Last night, Shakira became the star at the presentation of her father´s book. Journalist William Mebarak launched “Al viento y al azar” in Barcelona and the Colombian singer, who was accompanied by her boyfriend, FC Barcelona player Gerard Pique, wasn’t about to miss the event despite her advanced pregnancy.
Shakira supports dad’s book launch
Shakira was dressed in black and looked radiant and proud of her father, which she defined as “my weakness.” According to her, “in Barranquilla he’s not ‘Shakira’s father.’ I am William’s daughter! He’s the best dad I could possibly have. My cornerstone. My best friend.”
The book is made up of nearly 200 pages that consist of short stories, poems, newspaper articles and memories of his youth. Mebarak writes about past lovers, political issues and environmental concerns, among other life events. But despite what the cynical press and general public might think, he doesn’t appear to be taking advantage of his daughter’s fame. In 1954 he published his first book, Mamboletras, a collection of tales and chronicles, which was followed by three others.
Who is William Mebarak?
William Mebarak was born in New York in 1932, to a family of Lebanese origin. When he was five, they moved to Barranquilla. The young Mebarak was a natural-born entrepreneur who worked as a journalist, health visitor, insurance agent and teacher of literature throughout his years. He accomplished all endeavors without neglecting his daughter’s career, as he accompanied Shakira to her gigs whenever he could. His more prosperous business was a jewelry shop that eventually went under. “I have no regrets, because I learn from mistakes”, he said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Mundo last weekend.
During those hard days, Mebarak took his daughter to a park to show her how many children of her age were sleeping on the streets, so that she would become aware of the poverty that affected their country. Shakira was so impacted that she decided that someday she would help them. Years later, she founded the Fundacion Pies Descalzos (Barefoot Foundation,) which serves more than 5,000 homeless children worldwide.
Daddy and Shakira: a mutual admiration
In the book’s introduction, Shakira recalls how her father would spend hours typewriting letters to presidents and world leaders. The tireless Mebarak wanted to denounce injustice, share his ideas, undertake projects… At seven years old, Shakira asked Santa Claus for a writing machine to imitate daddy. Later, she wrote a letter a Ronald Reagan, who never answered. Then she began to write her own songs.
The first one was called “Tus gafas oscuras” (Your dark glasses) and was dedicated to Mebarak, who wore them to hide his pain for the death of his eldest son, William, who was killed in an accident at age 19. Today, his 13 grandchildren and the imminent arrival of Shakira and Piques first son, make him smile again. Mebarak and his wife have been settled in Barcelona since last Christmas and are planning to stay for a long time. According El Mundo, Mebarak has set up a studio to continue writing and is preparing Shakira’s biography.
The admiration between father and daughter is mutual… and moving! Mebarak recalls that Shakira used to say “I want to be someone important in the world” when she was a child. Unlike other parents trying to stifle dreams for an artistic vocation in their children, Mebarak always considered her a genius. “And not all children are a genius, you have to admit that.” At three years old, she could read. At four, she wrote poems. “She’s unique”, her daddy thought.
Mebarak also highlights Shakira’s courage: “She has always been very self-confident. She knows exactly where she’s going.” Now, he finds her happier than ever. “Pregnancy has given her the balance she needed,” says the future grandfather.
Her father’s editor
Mebarak confesses he took Shakira’s advice: to write every day, no matter what, just to vent his creativity. “Thanks for helping me correct this book. I love you, my little daddy’s governess,” he wrote.
She admits it was her father who awakened in her the desire to communicate and reach people’s hearts: “He gave me a vocation and the most effective way to grasp the heart of a loved one.”
So, “Al viento y al azar” is a fruit of the love and gratitude she feels for her father. “I felt captivated by the rebelliousness of his texts and, indeed, the brutal honesty of his words,” Shakira said. The singer took a very active part in the preparation of this book. She herself edited the texts, during the nights of her Mexican tour, and got to “be brave enough to handle, remove or change the texts, with the full confidence of my father.”
The result couldn’t be more satisfying for both of them. Congratulations to Shakira and William for this “child” and the other one to come!