How Palestinian heirloom wheat inspired a musician.

In this episode Vivien Sansour talks about the importance of heirloom seeds and the cultural heritage that is connected to the traditional crops. Musician Zaid Hilal was inspired by the story of the Abu Samra heirloom wheat and he composed a song.

It all started in the spring of 2018 when the British music and performance group Chai for All visited Palestine. They came to perform their show: “Longing, Belonging and Balfour” about the consequences of the Balfour declaration for the Palestinian people. This declaration was signed by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour and basically was a promise to the Jewish Zionist movement to give away the land that was then called Palestine to create a Jewish National Home. That declaration led to a lot of trouble for the people who were already living in Palestine and who were not Jewish. They also wanted to get inspired by their visit and by meeting people with their personal stories, meeting musicians and playing music together, to have a real exchange.

When they met with Vivien Sansour, founder of the Palestinian heirloom wheat library, they were accompanied by Palestinian musician Zaid Hilal. They listened to Vivien’s stories and when she talked about the handsome dark wheat that was nicknamed Abu Samra, it was as if she was flirting with it. “Abu Samra would make bread that tastes like cake”.

Zaid was inspired by the importance of the stories behind the heirloom seeds and the cultural heritage, that he wrote the song Abu Samra.

The song can be heard on Spotify, Soundcloud and on his Youtube channel.

Watch this Al Jazeera documentary video

Click here to listen to the Abu Samra song by Zaid Hilal

To learn more about the work of the Palestinian Heirloom Seed Library you can find them through El Beir, Arts and Seeds on facebook and instagram and google for articles.