South Sudan: Gathiang Kuol Chan, the voice of Old Fangak

In South Sudan there is also music and poetry. At Old Fangak, Gathiang Kuol Chan is an inspired artist. Became blind at the age of 3 months, he is now 29 years old and would like to make his music known outside his hometown, to resonate with the peace messages it conveys.

From our special correspondent in Old Fangak,

He braved the rain and the muddy streets of Old Fangak, accompanied by his brother, to come and meet us. Sitting on a porch near the city’s central square, his music quickly draws a small audience.

At Gathiang Kuol Chan, music is a gift. He says he came into the “natural”: “I have an innate talent for music, which grew with me. I must have been 2 or 3 years old, I had just started talking, when I invented my first melody. I started humming it … And other kids picked it up, I showed them how to respond.I grew up like that, until I managed to make this instrument and create meaningful songs.I compose my songs in my dreams, during the night, and the next day I will start singing them. “

His instrument looks like a banjo or a metal lyre with five strings: it is a Tanbur, a traditional Sudanese instrument, made of welded pieces of metal.

His compositions convey messages of a social nature, such as the one he begins to sing. “This song is about the importance of girls’ education. I composed it because I think it’s good to put little girls in school in this society. This will enable us to become a better people, a better country, a better nation. »

Old Fangak is one of the very remote places in South Sudan without telephone service or internet. Difficult for local artists to make themselves known under such conditions.

“It is very difficult to be a musician at Old Fangak. We have no studio to work in. We do what we can, we play where we are, at least people come to listen. That is already it, the singer assures. Our biggest problem is that we have no way to record our songs. Mine always send messages of peace, because that’s what I want most for this country. »

Only the inhabitants of Old Fangak have the chance to listen to his music. While waiting to be able to expand its audience, Gathiang Kuol Chan performs in the markets or during the celebrations that characterize life in this small town cut off from the world.

► To listen or read as well:

South Sudan: Old Fangak, a refuge in the heart of a region devastated by floods [1/4]

South Sudan: in Old Fangak, the effects of floods on access to health [2/4]

South Sudan: In Old Fangak, displaced people from Leer are trying to rebuild [3/4]

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