Ajak Mabia is one of Melbourne’s most popular Sudanese singer songwriters. She recently traveled to America to perform at an African festival in Boston. I caught up with Ajak to talk to her about the tour.
Alpha: Hi Ajak, it’s great to meet you.
Ajak: Thank you Alpha.
Alpha: I heard that you have been travelling in the U.S. in July, tell me about your trip to the United States and how it came all about. How long did you stay in Boston?
Ajak: I stayed in Boston for two months. My trip to the United States came about when I was invited by African festival organisers to attend one of the biggest African festivals in Boston held every year. It was also a chance for me to visit my relatives in New Hemisphere. I visited lots of Sudanese communities in Boston and Hemisphere where I spent most of time. What surprised me was that all the communities regardless of political division back in Sudan; they live together very well in United States. For example, the communities in America celebrate events such as weddings and birthdays together. It was very interested to see all Sudanese living in harmony in Boston. It gave me a sense of real a community.
Alpha: Did you perform any music in the USA?
I performed at African American Master Artist-in-Residence Program (AAMARP).This is African American Arts College at University of Boston. The event was organised by the well-known Sudanese-American visual artist, originally from North Sudan. He organised the show to raise some funds help rebuild a church burnt by the Sudanese government in Khartoum and he invited me to perform in that event. The show was great and I enjoyed because people enjoyed my music. In that event, there was a display of photos of people who had been killed in the Darfur region.
Alpha: Did you notice any difference between the Sudanese communities in Australian and the Community in the USA?
Ajak: Yes there was a big difference. Sudanese people in USA are more active, most people work in the USA while in Australia most people stay without work. Australia is a good place to live but Sudanese in particular face difficulties to find a work. America challenges you but there are more chances of getting work. That is why people can get jobs in different areas of their expertise. In Australia, African’s are ‘frozen’ – I use the word frozen because Sudanese even these who have a good education are not getting jobs because they are Africans. So, racism is the main problem facing Sudanese in Australia. That is why many people have lost their self-confidence. Australian main stream media has been portraying negative image of Africans in Australia.
Alpha: Did you go anywhere else?
Ajak: Yes, I went to Canada. I like Canada very much because there is very nice high rise building and people are also nice and easy going. In Canada I played music in a place called Ascent run by Caribbeans living in Canada. Unfortunately, I did not meet any Sudanese because I did not have time go around places where most Sudanese live. My trip to Canada were organised by a woman who I knew for a long time. She invited me to Canada. She is a film maker and is current making a movie about South Sudan. The movie is called Act of Rove.
Alpha: Do you plan to go back to the United States?
Ajak: I received a huge support from Sudanese living in the USA. I hope to visit the USA and Sudanese communities again sometime in the future.
Alpha: Thank you Ajak.
Ajak: Good to talk you Alpha.