What’s in a name?

Figli di Annibale (Children of Hannibal) is the title of a famous song by Neapolitan dub collective Almamegretta. The reason I have chosen it as the name of my thematic blog on the South – and on the meridionalista movement specifically – has to do with its powerful lyrics. Figli di Annibale is a chant of mythical origins, conjuring the South from creole beginnings – as a place co-created in the ancestral co-existence of peoples. It matters least, as you hear the song, whether its lyrics affirm something that is factually true. What makes it powerful, as a song, is that it moves you – as it moved me – into a place of feeling, from which ancient seasons can be made new again, contesting the tropes of modernity imposed from the outside-in.

Original lyrics English translation
grande generale nero!
con una schiera di elefanti
attraversasti le Alpi e
ne uscisti tutto intero.

A quei tempi gli europei
non riuscivano a passarle
neanche a piedi,
ma tu, Annibale
grande generale nero!
tu le passasti con un mare di elefanti.

Lo sapete quanto sono grandi,
grossi e lenti gli elefanti?
Eppure Annibale gli fece attraversare le Alpi
con novantamila uomini africani.
Annibale sconfisse i romani
restò in Italia da padrone
per quindici o vent’anni.

Ecco perché
molti italiani hanno la pelle scura.
Ecco perché
molti italiani hanno i capelli scuri.
Un po’ del sangue di Annibale
é rimasto a tutti quanti nelle vene.
Si, é rimasto a tutti quanti nelle vene.

Nessuno può dirmi
stai dicendo una menzogna:
se conosci la tua storia
sai da dove viene
il colore del sangue
che ti scorre nelle vene.

Durante la guerra, pochi afroamericani
riempirono l’Europa di bambini neri.
Cosa credete potessero mai fare,
in venti anni di dominio militare,
un’armata di africani
in Italia meridionale?
Un’armata di africani
in Italia meridionale.

Ecco perché
noi siamo figli di Annibale, meridionali
figli di Annibale, sangue mediterraneo.

o glorious black general!
with an army of elephants
you crossed the Alps and
came out all in one piece.

In those days Europeans
couldn’t even
cross them on foot,
but you, Hannibal
o glorious black general!
you crossed them with an army of elephants.

Do you have any idea how big
and large and slow elephants are?
Yet Hannibal had them cross the Alps
with ninety thousand African men.
Hannibal defeated the Romans
and remained in Italy as conqueror
for fifteen to twenty years.

Here is why
many Italians are dark-skinned.
Here is why
many Italians are dark-haired.
Some of Hannibal’s blood
is still coursing through everyone’s veins.
Yes, it’s still coursing through everyone’s veins.

No one can argue
that I am spreading a lie:
if you are aware of your history,
then you know
where the colour of the blood
in your veins springs from.

During the (Second World) War, a few African Americans
fathered many black children in Europe.
Can you not picture the legacy,
over twenty years of military dominion,
of an army of Africans
in Southern Italy?
An army of Africans
in Southern Italy.

Here is why
we are children of Hannibal, meridionali
children of Hannibal, Mediterranean blood.

This article belongs to the Figli di Annibale stream.

figli-di-annibale-meridionali cut2