It is widely believed that culture, art and music contribute directly to shaping the individual and collective consciousness.

Maimas is a newly formed Palestinian band based in the besieged Gaza Strip. Gaza based Palestinian activist, singer and intellectual Haidar Eid says "songs are an organizing tool in the arduous work of overthrowing occupation and apartheid. They are permanently etched in the collective memory of the people of Palestine. We hope that our songs will document Palestinian desire to be free from the ravages of colonialism, occupation and apartheid".

Haidar Eid and the rest of the band members say art in Gaza is itself under a horrific, medieval siege, a siege that is the literal antithesis of freedom. Moreover, they believe that Maimas has a role to play as an anti-hasbara band that aims at shattering the orientalist misrepresentation of Palestine in general and Gaza in particular.

"By singing, getting our voices heard, we are, in fact, using music as a tool of resistance" says Eid whose songs during the Israeli barbaric war on Gaza in 2014 were recorded on a cellphone and made into vide-clips, one of which is Lifeboat that documents the last moments in the life of a Palestinian youngster killed in Shijaiya by an Israeli sniper. Another video- clip, titled Love in the Time of Genocide recorded some of the most horrific moments of the Shijaiya massacre. The song itself was recorded while the massacre was taking place.

Mohammed Akkila, a vocalist and Oud player, says that “art, for us, is not a commodity to be bought and sold. Like what Betolt Brecht had to say: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Haidar Eid says: like the rest of Palestinian artists, and South African artists before us, we are pitting the power of culture against the culture of power, as Edward Said would have put it.

The band’s name Maimas is reportedly an ancient name of the port of Gaza City, a Canaanite name of deserted port where only birds live! It consists of five musicians playing various instruments: Oud, Tabla (drums,) Keyboard, Naii, Guitar.

The band is working on more than one project. The first project is giving free concerts in various parts of the Gaza strip, focusing on marginalized areas that have been destroyed by Israeli bombings. The second project is a joint musical collaboration with the South African band, The Mavrix

The collaboration between Maimas in Gaza and The Mavrix in Johannesburg will, the band hopes, culminate in the production of a video clip highlighting the similarities between the suffering of the two peoples.

The third project is the production of an album. Maimas has already started collecting material for its potential album (depending on funding) that will consist of a revival of the songs of the first Intifada, and banned Palestinian songs of the 70’s and 80’s.

The title of the album, Tyrants’ Fear of Songs, is inspired by Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “On This Earth!”

The band needs funds to record their first album in a recording studio in Gaza. Here is the link to its fundraising page.

(Rifka Al-Amya is a BDS Activist based in Gaza)