′Respect to the girls′- meet Sudan′s all-female band | Africa | DW | 08.09.2016
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'Respect to the girls'- meet Sudan's all-female band

'Salute yal Bannot' is an all female Sudanese girl music band that is using music to advocate for womens' rights. Their songs are inspired by the struggles women are facing around the world.

The Khartoum-based 11 member band is on a mission to gain respect for women. As female musicians, the group is faced with many challenges in Sudan.

"If you are an artist especially when you do music, people are nice to you, but when it gets personal, they don't want to interact with you. They don't see it as something respectful," Sarra Ibrahim Saeed (pictured above), a member of the group told DW.

The band comprises a diverse group of Sudanese women from across the country. It consists of seven vocalists and four instrumentalists who play guitar, piano, bass guitar and percussions for their songs.

The group was formed in Khartoum after the "Yalla Khartoum" workshop organized by the Goethe Institute, which had guests like the African American artist Akua Naru, who is a native of New Haven, Connecticut in the US. The group talks about many issues in their songs, including love, racism and female genital mutilation (FGM). Their lyrics are both sung in English, the Sudanese Arabic dialect and standard Arabic. Salute yal Bannot in Sudanese Arabic means 'Respect to the girls'. The group aims to inspire women to speak up on issues affecting them.

Sudan Band Salute Yal Bannot

"We want to help women to speak up for themselves"

The power of music

"We hope people everywhere are listening to what we are saying. We want to make a change. We are not just singing," Hiba Alaeldin Elgizouli, another member of the group explained.

Sudan has a rich unique musical culture. The country's music has faced repression in the past since the establishment of strict laws in 1989. Elgizouli said, they hope to change the mindset of the societies.

"I think for women in Sudan seeing an all women band on stage saying what they think without being afraid, this is very powerful, Elgizouli explained. "We want to help them, to be able to speak up for themselves and to be confident."

In their song "Crying earth" the group sings about war and love. This is a sample of their lyrics:
"This is tragedy.
Pulling us down like gravity.
Pulling us to the darkest cavity.
But I believe that love is our remedy.
Killing people, why? Everywhere around.

Kids are starving now, firing guns and bombs, under the name of peace.
Don't tell me no more. I know that's a lie."

The eastern region of Darfur remains insecure, and the country's southern neighbor South Sudan only gained independence from Khartoum in 2011.

Tribal fighting in Sudan is a daily occurrence. The society is still divided, but the group says despite all this they find strength in their music.

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