Guantanamera – A Girl from Guantanamo

One of the first things that may come to our minds when coming across the word Guantanamo, is the nasty prison in Guantanamo Bay. But fortunately, not everything about Guantanamo is ugly and nasty;  in fact Guantanamo may also reminds us of something as sweet and beautiful as the song. ‘Guantanamera’ or in English it means ‘a girl from Guantanamo’.

I’ve been hearing the chorus of this beautiful song ever since I can remember; for mum loves to sing it to herself every now and then. And since mum only sang very few songs to herself, I’ve been asking mum about the song for years. Anyway mum could only remember the chorus for it was an old, old song that mum used to hear ever since she was a baby. And since she was only about 2 or 3 years old when she started to sing the song, the chorus is all that mum can remember about it’s lyrics. So, what I heard was only:

‘Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera,

Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera…’

And a few days ago I was really thrilled when I heard a very sweet song from dad’s laptop. To my surprise, it was the song that I’ve been longing to listen to all these years – GUANTANAMERA! The song is so sweet and beautiful and the lyrics are as beautiful as the song that I just want to hear it again and again. Even my 5 years old little brother Ahmad Ali was attracted to the song. The very moment he heard the lyrics he knew that it is a Spanish song and now he always sing the song and even surfed the internet for the lyrics to write in his blog.

Dad played a few video clips for us but the one sang by Sandpipers is the best even though Pete Seeger’s was quite nice too. Some others’ sound so weird and the changed in its music arrangements made the music sounded so different and not as melodious as the music in the video clip that was sang by Sandpipers.

Impressed by this lovely song, I surfed the internet to find out more about the song.  In fact the history behind the song is as amazing as the song itself! It is perhaps the best known Cuban song and is the most noted patriotic song in Cuba. The song was written in 1929 by Jose Fernandez Diaz or also known as Joserto Fernandez. Anyway the beter known official lyrics are based on Jose Marti’s poem (‘Yo so un hombre sincero’ – written in 1895) as adapted by Julian Orbon. As Jose was Cuba’s nationalist poet and independance hero, the use of his poem as the lyrics virtually elevated the song to an unofficial anthem status in the country!

Note: For more information on the song including it’s lyrics, please visit this link (