Another world, another life – my first work week in Khartoum

July 14th – 17th – my first work week in Sudan, filled with heat, sweat, dehydration, inspiration, laughs, and adventures.

From the start, every day consisted of waking up around 7 am to get to 7.30 breakfast, to leave on time at 8.30 for Comboni College, in Khartoum, only minutes by car from Tara apartments. Although, while one of my colleagues, was not Muslim and would also eat breakfast, I often ate alone, on the 6th floor of our apartments, which had a room-length window with a view of Khartoum bustling in the early hours of the day.

View of Khartoum at breakfast, from Tara apartments

This week, we were finishing up a palliative care/pain management workshop that ran from July 5th to July 17th, run by Dr. Nahla Gafer and Dr. Mhoira Leng, with a few extra guest speakers, attendees (including myself in the final days), and Sudanese doctors from a variety of medical organisations and institutes throughout Khartoum and other parts of Sudan.

Dr. Mhoira Leng, Dr. Ahmed Elhaj, myself, and Dr. Nahla Gafer - so proud to join these individuals at the workshop after arriving!

Even in the basement of the building, with four fans blowing mindlessly for the hours we were doing different presentations and talks, the heat caused perspiration to form on everyone’s foreheads as little flies buzzed around in the late morning and afternoon hours.

Let me just say – (pause for theatrical effect) – it was hot.

During the workshop days at Comboni, on the 14th, 15th, and 17th, a few guest doctors spoke of pain management, oncology, and a variety of case studies they have had in Khartoum, Medani (a city south of Khartoum), Uganda, India, and other developing countries that some of the doctors have had the privilege and experience of helping out. One of the days included talks about how to communicate with patients and their families about having cancer, or other terminal illnesses, and how to address that the patient was dying. Amazingly, many Sudanese doctors were quick to dismiss telling the patient that they had a malignant tumour and were dying of (Example A) cancer, or if they were to tell the patient – it had to be short and blunt – like ripping a plaster off quickly!

Dr. Ahmed teaching oncology to the attendees

I know it is not very funny to discuss how to tell a patient about their illness, but our workshop attendees were hilarious. When raising their hands with stern looks on their faces, they would say in a heavy-accented Arabic accent, “When telling a patient who is unwell, about their disease, I would say, ‘You. Are. Dying’.” Or, ‘You have (pause in speech) a tumour’.”

And as the laughs and giggles led to amused responses in Arabic from their peers, one clinical psychologist spoke up quite proudly and said, “We would have a conversation like this: ‘We took a biopsy and it was not benign.’ The patient would say, ‘What does that mean?’ And I would say, ‘It means… it is malignant’.” Everyone roared with laughter and you never would have thought senior physicians were learning about the application and evaluation of individuals’ diseases and pain.

Other activities that occurred were presentations made by the doctors, representing their respected institutions, about patients they had, the cancer they were treating, and how they have relayed information to the patient and his family, and how they hope to move forward with the patient with palliative care on future visits.

Sudanese doctors representing their respected medical institutions and organisations for the workshop (and giving presentations about patients they have worked with, who have a variety of different terminal illnesses), received a pamphlet about pain management and treatment, from Dr. Mhoira Leng and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda

And of course, we ended the workshop on the 17th, with a team building exercise of making giraffes from only newspapers and tape.

Let me tell you, no matter what age you are, you get EXCITED about making the tallest and best giraffe (that can stand for 10 seconds without falling). A fantastic way to end the workshop!

One group with their very small, but sturdy giraffe

Mohja leading the group in making a giraffe. They had some problems in the beginning but were successful in making it stand at the end!

The winners of the giraffe building teamwork activity!


All in all…

During Ramadan, everyone is much more tired and much more likely to lose focus compared to any other time of the year and even experiencing this city during this holiday has been superb so far!

More to come on small adventures and fun experiences, and what I did on the 16th!


