KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - “But who in Sudan who does not love Musician Mohammad Wardi?”, queried Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in his inaugural address marking the kick-start of the designation of 2022 as “The Year of Artist Mohammad Wardi.”
PM Hamdok was commenting on the remark by the event’s presenter who said “I am introducing to you Mr. Prime Minister whom I know is a lover of artist Mohammad Wardi.”
That is true, because since the 1950s when he appeared on the stage as a young musician in his early twenties until he died at age 80, Mohammad Wardi had continued to grasp the hearts of most Sudanese - young and old - by his tender voice and his varied, rich, melodies.
Generation after generation the Sudanese loved to tune to and interact with Wardi’s melodies. Even today’s kids continue to be moved by his music and melodies, with many learning his songs by heart.
Here was a man born an artist, a master of romance. About the romance in Wardi’s melodies and the lyric he had used to choose to perform says writer, lawyer, former chairman of the Sudanese Writers Union Kamal Aljizouli:
“Wardi had started singing romantic verse in the love of the sweetheart. And then he developed another type of romance, what we can call patriotic romance that glorifies our nation and dreams of seeing it at the best place among other nations.” Jizouli has made this remark at the same inaugural occasion of 2022, The Year Of Mohammad Wardi.
Organizers, a group of Wardi’s lovers and family members, say the celebrations will include musical and cultural events in many World countries. A museum will also be inaugurated depicting his heritage. The Government is said giving a hand in all of this.
Mr. Jizoul is right. If one tunes to Wardi’s song Altair Almuhajir (The Migratory Birds), a masterpiece ever in Sudanese singing, he would find a striking blend of romantic love for the sweetheart and another romantic love for Sudan. Written by the great poet of Sudan, the late diplomat Salah Ahmed Ibrahim, the Migratory Birds express the nostalgia of a man living away from his home country. He urges migratory birds navigating South towards Sudan to carry a message with them to his sweetheart “whom you will find knitting a silken handkerchief for loved one living far away.”
He tells the birds not to look back even when their wings fail them. “And if one of your wings happens to wane, just speed off. To where? Until you see the Nile studded with images of the stars, like a sword embroidered with jewels scattered in disorder!”
It is the language that Wardi had used to choose from the big treasure of Sudanese lyric that gave him success. The language, in particular the poem title and the first line capture the listener’s soul and emotions from the start: “I Am Calling For Her! (banadeeha in Arabic) is both the poem title and the first line! What else can remain for the listener after this stirring, exciting, even agitating word (banadeeha!).
The same can be seen in his: “By chance” (sudfa), “They’ve made the loser out of you!”(dayyaoak), and “Beautiful and Impossible” (Jameela wa Mustaheela” and so on. Every song title and every first line touches deep in the listener’s ear and then his heart.
About three hundred songs, according to Wikipedia…Songs unusual..Every song has a melody different from its predecessors. And within each song there is a variation of melody, stanza after stanza. There is no routine..new music and new tunes every time.
That is about male-female love. But another masterpiece, or rather other masterpieces of Mohammad Wardi, are treasured in his patriotic songs as Mr. Jizouli has remarked.
Wardi was privileged in that his talent had blossomed at the early days of Sudan’s independence, and also during the consequent big political developments in the country. In all his selections from the patriotic verse, Mohammad Wardi was concerned with freedoms and nation building. He sang for independence, for the October Revolution 1964 that saw the downfall of Sudan’s first military dictatorship and the 1985 Revolution that ended Sudan’s second military dictatorship.
Wadi was a vehement advocate of the unity of Sudan, and when Southern Sudanese opted for independence from the mother nation, he turned down a request to travel to Juba and sing during the South’s independence celebrations. But after a lot of coaxing from people he loved, he went to Juba and on the stage he first yelled out his famous song: “Our Sudan..We’ve Never Taken You Lightly!”
So many patriotic songs, perhaps, would have never reached the ears of the listeners if they were not sung by Wardi. Of the so many patriotic songs he had performed also stand high the poems of “The People’s Poet”, Mr. Mahjoub Shareef.
Like Wardi, Poet Mahjoub Shareef was obsessed with Sudan, its progress, its common men and women and their wellbeing.
“Our homeland, in whose name we have written and spoken,
I love you! Your place is in the depth of my very heart,
and in your name I sing.”
“I hold you as a haven, your folks I hold so dear,”
“Polite I stand before your majesty, because of your wisdom, your deeply telling lessons!”
And Shareef’s other poem about Sudan:
A tall, arching, nation,
A bountiful democratic country!
And after things get better and the wars stop:
In place of the prison stands a clinic, a college in place of the jail,
In place of the bullet a bird, roaming a fountain over!
The Morning Has Come, written by immortal Poet, the late Mohammad Alfaytoori in celebration of Sudan’s independence, has become a sort of a national anthem for Sudanese, memorized by everybody:
The morning has come..neither the jail nor the jailer are here.
Here we are meeting with day light,
Here meets the heroic generation with its sacrificial forefathers!
Sudanese give Mohammad Wardi a lot of titles: The Legend, the Pharaoh, The Nubian Pharaoh, The Emperor and the widely resonating “Africa’s First Artist”. Wardi had reportedly acquired the latter title after a contest in which music lovers were polled around the Continent. Wardi’s music had gathered wide popularity in most parts of the African Continent, where a lot of events are planned to be organized during these Wardi Year celebrations.
Mohammad Wardi was born in the Sawarda Village of the district of Nubia in the far North of Sudan in 1932. He was raised as an orphan by some of his close relatives after his parents had died.
He began his professional career as a primary school teacher in his home area, where he also developed a passion for music. There he sang in the local Nubian language until the late 1950s when he moved to Khartoum, the Capital of the country, to become a professional singer, first performing romantic lyrics by the outstanding Poet, the late Ismail Hassan. Then he opened towards many other lyric writers.
In the 1990s he developed a kidney failure and underwent a kidney transplant. Musician Wardi then died in February 2012 from an acute inflammation, blood acidity and respiration difficulties.
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