Eternal Jugurtha of Jean Amrouche,
Who in spite of “his double allegiance” early sought the right
To difference without rupture, assimilating all the mystical currents in a spirit
Of tolerance and peace appropriate to Islam
Peace to the native people; peace to other races
With the added value of the ferocious Berber
Love of liberty
And the warm welcome to the ideas
But revolt and
Rebellion with respect to all that
Destroys our spirit.
Necessary changes of relations between the Maghrebian and European shores; reverse the
cultural currents to make them circulate from
South to North,
Lift the threat
Of the one-way street so that the Mediterranean may inscribe on its clichéd body
(repeated ad nauseam) the true crossroads where each particular heritage
imposes on the global mosaic the equilibrium
of its own identity.
Emerge from the North-South/ East-West
Rivalries and contradictions
So that the lack of a Mediterranean being may
Be the crucible
Of the coherent Image where all systems circulate
Mediterranean, mother of civilizations. Agreed. But it is still necessary for each civilization to recognize, accept and rejoice in its own cultural contribution
And transmit it proudly to the
Other shore of the Mediterranean…
Writing is above all a work of putting into form. Raw material mastered
And transformed by the imagination. Only writers
Can make the desired reader
Feel the specificity and universality of their
Mental and natal universe.
Inner sea, wild beast endowed with
Care about writing, about style
Above all one must have one’s own!
The Maghreb has surely had innovative
Writings which upset
Traditional forms of poetry, fiction, drama:
Abou-El Kacem Echabbi, Mahmoud Messadi, Ezzedine El Madani, Kateb Yacine, Mohamed Dib, Rachid Boudjedra, Nabile Farès, Malek Alloula, Driss Chraïbi, A. Khatibi, Mohamed Khaïr-Eddine and so many, many others…
Maghrebian writers, like prophets of doom, walk
The tightrope above fields mined with languages to sculpt
The stylistic departure distinguishing them on
The playful checkerboard of the Mediterranean.
1 If you read Salammbô, a nineteenth-century novel by Flaubert, you realize that Carthage was for centuries the crossroads of various peoples, races, creeds, and behavioral patterns. He gives us a vivid picture of the kind of harmony a multicultural society could have.
Part II : Excerpts from essays
Not only does the Mediterranean permeate my creative work, but also my literary criticism. In Transpoétique: Éloge du nomadisme, I attempted to define the importance of the Mediterranean for me in a chapter entitled “The Mediterranean: A Living Metaphor.”
Extended to infinity, I see the Mediterranean as a metaphor which never fails to emanate acerbic or inflammatory contradictions, sublime or outrageous joys. All frontiers are abolished in this interior sea shining, holding high the banners of a singular identity.
I am caught up in the game of countless facets of its contrasting contours, its unconquerable echoes of a nursing mother. And I can only go backwards by transgressing the barriers of prejudice. I only adhere to it through the bloom of words… familiar and strange of an endless unique metaphor, which will not cease to make the multiracial ink flow of an always possible agreement, or of bloody, murderous dissonance. These identities on a flagpole at each barricade.
I am writing to you from the heart of a single hyphenated concept: South-North.
Where are you, inner sea that world explorers have put on the forefront of the scene? Didn’t Braudel underline passionately its greenish-blue interior warming the landscape and the soul?
The Mediterranean is defined as a sea between
lands, embraced by them. We must still distinguish between
those enveloping her and those opposing her. Is the Mediterranean
not above all a sea between mountains?
Pleasure of the text transforming the historical pronouncement into a corporeal, natural metaphor. Phallic mountains making love by virtue of possessing the carnal envelope of water, of attacking the sea born of maternal tongues. But pleasure is created by such sweet, velvety embraces that they are distinguished from rape, thus deporting the signified. There remains only the signifier always ready to imbue its chaste phrases with an erotic aura. Is that not the transgression of interiority disfiguring meaning in order to disseminate it?
Vibration of tumultuous metaphors. The interiors of beings and things emerge naked, unfettered, questing only for a reappropriation of memory. A whole work of introspection before moving to the invitation to the voyage of individual, social, national memories.
And this memory, is it not a meditative belonging of the self to oneself, of the self to the other. Mare nostrum, architectural unity of space you can open and close, describe or evoke no matter where, no matter when, in no matter what chapter.
I swim in the impressions this sea so rich in history gives me. Movements metamorphose me. My fluid body conceives myriads of projects and ideas like waves flaming in a reversible withdrawal, a limitless prospect.