By: Childoftheglobe –

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On Secession: The 5 Stages of Grief

With the independence of South Sudan fast approaching, North Sudanese citizens are coming to terms with the biggest change in the history of their country. For many, supporting independence is bitter-sweet, or tinged with retrospective regret. Others are unconflicted and happy about independence, although the happiness could sometimes be a result of a ‘good riddance’ attitude towards secession. I have observed many emotions and reactions to the independence of South Sudan amongst North Sudanese citizens, and based the following observations on the famous Kübler-Ross model for dealing with loss, commonly known as ‘The Five Stages of Grief.’ These observations are from the perspective of North Sudanese people only since I am assuming that the near unanimous vote for secession by South Sudan is enough proof that they are not considering this a cause for grief–

1- Denial — “Sudan will never separate. The South needs us and we need them.” “They can never run their own country, they have so many tribal issues” “Separation plans are just rumors by outsiders who are trying to destroy Sudan” 
This stage sadly lasted from independence, throughout most of the war, until the signing of the CPA agreement when some people’s perception of a unified Sudan was rattled. A pivotal point was the death of John Garang, where the vision of unity for many people died with him.

2- Anger — “Why do they(the South) want to separate from us (the North) they are traitors!” “Why do they think we treat them badly?” “They are destroying our country and being very unpatriotic and selfish.” “Let them go to their country, they were depleting our resources and taking our jobs anyway.”
I believe this stage actually lingered quite a bit for most Sudanese people, ultimately causing feelings of resentment towards the South, which only acted as a catalyst to the South seeing the necessity of indepenendnce, evident by the referendum vote for secession. Anger, bitterness, and feelings of betrayal caused many to look for ways to justify the impending division of Sudan. I have heard everything from African Union conspiracy theories to the usual and necessary ‘blame it on I-I-I-Israel!’

3- Bargaining — “Parliamentary seats? Here South, take these 40 extra seats”; “Power of veto over constitutional changes? You got it!” “Let’s not discuss Abyei right now, it’s going to be alright, we promise”
Some, namely Sudanese politicians, reached this stage months if not years before the referendum, when many were still in denial. They knew what was coming and began utilizing every propaganda tool to make unity appealing for all. Suddenly we began to see more South Sudanese representation on Sudan TV, billboards calling for a United Sudan popped up all over Khartoum, and many promises were made for the improvement of conditions of South Sudanese citizens. However, not all bargaining efforts were necessarily positive or advantageous for South Sudan, as there were some brinkmanship attempts and political pressure. Needless to say, all efforts proved ineffective.

4- Depression — “This is very disheartening, I’m losing my country, my people” “John Garang died and so did a united Sudan”; “I have always loved the South and I am so depressed over losing them”
The silence of many Sudanese might have been interpreted as apathy, but many of them were in fact simply dismayed and severely hurt not only because they are losing Sudan as they know it, but because they felt too helpless and powerless to do anything about it. Many Sudanese people completely disconnected themselves from the issue in order to cope with the grave reality of their beloved country falling apart. (I sincerely hope that no one felt this depression about the economic shock Sudan will endure as a result of $2-$3 billion annual oil revenue losses. Really guys, it’s no big deal. I’m fine without that money. Whatever, no biggie. No really…. who cares? *cries my capitalist self to sleep*)

5- Acceptance “The South deserves a shot an independence.” “I am happy for them and truly wish them the best” “Regardless of my stance on secession, I will support their decision”
This is the last stage of dealing with bereavement. At this point, nothing can be done, we can’t reverse the votes, we can’t change their minds, all we can do is respect their wishes and support them in the development of their new country.

Personally I think I went through the five stages a bit out of order. Whatever stage you’re on, please make sure you strive to reach acceptance by July 9th, 2011, at this stage, I think the best Sudan can do is wish South Sudan all the best and promise not to rain on their independence parade.



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Just Eat Vs Food

Welcome to the Trailer Episode of Just Eat vs Food:

The Chicken Wing Challenge:

Welcome to the Chicken Wing Challnge. In this episode an “Average Joe” named Ashraf Khalifa will attempt to break the world record of how many chicken wings can be eaten in 12 mins.

The Ultimate Cinnamon Challenge

In this episode Ashraf takes on the cinnomon challenge. This involves eating a spoonful of cinnomon and swallowing it within 60 seconds without any fluids.

Jellied Eels Challenge (Golden Jubilee Special)

In this episode Ashraf attempts to break the record for the most amount of jellied eels in one min. The record is 2 KG of jellied eels consumed in one min.

The Devil Shake

In this episode Ashraf takes on the Devil Shake Challenge, a disgusting McDonalds shake. Dont watch this episode if you are squeemish.

The Durian Challenge

In this episode Ashraf takes on the infamous durian: the world’s smelliest fruit. Banned in public transport in many Southeast Asian countries.

