It’s a great time to be Sudanese

Illustration by Steck Von.

Tagwa Shammet, Contributing Writer

It’s a great time to be Sudanese. As I write this piece, my home country is undergoing one of the largest revolutions of our time. My people are gathered in the streets chanting and demanding freedom. They are united in an uprising so beautiful, it brings me to tears. I’m filling my social media timelines with pictures and videos of the flawless harmony and accord happening less than 10 miles outside my home in Sudan. It’s a great time to be Sudanese.

But it’s not such a great time to be Sudanese American. The U.S. and its media don’t care about our revolution. Let’s be honest, aside from minimal coverage from a few outlets, Sudan’s revolution hasn’t received much Western media attention. Sure, if you know a Sudanese person or two, you might have seen it on your timeline, but that’s about it. If you follow me on any social media, you know what’s going on in Sudan — but if you don’t, let me give you a recap.

After 30 years in power, ex-president Omar al-Bashir has been overthrown by the people of Sudan. Thank goodness.

The former president has done nothing but bring injustice, violence and genocide on my people. He and his regime are the sole reason for the separation of Sudan and South Sudan. His office has implemented some of the most unspeakable violations of human rights I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing.

The government has attacked dozens of Sudanese villages such as Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan, opening fire on protesters countless times and censoring media. Al-Bashir and four of his aids have been charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

He robbed my people of their earnings, let them starve and suffer — and when they started retaliating this past December, he incarcerated and murdered them. He is the worst thing to happen to Sudan since British colonization. For as long as I’ve been Sudanese, al-Bashir has terrorized my country. Not anymore.

Throughout the week of April 7, Sudanese citizens flooded the streets and expressed their grievances with the al-Bashir regime. The sight was empowering.

So you can imagine my disappointment when Western media coverage of the revolution was scarce. I wish I was exaggerating. Social media and my family back in Sudan are my primary sources of knowledge about the situation. But it’s not just Sudan that the western world doesn’t care about — it’s all of Africa. I cannot stress this enough to you: the West does not care about Africa. It barely even cares about its black citizens.

On March 23, more than 120 people were killed in a village in central Mali. This attack — caused by Islamic tension — came only days after the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s not surprising that most of us didn’t hear about Mali. The truth is, the American media cared and provided news coverage about the New Zealand shooting because the attack happened in a predominantly white country. We haven’t heard anything about extremist attacks in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Somalia, Eritrea, Togo and so many other African countries.

It’s bold of the West to completely ignore Africa, especially since all the disaster and terror stems from white imperialism and colonization. Europe and the U.S. cut up Africa like a birthday cake, and they provide zero help to anyone they hurt in the process. Predominantly white nations dried up African countries and left their people to fight for themselves without any resources.

Now, these same countries are trying to catch up with fast-growing economies and societies — but they can’t. In fact, according to the World Bank, African economic growth remains below population growth for the fourth year in a row. The Western world made sure of it. All African nations ask for now is coverage and help.

That is not too much to ask for.

The U.S. knew about the human rights violations in Sudan and the genocide in Darfur. Instead of stepping in to help, it sanctioned the country. Punishing a regime strangling its citizens sounds good in theory, but this only further harms these citizens. Help, don’t harm. Give these countries the media coverage they deserve so people can see the grave injustice.

On April 11, the Sudanese public overthrew a 30-year-old regime. On April 11, the Sudanese public won.

We have a long way to go — the Sudanese military, which controls the country, cannot be trusted. But, for now, it’s a great time to be Sudanese.

This revolution wasn’t a bloody tragedy. Yes, there were martyrs who gave their lives in honor of their beliefs. But this revolution was, and still is, an exquisite display of unity. Men create barriers of interlocked arms to protect people praying. Women link their scarves in an effort to cover their fellow sisters as they change clothes. Children sit in circles, singing the songs of the uprising. My mother is out in the crowds, helping the wounded and fighting for her country.

Don’t be fooled by the Western lies and stigma that have time and time again claimed African women are nothing but oppressed. Sudanese women led this revolution. The “image of the revolution” depicts Alaa Salah — a 22-year-old engineering student — standing on top of a car preaching amid a sea of protesters. She is grace. She is elegance. She is power.

This revolution has me seeing clearly. With or without Western attention, my people and African people everywhere are stronger united. Nevertheless, this is my plea to the media, to the West and to you: Start caring about Africa. Stand with us and show those who seek to destroy us that together we are stronger than anything the deceitful throw at us. Injustice will no longer stand. Let Sudan be the beginning of many more revolutions — revolt until the world is equal and united.

On April 11, Sudan made history. It’s a great time to be Sudanese.

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