Tribute to Sudanese Patriotic Poets, Singers

By: Aisha Braima

Khartoum (Sudanow) –As Sudan’s Independence Day celebrations start tomorrow, our nation has to be reminded about the makers of that independence.
Tribute is paid to the leaders of the Graduates Congress who sparked the struggle for independence and strenuously kept the flame for freedom alight and laid the groundwork for the political parties, and personalities, who led the march towards freedom, through unity and dedication.
And special tribute must also be paid to our patriotic poets and musicians who inflamed the yearn for freedom among the masses and, after that freedom was attained, continued to instill the love of the country in the hearts of all generations that followed.
Foremost among this myriad of patriotic poets and musicians is the late artist Mohammed Wardi who, besides his mastery of melody, had peerless ability to spot poetry of value and artistic depth.
That is why his patriotic songs, old and new, continue to entertain and enthuse. His song “ people’s awakening’’, written and performed in the 1950s, has gripped hearts, generation after generation, especially on independence day anniversaries.
The poem, written by yet a unique composer, the late Mursi Salih Siraj, glorifies the Sudanese people , their valiance and their constructive diversity. Melodious by nature, the poem is rich in rhyme and rhythm and is very rapturous even without music. Siraj Says, in a general translation of his first stanza:
‘’ When glory opened in roads in our beloved land/ inspired by the willpower of Tihraka and the faithfulness of the Arabs….. together we carried the banner of freedom and glory, both Arabs and Nubians.’’
Tihraka was a historic Nubian monarch who conquered lands North and South Of Nubia, thus making an empire in the land of Kush (northern Sudan).

Mohammad al-Mekki Ibrahim (R) receives a medal from the President Assistant (L) during a celebration honoring cultural prominent figures last September
Mohammad al-Mekki Ibrahim (R) receives a medal from the President Assistant (L) during a celebration honoring cultural prominent figures last September

It is no wonder that Siraj had hailed from the same district of Nubia that gifted our nation with Wardi, and before these two artistic talents, with the late Khalil Farah, widely deemed as the father of patriotic songs.
Farah’s “Azza” has become a semblance of a national anthem for generations and generations. Azza, originally a female name widely used in Sudan, was euphemistically used by Farah to mean ‘my beloved country which I hold very dear’. This evasive attitude was because of fear of prosecution by the colonial authorities.
Wardi also sang “the Independence” poem, written by Abdulwahid Abdallah, which has also joined Sudan’s long list of patriotic songs and which is played and replayed during Independence Day celebrations. The song glorifies all historical Sudanese revolutions and heroes whose bravery and sacrifices led to the liberation of the nation. Abdallah wrote the song in 1961 when he was still a young university student. Later on he obtained an arts doctorate, served in the UNESCO for sometime and then moved to the Gulf as a media expert.
Another university student, Mohammad al-Mekki Ibrahim who later became an ambassador, wrote for Wardi his captivating song: “October: the green” in commemoration of the Sudanese October 1964 popular uprising that toppled the late General Ibrahim Abboud government.
Wardi also did not miss to sing poems from the art of the great composer Mohammed al-Faitouri. His song that begins: ’’ We did never disown you our Sudan, with all that has become a shining sun in our hands..Sweet singing that races with the wind …’’ is also one of Wardi’s immortal songs.
Later on wardi put very rich melodies from the collection of Mahjoub Shareef, publicly dubbed “the people’s poet” . One of those songs tells that: ”It is an expansive country that we will not build piecemeal’’, meaning that our country is very vast, and, irrespectively, we will build it whole.
Wardi also sang for Omar al-Tayyib al-Doash the famous song that tells the Sudanese people that “In your majestic presence, I love to sit down. In your graceful presence, words should be those of politeness and respect.’’
One of Ward’s masterpieces was “Altayr Al Muhajir”-the migratory birds- which is one of countless patriotic songs written by the widely esteemed poet and diplomat , the late Salah Ahmad Ibrahim .

Dr. Taj  al-Sir al-Hasan
Dr. Taj al-Sir al-Hasan

Another patriotic singer, melodist, Hassan Khalifa al-Atbarawi, had coupled his talent for melody with political activity against the colonial authorities in the railway junction city of Atbara. His songs had inflamed the feelings of the youthful workers and students of Atbara against the British rule so much that authorities had to keep him under constant police watch. His song: “I am Sudanese, Sudanese I am’’ had sensitized the people of Atbara to gather in roadways and plazas to demonstrate against the foreign rule. The poem was written by the masterly poet Mohammad Abdulrahim, who died very recently in his hometown of Rufa’aa in the Gezira State, aged 100. Says the poem about the Sudan:
“All its parts are our homeland/ a home we take pride in and brag about/ we sing about its beauty forever/ and other than its beauty we see no beauty.’’
Then came the cross-border era in Sudanese patriotic poetry, led by outstanding academic Dr. Taj al-Sir al-Hassan who wrote “Asia and Africa”, that sought to glorify the Afro-Asian nations solidarity and struggle against colonial rule and the inception of the non-alignment movement. It literally says: ” My friends! I have never been to Indonesia and had never seen Russia..But I have seen light in the land of New Africa…’’




Another of Sudan’s outstanding singers was the late Ahmad al-Mustafa who pioneered modern melodies. He had made a lofty contribution to patriotic singing. His song :’’ Listen canary bird and put your hand in mine..’’ , written by army officer Mahmoud Abubakr, had made wide public fame and when sung in a theatre all audience would stand up and recite.
Then came Ismael Hasan with his touching song “Biladi” or “My Homeland”, sung by several musicians and choruses over the years. It says “My country..My country..a thousand greetings to you from my heart’’.
But the most resonant song was “we are the soldiers of Allah..we are the soldiers of the nation’’, sung during the colonial rule and later on became the national anthem of Sudan. It was composed by former teacher-cum member of the supreme council of the state (the presidency) at independence, the late Ahmad Mohammad Salih.
History of patriotic singing should also not skip great musician Mohammad al-Ameen who enriched this area with precious melodies that include:’’ Althawaratu Entalagat –the revolution has taken off- written and sung during the popular October 1964 uprising that restored democratic rule to Sudan.
Other poets who put their mark on patriotic verse were Abbas al-Tayyib al-Hadi , who wrote ‘’My grand Country’’, Ibrahim Ibnauf, who wrote ‘’ Slam Watani’’ or hello my country, Yousif Mustafa al-Tinai, who wrote ‘’ In my heart I keep you my country’’, Saif Eddin al-Disougi, who wrote: ‘’My most beloved place is Sudan” , sung by the late Musician Ibrahim Awad, and poet and musician Abdulkareem al-Kabli , who wrote and performed ‘’ your sun , my country!’’ and several other patriotic melodies.

Poet Mohamed Osman
Poet Mohamed Osman

Kordufan singers, led by Dr., musician, Abdulgadir Salim, had brought kordufan music and verse very close to all audiences of Greater Sudan. Similarly did Darfuri singer Omar Ihsas who brought Darfuri music and poetry under national spotlight.

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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