Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brand Sudan

Posted 10 August 2011 by Nicholas Kay | 
If Sudan were recruiting a marketing manager I wonder how many people would apply. Tough place. Tough job. Sudanese are legendary for their hospitality, gentle manners and erudition. Sudan, on the other hand is synonymous with war, atrocities, poverty and political repression. This disconnect between the essential nature of its people and its reputation as a state poses a marketing challenge.
It also makes the life of a diplomat hard. How do you interpret for your capital recent events? Did, for example, a delay in evacuating wounded Ethiopian peace-keepers contribute to their deaths and if so, what was the role of the Government of Sudan? How do you explain the ferocious response to the recent renewal of the mandate for the UN and African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the increasing obstacles Khartoum puts in the way of UN missions here? And what should we make of the continuing refusal to allow humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan and, above all, an independent investigation of allegations of serious human rights abuses there?
Readers of this blog react differently to my views. One local newspaper has called for my expulsion. Another merely recommended a long holiday. While a foreign expert has accused me of being an apologist for the Government of Sudan, a fool and a disgrace to British diplomacy. I don’t write to please. I write because I know there is a real interest within Sudan (and perhaps more widely) in knowing what an Ambassador to their country thinks. An Ambassador has a duty to foster better understanding between two states. Understanding does not always mean agreeing. But it does require a mutual respect. In the end it’s about good communication.
To that end, the UK has enhanced its efforts to engage with Sudan over the last few weeks. We have hosted both Foreign Minister Ali Karti and Presidential Assistant Dr Nafi Ali Nafi in London. Two weeks ago Mr Henry Bellingham, Minister for Africa and the UN at the FCO, visited Sudan. He was the first Minister to come after secession of the South. The symbolism was deliberate. The UK remains committed to a strong and long-term relationship with Sudan. We shall be even-handed in our dealings with the two new countries. We are forward-looking and constructive in our approach. The Minister’s programme reflected this. He witnessed the signing of an agreement between the British Council and the Ministry of Education to develop teacher training for teachers of English; he attended the award ceremony for Chevening scholars selected to do their Masters’ degrees in the UK (twice the number of scholarships than in 2010); and he visited Port Sudan to see the development needs and economic opportunities in a region where the UK has committed to spend millions of pounds in development assistance over the next four years.
The UK’s strategic intent is, I hope, clear. We want to work with a Sudan that puts the interests of its people first. A Sudan in which good education, religious co-existence, access to justice, healthcare and jobs are its hallmark. Some of this depends upon choices to be made within Sudan. It is a choice, for example, whether the national budget for the intelligence service continues to be higher than the budget for education.
But it is also a choice for others who care about Sudan. Relieving the $38bn external debt is largely in others’ hands. Since last September the UK has consistently championed the need for this. Decisions by foreign investors and businesses also matter. They can play a crucial role in boosting economic growth and creating jobs. But will they choose Sudan when there are other markets competing for their investment and business?
My guess is Sudan will have to sell itself better. That brings us back to marketing. Sudan like any brand requires careful packaging and presentation. But, as we all know, success ultimately depends on the quality of the product. Sudan will be judged not by words, but by deeds.
I wish all readers a very happy and peaceful Holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

the hijab

This group i'm on really is quite useless, at least they give me ideas to blog about. I'm Muslim, if it wasn't clear, and i don't like to expose my sins, but i'm somewhat ashamed to say i don't wear a hijab. I'd like to think i dress decently enough especially with the way young women these days are judgement here, just saying.

Nonetheless, i don't think anyone a man, or a women in hijab can judge one without it. Wearing a hijab does not necessary make you a better women than the next one. Our relationship with God is a personal one. At the same time i in no way defend women who do not wear a hijab, i just can't judge you because i myself am not perfect. Also, the intention of your wearing a hijab is important, for your actions are based on your intentions, and that is something only God and you will know.

When i do wear a hijab, i will wear it with discipline, and modesty. I will not let hijab be something i do, but something that i am. It does not mean necessarily wearing a cloak but so long as your body and shape are covered. I will not wear it for a few months get bored and take it off. When i do it, i want to do it right.

To all the women out there in proper hijab, i have a special respect for long as your doing it for the right reasons and don't put down our religion while you have it on.

Allah yahdina, and may He put us on the right track especially when it's become so hard to hold on to your religion.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


I'm not a particularly verbose person. I think that's why I like taking pictures... they speak for themselves-Jeb Dickerson

Nikon D3100, twin lens kit. Need i say more? 18mm-55mm and 55mm-200mm. A perfect start up for the photography enthusiast they say. I agree, a nice DSLR camera with great enough lenses for all your zooming requirements. The only question now is; what should i capture? The answer is anything and everything. There are no limits, not even sky high, not when there are footprints on the moon. For a photographer the world is your paintbrush, your colour, your everything.

The next thing i'd say you need is a really good photo editing program. I'm thinking the latest Adobe Photoshop Elements. Dreams are not cheap and in this case neither are hobbies, so you better start saving your paper. Or if you have willing parents, you better start pleading your case. If you're young enough..

A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into.  ~Ansel Adams

I know having a fancy-ish camera does not making you a photographer, hell even having a camera phone or digital camera can make you a photographer, albeit not a very good one but so long as your photos have soul, then you are..And if your shots earn you money then regardless of your equipment you are a professional photographer.

Why, i like it? It's simple really. A picture says a thousand words, the nice part is it says it without really talking. A picture is a moment in time caught forever, it is a memory saved. Photography teaches you to not only look but to really see the beauty that surrounds you. The way you see things begins to change, you will start to see the splendor of this world in everything, wether it is sad or happy. And that's not something many people consider or thing about when looking at things and objects that seem very normal/average/common.

So, here is to an new soon to be start. If i impress myself, then i'll share it. If not, then some things are not meant to be shared. This is me trying not to oversell. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The ramblings of a scattered mind III

I feel inspired tonight, i just don't know where to put this inspiration, or how to work it. I tend to start of really well and trail off with an ending that is too i have over 20 posts with great starts and no conclusions. It's Ramadan these days, i've had better of the month, but i'll take what i can either way.

New things are happening, and there is a lot to look forward to, stuff i've been waiting for, for weeks are finally around the corner. Right now though i just feel like i'm going through the motions, letting the tide take me where it may. I don't mind it.

over and out.