Living with #SudanRevolts

Picture taken from Karikature Sudani page, Facebook

The reality

I haven’t written anything for months now, I’ve silently watched as things around me have  reached new levels and even lower ones.  The absence was much needed, it gave me insight and perspective on what exactly I should be doing, not only for myself, but also for my homeland, Sudan.

Over the months, fellow Sudanese bloggers, tweeps and activists were harassed, imprisoned, not to mention taken away from what they do; express themselves. On what that is relative to each one but the common denominator is that they were silenced because of what they were saying and to whom they were saying it to. I.e, through their blogs, twitter accounts or even sending a video to AJ Stream in the case of Tweep Simsimt. Nevertheless, they have spoken and took the back lash of the powers that be.

Now, what provoked me to write a post to begin with was Mo Alzubair post on Mo Musings titled, 5 types of #SudanRevolts Personalities; the cheerleader, the adult, the troll, the tourist and the activist.  I took the liberty in re-posting the two relevant typologies from Mo’s Blog below:

 

THE TOURIST

I would like to propose a new term, Revolution Tourism ™. The tourist lives abroad, mostly in the GCC but some in Europe, UK, US, etc. The tourist typically carries a foreign passport and so he/she feels emboldened to go out and express discontent with the government. While there are no guarantees that a foreign passport will save him/her, it “feels” safer.

The tourist actually does care and is caught up in the moment hoping for his vacation to one day become a permanent residence with change he/she is affecting. But, as with all tourists, when the vacation time is over, he/she must head to the airport to go back to wherever they came from. Change will have to wait for the next year.

THE ACTIVIST

The activist is filled with passion. So much passion he/she is bursting at the seams! He/she is well-meaning but increasingly self-righteous that everything around them feels like an attempt to kill the spirit of the revolution. He/she spends more time on the offensive instead of recruiting more people to their cause.

The activist can be better, given some guidance, but they will have to want it first to get it.

I don’t fit any of the criteria’s that were suggested, perhaps a mash-up between an activist and a tourist -despite the fact I don’t have a foreign passport. But, the latter is crucial; the tourist. We are all tourists, if we are not residing in Sudan or in the case of those who are but are not anything. When I say anything, I mean they do not contribute in idea’s or iniatives that are constructive whether online or offline.

We blog and tweet on Sudan, dissecting everything that comes our way to no avail. My question is, then what? We then blame the media for the lack of coverage of Sudan. I hate to break it to you, but  Sudan is not sexy, simply. We haven’t reached a stage in regime- change where foreign media can report on Sudan and not get sacked. Not to mention the fact that, who really cares? Everything is a set-agenda in the media world, if Sudan is not on the list then so be it. People should care for Sudan in it’s own standing rather then in the global context.

The hyper-reality that is #SudanRevolts

The slogans, patriotic as they are, warm the heart and keep moral high at times. But what do they provide? What is the alternative? What is the vision? These are questions i ask myself almost daily. What we lack, is a vision for our country. Tourist, activists or what ever we may be, what can we provide for our country in means that are plausible and can be understood by the masses.  Because of the given geography of Sudanese in diaspora, we need to use platforms such as twitter to generate sound ideas, solid foundations and clear mediums to realize what we want for Sudan, so as to transfer them to the masses.

What we are doing now, is shouting and demanding for a free Sudan. But to whom? Who is hearing us? The internet is a vacuum for the average Sudani, we are the 1%, if you will, who have access to the internet and can maneuver our way around it.  But what about the rest? How do we contribute online to those offline. This is the path one should think of.

#SudanRevolts is a luxury for you and I, dear reader. But what about the masses beyond Khartoum and other major cities. How do we connect them, we cannot. Perhaps we are fortunate that we may know more about the realities of  the politics and economy of Sudan. The question is how much do we know, if enough, then we must convey them to those less fortunate than us. Let them know the reality, teach them their rights, print out copies of our constitution and ask them to read it, explain its faults or rather explain the laws that are not enforced but are there for show. In the case of  the feud of South Sudan, tell them about the CPA agreement, its flaws and lack of transparency. Break it down into simpler matters, tell them who represents them in parliament, who are the current ministers and decisions makers.

