Saturday, March 09, 2019

Songs of the Sudanese Uprising: Surrender the Keys to the Country -- Muhammad Wardi, Zoozita

On March 3, NPR's Eyder Peralta reported on the song that is the anthem of the protesters in the current struggle in Sudan, aimed at taking down the regime of Omar Bashir.

The song was recorded by Sudanese singer Zoozita, who is based in the UAE, in January. Here's the video.

The song was composed by the late great Sudanese Nubian singer and composer, Muhammad Wardi. According to Peralta, it was composed in 1997, to perform at the Hague. It just so happens that I saw Wardi perform it on June 14, 1997, at a banquet at the Cairo Hilton, for the Sudan Studies Association banquet. Wardi only performed two songs, the first one about Sudanese living in exile, the second, "Sallim Mufatih al-Balad." I'm not sure exactly why he was only allowed to perform two songs, but my friends suggested that it was due to political sensitivities.

I loved the song at the time but never was able to find it for sale in Cairo. I'm so thrilled to come across it again. Wardi, who passed away in 2012, never recorded it, apparently, but you can find live recordings on YouTube, such as this one.

Here are the lyrics in Arabic, and maybe someday someone will come up with a good translation.

عليك الزحف متقدم
وليك الشعب متحزم ومتلملم
يقول سلم
سلم ومابتسلم
رحمت متين عشان ترحم؟
سلم مفاتيح البلد
سلم عباياتنا وملافحنا
مصاحفنا ومسابحنا
جوامعنا وكنايسنا
سلم مفاتيح البلد

تراث أجدادنا سلمنا
عقول أولادنا سلمنا
بنادقنا البتضربنا
الموجهة لي صدورنا
وبرضو حقتنا
سلم مفاتيح البلد

سلمنا الزمان الضاع
ليل الغربة والأوجاع
أحزانا العشناها
مع الوطن العزيز الجاع
سلم مفاتيح البلد

حتهرب وين من الألم الكبير والجوع
من تعليمك المدفوع
ومن شعبا سقاك لبنو سقيتو من الهوان والجوع
يا ساقي سمك المنبوع
سلم مفاتيح البلد

حتهرب وين من الذكرى وعذاباتها
ومن لبن الأمومة ومن حساب الرب
حتهرب وين وانت ايدينك الإتنين ملوثة دم
فصيح الدم ينضم وبتكلم يقول سلم
سلم مفاتيح البلد

I had the chance to meet Wardi in Cairo the following summer, and hope to blog about that meeting in future.

The best report on the current uprising in Sudan was Khalid Madani's February 23 article in Jadaliyya, "Tasqut Bas (Fall, That is All)."

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