Sudan: Ensaf Fathi - A New Tone in Sudanese Melody

23 November 2020

Khartoum — Critics are hopeful that rising singer - melodist Ensaf Fathi may make a difference in artistic production as compared with her other fellow young artists now on stage in the country.

Those specialists extol Ensaf's distinguished performance, citing that she is giving something new, mature and different.

From these one can cite musician Mohammad Osman Satoor who maintains that Ensaf is restoring his confidence in new female voices. "I was about to lose hope in the new female voices, but this girl is different in terms of voice, performance and, above that, in her determination to present songs of her own- making, contrary to the situation with the other new artists who copy their predecessors," he said.

" She is also equipped with the ability to face the audience and bravely present her art," added musician Satoor.

And when many singers have ignored academic acquisition, Ensaf keeps up with her education, strenuously bent on her doctorate thesis on projects' engineering.

To keep up with her musical project, Ensaf is now preaching the peace protocols, aiming to bring their content closer to public attention. Here she is airing Hakama lnitiative, singer for consolidating the perceptions of peace.

Why She is Different?

One of her watchers, Muhannad Ahmed Hamid, said Ensaf had become different because in her early beginnings she came across persons who put her on the right course, in addition to her determined struggle to grow up professionally.

Adds Mr. Hamid: This success and this excellence did not come all by chance. They are the outcome of hard work. She used to shuttle for many kilometers to continue with her engineering education at the Sudan University of Science and Technology and at the same keep up with her artistic activity in the Khartoum South Club. Then she would return to her family's home in the Althawra suburb in Omdurman. Quite a hustle!

In an interview in her private office in Khartoum North, Ensaf paid tribute to musician Babikir Siddiq, presenter of the famous TV program "Tomorrow's Stars" who helped her consolidate her talent. "I consider him my spiritual father," she said.

She said Siddiq did very much to train her on good performance.

Then she remembered another experiment with the "Great Artist" Mohammad Wardi who in the program "Songs of the Immortal River". Then she had another good experiment in the popular TV program "Songs and Songs", where she sang with and met a number of outstanding musicians, like Dr. Almahi Suleiman, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Ajaj and Mohammad Hamid Jubara. Those experiments had deeply affected and pushed her to raise her capabilities of creativity, giving her more confidence, courage and professionalism.

She said her academic studies had helped her apply engineering knowledge to bring about carefully studied musical molds.

Ensaf's Artistic Projects

1/ The Sparrow of Sudan

This project is meant to move around all over the Sudan, with its different cultures without any boundaries, like a flying bird. Having obtained what it wanted from a certain region and culture, the sparrow would fly again to see the art of another place. This give and take process is of help to bind the country together through the exchange of heritage and knowledge, with the main theme that the country's heritage is the property of all the people.

It was through this project that Ensaf had sung poems for all of the country's regions, using the local languages: In the East she sang in Bedawait (Beja) language, in the North in Nubian, and in the West she sang in many languages of that region. She also sang in the Juba Arabic of Southern Sudan. While performing the language of the concerned region, Ensaf was met with appreciation. This creates affinity and 'beautiful' reconciliation that serve the cause of peace, she said.

The Sparrow of Sudan Project had commenced in December 2010, with the aim of perpetrating the concepts of peace and the realization of peace through the heritage of singing. The aim is also to melt all the Sudanese rhythms in one mold of conscious creativity which is aware about the requirements of this juncture of Sudan's history. It also seeks to show the needs of the war-affected regions for a climate of peace and stability.

She said the idea had begun with a phone call from an IDP in the Kalma Camp of South Darfur who talked to her expressing his admiration of her art, her patriotism and candidness, asking her to visit the IDP camps where thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in other parts of Darfur by conflict and violence to see how they live and the problems they face.

I immediately moved to answer this call on a trip I called "A Visit to The Loved One's Home". I filed addresses to senior government officials, including in the Ministry of Culture and Information as well as officials of major economic firms. In those letters I talked about the trip project. But I received no response from those bodies.

Then she decided from within her office, and on her own, to go ahead with the trip. She hired a bus for her troupe and companions. "I spent generously on that trip," she said.

Reaching Nyala and Alfashir towns she hired land cruiser trucks for a tour of North and South Darfur states. She visited the two major IDP camps, namely the Kalma Camp in South Darfur and Abu shoak Camp in North Darfur where hundreds of thousands of people are living. She entered the latter secretly, dodging the security. Inside that Camp, she saw for herself how the IDPs suffer. They explained to her how displacement can look like and how they yearn to return to their homes and villages. They also told her about the calamities of war, the youths lost, the widowed women and the orphaned children, and how war had hampered development and production and how fed up with the life of the camp they were.

From what she heard Ensaf came to learn that some of those conflicts were because of "pure social causes"- established heritage and customs that should be done away with through education, enlightenment, conciliation and communication.

The visit had resonated very well with the IDPs who said they had, ever since 1997, never been visited by an artist from Khartoum until they despaired and considered themselves completely forgotten.

During that stay in the Camp, Ensaf presented some shows, which were preceded with education sessions about the need to avoid violence and conflict and about the need to return home for production and development.

She presented Darfuri heritage songs that had great effect on the audiences, enlivening their memories of their homes and consolidating human feelings of good concord. The songs also preached the value of homecoming, love, tolerance and understanding.

Ensaf's singing project, did not forget to give the Darfuri audiences doses of Kordofan music and that of Eastern Sudan.

She was also keen to visit the villages affected by the war, joining the inhabitants in the construction and rehabilitation of ruined villages.

2/ The Hakama Initiative

It was from within the Kalma IDP Camp, that there crystallized the idea of "The Hakama Initiative", that bids to propagate the culture of peace in the country.

Ensaf said she picked the name hakama to tell the World and the new generations about the position of the hakama in Western Sudanese life and her artistic and cultural position in those areas. The hakama is a local female poet-singer who preaches courage and other noble values. She is usually a woman of a strong, influential character. Ensaf said seeks to propagate this term nationwide.

The General Objectives of the Initiative:

· To work for removing the causes of conflicts, in particular those relating to the culture of societies, their heritage and traditions.

· Providing the society with a high doze of positive energy through music and education.

· The initiative also seeks to qualify effective artistic personalities, including the hakamas in conflict zones for the

removal of harmful traditions and the perpetuation of the culture of peace.

· Create a wide movement for peace in war-affected areas by means of carefully studied peace initiatives.

· Convening the hakama conference of overall folk and modern arts during 1-28 February 2021.

· The launch of the hakama singing competition during 1-30 April 2021.

· Holding the hakama peace festival song during 3-30 of June 2021.

· The launch of the Hakama open air mobile theatre from 1 November to 30 December 2021.

The Initiative's Timeframe:

The initiative spans for 18 months, including the preparation and implementation phase.

The initiative includes functions and activities throughout the country's different states.

The hakama initiative was received with wide appreciation. It was welcomed and adopted by the Governor of South Kordofan State Dr. Hamid Albashir, a well cultivated person who follows carefully studied plans for restoring sustainable peace and stability to his State. Dr. Albashir was one of the early supporters of the initiative whereby his State saw the development of the initiative from just an idea into a clear-cut program.

The initiative was welcomed by General Burhan, the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council, who promised to back it when he looked into its objectives.

The initiative has also rallied a lot of folklore troupes as well as a umber of Khartoum-based organizations

Strategic Partnership:

To create an able entity that is capable of executing the objectives in the prescribed time and provide financial, logistical and technical support, the initiative has opened

its door for all segments of the society to participate (i.e. government institutions, international agencies, private sector, civil society organizations, scientific

institutions, arts entities, individuals.)

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