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Łukasz Grajewski

Belarus: “Not To Be Cattle,” Sing Belarusian Rockers

Yanka Kupala is the father of the modern Belarusian language. In 20th century, he turned the speech of village and peasantry into literature and poetry. The words from one of the poems of Kupala were used by the members of Lyapis Trubetskoy group in the newest protest song called  “Nie byt skotam” (“Not to be cattle“).


Siergey Michalok, vocalist of Lyapis Trubetskoy singing about the nation that does not want to be cattle, author: Alina Platonowa, source: Wikimedia Commons

Lyapis Trubetskoy, a band from Belarus, despite its enormous popularity cannot perform in their own country. At the beginning of 2011 they entered the “black list” created by Belarusian authorities. The list includes the names of bands and artists who dared to criticise the ruling politicians in Belarus. Their performances have been forbidden. Despite the banishment Lyapis Trubeskoy with their new song “Nie byt skotam” (“Not to be cattle”) prove that they haven’t the slightest intention of negotiating with anyone. Yanka Kupala’s poem “Хто ты гэткі?” (“Who are you?”), which served as the lyrics of their song, is of revolutionary character. Kupala wrote these simple stanzas in 1908 in Vilnus, where he was a co-creator of Nasha Niva – the first Belarusian newspaper. The words of the poet renewed by Lyapis Trubetskoy immediately gained popularity – also due to the use of the son in the film which encourages the netizens to take part in the street demonstrations planned for this evening in Belarusian cities.

We are presenting the original text of the poem and the film with Nie byt skotam song :

Янка Купала, “Хто ты гэткі?” 

Хто ты гэткі?

— Свой, тутэйшы.

Чаго хочаш?

— Долі лепшай.

Якой долі?

— Хлеба, солі.

А што болей?

— Зямлі, волі.

Дзе радзіўся?

— Ў сваёй вёсцы.

Дзе хрысціўся?

— Пры дарожцы.

Чым асвенчан?

— Кроўю, потам.

Чым быць хочаш?

— Не быць скотам.

Lyapis Trubetskoy Nie byt skotam:

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Łukasz Grajewski

Socjolog, absolwent Studium Europy Wschodniej UW. Pracował w administracji publicznej, aktywny w trzecim sektorze (Fundacja Wspólna Europa, Polska Fundacja im. Roberta Schumana, Inicjatywa Wolna Białoruś). Autor licznych publikacji o Europie Wschodniej w polskich mediach.

Contact: [email protected]

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