Gonat is an ongoing ceramic project that celebrates traditional Sudanese female singers.
In a conservative Sudanese culture, the word gonat is a word often used locally to belittle the singers, or stigmatize their work. Originally it is used to refer to women who sing what is considered low class songs, but also often stretches - depending on the context- to include other female singers, who sing what is known to be known as Aghani Banat.
Aghani Banat, literally translates into Girls' Songs, offer an honest depiction of the Sudanese culture, and manages to subtly communicate controversial messages tucked between the beats of the daloka.
Suggetive words, daring flirtations, sexual messages and non-chalantly singing about society and police oppression are cultural and religious taboos that wittly expressed to fly under the censorship radar
'They arrested me, they lashed me and I repented'*, the singer joyfully sings to the crowd, 'the police is here (...) and I managed to escape!'. As jarring as the lyrics are, when they are not longer concealed by upbeat music, the singer always sings with a mischievious grin that is met by the dancing cheering crowd.
*Social and cultural context: The Public Order Law has been established under Sharia Law and it permits police officers to arrest and punish women who 'look indecent' or are found 'involved in indecent acts'. The definition of what the law regards 'indecent' was intentionally vague and is left to the judgement of the police officer. This law allowed to government to target and abuse women under this law. President Omar Elbashir abolished this law when the protests erupted in Sudan in 2019, as a final attempt to calm the protesters, who were lead by a 70% majority of women. Despite the official abolishing of the law in 2019, the stigma it has left on how women are to dress and act in public remains.