Sudanese Lyric Writers and Singers Inspire Change and Justice

Salah Shuaib – Sudanow

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) – Sudanese lyric writers and melodists have always aligned themselves with the people’s demands for political freedoms; democracy, to put in plain terms.
Ever since the colonial era Sudanese lyric writers had fanned public feelings against oppression. Poets like Khalil Farah and Ahmed Mohammed Salih had painted their names in gold in the struggle of the Sudanese against colonial rule, inflaming public sentiments against those aliens.
And when the Sudan attained its hard-won independence, generations of poets and singers continued to boost the public struggle for freedom and free choice of their rulers. Names that could be mentioned here include poets Ali Abdelqayyoom, Mahjoub Shareef, Mohammed Almkki Ibrahim, Salah Ahmed Ibrahim and Hashim Siddiq, to mention just a few. These lyric writers had written masterpieces of patriotic poetry before and after the triumph of the popular uprisings that toppled two military dictatorships in 1964 and 1985. Melodists Mohammad Wardi, Mohammad Alamin, Abuaraki Albakheet (and others) had produced highly touching melodies of those poets’ works that continue to be performed as reminders of the people’s right to and yearn for freedoms.
In recent years two great melodists also gripped the feelings of the young generations by the melodies they produced in alignment with the people and in expression of the public mood. These are melodists Mustafa Sidahmed and Mahmood Abdelaziz.
Though there is a time gap between these two melodists, yet the two generations that reacted to and loved their works are now up for the public demand for a better life.
The view today is that the political and economic protests had managed to materialize valuable political, social, cultural and artistic narratives that restored confidence to the Sudanese people and caused everybody (young and old, male and female) to feel that our country is well capable of recovering from the catastrophic destruction of its social fabric. The mass protests have reaffirmed that the Sudanese spirit is destined to triumph over geographical, partisan and ideological considerations. The evidence of this is that people have now gathered together in search of better living conditions and a restoration of their dignity, armed with the legacy of the struggle of Sudanese and their traditions in resistance over the years. Partisan slogans and demand-groups’ themes had disappeared from the national horizon, save those embedded in the people’s heritage (old and new). Similarly had the ethnic drives.
It is true that the wise youth had restored the patriotic spirit to
many desperate elders who had lost hope in popular action. But we consider it noteworthy that what the youths are now giving is taking leverage from the history of their noble fathers and grandfathers who sacrificed their lives for their beloved country and who helped the country with committed intellectual efforts in all domains. The youths have reproduced our cultural and artistic heritage and fully employed it in the demand for a better life.
On the other hand, these new generations have produced progressive and diverse works of art whose message is the unity of the struggle, whose ultimate aim is national cohesion and whose essence is determination to achieve the fourth democracy and rebuild the country in all aspects.
It was a good hint on the part of the leaders of the Sudanese Professional Alliance that one of their processions nearly coincides with the anniversaries of the late musicians Mustafa Sidahmed and Mahmood Abdelaziz who passed away on January the 17th, 1996 and January the 18th, 2013, respectively. That procession was joined by the fans of these two artists, in recognition of their nationalist and artistic contributions.
Mustafa was a Sudanese melodist and singer. He was born in 1953 in the Wad Sulfab area of the Gezira State, Central Sudan. He was known for performing a selective and expressive type of lyric that touches upon the causes of ordinary and deprived people. He used to put these lyrics in a distinct melodist mold that satisfies Sudanese generations of all ages. That had lent him the admiration of the elite, the intellectuals, the university students and the simple citizens of the country.
Mahmood, nicknamed Alhoot (the Whale) by his multitudinous fans, was born in the Almazad suburb of Khartoum North. He started his singing career of 25 years as a child. During that career he presented lots of songs and albums. He was most popular among Sudanese youths, whereby thousands of them rushed to take part in his funeral. Like Mustafa he was aligned to the simple Sudanese.
As a matter of fact it is the fans of these artists,  that suffered the agony of living under the dire conditions of Sudan, who are running the engine of the current protests. All of these fans were brain-washed through the educational operation. Many of them were forcibly taken into the inferno of the civil war. Many of these youths had lost their lives in popular uprisings during the last three decades. Moreover, the avenues of recreation were shut in the face of these Mustafa and Mahmood generations. They are generations deprived from the merits enjoyed by their predecessors: They are generations deprived from employment, save those willing to become servants of the destructive representations of the faith. They did not find an opportunity to culturally interact with the previous creative figures, simply because those figures had left the country to live and work abroad. Also these generations were denied the blessings of free education and medication and the merits of a free and qualified environment in the institutions of learning. To earn a living these youngsters had exhausted their bodies with hard labor. In short, these are generations of a catastrophe, a generation that suffered the practices of mind-poisoning. If it were not for the telecom revolution that allowed these youths to access knowledge (outside the state fences), these generations could not have found a way for demanding their rights, which they now rise up to attain.
Revolutions do inspire artistic creativity. No doubt a concise history of the October 1964 and the April 1985 uprisings is treasured in the artistic products we saw in the lyrics glorifying those uprisings which (the lyrics) continue to be reproduced (in progressive technical forms) by this generation, as was seen before and during these current protests. The maximum demand from these youths is to document their protests in new poems and new melodies. It is our conviction that from within this generation there would spring a special artistic voice as did the poets and artists of the October and April uprisings who were (at the time) at the prime of their youth and who set a lot of innovations in revolutionary and patriotic lyric and melody.
So, the Sudanese youths of all generations were the leaders of artistic novelty because of their good ability for a genuine and inspiring expression of their time. Modernity had always been the work of the youths of all societies. For that we expect the movement of these youths to restore their ability to advance their artistic imagination, since the previous thirty years had downsized their talents.

The Mahmood fans (the Hawwata as they like to be called) had found in him a tuneful voice for recreation, solace and coming- togetherness. In fact they converted his artistic legacy into an annual congregation and bound it to a lot of charities like blood donation, helping the sick and assisting the needy school children etc. Quite a lot more waits to be done by these Hawwata for their country.
There are many things in common between the fans of Mustafa and Mahmood, given the fact that those two artists had used to mobilize their voices to advance our artistic heritage (along with others of course). There is no contrast between the two experiments. For while those experiments are different in content, they express two close generations. In fact many of Mustafa’s fans who saw him during his last days, have aligned themselves with the Mahmood experiment, although some chose to prefer either experiment. Nonetheless, there remains the specialty of those experiments, both of which are respected by a wide sector of the young generation that is now moved by the current protests.
The Hawwata generation which is preoccupied with the national causes is being vilified by the authority and its writers who describe them as just keyboard revolutionaries who are unable to do anything that could change the rules of the game. But the youth protests have belied this unfounded claim. The Mustafa and Mahmood generation is doing its best to employ the instruments of the modern media and the social networks to restore democracy, which is the cornerstone of the national state.

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