A NANNA
MY ELDEST SISTER

He said: “I’m an orphan.
My lot is
A beggar’s lot.”
So I held out my hand to him.
Are not our roots
The same?

Whether you’re from Barbes
Or Nanterre, or Aubervilliers
My brother
You will always be
The stranger.

He said: “Which road must I take?
Here, I feel lost
Please,
I beg you,
Take me with you.”
And then my heart broke.

Whether you’re from Barbes...

He said: “My country is as beautiful
As a dream.
But which door must I open?
I am rootless.”

Whether you’re from Barbes...

 

* For the Berbers, “a nanna” is a respectful expression that indicates an elder sister. Here the eldest sister is symbolized by Algeria. For the young immigrant who doesn’t know either his language nor his culture, this song concerns the problem of cultural eradication.