After a week of being bombarded with all sorts of “good news” from the horn of Africa regarding oil and bombings, I decided to use the weekend to search for days of normalcy in Sudan. No, I did not fly to Khartoum but I got a quick memory lane trip via Cinema in Sudan: conversations with Gadalla Gubara (2007), a documentary by Frederique Cifuentes Morgan, who can be described as having a healthy obsession with Sudan evidenced by her three feature length documentary films about the country. This documentary follows the great Sudanese filmmaker, Gadalla Gubara (1920-2008), one of the pioneers of cinema in Africa and especially cinema in Sudan. Screened at Columbia University, the documentary provides a space and voice for an old man to tell his story to a country that is distracted. A titbit about Gadalla. In 1969, it was Gadalla and his pals, Ousmane Sembene, Timité Bassori, Mustapha Alassane that came up with a revolutionary idea: the Panafrican Festival of Cinema and Television of Ouagadougou (FESPACO). It is indeed ironic and saddening that he died the year after the documentary came out. Apart from the quick wit and humor of Gadalla Gubara and the beautiful reels of old Sudanese movies, one cannot help but be captivated by the music accompanying the documentary. My Sudanese movie-watching companion could not stop singing along throughout the documentary. Music by Waleed Waselny Norak and Sherhabeel Ahmed felt magical (not exaggerating here). I left feeling like I hardly know Sudan. Perhaps Gadalla is right and Sudan is indeed misunderstood? His Sudan anyways, or perhaps my Africa. Now, who has a copy of Tagoog for a movie night?

Here’s a taste of Sharhabeel Ahmed’s music:

* This post marks the debut post of ‘kola (Bukola Jejeloye) for AIAC.

Further Reading