Sudan's Artistic Awakening
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
The country of Sudan is in the midst of a revolution. The 30-year rule of Omar al-Bashir is over. Protesters are continuing their demonstrations to try to force the military to hand over power. This moment of political change is also leading to an artistic awakening. NPR's Eyder Peralta sends us this postcard of a performance artist in Khartoum who's taking advantage of the new freedoms in his country.
EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Mohamed Marzoug walks around a crowd of protesters and hands out assignments. You clap like this.
(SOUNDBITE OF CLAPPING)
PERALTA: You take this tambourine.
(SOUNDBITE OF TAMBOURINE RATTLING)
PERALTA: All without words, he then hands a rock to a young man and asks him to tap it rhythmically on a light post.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
PERALTA: He twirls, takes his flute to his mouth and begins to play.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
PERALTA: Marzoug says the fact that he wears dreads immediately makes him suspect in Sudan. He says he tried this performance before, but it was banned by the government. But last month, popular protests ended Omar al-Bashir's 30-year rule. And all of the conservative laws that had been central to Sudan began to be questioned. So people took his rocks, and they took his tambourines. They clapped in public to join him in this music making.
MOHAMED MARZOUG: (Through interpreter) This is an awakening. People are getting introduced to new things, and they have tolerance for it. And they have acceptance for it.
PERALTA: During this performance, it's Muntasir Mostapha tapping a rock on a lamp post. He has a huge smile on his face. These are two objects that no one paid attention to, he says. Yet now he's making music with them.
MUNTASIR MOSTAPHA: (Through interpreter) It wasn't there before. It wasn't there before in the sense that, like, nobody discovered it. And he did, and that's what makes it beautiful and unique.
PERALTA: In a lot of ways, many Sudanese these days are walking around looking at things differently - everything from the role in the genocide in Darfur to the role of Islam in everyday society. Marzoug tends to explain his art in simple terms. It's made with basic instruments found on regular streets.
MARZOUG: (Through interpreter) Our music stands on two pillars - music and tempo. It's simple, and it means that everyone has music in them.
PERALTA: It's just like a revolution, he says. Everyone has the tools to make one happen.
Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Khartoum.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.