This Exiled Musician is Reclaiming the Sounds of War-Torn Darfur—In the Arctic Circle
Silenced and threatened in his homeland, a Sudanese singer finally found freedom among the frozen fjords of Norway.
Photos by Douglas Sielski
It’s an early February evening in central Barcelona and 44-year-old Sudanese musician Abazar Hamid is about to perform in a tightly packed living room. Old mahogany furnishings have been pushed to the side to make space for eight rows of plastic foldaway chairs. Hamid is tall and thin with a wiry goatee that grows thicker around the sides of his mouth. Standing behind his keyboard, eyes fixated on the floor, he says, “We’re just a mile from the Mediterranean Sea. On the other side, not very far away, something horrible is happening. We need to help these people.” The audience members, ready to hear his songs that promote peace in societies ripped apart by conflict, sit quietly and solemnly nod. Over an eight-year stretch Hamid himself was persecuted, censored and threatened for performing his music. He sings his opening song in Arabic. Onlookers in the hallway crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the musician. Smiling at a round of applause, Hamid picks up …