Sudanese Music

Musical tradition: Sudanese songs, vocal traditions with drumming

Musician(s): Omaima and Yohanna Adenti, Singing "Civil War Song:" Chol Atem, Pete Keny, Isaac Kuek, Gabriel Poth, Deng K

vocals, drums

Yohanna and Omaima Adenti (pictured above) are Nuban from Sudan. Yohanna’s father was a cattle herder and had 200 cows, as well as goats, sheep, and chickens. Johanna and Omaima are Christian. When Yohanna was 25 his village was attacked and his family was killed. He hid in the forest for years where he and Omaima were married. He was later captured by Arabs, escaped to Khartoum, and received asylum in Egypt. Omaima and Yohanna were resettled as refugees in Vermont in 2005 and lived in Burlington. They were recorded for this project in 2006 and have since moved to another part of the US.

Yohanna says about this song: “I’m gonna sing one, this is the one song that we remind ourselves this is all about education and this is what we are here all about. Our grandpa sing us this song about six years ago when we were actually in middle school and they were saying that you guys should care about education, whatever you came out with it and that you will be a teacher, engineering or professor, and this is what you all need.”

Chol speaks about the civil war in Sudan, which began in 1983 and continued roughly until 2005:

“We had a civil war long ago and then people came from the north destroying our houses with fire, they take young kids, they kill young guys…if you are like us you get killed, but if it’s a girl, or a kid, and a woman and cattle, they take them away. So someone was thinking, our house is on fire, our kids have been taken, what are we going to do? What’s next? So it’s time to be brave, to encourage people to stay aware that these guys are always there. The song is about awareness, encouraging people to be strong.

[The war was in] 1983…but these people came in 85 or 86, they came from the north and invaded the south. This thing happened between 86, 87 and 88 and after that they stopped, the south got their own military and they stopped coming back any more. But during these few years it was so bad.”