The Ghost Chilli Challenge

In this weeks episode Ashraf takes on Ghost Chilli Challenge. The Naga Bhut Jolokia AKA Ghost chilli is one of the world’s hottest chillis, in fact, in 2007 it won the Guinness World Record for it! ( 400 times hotter than tabasco sauce, we decided it had to be part of a Just-Eat challenge.

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Shams Art Gallery

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Shams is the Arabic word for sun.

It is also the name of a tiny, ramshackle art gallery owned and run by Misbah, his brother Mutaz and their friends Afifi and Hussein. In a country where art is not at the forefront of media discussion the quartet get by selling, framing, illustrating and painting in a leisurely sort of way. In fact when I was there Hussein was immediately offered a back rub and called an ‘old man’ and offered a seat. Their work does not reflect this attitude to life, however, it is alive with feeling, saturated in ambiguity and representative of a Sudan only locals would understand.

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Above: Watercolour paintings stacked ‘neatly’ in a corner by Hussein Merghani.

Below: Getting that well deserved back rub.

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Although the gallery is by no means a commercial success, each of the four artists exhibits and sells prints in their own style. From Afifi’s large abstract acrylics to Mutaz’s delicate pastels to Hussein’s detailed watercolour landscapes-Misbah frames their work, although I am not sure if he paints or not-they show a side to Sudan removed from the creepy souvenir shops and over saturated media infamy.

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Ibrahim  El-Salahi, the Sudanese painter and pioneer of ‘African Modernism’ said “African artists are working in a vacuum.”

African art has long been explored and venerated as traditional and tribal rather than contemporary. African artists often have very little funding, small circles of interest and have restrictions on a lot of subject matter. As Hussein explained to me, he cannot possible paint a nude or anything mildly political without getting into trouble. This means that artists such as those I met at Shams gallery continue on in relative obscurity, but the joy of creation is ever present and that is enough for any true art lover.

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The best books on Sudan: start your reading here

Tragedies – personal and political, fictional and all too real – abound in our literary tour of Sudan
MDG : World Library on Sudan
Suggested reading on Sudan: Season of Migration to the North, Lyrics Alley and Sudan. Photograph: PR

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

After several years studying abroad, an unnamed narrator returns to his “small village at the bend of the Nile”, eager to play his part in the new, post-colonial Sudan. At home he encounters a mysterious stranger, Mustafa Sa’eed, who had also lived in Europe many years earlier.

The two men are drawn together, and the story of Sa’eed’s life in London is revealed to the narrator in fragments of reminiscences and writings. Though feted for his intellect and pursued by European women, Sa’eed is ultimately overpowered by events that lead to his undoing – and his return to Sudan.

One day Sa’eed suddenly disappears, apparently drowned, leaving the narrator to look after his wife and children.

The young man, faced with making difficult decisions, finds himself caught between Africa and Europe, tradition and modernity. Meanwhile, he grows increasingly disillusioned with the changes in his own country and with “the new rulers of Africa”.

Salih’s lyrical, bleak and idiosyncratic novel of cultural dissonance – between coloniser and colonised – is regarded as one of the finest in Arab literature. However, its sexually explicit passages and political content have seen it banned on and off in various Arab countries, including his native Sudan.

Salih himself spent many years abroad, working for the BBC in London and Unesco in Paris. He died in 2009.

Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela

Set in 1950s Khartoum, Aboulela’s novel follows the fortunes of the rich and powerful Abouzeid family. As Sudan slips from the grasp of Britain and Egypt and heads for independence, the family – like the country – faces the challenges of a changing world.

The family patriarch, Mahmoud, a successful businessman, lives in two worlds, symbolised by his wives – one Sudanese, traditional and uneducated, the other Egyptian, much younger and progressive.

Mahmoud’s younger son – the handsome and brilliant Nur, who is the heir to the family business – and his niece Soraya are very much in love, and a glittering future awaits them. But their plans are destroyed and Mahmoud is left devastated “in a twist which Fate had hidden”, after Nur is paralysed in a swimming accident.

As Nur struggles to rebuild his life, growing tensions lead to war breaking out between Mahmoud’s wives – a collision between the past and the future – and family members are caught in the crossfire.

Aboulela’s elegant and assured storytelling, and her complex, well-crafted characters make this an absorbing family saga.

