Sudanese jazz musician Sharhabil Ahmed has recently released a magnificent rendition of the late melodist Ibrahim Alkashif’s song ‘Ard Alkhair’ (The Land of Bounties), written about four decades ago by creative Sudanese lyric composer Alsir Gadoar.
The song was aired earlier, during the celebrations marking the country’s independence day.
But for months now the song continued to be replayed in many of Sudan’s TV channels in celebration of and in encouragement of the popular uprising that saw the downfall of the dictatorial rule of Omar Albashir.
A TV viewer could randomly move his remote control on the screen to find the song on display somewhere on one of the country’s many private TV stations.
It was Sharhabil’s musical distribution of the song that amazed and attracted the audiences. In addition to the lovely African drumming, Sharhabil has employed a lot of jazz modern musical instruments.
The work, shot within the Sudan and some other African coungtries, has also pictured Sudan’s cultural diversity, emphasizing aspects of the nation’s African identity in the first place.
The Song can translate (from Arabic) as follows:
The Land Of Bounty
(By: Alsir Gadoar)
Land of bounty..Africa is my home
That of glory is my time
With faces up,… my forefathers … marches that retreat never knew.
Before these I stand, tell the world I am Sudani (Sudanese)
That of bounty and goodness is my land
Rich in treasures, gardens and eyes and stars that with goodness see.
Glows her moon that never sets
Its light, the beloved night fills
“I am Sudani,” my poetry the World tells
Thy sun is up .. Its light shines, becomes two suns
Sun of glory .. shines bright like my history
Fills the earth and it bigger grows
That’s the sun of my faith in my fellow Africans
For that I sing and say I am Sudani
The opening scene is of African drums beating loud and a row of well-built African men parading their powerful muscles.
Then the background swarms with African dancers of both sexes. Those are music students from the music and drama college of the Sudan University of Technology and Science and dancers from Ethiopia, Morocco, Southern Sudan and other African nations.
As drums heat up, peeps Sudanese elderly jazz singer Sharhabil Ahmed, so humble and so modest as usual.. “I am African .. I am Sudanese” he sings. Then beside him appears Ethiopian singer Mahmood Ahmed who utters (in an Ethiopian language): “I am African”, to be responded to by Sharhabil “I am Sudanese.”
And the African drums keep sounding and the energetic dancers fill the show. Two rows of Ethiopian dancers (male and female) raise and lower their chests, the females also moving their hair right and left. A young African female dancer, hands up, swiftly rushes behind Sharhabil and then vanishes. She is then followed by Ethiopian artist Ms. Shiva Moses Who yells out: “I am of African origin.”
And the music and feet keep beating as goes the movement of the African young dancers. And when they sing “marches that retreat never knew” the young dancers file up and march like powerful soldiers. From time to time the tall Southern Sudanese jump high in the sky in their traditional hunters and herdsmen dances.
In each scene Sharhabil and the band appear in different, though always African, attires.
From time to time emerges Moroccan singer Ms. Asma Hamzawi, singing a line (or a stanza) in her expressive mode and her lovely, serene, meandering, violin-like voice. She appears and disappears, sometimes from a distance and sometimes at a close shot. “What a wonderful voice Hamzawi has,” wrote a viewer on the social media.
And the music and the dancing keep sounding. All the participants (over a hundred) twice gather together like bees in a beehive and then spread out like an umbrella.
Towards the end of the show they line up in a few rows. Here Sharhabil, beaming with his usual, humble smile and clad in the traditional Sudanese white garment and turban, emerges from between the lines to tell the viewers that “I am African… Iam Sudanese!”
It is the magnificent production, the continuous movement of the dancers, the energetic beating of the drums and the beatings of the dancers’ feet on the ground that keep viewers’ eyes and hearts glued to this piece of art.
Played during a banquet thrown by the Sudan Embassy in Washington, the song had won the admiration of the guests.
A TV footage of the event showed African and African-American guests gasping with excitement at what they had seen. A shot of part of these showed them chanting: Oh Sudan! Oh Sudan!
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