Monday, June 25, 2012

A revolution in Sudan?

It has been an eventful week for Sudan, a week that reignited hope for the future of our country, a week that proved Sudanese are not cowards waiting for someone to save them.

For as long as I can remember my country, Sudan has only had negative media attention and terrible  things associated with it such as war, famine, human rights violations, ethnic cleansing  etc naturally we blame the government and for good reason. 23 years ago the NCP came into power through a coup meaning no one VOTED for them to lead us. And unfortunately they turned out to be a lousy government full of corrupt, greedy, self righteous, lazy buffoons who had no one to answer to. It has been almost a year since the South seceded, they couldn't take living like second class citizens in their own country. Our government gave the South zero attention with regards to any type of development even though the South was their main source of income since most oil reserves are located in that vicinity, 75% of oil revenue was lost. So here we are now, the government is broke. Last week austerity measures were put in place in an attempt to increase government budget. Fuel subsidies were removed, meaning fuel prices increases by almost 60% naturally causing the price of EVERYTHING else to sharply increase. Import taxes were increased, the exchange rate to the dollar depreciated, and basically Khartoum is the most expensive city to live in for no damn good reason. After 23 years and the austerity measures being simply the tipping point the people have had enough, they are fed up, 'girifna'

So the reason this past week has been so eventful is that protests have been taking place all over Sudan calling for the government to step down. What started of as student protests at the university of Khartoum became full blown demonstrations of people of all ages.  Basically the Arab spring has finally reached Sudan and better late than never. Albeit the protests have been small to medium gatherings of people in different areas of Sudan, the government definitely feels threatens. Protestors have been hard hit with tear gas, rubber bullets and physical assault by police and national security NISS, and there are allegations of live ammunition being used. Many people have been injured and are in dire need of blood donations, which there is a huge shortage of.  June 30th will be the day to remember, it is the NCP's anniversary but will hopefully soon be remembered for the day that the NCP lost its power.

On the 30th of June the whole of Sudan will be protesting against their rule, we hope that millions will take to the street in a united and peaceful demonstration. So far media attention has not been extensive but as time passes and as the revolution increases that will change. Sudanese know that the NCP resigning or being overthrown is only the first step in the long journey to democracy and development. The destination we all want to reach where people have good chances and opportunities to make good lives for themselves. Where they can live free and happy, with jobs, high quality education systems and proper health care. Where we have a strong constitution with a monitoring body for government. Our hopes are not ridiculous they are merely the want of our rights, that we should have anyway, simply because we are human.

We pray God helps the people of the Sudan, and that He has written a bright future for the country, also one that includes south Sudan, in trade and good relations. We pray that the revolution is a success and that no lives are lost. God be with us all.

 The protest in pictures from different locations in Sudan, AlDaim, Omdurman, AlJiref etc and i'll keep adding more.

Women have played a vital role in the protests, initially starting from the female dorms of the university of Khartoum, women continue in the front lines.

 Police and national security (NISS) have been brutal and violent towards protestors, injuring and
                                                                  arresting many.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Business as unusual..

I remember a few years ago when my mum first got the idea to import lakoom aka as Turkish delights, to Sudan, that was just the beginning, a lot of other products came after. It was so exciting. A few weeks into it, hearing about procedures I would get surprised about some trade policies that restricted the ease of commerce in Sudan. besides the high custom duties, cargos would get held up for many days without reason, talking to each official or asking for help meant you needed to dish out money every time. Everything moved slowly. Another issue was the fact that stores would never pay on time, mind you this was before things got as bad as they are now. It wasn't easy.

In more recent times after the secession of the North and South, the government began losing funds generated by the oil industry, and led to the instability of the exchange rate. It is even harder now to do business in or with Sudan, and this is when she decided that it was enough. It was time to pull out of Sudan, it was getting costly, time consuming and hardly any returns were received. I always thought maybe the business could succeed and someday i'll take over, but when you look at the whole picture you realize that the Sudanese economy is not an easy one to breach, or to become established in.

In a country like ours where the government needs to formulate policies that make it easy to trade both in Sudan and with other countries, unfortunately this is not the case. By making it easy, and encouraging entrepreneurship especially amongst the youth they would combat unemployment and eventually increase their own budget. All it takes is a little patience. Again unfortunately this patience is unheard off, so what has happened now to sum it up is a big ball of instability.

Instability, the businessperson's enemy. A businessperson would literally halt all their operations if they don't feel a sense of stability in the economy. Taxation/custom duties now are not only very high, but always increasing. Imagine making a budget with a certain amount set for taxes and the next time you send a cargo realise it has increased by 50%, money which you now don't have, and the product is just sitting there in Port Sudan or the airport. Instability is extremely expensive. Factories should have some sort of subsidies and support from government which i doubt they're receiving, not to mention high transport costs, poor coordination and communication between private and public sectors, all which hinder economic activity and ease of trade. We may not be able to export oil as we once used to, naturally this would mean to focus on other products such as sesame, cotton, gum Arabic, cattle and sugar, all of which are in the primary sector of agricultural produce.

Yes, we need to turn to agriculture, and invest in the sector; with the use of modern farming machinery and techniques. At the same time we need to keep in mind the millions of graduates who now need jobs in the service sector and manufacturing sectors. It's no wonder after slaving for a higher education, that graduates who do not find work prefer to go abroad and settle down elsewhere. It is a loss to the economy and will hit us hard..if it hasn't already.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

ShutterBug Sudan

I have an idea, i don't know if it's a good one but its something i'm passionate about, i know this because usually when i blog it takes me a minute to think of my next sentence but right now i know exactly that i want to say. I'm passionate about culture, i mean always loved the idea of diversity, languages, nationalities, tradition and what not, the idea of being proud of where you come from and the fact that you do things differently and can teach it to people and learn their ways.

I'm passionate about it and mostly about my own, my Sudanese culture. And i always say that it's not perfect, far from it actually, but it's mine and i own it and i shall practice the good and teach it to my kids so that they may teach it to theirs and so on and so forth. Basically to never lose it.

Ok back to the idea. It's called Shutterbug Sudan® it's an organization; right now a virtual one where people, photographers, artists, filmmakers etc join in an attempt to promote good cultural practices, abolish harmful ones and raise awareness in general. In practice groups of people go into the more rural areas in Sudan and document cultural practices that we see, and teach others about them, find out the reasoning behind current cultural practices and also how they started all those years ago. What we learn we teach to others targeting mainly the youth because it seems that we know the least about our culture, both those living in Sudan and abroad.

I wasn't really going to blog about this but after i wrote an article for the sudanese 500 words magazine on culture i thought why not, read it here.

I even made a logo and everything.  The thing is i wouldn't know where to start from, so i thought all due time as i think of all things that i push down to the bottom of my to-do list. As for the name, well basically its a synonym for photography, so Shutterbug Sudan, picture Sudan, imagine Sudan. We want to create that picture from what we know and what we learn.

Tell me what you think, in a comment or e-mail

The logo ®