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The Arab Spring: Popular Culture and the Shaabi Arts: Sudan

This guide covers developments in pop culture in parts of the Arab world affected by the Arab Spring and more recent political movements. Countries of focus include Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Egypt

Sample Keywords

  • Kandaka
  • "Forces of Freedom and Change", Sudan
  • Sudanese Revolution
  • Khartoum
  • Khartoum Massacre

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Pop Culture


(PC: Public Radio International)

Sudan's pop culture has shone bright for decades, not only internally vibrant, but also majorly influential throughout the African continent. Sudanese music in particular has been very successful beyond Sudan's borders. Today, a rich patchwork of Sudanese artists both within and outside of Sudan continue to build upon their culture's pop culture tradition.

The recent regime change in Sudan, and the protests and violence which followed, prompted a new wave of politically interested pop art from Sudanese artists. Most often, this work criticizes and seeks to bring attention to the violent means by which the al-Bashir (and later military interim government) regime suppressed civilian protestors.


The national and international components of Sudan's rap scene are closely connected, inspiring and shaping one another. Many Sudanese artists have recently released music criticizing the violent suppression of pro-democracy civilian demonstrators, sometimes using international platforms to bring attention to what is happening in their homeland.

Artist Profiles


After the first phase of the Sudanese Revolution, Sudan was left in a political showdown between a military with uncertain long-term goals and a civilian movement demanding further democratization. Unable or unwilling to meet firepower with firepower, peaceful civilian protestors and activists have taken up graffiti as a subversive political tool and outlet for expression.

General Resources:



(PC: The National)


(PC: Quartz Africa)

Assil Diab


(PC: She Leads Africa)

Assil Diab is a prominent Sudanese-born street artist who, though now living in Qatar, returns home regularly to participate in and paint the societal changes that her birth country is going through. She first gained attention by painting portraits of disappeared political dissidents. More recently, she's created works drawing attention to the Sudanese military shutting down the internet in Sudan.

Further Reading:

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