The author was born in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. Lyrics Alley was inspired by the life of her uncle, Hassan Awad Aboulela, a Sudanese poet and lyricist, who was paralysed after a freak accident.

Sudan by Richard Cockett

In 1956, at independence from Britain, Sudan stands on the brink of a promising future. Instead, Africa’s largest country descends into civil war – between the Arab-Muslim north and the black-Christian south – and catastrophically implodes.

Khartoum’s indifference to the remote regions, and the centralising of power and economic benefits, spark rebellions in the south and east, and Darfur in the west. Over the years the government becomes more Islamic and increasingly repressive – exacerbating religious and ethnic divides.

A nadir is reached following atrocities in Darfur, where government-backed Arab militias are accused of ethnic cleansing, and President Omar al-Bashir is indicted by the international criminal court for war crimes.

The on-off 50-year civil war claims more than 2 million lives before a peace agreement is signed in 2005, leading eventually to the south’s secession.

In this informative, eminently readable history and analysis of Sudan’s failure as a state, Cockett draws on interviews with many of the main players. There is plenty of blame to go around, he says, citing “meddling western politicians, over-simplifying activists, spineless African leaders, shamelessly silent Muslim countries … and myopic Sudanese politicians”.

Sadly, optimism for the future is in short supply. “Sudan was born in blood and has yet to learn another way to live.”

Cockett was Africa editor of the Economist for five years, and previously a lecturer at University College London.


From the Guardian:

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The Detritus of US Imperial Rage


The ruins of the Yugoslav Federal Ministry of Defence in central Belgrade, Serbia and the el-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Company in North Khartoum, Sudan are testament to unlawful (in terms of international law) acts of war on sovereign territory by the United States. Ugly and obnoxious, their presence is normalised within the communities that work and live amongst them. The buildings are so unremarkable they are no longer a cause for reflection by passers-by; the story of the attacks so well known, so notorious and the sense of impotence and frustration so acute that reflection has given way to the exhaustion, disinterest and apathy that now prevails.  There are no shrines erected, no hallowed ‘peace gardens’ established in their place, no attempt to rebuild or replace (though in perfect irony, the Trump conglomerate has plans to build a hotel on the Belgrade site). The ruins remain civic sculptures of protest and public memorials of disenchantment with the US.


A generation later, repercussions to US foreign relations from the bombings are multifaceted. In Serbia, general hostility is pronounced. The youth of Serbia, unlike most other Balkan countries, tend to look towards Western Europe for cultural inspiration. In Belgrade’s hedonistic clubs, one hears Italian booty beats rather than American hip-hop.

In the agricultural city of Nis, Southern Serbia, where cluster bombs were dropped on a crowded market and a bridge with a passenger bus on it, I was mistaken for a US national and attacked by an old man with a cane – he whacked my half-eaten spinach and cheese burek out of my hand and stumbled after me screaming anti-American abuse. In the Serbian enclave of Mitrovica, unfortunately placed within the nascent borders of Kosovo and overseen by an Italian lead EU peacekeeping force, the resentment against  the west is vitriolic.


In Sudan, the US still maintains a crippling trade embargo – though with Coca Cola and Quaker biscuits oddly exempt – as Sudan remains formally a ‘State Sponsor of Terror.’ In fact, Osama bin Laden et al. were expelled from Sudan as early as 1996. One of the many consequences of trade sanctions is the crippling of higher education study (without international – US owned – credit cards it’s impossible to access online courses, academic databases and journals, encouraging a reliance on out of date books and materials). It’s a truism, though one worth stating, that the cognisant education of a middle class is essential in any modern civil society.

Even so, many Sudanese remain starry eyed about the US – specifically about emigrating and pursuing the American dream – brandishing words like ‘freedom’  and ‘democracy’ though most are unable to define what such words mean. Simultaneously, it is not uncommon to see posters of bin Laden on shop windows and  minibuses in Khartoum. Indeed, Bin Laden was a great benefactor to Khartoum, funding visible developments including infrastructure such as roads and bridges and establishing many businesses. Bin Laden and associates made up for some of the funding gap resulting from the sharp drop in USAID money at the advent of Omar al-Bashir and his cronies.

