Model Sarah Chuot/Unknown Sudanese Woman
In Sudan, the television is still the main source of information and media. Egyptian and Middle Eastern Arabic speaking TV channels are the dominant source of entertainment until now. In the average Sudanese home, the local media channels are absent, and when they are switched on, you will surely have the pleasure of watching newly emerging young voices singing 50-year-old songs in pretty much the same set of studio, orchestra, show presenter, colorful sofas, glaring lights and piercing musical beats. The spectacle is the same in another show, in the other 3 or 4 Sudanese TV channels.
Our generation grew up with these types of channels as the main source of home entertainment; probably one of the reasons we young ones perceive our Sudanese identity as poor and unworthy. It is because of these moments-flipping between, say Sudan TV and MBC- albeit trivial, we automatically compare our identity as portrayed on Sudanese TV, to other foreign screens. We see a striking visual contrast of colors, of production, sounds and talents and we can’t help but compare. Basically every time we click through, we are reminded with visual evidence just how behind we are. Slowly we begin accepting this poorly perceived identity as ours and eventually lose that motivation to make it better.
Recently I have come across a reportage by Aljazeera TV channel on an exhibition of locally made Sudanese perfumes in Khartoum – “the old traditional perfumes are too strong and fierce it doesn’t appeal to the young generation and that’s why I mix my perfumes with Parisian perfumes” said an old woman being interviewed. I thought: how brilliant! It’s not only perfumes but our music, our art and eventually our culture as a whole has stopped progressing for decades. It’s still carrying strong traditional historic nuances and that is why we as Sudanese people lack (or have lost) the sense of a unified civil identity.
Media is the gateway through which a culture derives its identity. Through media and particularly free media, art and creativity will be expressed. Thus, the more there is art around, the more people will naturally derive that unified sense of identity from it. Through art and freedom of expression we will get to know our real past, our future, the dreams, the ambitions and the courage to make a difference.
Now that there is the invention of the internet, we are no longer limited to a few satellite TV channels and 50-year-old songs (as beautiful as those may be sometimes). Now, we are not limited at all. In fact we have the whole world to derive inspiration and creativity from. More than ever we have the ability to create and produce our unique art, rebrand our self image and stand tall behind our chosen self-created beauty.
I believe it is a blessing in disguise that for many years we have been scattered around the world and many of us with the Sudanese nationality have felt disoriented. We did not belong anywhere in particular and the homeland seemed to be this place that did not cope with our personal needs and freedom. Now, we can maximize on what we have learned from other cultures and use it to build a more progressive, even more diverse and era compatible cultural identity. I truly believe that as unfortunate as the situation may seem right now, we are actually in a very, very lucky place.
I say let’s take media by the horns, mix it with Parisian perfumes and let’s publish our work to the world.
Our words, poems, music, dances, paintings, photographs, our uniqueness and new faces. There is
no better time to express yourself and be who you are, than right now.
I’m so ready. I have a few films to share 🙂
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