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Saturday, January 29, 2011

North Africa and Eurovision

I hope you all out there are sensible people, realising there is a world also outside the Eurovision Song Contest, and that you all lift your noses out of the ESC circuit every once in a while too watch the news as well.

Then you know that things are happening to the countries of North Africa and, most probably, the Middle East. Perhaps this could lead to changes as overwhelming (and hopefully as positive) as the big Eastern European change of system in the late 80's.

The snowball started rolling in Tunisia, a country that even has a bit of Eurovision history. They signed up for the 1977 ESC in London, drawn to sing as country number four (between the Netherlands and Austria), but pulled out shortly after the draw. Possibly because they saw Israel on the list of participants (a qualifyed guess borrowed from the great Leif Thorsson, who has written an excellent book about Eurovision).

Tunisia almost produced a Eurovision winner as well: the French representative of 1991, Amina Annabi, is born there. She was tying for first position after the last vote was cast, but the old set of rules gave victory to Sweden after a countback. (Had the current rules been in effect, Amina would have won.)

Amina - Le dernier qui à parlé (France 1991 preview)

All the states of North Africa are active members and would have the right to enter the ESC (as well as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon - the latter was supposed to take part in 2005, but withdrew in the last moment due to their own refusal to broadcast any Israeli entry).

The only African country ever to take part in the ESC was Morocco, who fittingly enough participated in 1980 - a year of Israeli absence.

Samira Bensaïd - Bitaqat hob (Morocco 1980)

Back in the day, such an exotic entry could not hope for much at the ESC. Samira ended second last, and Morocco is yet to return.

These days, the countries in question have far more pressing matters to ponder as to whether to participate in song contests or not. I just wish them the best, hoping that our history books will be able to describe the current events in a positive light.

1 comment:

  1. I do not think every country of North Africa are ready to take part in the contest :) And maybe some of them aren't that interested in, because in arabic countries every TV show is like a Eurovision spin off ! For example, in Star Academy, every arab country has at least one representative, in Topmodel's show "Mission Fashion" every country has its contestant... :)