Singer-songwriter Kokym is known for songs about love, longing and resistance with a lot of inspiration from Palestinian folk. His latest single, “Kalandia,” released in late August, is a befitting addition to his discography with instrumentals dominated by a calming ukulele blended with rich vocals.
“Kalandia” is from the perspective of a lover stranded at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah. He laments the situation as he “doesn’t know what to worry about more - traffic or army soldiers”. He gives his lover hope by assuring her that there will come a time when no borders or checkpoints are separating them.
Entirely in Arabic, as most of Kokym’s songs are, “Kalandia” never feels truly inaccessible to those who do not speak the language. You can hear the lament and hopeful tone in the singer’s voice before even looking up the translation. Additionally, the single was accompanied by a music video directed by Kokym that also illustrates the story and message.
Kokym illustrates how storytelling in the form of music can be used as a way of resistance. Singing in the al-Muthallath dialect of Arabic in his music is a form of language preservation. Setting all the stories in his songs in Palestine brings awareness to the unjust occupation of the nation. More than anything, Kokym’s music pushes people to put in the effort to educate themselves. Each song has a story, and behind each story is a history worth knowing.
If you’re a fan of love or folk songs or just someone looking for a new, refreshing sound in your playlist, it’s worth giving “Kalandia” as well as the rest of Kokym’s music a listen.