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Image courtesy of Ostinato Records.

The Story of Mohammed Wardi, 'The Last King of Nubia'

The legendary Sudanese singer's son, Abdulwahab, speaks in-depth about the life and times of his father, detailing his artistic and political impact on so many across the continent.

It's often confounding how someone of Mohammed Wardi's stature is not remembered in the same vein or celebrated worldwide as Fela Kuti. Wardi was a legendary Sudanese singer and activist akin to Fela in stature and impact in his music and politics. In fact, Wardi was, in many ways, the single most adored singer across Africa. The Wire magazine in the UK calls him a "cross between Fela Kuti and Lebanon's Feiruz."

Mohammed Wardi once performed at a sold-out 60,000 stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon to a largely Francophone crowd who did not understand his Arabic lyrics but remained infatuated. A man from Mali once walked on foot for three months to Sudan to meet Wardi because the father of the woman he wanted to marry would only allow it if he got an autographed cassette and photo from Wardi himself.

In 1994, Wardi won a prize that anointed him the best singer in Africa. Politically, he fought for the ideas of his day: social justice, decolonization, redistribution of wealth, pan-Africanism. His relentless activism resulted in detention and eventually exile. His passing in 2012 was mourned from Mauritania to Djibouti.

His son, Abdulwahab, spoke to us in depth about the life and times of his father, detailing his artistic and political impact on the lives of so many across the continent.

This is Mohammed Wardi's story, as told by Abdulwahab.

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Money dealers in Omdurman market. Photo: Janto Djassi / Picture Me Different.

In Photos: The Golden Spirit of Khartoum

Ahead of their upcoming compilation, Ostinato Records takes us on a photographic trip through Sudan's beautiful capital.

As we present our latest release, Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan, to celebrate the golden era of Khartoum's gifted musicians, it's worthy to note that we are not merely in the record label business or the music industry, but very much part of the storytelling business, which is largely an image-making enterprise. Far too often, those afforded the privilege to shape the image of countries not always in control of their own narrative abuse that power by recycling tropes that offer little to challenge deeply established narratives or reshape our understanding.

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Here's Your African World Cup Mixtape

This soundtrack to Africa's World Cup covers a majestic blend of Senegalese Mbalax, Nigerian Fuji, Moroccan Gnawa, Tunisian Disco, and Nubian sounds from Egypt.

The 2018 World Cup welcomes 5 African teams—Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, and Nigeria—and all except Nigeria have waited a very, very long time to field a squad once again on the world's biggest football stage.

Tunisia has not participated since 2006, Senegal since 2002, Morocco since 1998, and Egypt since 1990!

It's a unique occasion for a continent that is unjustly afforded only 5 qualification spots despite having 55 countries. African nations were systematically denied inclusion for decades since the inception of the quadrennial tournament. Since Egypt's qualification in 1934, it took until 1970 for another North African team to register participation, when Morocco won a place at the World Cup in Mexico.

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