Mediterranean, I pour myself into you, springtime lava
At the explosive dawn of Rebirth.
Sea-basin with emanations of rosemary. Ebbing of clementine odors.
The sun no longer rises… it leaps above the irresistible provocateur.
These are no longer questions posed on the verge of uncertainty.
But the power of the wooden tongue, on two feet, two measures
Allied to the poisonous algae promising a painless Apocalypse.
Disavowal and powerlessness don’t utter a challenge…
Strange parity of the brave.
To taste the elementary sensation, Paul Valéry said he was devoted to three incontestable deities: the sea, the sky, the sun. An operative triad of reality capable “of building in us those states of fecund stupor, contemplation, and communion.” I will set these lighthouses of linguistic coasts parallel to their luminous projections: words, thoughts, metaphors.
… An epistemological sea, blue-violet of so many epics, from the Iliad to the Geste hilalienne, passing by others, the Chanson de Roland and Don Quixote suffering from an ideal simultaneously sublime and grotesque.
But what does this metaphor, a polycultural period-nodule, hide? A myth creating other myths in the same measure as each breath and expiration fades, each ebb and flow reappears.
A metaphor born from the quartered invention of continents at the crossroads of African, Asiatic, and European visions. The horizon is misted over with verbal storms, fleeting clouds, vagabond silences. Which veils ambiguously all aesthetic discourse in a permanent state of change.
An articulated metaphor defying analysis, misting the horizon with pertinent, sufficient isotopes. Tempted by the constraining epithet, researchers push it towards antithesis. I fish one of these enigmas buried in memory. A qualitative adjective carrying as a bandolier a major archaism and the beginnings of postmodernism. Only a Mediterranean can scan them.
It is the return of a sea rich in paradigms. In the wearisome intestinal baths, a ship at anchor ready to set sail as far as the mother of all the seas and the cradle of all the cradles of foam and reason.
Thus the Mediterranean can often lead us to synecdoche, “this figure in a single word which entirely satisfies the rules of semiotic analysis.” An abridgment of the challenge of dispersions towards and across the islands, archipelagoes and lands, of all the mediamorphoses current and future. A synesthetic metaphor generating all the attributes of riding and encounters, of the myth of plurality with discourse of a profoundly poetic ambiguity. Which facilitates transfers and exchanges of distinctive factors, of exotic sources, of paradoxes and contradictions, inalienable smiles and costumes in communion… didn’t Albert Camus write in L’Envers et l’endroit: “oh! Mediterranean! Still on your shores voices triumph which were silenced,/ But which affirm because they denied you!”
Born in the heart of the Mediterra Née! Only to nomad in the twentieth spiral of time./ At the dawn of the third millennium/ I roll my Sfaxian zaïtouns in the swarthy fate of boldness/ Like a couscous of desires, public relations and their repentance!/ Without ever forgetting where I came from, nor scorning where I go/ I gather the most varied lemons without offending the least grain of sand/ I push from the front the terracotta clay of my ancestors/ My sea, citizen of the universe, pipes to me my meditations since my birth/ A long palaver across cedars, eucalyptus, olive trees, palm trees, almond trees, fill oua yasmine and bougainvilleas.
Part III : Brief survey of the novels
The Mediterranean is a constant presence for me, even when I am absent from it. As I wrote in my texts, Créaculture I and II, the milieu shapes the Man as much as he shapes it.
1. The Mediterranean permeates all my works, but some more so than others. The influence is most overt in my novel, Retour à Thyna, the ancient Roman name for Sfax. The novel reflects the harmony that existed in the Moulinville of my childhood, when the three major religions of the world cohabited in peace and tolerance, despite occasional tensions. All three religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – were born in the Mediterranean. Once in a while they come together to create interaction in an ecumenical spirit, which is essential, in my opinion, and is stressed in my work. My only regret is that such peaceful cooperation does not happen more often. It did happen in the past, in Andalusia, for instance.
Retour à Thyna takes place just before and after the independence of Tunisia. The young adolescents, Moslem and Jewish, are united in the fight against French colonialism, and this youthful world is tolerant in an almost paradisiac way. The heroine, Zitouna, represents the country; her name means the olive tree, symbol of Tunisia. When she tells the tale bequeathed by the dead Kateb, her cousin and would-be husband who has raped her when she was fifteen, she emerges into the marketplace from the Mediterranean Sea, mother of us all. The image of Taparura/ Sfax is that of an octopus with tentacles reaching into the countryside and the desert, an appropriate symbol for a people profoundly connected to, and dependent upon, the sea.
