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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.


Music is just one component of a nation and culture's image, but Ostinato's philosophy is about showcasing and reimagining images of peoples and places that have long been viewed through a malignant colonial lens or via strategic foreign policy objectives, denying ancient lands, unmistakably sophisticated music cultures, and even just the gentle silt and vibrant color of daily life from their rightful place alongside the very best that humanity has produced or has to offer.

Photo: Janto Djassi / Picture Me Different.

A cab driver smiles during rush hour traffic in Khartoum. (Dec, 2017)

During the making of this compilation, in collaboration with Picture Me Different, an African-run agency in Hamburg, Germany, we have documented the everyday flair of life in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, and the remnants of its once mighty music scene as old legends fight to carry on a beloved legacy. Alongside, the singers featured on our compilation (or their families if they have passed) have provided vintage photos of musical life in Khartoum and the old capital, Omdurman.

Few around the world have the chance to experience Sudan on the ground themselves. So, as curators and image-makers dedicated to decolonizing our sense of sound and sight, we have put together a mini-exhibition of 15 photos to take you deep into the world of Sudan's capital—by no means a reflection of the country as a whole—but a good starting point as we celebrate Sudan's rich tapestry of culture, color, life, and diversity.

Importantly, we are not always offered a perspective on an African country through an African—in this case, Senegalese—photographer's eyes.

It takes two Niles to sing a melody, and create a just image.

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Still from '28 jours'

Jahëna Louisin’s Debut Short Film, ‘28 jours,’ is an Homage to Black Fatherhood

Troubled by portrayal of Black fathers in mainstream media, the Haitian-Reunionese filmmaker set out to make a film about loss and humanity.

"Cinema Africa" is your guide to African film. Writer Ciku Kimeria is highlighting new movies and documentaries that tell fascinating stories or questioning prevailing narratives and occasionally returning to the classics that paved the way for a new generation of filmmakers.

28 jours (28 days) the debut short film from a Lome raised, Haitian-Reunionese filmmaker, Jahëna Louisin is the story of a widower and his eleven year old daughter going through an interesting stage in her transition to womanhood—her first period. As they grapple with the brutal loss of his wife and her mother, the two find themselves confronting this life-changing moment on their own.

On a call with the call with the first-time filmmaker hunkered down in Lome, Togo, we discuss her debut film that won the Togolese edition of the "7 jours pour 1" film award and was this year's official selection for an international fiction film at the largest North American film festival focusing on films from Africa and the diaspora, Vues D'Afrique in Canada.

Read our conversation below.

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