A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

the south american diamond: adventures in national identity

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on December 15, 2006

This morning I received a very interesting video file, sent from an acquaintance who had in turn received it from relatives in Lebanon.

The video file depicts citizens from various states saying “I am [nationality]” in their national languages while standing in front of their countries’ flags. “Je suis français”, says one man; “ana amirati”, says another.

Four Lebanese are shown, each saying something different: “ana sunni”, “ana drusi”, “ana maroniyeh”, and “ana shi3i”. There is the sound of breaking glass, and each bows his or her head. The video fades to text, asking (in Arabic):

when will we become Lebanese?

To me, it seems a powerful spot. Although I have been unable to find anything about it online, I assume from its professional quality (and the number of actors involved) that it is a PSA airing on Lebanese television, funded with NGO or Gulf state money.

On the other hand, the specter of Lebanese sectarianism sets the hearts of European and American donor hearts aflutter. This PSA may be more pre-emptive than reflective of the situation today.

I thought of the video again this evening, when I went to settle my bill with my hotel.

One of the actors featured in the spot says: “soy colombiano”.

Evidently yo tambien soy colombiana, at least in the view of my hotel:


I love saying the name of my native state in Arabic, because “Iowa” sounds so much like “aiwa”. Those listening assume that I must be SO excited about my state that instead of saying its name I just exclaim about it.


How “Iowa” sounds to the Spanish ear I am not sure. Perhaps I will ask my new fellow countrymen and women when I am next in Bogota.


2 Responses to “the south american diamond: adventures in national identity”

  1. Intlxpatr said

    Oh, Little Diamond – what a hoot! Wonder where Colombia came from, huh?

  2. the strangest bit is that I had at most a two minute (American time) conversation with the man at the desk when I checked in. I gave him my passport, which is fairly obviously American, and … pfft. mystere et boule de gomme, as the little sister in my old “French in Action” text used to say.

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