Today Mohamed Sghaier Ouled Ahmed died after a long battle with cancer. I won’t tell you how he lived, I’ll just remember him through a poem he wrote in 1998, a poem I learned in school and still remember to this day, as do several of my countrymen, a poem about our destiny to ferociously love this land for as long as we shall live. It was written in Arabic, but the English translation below is as powerful and expressive.

Today, the Tunisian poet is dead.

We love the land

(Translation by Mohamed-Salah Omri)

We love the land
As no one loves the land.
Before morning,
After evening,
And on Sunday.

And if they kill us,
The way they killed us
and if they scatter us,
The way they scattered us
We will return as invaders to this land.
Trees will return to our fields
The moon will return to our nights
Martyrs will cry out:
upon those who took a stand.

We love the land
So that no one else loves the land.
And if they kill us
And if they scatter us,
We will return as invaders… to this very land.

And following is the original Arabic version:

نحبُّ البلادَ…
كما لا يحبُّ البلادَ أحدْ
وقبل الصّباحِ
وبعد المساءِ
ويوم الأحدْ

ولو قتّلونا
كما قتّلونا
ولو شرّدونا
كما شرّدونا
لعُدنا غزاة لهذا البلدْ
وعادَ إلى أرضنا الشجرُ
وعادَ إلى ليلنا القمرُ
وصاحَ الشهيدُ:
على من صمدْ

نحبُّ البلادَ
لكي لا يحبَّ البلادَ أحدْ
ولو قتَّلونا
ولو شرَّدونا
لعُدنا غزاةً… لنفسِ البلدْ