many voices of africa


The language of peace-making is everywhere, though. Sometimes it is curiously belligerent. ANGELIC PEACE LOCOMOTIVE CRUSHES LIFE OUT OF WAR DEVIL MONGERS was the headline in one Khartoum newspaper reporting the agreement. The less peace there is, the more people want to hear the magic word. A South Sudanese hip-hop artist, Emmanuel Jal, and a veteran northern Sudanese musician, Abdel Gadir Salim, recently recorded an album called Ceasefire. The two singers have never met: their album was made by sending recorded tracks back and forth between London, Khartoum and Nairobi, in Kenya, where Jal has been living. The result of this collaboration-at-a-distance is a wondrous fusion of the 6/8 merdoum rhythm of western Sudan with rap techniques honed in the dance halls of Nairobi. The songs are in a mix of English, Arabic, Nuer (Jal’s native language) and Sheng, a street language that is Kenya’s equivalent of the Spanglish spoken by Latinos in North America. In July, Jal performed in Cornwall at one of Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concerts. In August, he sang at the memorial event in London for John Garang, leader of the SPLM, who was killed in a helicopter accident shortly after the formation of the new government in Khartoum.

more at Granta here.