(Protest in Sudan by Ysauyoshi Chiba, June, 2019)
Anyone who has visited Sudan will tell you about the people: their humility, kindness and sense of community that you cannot find anywhere else. Growing up in Sudan, I loved growing up in an environment like this. Although both my parents grew up in Iraq, Sudan, the place that always feels like summer, is the only home I have known. Sudan is special for a number of reasons: everyone has questionable driving skills, sandstorms are common, and the sunsets are beautiful. I love the country I call home, but the economy is struggling as a result of serious government corruption..
Recently, inflation has been at an all-time high. I remember being able to buy a meal at my school cafeteria for around 20 SDG (Sudanese currency), but now that same meal costs 150 SDG. School meals isn’t the only item that has increased in price; the price of bread has significantly increased as well. In addition, there have been severe oil shortages, causing many people to line up near gas stations along main roads. People wait in line for hours to pay extremely high prices for oil that they depend on to get to work and back home.
Because of the economic hardships our people have faced at the hands of the government, we decided we had had enough and began to protest. Demonstrators began to call on al-Bashir, our President, to step down. For many months I heard about the protests from the news because they were occurring away from the main part of the city, where I live. Learning of the shows of violence displayed by the security forces shocked me. When Al-Bashir finally stepped down, my family and I joined the late-night celebrations on the streets to congratulate everyone on the initial victory. We chanted and walked to join the sit in. "حرية سلام وعدالة"2 everyone chanted, meaning freedom, peace, and justice. In that moment, I had never felt more Sudanese. Even though I looked different than the many Sudanese women around me, being a brunette with green eyes and pale skin, I couldn’t feel prouder of my home country. Seeing everyone come together on the streets filled me with hope for a better future.
When the deadliest day of the revolution occurred, I had an IGCSE geography exam at school. I was so caught up in studying for the exam, that I wasn’t aware of what was going on outside. The sit-in outside the Army Headquarters had been dispersed and peaceful protesters were being beaten, killed and raped. As my dad drove us on a different route to school to avoid the chaos of the main street, I looked around to see the damage of the massacre. The empty roads were blocked with rows of bricks, pots and branches. This, my dad explained to me, was done by the civilians to slow down the army trucks. It was also a way of condemning the raid on the sit-in. I had never seen so many army trucks in my life. Filled with weaponry and young boys, they roamed the streets looking for rebellions to put down. There were burning tires and broken traffic posts everywhere. After maneuvering through all the chaos and wreckage, we finally arrived at school. My friends who took other routes had seen worse; some did not even leave their house for fear of being shot. It was the scariest day of my life.
The remainder of my school exams were called off. No stores were open and several airlines cancelled their flights. Since we had planned to travel for the summer, my parents did not want to risk our safety and have our flights cancelled too. We were very lucky to have had WIFI and booked the next available tickets online الحمد لله3 . And so, we went away for the whole summer. I had no contact with my friends for a month. It was difficult keeping up with what was going on, but the online community kept me in the loop.
Through all of this, I would say the Mattar Movement was a huge factor in advancing the revolution. It was originally formed in remembrance of Mohamed Mattar, who became a martyr on June 3. People around the world were changing their profile pictures on social media to blue, bringing the international community together and putting pressure on the Sudanese government. The fact that the Sudanese community was able to influence the world through social media shows the power and strength of our people. From what I’ve seen, the revolution has given hope to everyone here and people all over the world under the yoke of oppressive dictatorships. We have proved hope triumphs.
The new government has taken steps to fully represent the citizens of Sudan, and if it weren’t for the passion and love that everyone has for this country, we may not have been successful in the revolution. I hope the empowerment of the men, and especially the women, leads to a better future for Sudan انشاء الله4.
1: pronounced sh-y, meaning tea
2: pronounced hury-a sa-lam wa aa-daa-la, meaning Freedom, Peace and Justice
3: pronounced alhamdu-lilah, meaning praise be to god, or thank god
4: pronounced in-shaa-allah, meaning if god wills, or hopefully