On stage at the National Museum, a group of young Sudanese rappers and poets began to take turns improvising, giving their best rhymes to the beat, and then passing the mic off to their friends. Below them, a group of music lovers danced to the music, abandoning their chairs to stand closer.
These artists had participated in a two day workshop, and were show-casing their talent with the help of the rap duo Native Son, who performed after them. The subject matter of the music varied, but mostly centered on identity, growing up Sudanese, the challenges facing youth.
This event was the final day of a WAPI and Creative Coalitions’ two day series. On the first day, Soweto Kinch, a British jazz saxophonist and rapper, led a collaboration with the Sudanese group Solo Band, performing to an audience of over one thousand people.
The next day’s performance by Native Son and young Sudanese rappers sprung directly out of a two day workshop on “Mu’allaqat and Modern Day Rap,” which examined pre-Islamic poetry and rap and which sought to draw links between the two mediums and emphasized positive values in modern rap.
Both musicians went on to perform on February 7th and 8th in Port Sudan at the Red Sea International Tourism Festival, an open aired festival that took place on the banks of the Red Sea.
These events were organized through the British Council’s Creative Coalitions initiative, which seeks to promote collaboration between Sudanese and British artists, as one of its WAPi, or Words and Pictures, events. These events are meant not only to foster cultural and artistic ties between artists, but also to give opportunities for Sudanese artists to grow and gain professional skills.