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Lullabies in the Arab World

25 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 22 December 2012

Many people believe that lullabies play a vital role in child development, yet in numerous countries around the world there are concerns that singing bedtime lullabies is a dying practice. This Your World programme asks if lullabies are disappearing in the Arab world or whether the humble lullaby is evolving and adapting to modern life.

In a remote rural village in the Atlas Mountains, Your World visits a family that spans four generations to find out if the practice of singing lullabies has changed for them. At the local school lullabies are enthusiastically sung in the previously repressed Amazigh language but the teacher fears that advances in technology are changing traditional lifestyle and threatening cultural forms. A Syrian woman in Kuwait also reflects on the lullabies of her childhood and blames the changing role of women for the decline in the practice of singing lullabies.

Yet, as Archeomusicologist Richard Dumbrill points out there is evidence of lullabies being sung 4000 years ago in the Arab world. For British-born Palestinian singer Reem Kelani, lullabies can affirm cultural identity, and for Malak an Iraqi grandmother living in the UK, lullabies like the Iraqi song she sings to her grandchildren will never die.

(Image: A mother holds out her baby, Credit: Rosland Rahman/AFP/Getty Images)


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