Officially, Sudanese foreign relations with the US are near non-existent, with American interests seen – correctly – as trying to destabilise the government and force a revolution at every turn. This ice-cold relationship is startling given that the Government, like the Sudanese climate, is scorching in its dealings with other countries of strategic importance, particularly those responsible for the International Criminal Court charges against President Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur and with Ethiopia about water sharing rights of the Nile.

The reasoning behind the two US attacks are complex and contentious. However, the non-partisan consensus on reflection 15 years later is that both operations were a product of faulty intelligence, poorly executed and ineffective in their goals.

NATO’s bombing of the Ministry of Defence Headquarters


NATO (commandeered by the US with a number of other yes-men countries in tow) bombed the Ministry of Defence Headquarters on May 7, 1999. The bombing was part of a 78-day aerial assault codenamed Operation Allied Force on perceived strategic targets of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). These strategic targets included electricity plants, telecommunication towers, hospitals and other essential infrastructure. NATO launched 2,300 missiles at 990 targets and dropped 14,000 bombs, including depleted uranium bombs and cluster munitions. It was the largest campaign by the NATO alliance in history, undertaken without UN Security Council consent, preempting the multitude of diverse and problematic offensives umbrellaed under the ‘war on terror’ slogan in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Nato’s campaign caused widespread destruction and societal collapse. The bombing was ineffective because Yugoslavian army camouflage techniques made key bases and targets invisible to aerial bombardment.  It was  the civilian population of ethnic Serbs – not Milosevic’s army – that suffered the most with  hundreds (possibly thousands) of civilian casualties, 40000 homes, 300 hospitals and 20 schools destroyed; officially recorded by NATO under the now much derided term ‘collateral damage.’ Prefiguring George Bush Jr., then Nato Spokesman James Shea noted: “there is always a cost to defeat an evil.”  Despite the rhetoric, it seems that the NATO campaign caused widespread suffering and destruction without any real resolution – by most accounts it was Russia’s belated intervention with the UN’s backing that finally toppled Milosevic, leading to the slow and painful recovery for Kosovar Albanians,  scapegoated and terrorised in the final whimpers of Milosevic’s dying Yugoslavia.

The US justified the NATO strikes on humanitarian grounds, national interest and  – quite unbelievably – to prove to non-aligned doubters that the dormant NATO was still a military force to be reckoned with.  However, the destruction of civilian infrastructures, the high death toll, and the spreading of the crisis to all of the former Yugoslavia as refugees scattered, warrants some reflection. Rights group Amnesty International’s report (which must be read with a dash of pragmatism – their moral standards perhaps idealistic and impossible) is scathing, making the case for war crimes:

“Indications are that NATO did not always meet its legal obligations in selecting targets and in choosing the means and methods of attack. On the basis of available evidence, including NATO’s own statements and accounts of specific incidents, Amnesty International believes that – whatever their intentions – NATO forces did commit serious violations of the laws of war leading in a number of cases to the unlawful killings of civilians

Of course, the Official Report to Congress by the Department of Defence paints a highly different story, describing the operation as the ‘most effective air operation in history.’  The report notes minor issues with precision targeting –acknowledging the intelligence blunder that resulted in the bombing and destruction of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three Chinese journalists, causing outrage in Beijing and souring US-China relations for years afterwards. It didn’t spend as much time discussing  the targeting errors that destroyed an entire Kosovo village, an old people’s home in Belgrade and a whole convoy of Kosovar refugees.

US bombing of the El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Company.


Precision targeting problems were not relevant during the cruise missile bombing of the el-Shifa Pharmaceutical Company in North Khartoum on August 20, 1998. Around 1000 kilometres away, a submarine in the Red Sea fired thirteen missiles which hit with arresting accuracy, destroying the production facilities of the company, killing  a small number of workers as well as damaging two food-processing factories nearby.

The attack was a response to the terror bombing of American Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed 224 people. Less than two weeks later the US military unleashed Operation Infinite Reach with bin Laden and al-Qaeda as targets.  They bombed el-Shifa, as well as a suspected terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in retaliation.


Like the NATO operations, US intelligence proved startlingly uninformed, prioritising an immediate response, without consideration of the strategic and diplomatic consequences of  an act of war based on inferences rather than concrete facts.  To coincide with Operation Infinite Reach,  the Administration engineered the vilification of bin Laden and al-Qaeda as literal embodiments of pure manichean evil. Clinton:

“Let our actions today send this message loud and clear — there are no expendable American targets…There will be no sanctuary for terrorists. We will defend our people, our interests and our values.”

