Bringing African Women Hope Through Music.
(Part 2)

Islam Elbeiti / Bassist and Entrepreneur Supporter

Aspiring to Empower Sudanese Female Musicians.

Islam Elbeiti is a multi-talented young bassist who actively contributes to an entrepreneur support project and hosts a radio program at Capital 91.6 FM to introduce her country to the great world of jazz. At 24 years old, she sees long into the future of Sudan with the big dream of “bringing African women hope through music.”

Awareness of cultural diversity is my personal strength.

Sadly, being a female musician in today’s Sudan is harder than you can imagine. Many people here still think that music is for delinquents. Any woman who plays opens herself up to constant social oppression. A member of one of the bands I play in was accused of “disturbing social order and public decency” simply by wearing a stage costume that accentuated her body lines. Freedom for women is more restricted in Sudan than in any other country I’ve lived in. Had I not been exposed to other cultures during my youth, I might have thought the situation was normal. Living outside of Sudan has showed me that it isn’t.

I can contribute to my country as a person who has been exposed to different cultures. My encounters with prejudice as a musician have roused me to use music to eradicate this deep-rooted, irrational perception in society. My activities as both a businessperson and musician are focused on improving the social status of music in Sudan. I want to make the best of my perspective as a musician to support the young people in the up-and-coming music industry of this country. This is the ambition that drew me into working for Impact Hub Khartoum, an entity that enables the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Sudan.

Impact Hub Khartoum's weekly community lunch event with fellow members and general manager, Waleed Babiker.

The music culture in Sudan is changing.

In 2017 I helped organize a 21 day one of a kind cultural festival held in the Karmakol dessert. More than 120 artists came to participate in a three-week program of activities of many kinds, from games and movies to theatrical and musical performances and exhibitions in the visual arts. As a co-director of the music department, I was responsible for planning and organizing events as well as selecting candidate participants. Holding a festival like this in Sudan was no easy feat. Never before had we as a team contended with so my problems. Our contacts with the government authorities were riddled with hurdles, and some of the sponsors dropped out at the last minute. At the end we pulled it off, proving to the world that a music festival was possible in Sudan despite the mountain of red tape.

After living and working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I decided to come back to Sudan. That turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in my whole life. While forming my identity as a global citizen, I was sometimes unsure of where I should find my roots as a person. Now back in Sudan, every activity I do affirms my roots and identity, which is rewarding and important. I’m just one of many Sudanese who want to make this country better and take action to change our society. While we still have much to confront, we know that change is coming in this country. We still don’t have many female musicians, but more girls than ever are picking up instruments to play.

A music jam session at Karmakol Dessert with a band in Ethiopia called the Addis Acoustic Project.

I want to be remembered as a Sudanese native who changed her country's music history.

I am still 24. Apart from contributing to my country, I have an ambition to become a successful bassist. This is why I want to go abroad to study at music a school and see more of the world as a touring musician. There is so much more that I want to achieve in my life. Yet above all else, I want to become an influential figure in the world through my music. By performing on the world stage, I want to give many people hope that Sudanese women can enjoy freedom in their lives. My dream is to be remembered as a Sudanese native who changed her country's music history. I would like to change Sudanese people's perceptions of music for the better, and to show the world what a wonderful country Sudan is.

Music is a language that brings people from across the world together, no matter their races, nationalities, or religions. In this sense, music is one of the most powerful mediums of communication on our planet. Music can be a tool to unify us when we need solidarity to fight against a hardship or evil. I will carry on playing the bass as my lifework with a firm belief in music.

Islam, age 24 performing at a show in Khartoum for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Read the Part 1

Islam Elbeiti / Bassist and Entrepreneur Supporter
Originally from Sudan, Islam lived in Ethiopia, China, during her childhood and teen years and Democratic Republic of Congo post university. Now back in Sudan, she plays the bass in a couple of bands and is entering the music business scene by working for Impact Hub Khartoum, an entity devoted towards enabling the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Sudan. Still young, at 24, she is driven by a strong activist determination to change the harsh social conditions restricting female musicians in Sudan.

Interview Date:

Related Stories