A new song by Sudanese-American rapper Bas draws attention to the brutality of the war in Sudan, now entering its seven month.

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A new song by Sudanese American rapper Bas draws attention to the brutality of the war in Sudan, now entering its seventh month. It's titled "Khartoum," named after the capital city that's the epicenter of the conflict, and it asks why global attention on the devastating humanitarian crisis has faded. The musician spoke to NPR's Africa correspondent Emmanuel Akinwotu.


EMMANUEL AKINWOTU, BYLINE: The track opens with languid, percussive tones, then leads into a more somber reflection.


BAS: (Rapping) Emergency on planet Earth. I'll tell you how it feel when your family displaced and your countrymen are killed.

AKINWOTU: It laments how the war has engulfed Sudan and how international attention has waned. Several thousands of people have died since April, killed by a war for control of the country between the army and a powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces. Bas recorded "Khartoum" with Nigerian singer Adekunle Gold.

BAS: It wasn't, like, strategic or anything. It was just born out of just raw emotion.


BAS: (Rapping) Trying to get them out the field where the bullets flying indiscriminate, and the world turned a blind eye - inconsiderate.

AKINWOTU: More than 6 million people have fled or been displaced, including some of his own family and friends. One part of the song tells of friends escaping with their relatives from intense battles in Khartoum and other cities. But some of them never made it.

BAS: I was just hearing multiple stories of elders passing away, having to bury them on the side of the road. I was just kept hearing these stories of people not making it.

AKINWOTU: After thousands of foreign citizens were evacuated from Sudan, international attention faded from the millions still left in the country.

BAS: You know, these are real people that were just living their lives, have hopes, dreams, families, lovers, careers, education, all these things that everyone in the world wants. And it was stripped from them. It was taken from them forcefully, violently and brutally.

AKINWOTU: He says the global response doesn't compare to Ukraine and its refugees.

BAS: The world rose up and came to its feet, and you saw Ukrainian refugees showing up in, like, train stations all over Europe. And there's, like, lines of people outside with food, blankets, offering them places to stay, as it should be, you know, as human beings should treat each other. And then, sadly, history has shown us that when these things happen to Black and brown and minority populations of the world, it's a completely different response.


BAS: (Rapping) I see Ukraine. I see two things that ain't the same. And yet they are. You change a name, change a face. I still feel the pain.

AKINWOTU: The video for the song shows what the war has taken away. It weaves intimate footage Bas took in Khartoum while visiting his family last December, vignettes of ordinary life and scenic snapshots of the city.

BAS: A few of my friends have boats. You know, we take some boats out on the Nile and cruise the sunset. There's so much beauty in the country. There's so much beauty in the people. In the house, any room you enter - like, you're just flooded with food, drinks. It's - you know, it's almost an insult if you don't accept it.

AKINWOTU: Four years ago, the revolution in Sudan toppled the government of Omar al-Bashir, a dictator who was in power for 29 years. It's led to renewed hope about the future.

BAS: We saw liberation in women, liberation in the youth. You saw, you know, the proliferation of the arts, of music, all these things that come with a free society that we had never seen in Sudan.

AKINWOTU: But now that promise and freedom has been upended.

BAS: That's what makes this so tragic. We were right there. We felt like we were on the cusp. We felt it all coming.


BAS: (Rapping) I think the world should be ashamed. I hope the world will make a change. I hope it starts soon. This one's for Khartoum.

AKINWOTU: Emmanuel Akinwotu, NPR News, Lagos.


ADEKUNLE GOLD: (Singing) I just want to do my best. I no get time to impress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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