Alsarah & The Nubatones – “Men Ana”
The singer and ethnomusicologist Alsarah was born in Sudan, and her family left the country during the military coup of 1989, when she was a small child. Alsarah and her family eventually settled in the US, and she’s been leading the band Alsarah & The Nubatones since 2010. (She’s also collaborated with people like Oddisee.) A couple of years ago, Alsarah wrote a song called “Men Ana,” a salute to the youth resistance in Sudan. (The title is Arabic for “Who Am I.”) Yesterday, Alsarah & The Nubatones came out with a very cool video for that song.
You don’t have to know anything about Sudanese music to hear that “Men Ana” is a gorgeous song with a universal sense of longing to it. In Arabic, Alsarah sings poetically about enduring great loss: “The memories my beloved/ Are like seeds scattered during the dry season/ Awaiting the floods of longing to quench it.” Talking to PAM, Alsarah says, “In this song I hope to define myself through the joys of memories past, and those coming up. A song to plan for the joy you wish to have and focus the mind on the essence of who you wish to be so that the future may happen.”
Alsarah & The Nubatones shot the “Men Ana” video with director Mai Elgizouli in Sudan in February of 2020, and they used an all-Sudanese crew. It’s a gloriously cinematic piece of work, and its scenes of veiled dancers and billowing black smoke are instantly evocative. Watch it below.
Alsarah & The Nubatones will release a new album later this year.