These are simple questions, many of you may not know the answers to. Ask yourself, how do you expect regime change if you do not know who are part of the regime and what they do. At the end it is about being more politically aware, it is not simple as black and white or we are good and they are bad. #SudanRevolts as beautiful as it is, exists in a paradox far far away of the reality of an average Sudani. We have to look into a more traditional approach that fits our personal agenda, a way that meets our needs and addresses the masses. An example of a grass root initiative is Girifna, many of their members, men and women alike  have taken the streets, and have preached their cause, whatever it maybe,  through a clear cut simple medium.

Love Sudan

To the skeptics and pessimists, who think change will never come or those who will free ride when change does come, love your country. Love Sudan.

Pessimism does not resolve much nor does it inspire a thing, it only shuts the light at the end of that tunnel we call life. Be realistic, Sudan is not only about horrible hot weather or bad educational institution, noneffective health systems and badly built infrastructure. these are all a facade of Sudan but what makes Sudan is it’s; fertile land, the Nile, natural resources and a rich history of great civilizations among other things. Not to mention that Sudanese far and wide are known and admired to be honest people, hospitable and trustworthy, this is an honor that proceeds any Sudanese. To add to this, we are blessed with a rich culture and traditions that cannot be found elsewhere. This is the Sudan our forefathers loved so much and fought for it’s Independence, unfortunately we tarnish their legacy by channeling so much negative energy.

The moral of the story

These are all humble assumptions and reflections, take of it what you may. Love your country and give it your two pennies and if all else fails, leave and find your fortune  elsewhere but do not talk ill about Sudan, if you know nothing about it.  I believe change is inevitable but also relative to what we do, online and offline. At this point it is far away from regime change and media attention but it is rather about political awareness and knowing more about the regime we exist in. Address your concerns of the weather, economy, unemployment, bad roads and hazardous hospitals by suggesting a solution, a constructive one.

Nothing in life comes easy and the Sudan we want will not come easy either. So, don’t let #SudanRevolt dwindle and die out but rather make good use of it.

– #ASudanRevoltee

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Sudan 56 years ago

Sudan 1956

Sudan declared independence on this very day  56 year ago.

But, have we gained independence?

We thought with independence, we would  gain true freedom, equality, human rights and a chance to realize all the dreams our forefathers dreamed for our beloved Sudan.

In 56 years, Sudan has gone through a civil war, turmoil, drought, famine and recently a secession.

Millions have died unnecessary , millions displaced, millions go to bed hungry every night. There are millions of individuals who need not to have gone through  all of this.

All could have been avoidable.

Sudan 2011

2011, was year that marked a permanent and, i believe, an irreversible change. A change that was inevitable when one looks back at Sudan’s modern history. Two dates will always come to mind when thinking of 2011, January 9,2011 and July 9,2011. The former, being the date of the historical referendum that would later mark the latter date that will be known as the independence of South Sudan.

Apart from these two dates, Sudan has also witnessed  several memorable events, mostly unfortunate one and also Sudani people that might go unmarked in Sudanese history but defiantly need to be highlighted,

  • The creation of the mini Ka’aba to train pilgrims for Hajj.
  • Blue Nile state turmoil 
  • Mohamed Hassan ‘Alboshi’, is a man that deserves acknowledgment beyond this post. If you have been following local events closely, you might have seen his famous speech/rant he gave at the university of Khartoum. Here is a great one on one interview with Alboshi, who was recently incarcerated by security intelligence.  He said nothing but the truth of the reality our country is facing, the difference is that he the guts to say it.
  • The detention of Abdelmoniem Rahma, a poet and political activist.
  • Kasalaa protests 
  • Manaseer protests that is still ongoing and growing stronger
  • Khartoum University recent protests
  • The death of Khalil Ibrahim 

My recommendations of Sudanese bloggers 2011 [to follow]

Sudan 20–

When i started off this entry, I was pessimistic because the year was full of turmoil, inconsistency and avoidable unfortunate incidences. However, when i look at all these small events, they accumulate to something…a long awaited change.

I believe that certain events need to happen to make way for better things. I’d like to end this post with an optimistic tone, a tone of hope for a better Sudan for the future generations to come. Let, 2012, be a year that we Sudani feel proud, stand united and overcome our troubled past.

Be inspired by the Intifada’s that have swept the region from Tunis to Yemen, allow Sudan to experience similar changes.  Most importantly, let us engage and bring change and not be bystanders as our country slowly goes into unmarked territory.

