Music Feature: Diallo Hall on Sudanese "Girls' Music" and Artist Alsarah

September 7, 2011
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In one of my favorite songs by Afro Beat progenitor Fela Kuti, he exclaims:

If you call woman
African woman no go ‘gree
She go say I be Lady o

Fela is recounting the age-old resistance by African women to their circumscribed roles in traditional societies. This resistance is an often ignored, but very essential, chapter in African women’s “her-story.”

In Sudan, resistance to patriarchy, tradition, and narrowly defined gender roles was expressed through a genre of urban fusion music called “aghani al-banat”, translated to mean “girls’ music.” This musical traditional created a space for Sudanese women to express their own narrative, and to ostensibly redefine their roles as women. No longer would they sit back and be objectified.  Instead, aghani al-banat allowed women to assert themselves through song – to tell their objects of affection that it’s time for them to leave and simply be together with the type of assertiveness that would be frowned upon in traditional social settings.

Today, singers such as Alsarah are keeping the tradition of aghani al-banat alive by reinterpreting traditional girls’ music through a decidedly more funky and contemporary voice.  As the world anxiously watches the future of Sudan unfold, join Alsarah as she takes us on a ride through the past with a little girls’ music.  

In Alsarah’s A Crocodile Story ما دام الريد اختلط بالدم, the woman  is telling her love that it’s time for them to leave and simply be together. Historically, such assertiveness among women has been frowned upon in traditional patriarchal societies – yet it has been surreptitiously promoted through Sudanese “girl’s music.”  The video, perhaps even more shocking than the song, calls into question color politics as well as puts at its center, the issue of domestic abuse.


Diallo Hall is the visionary and founder of AddisTunes.com. A New York/New Jersey native, a lifelong fan of music, a record collector of 25 years, and an avid international traveler, Diallo founded website dedicated exclusively to African music downloads with both the artists and listeners in mind  In fact, over the years Diallo he has earned a reputation as one of the top collectors in the world of rare Ethiopian vinyl records. Diallo says that he has been inspired by the creativity of African artists – both of the past and today.  Even amid political turmoil and strife, African musicians have shown just how resilient the human spirit can be.  In Diallo’s words, the ultimate mission of AddisTunes.com is “to improve the world – one song at a time.” With over 15 years of experience on Wall Street, Diallo also has strong business acumen.  He has worked with firms such as Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and UBS Wealth Manaagement.  He also holds a M.A. in international affairs, with a concentration in International Economics and Business, from Columbia University; and a B.A. in Political Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

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