Presented by: Norah Elias, daughter of late Yacoub Obaid, 11/2/18

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to pay tribute tonight to Zagalool who was a very close friend of my late father Poet, Yacoub Obeid.

Late poet Yacoub was the first person of contact with Zagalool when he arrived in Sydney in 1968.

Late poet Yacoub was from  Matrit, Lebanon. And at an early age, started to rise as a National Poet.

He recited his first major poem in 1950 at Lebanon’s Independence day Festival in Hasroun, in which he addressed the cries of the underprivileged. 
He left his beloved Lebanon in February 1951, with much anguish, and settled in Sydney 7 weeks later. He continued to recite his poems at every occasion possible.

Through his poems, he established bridges between the Lebanese and their new homeland in Sydney. 

In 1954, he presented a poem for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her first visit to Sydney, in Parliament House NSW,  – indeed, a very proud time for the Lebanese community. Soon after, the Australian doors opened for Lebanese immigrants. 

When Zagalool arrived in Sydney in 1968, late poet Yacoub immediately went to meet and greet him, for the first time, with his usual warm embracing welcome. 

This was not an unusual practice for late Yacoub, as he was accustomed to greeting new arrivals at the airport, from his beloved homeland, and providing them with accommodation in our home.

He looked after Zagalool and his co-poets every day while they were in Sydney and:
1. Introduced them to the Lebanese community 

2. He opened Zagalool’s first Zajal party at the Elizabethan Theatre in Enmore.

3. The theatre overflowed with an enthusiastic audience eager to welcome the Zagalool and to hear his words in their native tongue. Zagalool didn’t disappoint them. It was an night never to be forgotten.

4. Zagalool and late poet Yacoub established an unconditional friendship of love and mutual respect. 
a. They shared their love of Lebanon, their poetry, their innermost thoughts and life experiences.

b. They sang many zajal poetry in our home till the early hours of the morning, where many friends and dignitaries gathered. 

c. It was a ritual that Zagalool would come to our home for supper after every zajal party.

5. In 1968, before returning to Lebanon, Zagalool and [Shafik Gairez Al Dean], the Australian Ambassador to Lebanon awarded Late Poet Yacoub - the title of “Amir Zajal Australia”.  Zagalool was resolute in his choice of a poet for this prestigious title.

6. They were true soul mates as noted in Zagalool’s poem to my late father at his resting place-  and I quote “                       “

Zagalool, we love you, thank you for your valuable friendship, it was an honour and privilege to have known you. We will cherish the precious memories we shared in our home and in Lebanon, for as long as we live.  May you RIP.



Post a Comment