Over one-and-a-half years from his death, Sudan’s famous singer-songwriter, Mohammad Wardi, continues to inspire revolutionaries across the Arab World.
One of his most famous lyrics reads: “The morning came, there were no prisoners, the one who imprisoned people is no longer there. The dawn now has fluttering wings.”
Wardi, known affectionately as “the pharaoh,” “the emperor,” and “the legend,” was among those who participated in the ouster of military dictator Ibrahim Abboud in October 1964, as well as Gaafar Nimeiry in 1985.
Born in 1932, Wardi, who is of Nubian ethnicity, preferred a career in music instead of school teaching.
He sang on Radio Omdurman in 1957, along with other Sudanese artists, soon after developing a partnership with renowned poet Ismail Hassan.
The duo later went to produce over 23 songs together – Wardi using traditional Sudanese and Nubian musical instruments as an accompaniment.
Like many artists at the time, Wardi became politically aligned with the Sudanese left wing, becoming associated with its political beliefs.
He was imprisoned several times over his career, using his fame to condemn oppression and tyranny in Sudan.
Wardi was exiled from Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s regime in 1989, spending time in Egypt and in the United States, but returned to the country in 2003.
During the 1990’s, his songs were banned from universities in Sudan.
In Februrary 2012, at the age of 79 and, suffering from renal failure, Wardi died.
Wardi’s songs found fame during Sudan’s uprisings, and have continued to inspire Libyan and Syrian revolutions.