Popular Sudanese rapper, roTation, attempts to make Sudan slang cool in his latest single, “Randaka”.
“Randaka” is a Sudanese word that refers to a brand of slang that involves flipping the letters of a word to only be understood by certain people. Similar to pig-Latin, it is the scrambling of words to create verbal code. The use of randaka emerged from Sudanese youth who used this code to have secret conversations amongst themselves.
roTation, AKA Tamer Siddig, raps that “All my niggas talking randaka randaka / That’s why you don’t understand the kalam.” His assertion that other rappers don’t understand the kalam, or talk, of him and his friends is not literal, but a suggestion that they are not on his intellectual level.
roTation further suggests that his competition is dishonest, telling stories like “kan ya makan”, or “once upon a time”.
He includes a nod to West African artists by including a line in Pidgin English that says, “I dey come from Omdurman I tell them.” Omdurman, a city in Central Sudan and the rapper’s hometown, gets frequent shout-outs in roTation’s work.
roTation is applauded by many in Sudan and in the diaspora for not falling into the trap of Western mimicry. Instead, the rapper uses his lyrical skills to weave together English and Arabic in a manner that seems organic and artful. For a people starved of representation, “Randaka” becomes an anthem.
Presenting Sudanese slang in this manner, that makes it cool, is an important elevation of the culture that comes during a period of widespread Sudanese criticism of Arab Supremacy. Within the Arabic-speaking world, Sudanese people have faced much discrimination, with many from other Arab nations questioning their right to engage with the language and history. Sudanese Arabic is often regarded in those countries as an inferior dialect.