2. In La Pharaone, I focused on the Om-Eddunya, literally the Mother of the Universe. In fact, the cosmogony of the universe was created in Egypt during the Pharaonic period. Athens and Rome adopted and adapted the Egyptian myths to their own cultures, and in turn created Western civilization. The Oumma el-Arabia consists of all the Arabic-Islamic peoples throughout the world. This is only an ideal, forcing diversity into a monolith.
The young couple, Imane and Ayman, Muslim and Copt, suggest a modus vivendi for Islam and Christianity. I created this young couple in the hope of promoting dialogue, not only between religions, but of communion in love, the real bridge of understanding and agreement. But most parts of the world are, instead, witnessing and suffering from extremism.
In Retour à Thyna the principal characters are Maghrebins, but in La Pharaone I introduced French and Canadian elements in the characters of Francine, Margaret, and Betty. The Frenchwoman Francine deals and negotiates with the Maghrebian Barka Bousiris on the subject of the Egyptian families of Imane and Ayman. Thus there is interculturality and exchange, which is enriching for both parties. Of the two Canadian characters, Margaret views Egypt as a tourist and travel agent. Her role remains superficial, provincial. Her daughter Betty is much more developed, more honest and open to Egyptian culture and tradition. She transforms Béchir, Imane’s troubled brother. She represents the best of the Canadian option, that is, to serve peace throughout the world. Not coincidentally, the strong women in this novel participate actively in the creation of the fictive materials.
3. In Ainsi Parle la Tour CN, I focus on the multicultural community making up the Canadian mosaic of today. The CN Tower becomes a symbol of what I call Transculturalism, designed to receive and send broadcasts all over the world. I had the fanciful notion of making her (“Tour” is feminine in French) into a talking tower, recounting the lives of the diverse people who pass through her, or work in her, including the Amerindians, the Mohawks, masters of heights, who topped off the Tower. Of our Mediterranean builders in Canada, the Italian community has, of course, played a major role in Toronto and in Ontario, but the French character has also remained a dominant force in the New World.
In Ainsi Parle la Tour CN, Rocco Cacciapuoti, the entrepreneurial Italian arriviste/ opportunist, represents the Mediterranean mentality which helped to construct Toronto. The Tower comments that Rocco, the son of masons who manages to attain political appointments, succeeds in the New World only because he carries within him the Old World. He continually compares the Toronto cityscape to his native Italy. In particular, for him the CN Tower evokes its Italian ancestor, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, not so high, perhaps, but imbued with ancient history which our CN Tower has yet to create. But the Leaning Tower of Pisa does not talk.
4. In La Composée, the protagonists are a Tunisian, Samir Arhab , and a woman, Héloïse Orsini-Uzan, also born in Tunisia. The novel is set after the independence, but embodies a reverse movement as Héloïse returns from France to her childhood roots. After living in the north, she seeks a home on the south shore of the Mediterranean. Héloïse is on a quest for her true father, a motif usually associated more with male heroes. Though much of the novel takes place in Paris, Héloïse’s quest for origins leads her back to the Tunisian island of Djerba, probably the original Isle of the Lotus-Eaters in The Odyssey. And the novel is also set in Marseille, a city by the sea, which receives many of the new Maghrebian immigrants from the south shore of the Mediterranean. Héloïse was born in Tunisia to a Corsican mother, from another Mediterranean island, and, supposedly, a Tunisian Jewish father. Candidates for the true father, however, include the pretentious French poet Jean-Marc Léger, a would-be womanizer, and, finally, Ali Ben Mokhtar, an aged Arabo-musulman writer on the isle of Djerba. The point of view character is Samir, the young Tunisian restaurateur with literary aspirations who imagines himself in love with Héloïse, but persistently misreads her identity quest, and is left with only the “Black Box” of his crash, while she assimilates totally with her native land.
5. La Femme d’entre les lignes presents the encounter of a Maghrebian intellectual writer with an Italian journalist, Lisa, in the guise of a love story. But it soon becomes evident that we are looking at a fantasy of the creative process, based on the attempts at communication between representative figures from the south and north shores of the Mediterranean, both joined and separated by the eternal sea. Lisa, the reader (“je lis” means “I read” in French), finally metamorphoses into the even more symbolically named Palimpseste, who begins to write her own book in contradistiction to his. The second part of the novel, entitled “Migramour”, encapsulates the migration, movement from south to north of the Mediterranean, in quest of love, death, and above all words.
