Banned | Liquor Lips Night | Duduspree FM Radio

Banned | Liquor Lips Night

Music Shot: Banned | Liquor Lips Night | SUNDAY XTRA: Sayed Khalifa | #african #music #alkebulan

The prominent Sudanese singer Sayed Khalifa, who has died aged 73 while undergoing treatment for a heart ailment, never wore the traditional Jalabia on stage. He sang in classical Arabic and standard Sudanese dialect, thus reaching both the elite and the common people. Part of the so-called “second wave” of modern Sudanese singers, he was a pioneer and, thanks to a scholarship which took him, in 1947, to the Arab Music Institute in Cairo, he was the first Sudanese to study music systematically.

All Sudanese singers before him had acquired their skills and reputation traditionally, by attaching themselves to older singers, learning from them and eventually breaking away. Khalifa made his name at the time of Sudanese independence in 1956, singing patriotic songs like Ya Watani (O My Homeland).

He was born and brought up in the village of Ad Dibeiba, near Khartoum. As a student, he had been exposed to the vibrant Cairo cultural scene, which included several Sudanese intellectuals and poets, whose poems about the link between birds, trees and human emotions were sensitively rendered by Khalifa into top favourites. He also benefited from exposure in the powerful Egyptian media, which transmitted his voice and work across the Arab world.

Nostalgia and homesickness characterised Khalifa’s material during that Egyptian period. He toured neighbouring African states, singing in Arabic and several Horn of Africa languages. He also sang his most famous song, Izzayakum Keifinnakum (How are you?) in English and French.

Back in Sudan, he got a warm reception from former members of the Sudanese community in Cairo, who had returned after independence to assume key civil service positions. The leading singer – and his relative – Ahmad Al Mustafa also gave support and advice. Both were needed; singers in Sudan had a bad reputation, and the struggle to gain respectability and social recognition was difficult. Khalifa, a teetotaller and non-smoker, contributed to the gradual change of image before the Islamist coup of June 1989.

After it, Khalifa, like many creative people, tried to coexist and survive under the new regime, but this became impossible as the anti-arts campaign reached a climax, and his own songs, especially his sensual classical Arabic masterpiece, Lailun Wa Khamrun Wa Shifah (Night, liquor and lips, from poetry by Hussain O Mansour), was purged even from the radio archives. It is now preserved only in the private collections of music lovers.

Khalifa complained publicly about the destruction of this and other songs of love and figurative wine, and was spared imprisonment because of his prestige and age. His first, childless, marriage ended in divorce; he is survived by his second wife and several grown-up children.

Sayed Khalifa, singer, born 1928; died July 2 2001

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