I went to this lovely concert last night at the National Theatre in Omdurman to see Igd al Jlad. They are a band that has been around for ages. The musicians come and go with age, but they keep the same songs… and what long songs they are!
Taha kept trying to explain the lyrics to me. It was difficult for him because the crowd was so loud and he was smiling too much. One was about a young boy having to leave Sudan; he describes the route and talks about the sadness of leaving his home. Another was about a father being happy at the birth of his daughter. Another was about an old woman and how she has to be patient that things will get better. Lyrics so different from the lyrics of western pop songs! The band is intentionally diverse, with members from all over Sudan and lyrics sung in all different dialects. It’s been that way from the start. I also loved that this band (maybe the most famous in Sudan) was so approachable. The audience knew every word to every song, and yet at the end, you could go up and talk to the singers. There is no cult of celebrity here and that is cool.
You know, for all Sudan’s wars and problems, there seems to be a tradition of inclusion in its culture. In Britain, we don’t have pop groups with English singers, Scottish drummers, Welsh guitarists and Northern Irish trombones bringing up the rear. No, that would never work. Sudan is a tolerant country at its heart. That’s why I believe that any change has to come from within.