Perhaps, 2012, will mark our true independence.

كل عام وأنت بخير يا بلدي الحبيب

*Note: Set Alchay, also wrote a blog entry on Sudanese events 2011 – in Arabic – check it out.

Rant II -Shi Libani | Inti…ya Sowda

I walk every where in Beirut because its the type of city that allows you to do so. Choosing to walk, however, also means being subjected to racist remarks, looks, finger pointing and last but not least being labeled for something I am not.

I chose to come to Beirut almost four years ago to pursue my studies, to live a different experience in the hip-modern-Paris-of-the-of-the-middle-east; Beirut. Where everything is possible but of course i was wrong.  Beirut reflects only what people see in the media or what the media allows people to see. Its complicated and it deserves another post.

The fact is,  Lebanon is a place where sectarianism is deeply rooted, tension is constantly brewing and peace is vulnerable. Nevertheless, people live, dream and many succeed in doing what they love best, only because this is Lebanon.

Lebanese people are among the most educated, skilled, specialized Arab people and tend to do well for themselves. Yet, they have a fault.

Shi Libani

I was walking down the street with a Sudani friend of mine, out of the blue, a guy walking by points his index finger right in front of her face and says “Inti a7la wahda ya Sowda” which translates to “Your the prettiest, you Black one”. Eliminating the first part of the sentence and focusing on the  latter, the guy was referring to the color of her skin. I might be over -reacting – but then again this is sort of a rant that broke the ice after four years, after four year of tolerating endless remarks, looks and unwanted feeling! I had to write and enlighten others how this impacts me.

Ya Libani

I refuse to me labeled by the color of my skin because in Lebanon being Sawda (Black) means i either work as a maid or a prostitute. I am a student who happens to live in Lebanon. The feeling I get when someone deliberately labels me without asking, without knowing my being, aggravates me. At times, it makes me resent living in Lebanon.

In every country, you find the janitor, the doctor, the driver and the diplomat, Sudan is no different. The Sudanese who come here are refugees that believe they can get to Europe through Lebanon – which a transit country. Once they arrive and realize they can’t, many opt to live here instead -illegally- of returning to an unpromising country. I, as a Sudanese, am sad to see my country men working in such conditions; overworked, underpaid, at times not treated well, imprisoned and beaten up and deprived of basic human rights. The again, who am i to talk about upholding human rights for Sudanese? When the Palestinians gain some right in Lebanon, then perhaps i can give my two pennies on the issue of Sudanese in Lebanon.

What i resent however, is the feeling many force me to feel. I live in your country – legally. I respect the culture that it, i experience the experience you do, i picked up the accent…i feel Beirutiya to an extent. So, i do not appreciate it when i walk in one of the  most hippest parts in town and be called Sawda or $*^&!  The people who are labeling me are not, Naeem, the person i buy my coffee from every morning; or the old lady who sells gum across from Universal restaurant; or  3amo Ahmed the security guard who has the M-W-F shift at Main gate. No, It is the people that are educated, traveled, experienced, well read and fortunate people…you are the supposed future of this country.  You are the one’s who are supposed to know better, know about the impact of words on others, know more about tolerance and of people from different cultures. Yet, many of you do it anyways  and this saddens me.

What i ranted about is not applicable to all Lebanese, i am fortunate to have found many Lebanese friends who share the same views as mine, who apologies constantly and  are more aggravated then i am on this issue.

The moral of this rant is simple; weight the words you use and the things you say. Calling me “Ya Sawda”, is racist.

Wa7da Sudaniya fi Beirut.

Project Sudaniya – blog of the people

Almost a month a go i initiated Project Sudaniya, which initially started off as a personal project and a way for me to research more on Sudanese women. Over the course of the month Sudaniya was picked up fast and there are a lot of bloggers, tweeps, photographers who have begun working on their contribution to Sudaniya.

Blog of the people

After much encrouagment from fellow Sudanese tweeps, bloggers and friends, I have created a new and separated blog for Project Sudaniya. So now it part of us all! I will be managing it, so keep the posts coming in people. I would like to take this importunity to say that this Project is not only about celebrating Sudanese women but it is celebrating everything that is about Sudanese women. So, feel free to be innovative and write in what ever you know how but most importantly tell us why you chose your Sudaniya.

I look forward to all submissions.

Tahiyat min wahda Sudaniya