Soul and rhythm of Ajak Kwai

 


From South Sudan in North Africa, via Australia, we are delighted to present the soul and rhythm of Ajak Kwai for the first time in Aotearoa.


Ajak Kwai is a poet, musician and storyteller originally from South Sudan. Due to a devastating and ongoing civil war, she was a refugee in Cairo for eight years before emigrating to the country she now calls home, Australia. During this long and heartbreaking time, Ajak would write poetry and sing for her wellbeing. For healing and expression.

“Music has been a really good tool for my survival.”


In 1998 she settled in Australia and began to connect with indigenous women, seeing many similarities in their culture. She is now an activist against racism and a storyteller through music.

 


Her music is a statement of survival, and a commitment to unity. A sound of hope and new beginnings.


“All the songs are about peace, about unity, about forgiveness. I do sing in English, I do think in English as well. But when I want something meaningful, deep, I do it in my language.”

Ajak Kwai’s latest album, 2021’s Let Me Grow My Wings is mainly in English. With uplifting layers of African rhythms combined with powerful lyrics that contain deep philosophical and spiritual guidance. The kind of powerful lyrics that can only come from immense life experience. These songs reach anthemic peaks that soothe the soul and uplift the spirit.

Occasionally the album takes a more rock and reggae style to channel Ajak’s storytelling. There are slower moments on the album too, a swaying trance of emotion before the layers of instruments crescendo.

It’s deep and profound music. Listen to Let Me Grow My Wings next time you are on a long drive or walk, and let your heart and mind expand with the different themes, tones and emotions of the album.


For the fans of Ajak’s music that isn’t in English, we really reccomend her 2017 album Of Cows, Women and War. From the opening track you’ll be transported to a different dimension where you lose yourself in a beautiful ocean of sound. With hardly any English lyrics for reference, it’s a liberating experience to simply embrace the mood and magic of these songs.

It’s an album for the introverts out there, cooking slow dinners whilst having global dreams. For the loners who find themselves wandering at sunrise and sunset. Ultimately it’s music for anyone who yearns to connect with the wider world, momentarily drifting beyond our immediate society. There’s a unifying magic in these tracks, with sounds and instruments and languages both unfamiliar and comforting at the same time. It also has one of the greatest album
titles of all time.

 


It’s a blessing to have Ajak Kwai playing these ethereal and honest songs in Aotearoa. We’re lucky to experience the true power of music for connection and the sharing of stories. The sharing of sounds, of perspective, and of hope for the future.

“If I’m down I’ll sing, if I’m happy I’ll sing. So it’s a good thing to share.” 

It will be an undoubtedly unique and moving experience. Perhaps not the biggest crowd of the festival, but something for the true lovers of music. Whoever feels called to the sounds that unify people around the planet.


“I’m not the kind of artist that will influence the people in a big scale, but I will do it in my own little way and feel good.”