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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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