Ait Menguellet is one of the few Algerian artists whose songs accompanied me throughout my life. His music, poetic and witty lyrics are combined with his voice to make a masterpiece out of most of his songs.
In one of the songs, “A mmi” (“My son” in English), he relates a dialogue between a young man and his father. The discussion is about politics and how to become the president of the country. The song, edited on 1983, tells us how age and experience replace noble values such as idealism, altruism, optimism, trust, ambition, etc. with some other values: realism, resignation, distrust, fear, treachery, etc.
And it is said that he got the inspiration for this song from The Prince of Machiavelli.
I won’t translate the song into English, mainly because it’s relatively long and also because my words would probably deprive the lyrics of their magic and beauty. But I will translate excerpts which I found interesting.
The song starts with the son who just finished his studies and thinks that the people in Power are no better than him, so decides to join them and work for the country. His ambition led him to believe that he could even become the first among them, the President. He tells his father about his plan and explains that he would do good, rely on education and science, and work together with the people who would definitely support him to improve the country’s situation. He assures that he’s not after “the chair” but only wants to serve his country and people.
The father is amazed at his son’s naïvety; and after he failed in convincing him to change his mind, he decides to give him some advice and hints he gathered from his long experience and the lessons life taught him. Here is a list of some of these valuable rules:
- Put aside your education and pure soul.
- Acquire the knowledge of perversity which is the basis of the world.
- Use kind words with the people, and your hand must only caress them. Use others’ hands to punish them.
- Calculate every move and refuse the concept of fate. Never commit on anything with God.
- Select your words carefully and learn the art of lie and manipulation. People will be glad to believe you and deny the truth.
- Never trust your friends because your enemies are likely to use them against you.
- Create wars and send those you fear to the front. You will mourn their deaths and gain the people’s sympathy.
- Suppress anyone better than you, and tell the people that a strange illness killed him.
- Drown with money anyone understands your plans.
- If you feel someone is going to revolt then send him your worst thugs to get him back on track.
- Don’t fear to kill. Power is at the price of bloody hands.
- If the people are believers then never forget the rosary and pray with them even if you are an atheist.
- The people who believe only what they see are easy to fool.