In continuing with our theme of breaking down stereotypes, we interviewed Ahmed Hussein, an International Relations student from Khartoum, Sudan. Ahmed spent his childhood traveling back and forth between homes in Sudan and Germany, so he offers a unique perspective on Sudan. With us, he discusses the current situation in Sudan, Sudanese stereotypes, his identity, and the future role he hopes to play.
Sub-Stances: What is the current situation in Sudan right now?
Ahmed: Sudan is oppressed by the governing party NCP which has been in rule for 30 years (since 1989). Sudan’s economy worsened drastically since those days. The Sudanese pound was 2 dollars now it’s 20. The recent, severe increase of prices has made it impossible for people to live in the current situation. Since 2010, there have been seasonal uprisings and revolutions which failed due to the violence used by the system against protesters. Sudan’s governing system is filled with non-qualified personnel, who have no real relation to the fields they are responsible for. There is a real lack of management in the country that trickles down into failed policies that often leave a bad situation, worse. The president Omar Elbashir, who has no real educational experience, and is a military individual, is not competent enough to lead the country. The chance has not been given for others to lead the country and every election held was obviously rigged.
Sub-Stances: What can you tell us about the Darfur conflict?
Ahmed: Darfur, which is currently suffering from a huge famine and has been for the last ten years, has been neglected heavily by the government. The area, which has very little law, is plagued by tribalism as well as genocide and receives little recognition from the government. In the past few years, Darfur has been a hot topic for the world to the point that people often recognize Darfur more than Sudan.
Sub-Stances: Do you identify as Sudanese or do you identify with a certain region or tribe more?
Ahmed: I identify myself as Sudanese. In the past, people have been much more focused on tribes in terms of identity. Nowadays, this seems to be fading away more and more with the coming generations. Most Sudanese identify as simply "Sudanese".
Sub-Stances: Have you experienced any stereotyping of Sudanese people, by other Africans- perhaps Arabic neighboring countries? Have you experienced stereotypes of Sudanese by people outside of Africa?
Ahmed: In general, Sudanese people face the conflict of being both Africans as well as Arab. In fact we are neither Arab nor African, but rather in between or "both". There might not be evident racism but we simply cannot classify "Sudanese" as “either or” because factually they are in between these two races.
Sub-Stances: When you introduce yourself to someone who is not Sudanese, what do you tell them about where you come from?
Ahmed: Personally, when people ask me where I'm from and I give them an answer, most people are clueless as to where it is. So, I would at least show them where it is located. It is very rare that people in Europe specifically know anything about Sudan, so I'd give them a quick profile of Sudan - that it is an Arabic/African/Muslim country in north Africa under Egypt. That way, they would at least say they've met a Sudanese person in their life.
Sub-Stances: What is something you want people to know about Sudan?
Ahmed: Our biggest pride was being the largest country in Africa in terms of space. Unfortunately, that is no longer since the separation of the country in 2011. Our next favorite thing to brag about is the Nile. Sudan is unique in that it is the only country in the world that can identify as Muslim/Arab/black. The Sudanese do not have a heavy presence in Europe or the West, generally. Most immigrants are in the Gulf States of Saudi and U.A.E. So, that is why most people are uninformed about Sudan and its people.
Sub-Stances: How do you believe your role in society can help people understand the situation in Sudan?
Ahmed: My role in the future would be to try to spread awareness about tribalism/racism, since most people don't even classify them as issues to begin with. Focusing on youth education is the way to eradicate this deeply rooted phenomenon. I would also advocate for freedoms of opinion and speech to be truly implemented at least by the time a new regime comes into place.
Photo credit: Idressy