The Clinton regime – then entangled in a domestic scandal over Clinton’s public deception about his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky –was keen to display fast and decisive action. They launched attacks when links between al-Qaeda and the embassy bombings were only tenuously established. Clinton’s Administration asserted compelling proof, while FBI Director Louis Freeh stated  a few days after the Sudan bombing that ‘no final conclusion’ about who orchestrated the [embassy] bombings had been reached.’ It turned out that members of the terror group Egyptian Jihad orchestrated the embassy bombings, as a revenge attack on the US for the extradition and alleged torture of four Egyptian Jihad members in Albania two months before. Egyptian Jihad did and do have formal connections to al-Qaeda. However, bin Laden denied – and later investigations clear al-Qaeda – of any involvement. Most analysts agree that bin Laden and al-Qaeda were further radicalised against the US when Clinton erroneously placed blame on them.


Clinton’s Administration justified that attack by claiming they had irrefutable evidence of sinister and clandestine operations at the factory. Security head, Sandy Berber and  other senior Clinton aides declared that the plant was financed by bin Laden, had a ‘secured perimeter patrolled by the Sudanese military’ and had no traceable commercial activities. EL-Shifa’s sole purpose, the US claimed, was to manufacture ‘components for VX gas and other chemical weapons.’

Contradictions with US statements were instantly apparent on the ground. Rather than cordoning off the ruins, Sudanese officials encouraged foreign visitors and media to examine the ruins and take photos. In fact, invitations to foreign visitors were nothing new. Contrary to the Administration’s allegation that the site was off-limits to foreigners and heavily guarded by the Sudanese military, US and UK consultants were regularly on site to design and oversee the plant’s construction, the British Ambassador attended the 1996 opening of the plant, the German and Italian Ambassadors both received personal tours of the plant; two days before the bombing retired AME Bishop Hamil Hartford Brookens received a personal tour. These dignitaries unanimously chastised the US for the bombing and none noted a heavy presence of military.

El-Shifa was patronised and celebrated by foreign dignitaries because it was the leading producer of Sudan’s pharmaceutical needs  manufacturing 40-50% of Sudan’s medicines for people and animals at prices that were affordable to local Sudanese. Critically, it was only producer of TB medicines in the country.


Despite the outcry of Ambassadors and foreign nationals, the Clinton Administration continued to state that the plant had no commercial activities –  until someone pointed out that a year before the plant was approved by the UN Security Council – which requires US approval – to package veterinary medicines for relief shipments to Iraq as part of the UN Oil for Food Programme. Amongst the ruins, journalists snapped photographs  of vials of livestock antibiotics and strips of antimalarial tablets.  Sometime after the bombing then Secretary of Defence William Cohen stated that prior to the strike the US was unaware that the plant was making medicines. If taken at his word, then the paucity of US intelligence gathering is unnerving – as is the decision not to seek intelligence from its own strategic allies who, unlike the US, had nationals in the country.

The destruction of the plant – the collateral damage – meant that hundreds of thousands of people lost access to the medicines they needed. One report notes that the destruction of el-Shifa resulted in a sharp increase in infant mortality as  it was the only producer of drugs that stopped transmissions of parasites from a herd to the herder.  Werner Daum,   Germany’s Ambassador to the Sudan at the time, estimated that the destruction “probably led to tens of thousands of deaths.”


The allegation that bin Laden financed the plant was also false. Sudanese-Saudi millionaire Salah el Din Ahmed Mohammed Idris owned the plant with partial financial backing from a Kenyan development bank. Within days, it became obvious that US intelligence did not know Idris was the principal owner; they scrambled to vilify him as an al-Qaeda front man. A month after the bombing, the Administration admitted that they had no hard evidence to  link bin Laden to either the plant or to Idris. Regardless, they froze Idris’s US bank accounts for years afterwards.

The most serious accusation was that the plant produced precursor agents in the manufacture of chemical weapons. This allegation also began to unravel. With the collapse of all other justifications for the  attack the ‘compelling and unanimous evidence’ turned out to be from a single sample taken by a non-US national on behalf of the CIA. The sample contained EMPTA, which the US claims is required to make VX Nerve Gas.