Part IV : Recent Works
6. My recent novel, still unpublished, is entitled Paris Berbère, and deals mainly with the historical relationship between France and Algeria. It focuses particularly on the problematic of the Harkis, Algerian natives who sided with the French during the Algerian War. They were considered traitors by the Algerians, but collaborators in a positive sense by the French. Finally they had to leave their formerly colonized country, at the end of the Algerian War, but when they reached the north shore of the Mediterranean they were abandoned to their own devices and housed in various ghettos. The novel deals with the revenge of a young Algerian woman who is trying to save the honor of her Harki father. The new generation is thus seen as saving the honor of the old, and the novel is structured around the constant north-south debate.
7. My current work in progress focuses on the islands of the Mediterranean. The protagonist is an immigrant named, appropriately, Hannibal. This Hannibal will not try to conquer the world, like his predecessor of old, but will rediscover Mediterranean values. His own values and culture are thus contrasted to the life and culture of the other Mediterranean islands. Born himself on the isle of Kerkennah, his mother came from Djerba.
Djerba has been famous for centuries for its synagogue, La Ghriba, a unique pilgrimage for the Jewish people. In fact, after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews saved a portion of the parchment of the Torah, and brought it to the isle of Djerba, where they have built a synagogue on the same model as the ancient one in Jerusalem. Jews come there from all over the world, including Israel, to visit and pray. They built another temple along the same lines in St. Jean d’Acres in Israel, thus demonstrating that in the Mediterranean basin culture travels all over.
From these Tunisian islands, Hannibal voyages to Sicily and Sardinia, (the first volume entitled : Cap Nord) From Italy he travels north to the French island of Corsica, (Corsades). Then from Corsica, east to Crete, Greece (Crétois toi-même). From east he goes to Mallorca, (Spain). From there on he will not return home, as Ulysses does to Ithaca, but will end his peregrinations in Malta. A recent quotation from Christopher Hitchens, reproduced in the August 6, 2007 Tunisian Community Newletter, reminds us of the ancient hegemony of North Africa, and particularly of what is now Tunisia:
“If we all indeed come from Africa, then the very idea of Africa itself
comes from the antique northern coast of that great landmass, where the
cosmology is subtly different and where the inhabitants look north to
Europe and southward at the Sahara. Here was the mighty civilization
known as Carthage, which came as close as possible to reversing what
we think of as the course of ‘history’ and conquering Europe from Africa
instead of the other way around”…
Vanity Fair, July 2007
8. I have just written a short tale or récit entitled Puglia à bras ouverts, a fiction inspired by my visits to the Puglia region in the southeast of Italy (described as the heel of the boot situated between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas). I will read some excerpts, translated into English, which also reflect on the Mediterranean experience in Canada.
PUGLIA À BRAS OUVERTS
What distinguishes the Mediterraneans is their openness to others… the love of getting together… a mixture of all the generations… the art of conversation on any subject… especially politics, the daily gossip… generosity in welcoming people to one’s home… conviviality. They also love to laugh, and even poke fun at themselves…
(Chapter V: 5)
To have time for meditation and reflection, I say that everyone must navigate his/ her own inner sea, the Mediterranean… so rich in linguistic and cultural diversity… the basis of humanism which today is on the verge of a new world vision… and if the name of Our Sea is taken literally, it will renew its habit of forging links with the shores of the four points of the compass… And this with dignity in equality… fraternity in solidarity… freedom of thought in diversity… Narrow nationalisms will wither away… and searchlights will target differences to heal… No cultural confrontations… rather exchanges and shared values to construct a better world!
(Chapter V: 11-12)
Finally they are beginning to inscribe a new deal… Oh, it was always there! Knights from all over Europe threw themselves on the road to the East… to conquer and civilize it! As if the East had no civilization and only deserved colonial subjection! From time to time, Europe proclaims loudly that she needs the “Mediterranean dream” in order to respond “to the identity crisis, the moral crisis, the disorder arising from globalization.” Yes to the Union of Mediterranean countries… but in dignity and equality. No superiority, no inferiority… No paternalism, nor infantilism… The south must dialogue, exchange, negotiate with the same rights and duties as the north. People often forget that it is on the two shores of the Mediterranean that the civilizations of the western and eastern worlds were forged… It was there that the three religions of the Holy Book were born… There that humanism grew… flowered… produced its fruits… Let the sharing of strengths and weaknesses be equitable… May he who listens well profit from it!
(Chapter III: 14-15)
All text/poems on this post: © Hédi Bouraoui
Published with the permission of Hédi Bouraoui