Home | News    Thursday 19 October 2006

Pop stars sing for peace in Sudan


Oct 18, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — Iged Al Jalad may be the closest thing Sudan has to pop stars, although the 10-member band is renowned for mournful tunes rather than light fare and has several middle-aged members who do not dance so much as shuffle around the stage.

Still, word of a concert is enough to draw thousands of screaming young fans, who bellow out requests for their favourites, many of which include messages about social justice.

"Our last song is about an old, poor woman who struggles every day to survive. But we turn it into a kind of Sudanese hip-hop," said Iged Al Jalad singer Ali Sharhabil. "We give the audience what they want."

Fans agree. "The music is bittersweet. It makes you want to dance and cry at the same time," one university student told IRIN.

Their immense popularity, spanning more than two decades, spurred Iged Al Jalad to form an eponymous non-profit organisation to promote, in their words, a united Sudan.

The group has paired up with another non-profit group, the Social Peace Committee (SPC), for a benefit concert to raise money, food and clothing for the thousands of street children in the capital, Khartoum.

Street children are a common sight, begging for food and money during the day before bedding down in the city’s markets at night.

The concert coincided with Ramadan, during which Iged Al Jalad began a campaign called Hands for Sudan to raise money for poor Sudanese.

"It is really painful when you look around and see such misery. This [concert] is a small effort to make a big impact," said one concert organiser Doha Elzobeir.

"[The problem] is not hidden. It is on the streets. You can see kids who are hungry and need clothes and education," Elzobeir told IRIN, her words nearly drowned out by raucous cheering as the band warmed up.

The benefit concert was unusual for Sudan as fundraising for charity is largely done by big corporations. Residents of Khartoum often give beggars a little money or food, though not in any organised fashion.

Iged Al Jalad’s fundraisers straddle corporate sponsorship and grassroots endeavours. The band urged fans to bring bags of food and clothing to a drop-off point in Khartoum where they would be distributed to various charities.

A portion of the ticket sales was earmarked for children at the Dar El Salaam camp for displaced southern Sudanese and Darfuris on the outskirts of Khartoum.

"We are trying to reflect that there is an issue, to tell Sudanese people, you have to participate and contribute," said Najlaa El Mahi Khalifa, founder of the SPC, which helped organise the concert.

The non-profit SPC shares Iged Al Jalad’s message of Sudanese unity at a grassroots level. It was formed after inter-ethnic riots that rocked Khartoum following the death of Dr John Garang, who commanded southern rebels during a 21-year civil war with Sudan’s northern government.

Garang became vice-president of Sudan, but was killed only weeks later in a helicopter crash. It was ruled an accident, but southern Sudanese, believing Garang had been assassinated by his former northern foes, took to the streets in August 2005, setting off homemade bombs and burning stores.

The rioting sparked a response by northerners, many of whom armed themselves in preparation for a confrontation.

Separate conflicts in Darfur and eastern Sudan, say organisers, have led many people to believe a united Sudan is simply not an option. Iged Al Jalad and the SPC disagree. To illustrate their commitment to unity, Iged Al Jalad play songs from all regions of Sudan, and have Darfuri and eastern members.

In the coming weeks the band have similar concerts planned in Darfur. They do not expect to raise money in the war-torn region, but they do hope to spread a message of peace.

"The message for Darfur is that life will begin again," says Sharhabil. "We want to make people happy again. It is a shame that people think of Darfur as a warlike place. The people in Darfur are peaceful."


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  • 17 December 2008 09:26, by matt

    Les styles de la chanson sont différents par une génération, mais c’est la meilleure méthode de la transmission d’introduire quelque gentil de messages dans élevez, le coeur y compris guérison.C’est l’arme qui est commun partout dans le monde sans une frontière, une langue, le mur de la génération.

    View online : Pouvoir de la musique

    repondre message

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