What's In The Name Of A Festival?

الثلاثاء 06 أيار 2008

Written By: Saleem Ayoub Quna

Reading the various commentaries and statements that were carried in the local media, in connection with changing the name of the art and culture festival from Jerash to Jordan, one would think that a major disaster has happened signaling the end of the world! Many self-acclaimed and other genuine intellectuals alike shed many tears and precipitated to voice their concern and shock over this sudden “dramatic and catastrophic” shifting of a name! Some described the change as an act of “assassination”, others said it a” killing”, a third group lamented the “burial” of the festival and so forth. But come July and August this summer, those commentators may be surprised that people will be going to the old location of the festival in Jerash to enjoy the action and fun there just as they used to do for the last quarter of a century. So all I am saying is what is the problem?

What is more important: the title of a book or its content, one may simply ask, the volume of a poem or its essence, the color of fabric or its material?

The vast majority of commentators have focused on the cosmetics of this matter rather than its significance and theme; they are worried about wording not deeds, they are preoccupied with symbolism rather than concreteness. What is disturbing about this kind of approach to things and way of thinking is that it is reminiscent of fundamentalist approach and thinking, because in the latter one usually sticks to form rather than substance, defends slogans rather than ideas and the focus is on inherited habits rather than adaptability and pragmatism!

I, for one, do not care if this annual art and cultural event is called Afra or Hafra or Hufra! My concern is if it is properly done, if it can achieve its set goals and if it really can reflect a positive image of the country and its people?

The various local art and cultural festivals organized annually in different cities and towns in the Kingdom like Azraq, Fuheis, Karak, and lately Mahes may all continue as they did for the many past years, in addition to the one that takes place in the ancient Roman city of Jerash since the early 1980s. But all of them can fall under one larger encompassing umbrella namely “Jordan”. And then each of the local festivals (branches), tries to excel in its program and performance.

Imagine a friend of yours tells you that he or she is not going to this years’ festival because its name was changed from Jerash to Jordan!

Let visitors of these festivals decide which and what they like more. Give this initiative a chance to take off before targeting it in its cradle!

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