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South Sudanese Rapper Tries To Build Nation One Lyrical Verse At A Time

posted 31 May 2013, 05:49 by Mpelembe   [ updated 31 May 2013, 05:50 ]

The music industry in South Sudan like many other sectors is struggling to establish itself. Lual D`wol came back from the US with a mission to help that happen and use his lyrics to hold the authorities to task over slow development in the nation.

 (LUAL D'AWOL) -  He calls himself Lual - Lyrically Untouchable African Legend. Born to New York-based diplomat parents, South Sudanese rapper Lual D'awol returned to his home country in 2009 to take part in his country's journey to freedom.

Under-developed, oil-producing South Sudan won its independence in a referendum in 2011 that was the climax of a 2005 peace deal, which ended decades of fighting with the north.

Lual was part of an exodus of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese who left the lives they built in the Diaspora to return to their native country and play their part in its construction.

But the hope and excitement Lual and many other South Sudanese felt when they first arrived has not been easy to maintain and the reality of just how far the country needs to go, is what feeds Lual's powerful lyrics.

"I mean there is no infrastructure, there is no electricity, there is no water, there is no schools, there is no proper health care, you know - the backbone of every nation, but they are not present here right now in South Sudan and that is what everyone is complaning about, you know. The security is not even very tight, people are dying everyday, people are getting killed, the people who are doing the killings they are never caught, they are never arrested... you know... things like that," he says.

One of his songs is a letter to the late Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) commander John Garang, who was at the forefront of the country's freedom struggle before he died in a plane crash in 2005.

"I am writting a letter to Dr John (Garang) asking him, all the people that have passed away during the struggle because you know this was not an individual struggle.. individual struggle, it was all of our struggle. You know all of us who were in Diaspora, we were being in xenophobia we have been traumatised through this war, now we are back here and they are governing us and all I am saying is... is this what all these people died for? Is this what all the trauma we went through, so we can live in this kind of life?" Lual says.

Decades of civil war and economic neglect mean that South Sudan is being built from scratch, sometimes without proper regulation.

Life expectancy is just under 50 years old. Only a quarter of adults can read and the new nation sits near the bottom of almost every development index. A report last year found an estimated 4 billion US dollars of government funds had been stolen by corrupt businesspeople and politicians since 2005.

With independence, however, South Sudan has tried to explore and define itself despite challenges.

Arts are often not the priority in a country that came close to all-out war with Sudan. Both nations have struggled to put an end to tensions that have plagued them since the South seceded.

However, Lual is determined to use music as a tool for development.

"Through his rap we feel that the things which is (are) happening in South Sudan, you feel it, through his rap, so you can feel what he is talking about exactly. So I think he is special, seriously, he is special because he is talking about things he sees," said

But even with a message that resonates amongst many South Sudanese youth, artists are unlikely go far in an industry that lacks resources and expertise to effectively to tap their potential, Lual says.

"Its a new market... its not a market that... its not there yet and its for us to build it, so thats really the only challenges that we face. There is no equipment, there is no laws protecting the artists, there is no equipment, yeah those are the challenges," said Lual.

Lual released a song in 2011 titled "scattered overseas" urging other South Sudanese to return and help build the new nation. He has produced three albums and is currently working a new one due for release next month.