However, chemists from the American Chemical Society and Oxford University, including an EMPTA specialist, formally expressed doubts that a single EMPTA sample was reliable evidence of chemical weapon manufacture. They unsuccessfully petitioned the CIA to release information about the amount of EMPTA discovered, the method of analysis, and how the results were determined. The Sudanese government also invited the UN to examine the soils in and around the plant, an invitation vetoed by the US. Plant owner Idris – who unsuccessfully sued the US government for damages and for a formal admission of a mistake – paid  an independent American company to conduct an analysis of the soil and drainage sludge of the site: no EMPTA or breakdown composites were found at the site, however residue of pesticides with similar EMPTA properties were discovered.

The current US Administration continues to support the decision to destroy the pharmaceutical company. No apology or redress has been offered to Idris or to Sudan.  However, the former American Ambassador to Sudan, Donald Petterson now admits: “The evidence was not conclusive and was not enough to justify an act of war.”


The hope that subsequent US Administrations learned lessons from the blunders and wanton destruction of the Infinite Reach and Allied Force Operations were short-lived. While Clinton fanned the Us vs. Them rhetoric, George Bush the 2nd detonated it. Like his predecessors, Obama continues with routine breaches into sovereign territory through covert military operations while hypocritically lambasting other countries for doing the same. It appears that until the US is prepared to hold itself to the same standards that it holds other countries and people; to pacify its military industrial complex that requires the proliferation of war and violence; and to renounce its demoralising moral universalism, it will continue to humiliate, alienate and radicalise communities all over the globe.

The international community knows that the US is not the bastion of virtue and diplomacy that many of it’s citizens delude themselves it is. Like all countries, the US is greedy, selfish and xenophobic; this is an unavoidable reality of modern nationhood. Perhaps, what is needed is for the international community – guided by emerging strong players like the Gulf States, China, India, Germany and Russia – to be more vigorous in its condemnation of reckless US  aggression in sovereign territories. Without such combined diplomatic and economic pressure on the US, its clumsy, rash and imprudent aggressions will continue to make the US’s own problems everyone else’s problem – as too painfully evidenced in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan in present times.


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Dr King

Many people who talk about Dr. King have never studied Dr. King and don’t know that he was promoting Economic Empowerment for African Americans especially the last 3 years of his life. They also don’t know that the ideologies of Dr. King and Malcolm X were both converging towards the end of their lives.

When Jews, Arabs, Asians, Hispanics, etc. spend their dollars with their own people some of our people admire them and don’t criticize them. When African Americans want to do the same thing some of our people are such brainwashed Negros that they want to call it segregation but they would never call it segregation when other ethnic groups do it. I find it very odd that these same people don’t accuse other ethnic groups of segregation when they are the #1 employers of their own people but when African Americans say that we need to do the same thing many of the biggest objectors come from our own people. These Negros say nothing about spending 98% of our dollars with people that don’t look like us. No one else is that economically irresponsible.

If there’s any dream that Dr. King sad that we need to fulfill, it’s dealing with Economic Empowerment. Dr. King also went on to write, “Black Power is also a call for the pooling of Black financial resources to achieve economic security. Through the pooling of such resources and the development of habits of thrift and techniques of wise investments, the Negro will be doing his share to grapple with his problem of economic deprivation. If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power.”

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Sudanese Tea

Originally posted on Al Remix:


If you’ve ever had Sudanese tea before, you might have heard the phrase, “Al shay hala?”

This translates to “Did the tea steep?” 

Two of the factors that make Sudanese tea unique are how long the tea is left to steep and what you use to infuse it. Cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, and cloves are traditional spices used to infuse Sudanese tea, using each spice separately or combining them together. Of course, the longer you steep the tea, the richer the flavor. 

How do you drink your tea? What unique spices do you use to infuse your tea? 




