Abazar Hamid lives in the Norwegian town of Harstad in the north of Norway. The city is an ICORN City of Refuge for musicians, and has hosted Abazar as guest musician since 2014, when he left Cairo after 6 years exile in Egypt. Since then, he has been active in a series of events both locally and internationally, in concerts, talks, school visits, about his peace projects and the situation in Sudan.
It is Catalan PEN, in collaboration with the Department of Global Justice and International Cooperation of the Barcelona City Council and the Jiwar International Residence BCN, that has organised the visit of Abazar this February in various towns in Catalonia.
They were hoping to host him for a whole month, but had to adjust to the artist’s busy agenda, says Raffaella Salierno, General Secretary of Catalan PEN. She continues:
“The programme we have organized with Abazar includes activities in Barcelona, but also in other parts of Catalonia. We looked to spread the events to places where not many artistic events of this kind take place. We payed particular attention to involve different sectors of the society, looking for diversity: a prestigious music school, travel bookshop, children of a middle school, people interested in human rights and art in general.”
Jiwar, the International residency programme for artists in Barcelona, where Abazar was staying, are very active in promoting interactions of their guests with the local community.
“And that is exactly what we are aiming to do as well”, says Salierno. “To create interaction between the invited artist, the local artists and the rest of the society in order to generate awareness about the persecuted writers and artists and the situation in the countries they come from.”
This programme is a new line Catalan PEN have started with their partners. The idea is to have an ICORN writers and artists to stay in Barcelona for one month, to develop activities aimed to create interactions with local artists and other sections of the society. To deal with themes like Freedom of Expression and Human Rights in general from different starting points.
The interest of Catalan PEN to create interaction among different art disciplines has been a constant in their work. For the commemoration of the International Day of the Persecuted Writer, November 15, for a few years now, they have asked a plastic artist/painter/photographer to create a poster to publicize the events organized. In previous events for November 15, they have invited versatile artists like Koulsy Lamko, Easterine Kire or Ahmad Farahani, all of them persecuted writers and artists who use different artistic forms: Theater and music, Koulsy Lamko; poetry and jazz, Easterine Kire; documentary and journalism, Ahmad Farahani. They plan to give continuity to the programme have started with Abazar, inviting in the future other musicians, but also other kind of artists.
Musician and writer
Abrazo Bagi A. Hamid grew up in the cultural ring between Sudan and the Gulf, so his music is rooted in the traditional Sudanese and African music characteristic of the area of the Gulf, apart from being deeply inspired by reggae and Afro-Latin music. The topics of the songs of Hamid Abazar ranges from peace and friendship to the genocide, the loss of loved ones or plaintive songs about entire wrecked villages by the Sudanese government.
Hamid started singing for peace in Sudan early age and formed his first band, "Balsam" in college. In 1997 he became famous at the regional level when he joined the group "IGD ELGLAD" and in 2005 he left his job as an architect to devote himself exclusively to the musical career with the "Rainbow Songs". This project brought together musicians from all over Sudan to create songs about human rights and dignity that could pass the censorship of Sudanese committee responsible for controlling music.
In 2006, he collaborated with several organizations working with singers called Hakama -colloquialment Janjaweed in Darfur. The aim of the project was for Abazar to convince that the singers had an active role in the peace movement, whereas, previously, the traditional role was to compose and sing songs to encourage men to war, the debris, their violent instincts.
Abazar Hamid released his first solo album, "Rabah Sabahak" ("Good morning, house") in 2007. Their songs, which dealt with political and social issues, was heavily censored by the government of Sudan. Because of this and verbal threats of which he was the subject, in 2008 he decided to exile in Cairo.
In 2009, in collaboration with other musicians of Sudan and Egypt, he started the project "Democratizing Music", understood as a forum where artists could share resources rather than compete with each other to get them. The project produced several shows, concerts and an album, "Listen to the Banned", which included the song "Peace to Darfur", which had previously been censured his country.
A. Hamid Abaza Bagi came to Harstad (Norway) on 10 December 2014 as the first musician in the city hosted within the network ICORN.
Interview with Abazar in Barcelona in Núvol.com. 12.02.2016