Amid the arid expanse of the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, a rhythmic cadence emerges. General Kidi and Ganja Farmer, with handheld microphones, offer a vibrant mix of tracks and rap. As the melodies soar, they’re greeted with claps, dance moves, and ululations from the enthralled audience.
Both General Kidi and Ganja Farmer hail from South Kordofan, a southern state with a history of dissent against the central government. Their musical journey took a significant turn in 2019. With the ousting of then-president Omar al-Bashir after a momentous public uprising, the duo found themselves relocating to the nation’s capital, Khartoum. This move wasn’t just geographical; it marked their foray into a broader cultural milieu that was rapidly taking shape post-Bashir’s regime.
However, by 2023, the political landscape of Khartoum became precarious once again. A fierce conflict flared up between the national army and the paramilitary entity known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This volatile backdrop had the musicians, once again, in a transient state. But their journey, though marred by adversity, had a silver lining. The upheaval in Khartoum, which rendered over 5 million people homeless and sparked a colossal humanitarian crisis, inadvertently broadened the reach of their music.
Ganja Farmer, now 37, reflected on this unexpected turn of events. “The very conflict that uprooted us also introduced our music to a vast spectrum of people, many outside of our tribe,” he mused. It wasn’t just about numbers or broader demographics; it was about building bridges in a fractured nation. “Through this journey, I’ve made connections with numerous individuals across Sudan,” Ganja Farmer added.
Established in 2014, the “Nuba Mountain Sound” band was more than just a musical endeavor. At its core, it was a passionate initiative to showcase the unique cultural tapestry of the Nuba Mountains. In addition to their musical performances, they are actively involved in workshops that aim to educate attendees about traditional music and dance forms indigenous to their homeland.
Their musical repertoire, an eclectic blend sung in Arabic, English, and local Nubian dialects, often delves into pressing social narratives. A recurring theme in their songs underscores the aspirations of the younger generation, emphasizing every child’s inherent right to a promising future.
General Kidi, the younger member of the duo at 29, harbors ambitious dreams for the band. “We aspire to traverse the length and breadth of Sudan with our music,” he shared, passion evident in his voice. “Our ultimate aim? To amplify the voices of the Nuba Mountains and acquaint the entire nation with our stories, all through the medium of music.”
However, these aspirations aren’t just about fame or popularity. At the heart of their music lies a poignant message about their homeland. “We want to paint a picture of Sudan that goes beyond the narratives of conflict and strife,” General Kidi emphasized. “Sudan is a mosaic of traditions, cultures, and musical forms. And it’s essential for the world to recognize this. But for our dreams to materialize, peace is a prerequisite.”
In a nation where political tremors often overshadow its rich cultural tapestry, bands like “Nuba Mountain Sound” serve as a poignant reminder. Their music isn’t just entertainment; it’s a clarion call for unity, understanding, and peace.