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Who are the Sudanese

We are the generation that is lost in translation, literary. I often find myself debating the Sudanese culture with other Sudanese friends, trying to pin-point what makes us Sudanese, or, what makes our culture unique as Sudanese people.
The answer I keep coming up with is, well…peanuts.
I feel like Sudan has always been suffering an identity crisis. Are we Arabs, or Africans? The question remains unanswered, and I am ok with that. Maybe we are just Sudanese. Maybe we don’t need to belong in a group. Maybe we fall in the ever so popular “It’s complicated” category.
But people keep talking about culture. And I say that Sudan has no culture of its own. Maybe it’s just the word culture that bothers me.
The definition of the world culture is pretty much this: An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning.
Sudan holds such a diverse collection of ethnicities, religions and beliefs that it’s almost impossible to set a pattern of anything from it. We are like a creature that has half its body in the water and the other half on land. But its still a very happy creature, most of the time. I get an image of a big seal, laying in the sun and flapping its tail in the water.
A friend snapped at me and said well the Sudanese are known to be very generous and very welcoming. I said that is a common trait in the Arab world, and it does not define us as a culture.
“You mean like the Italians and pizza?”
“No,” I answered “I mean like the Egyptians and Heliopolis, the pharos. Or Japan and its Samurai, or”
“China and its food”
“Well maybe”
“Men are whipped in some tribes at their wedding”
“Men are whipped at their weddings everywhere hun,” I said smiling “and yes I know what you mean, but that’s an African thing. It happens all over West Africa, it is not a Sudanese thing”
“Darfur” she finally said “and peanuts”
Also known as “Fool” or “Al-fool al-Sudani” or in some places “Slave peanuts” and then the other thing that we are now known for.

I wonder why the Sudanese pyramids at the ancient city of Meroe aren’t famous. I wonder why no one made a big deal about the English invasion of Sudan like they did of India’s. I wonder who is responsible for this chaos. I wonder if it’s the people, the geographical location, or the leadership.
I wonder maybe we didn’t write enough books, made enough art. I wonder maybe we didn’t have enough resources. I wonder about refugee camps and ethnic cleansing campaigns. I wonder about sands soaked in children’s blood, and a helpless mass of parents watching horrible things.

At some point I will no longer wonder, and I will begin to fear the one word that will mark Sudan will be genocide instead of peanuts. It will be war instead of culture. It will be anarchy instead of generosity and hospitality. The question remains, what is it that truly defines us, and unites us as one other than political and ecological borders?

By Badri Salih:

Categories: Sudanhub | Leave a comment

Sudanese Bloggers


The following is the most complete and up-to-date list of Sudanese bloggers you’re ever going to find. Some are active, but others sadly no longer blog much. Either way, enjoy reading their musings on Sudan and everything else they’ve written about so far.

Also, if you know a Sudanese blog that’s not included in the list, please add it in the comments section below so I can become aware of it and include it here. (Last update on October 12th, 2011.)

Beace, my beebull.

Sudanese Bloggers (writing mostly in English)

  1. Adil Abdalla
  2. AK
  3. Ajaa Anyieth
  4. Amjad
  5. Aperadosoni
  6. Ayman ElKhidir
  7. Bin Mugahid
  8. Blackboard Redemption
  9. Black Dahlia
  10. Black Gay Arab
  11. Black Kush
  12. Brownie
  13. D3à Bin Kar
  14. Daana Lost In Translation
  15. Drastic Hypothesis
  16. El-Africanist
  17. Fluent-Sudani
  18. H. Tai
  19. Hashim Arbaji
  20. Hipster
  21. Ibrahim Mamoun
  22. Jah Guide
  23. Jamila Elgizuli
  24. John Akec
  25. Konyokonyo Clinic
  26. Mimz
  27. Mr. Man
  28. Mo Elzubeir
  29. Moez Ali
  30. MoKotkot
  31. Muhanned: Life in Sudan
  32. Nesrine Malik
  33. Noon Globally
  34. Nyx
  35. Path2Hope
  36. Precious
  37. Rara Avis’s Realm
  38. Reem Shawkat – Kizzie
  39. Sudan Ease
  40. Sudan Fairytale
  41. Sudan In My Dreams
  42. Sudanese Future
  43. Sudanese Nectar
  44. Sudanese Optimist
  45. Sudanese Returnee
  46. Sudani4eva
  47. Talal Nayer
  48. The Princess of Forests
  49. The Sudanese American
  50. Waad Ali
  51. Yousif Magdi
  52. Zoulcolmx
  53. Zoya

Sudanese Bloggers (writing mostly in Arabic)

  1. Amna Mukhtar
  2. Ayman Haj
  3. Emad Aldeen Aldabagh
  4. Eman J
  5. Hammour Ziada
  6. Harith’s Space!
  7. Khalid Nour
  8. Salah286
  9. Maialkheir’s Blog
  10. Mohammed Eltilib
  11. Mohammed Hassan
  12. Omer Mahgoub
  13. Zulfo

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