As part of her involvement with the voices for darfur dvd, sade gave an interview recently to the unhcr (the united nations refugee agency). the transcript of the interview is below:

sade, how did you become involved with unhcr and the situation in darfur?
robin millar, who organised the benefit concert at the royal albert hall, asked me to become involved in the project. we made our first 2 albums with him, he produced them, and we’ve remained friends and he’s quite persuasive and although we couldn’t be directly involved at the time i said that if in the future there was anything i could do to help in any way, maybe write a piece of music to accompany footage that is going on the dvd, if it does materialise, then i’ll do that.

what was it that robin said to you that drew you into the situation in darfur?
he committed me by telling me a really harrowing story about a young girl in a camp struggling to put up a tent and she was with her little brother who was the only remaining member of her family. just the two of them alone. she had seen her father and brother being beheaded and her mother raped in front of her and then they cut the mother’s throat. she bled to death in front of her. to finish they took her hands off. after i heard that story i was morally unable to escape involvement, i couldn’t just walk away, i had to do something.

did that make you want to investigate the situation more closely?
yeah, i think it is trying to understand how anyone can hate that much. try and make some sense of it – which i haven’t really, although i understand a little more about the history and background that has led to the situation in darfur, i still don’t really understand – it is sort of a tsunami times a million. that one human being can inflict that kind of pain upon another is really beyond my comprehension.

was there anything memorable about the writing and recording of the song?
it was probably the hardest song i have ever written. it is always much harder when you come to write, harder than you imagine or than you remember. there are great moments when things succeed, when the moment is good, where you have this great rush of joy. but writing this song was really quite painful. it made me wonder if i was any good. it was a hard song to write, obviously. trying not to be too sentimental because then it goes over people’s heads and hasn’t the integrity and substance that it should have, but you can’t be too specific when you are writing about such horrible things because nobody would listen to the song more than one time, it was hard to mix the recipe and yeah there were times when i thought i am just going to give up but something told me that i can’t, that i have this responsibility, a challenge to me in the end, a moral challenge, you have to just not give up when it matters.

you seem to have distilled the situation into a very intimate one – by calling the song ‘mum’ and by singing about that woman…
the song is about the experience of the mother because i imagined the actual circumstances that she was in and it was in a way more from the perspective of the mum because i imagined what it must have been like for her to know that she was dying. i do think that the moment that you die you do accept it, but to see her child watching her die – that is really what the song is about.

had you seen the dvd before you recorded the song? no

so, that came later and fitted with the song?
yes, essentially it did. the limited amount of material that was given to the guys to edit shows individuals and that is what it is in life – each lonely person in their personal experience of the world. that is what crisis is like, that is what life is like.i felt it really expressed that and evoked that feeling of each person struggling with their own little elements in their small world. when you look at it humanity there just seems so fragile, everything seems fragile – the people, the buildings, the landscape, so inhospitable and bleak. it is such a bleak, inhospitable place and they are faced with this huge challenge and then on top of everything the fear, constant fear, the fear of another human’s aggression. there is nothing more horrific.