art of resistance, Sudan

Ahmad Abushakeema: A Thousand Portraits From Sudan.

tumblr_o5uwd6vyhe1uw89o0o1_1280//all photos © Ahmad Abushakeema//

Photographer Ahmad Abushakeema saw Sudan’s “diversity in ethnicities, tribes, religions and backgrounds” but he also saw the lack of documenting it. He thought of using his skills to show this diversity and is now taking one thousand photos to portray his country and its people.

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Abushakeema’s ongoing project was created to portray a thousand different faces from Sudan in an artistic attempt to tell the tale of a nation that’s made of various ethnics and backgrounds. Be sure to see more about it here.

//all photos © Ahmad Abushakeema//

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art of resistance, Egypt, Sudan

Playlist: Alsarah & The Nubatones.

laila shawa/image © Impossible Dream, Laila Shawa/

Alsarah is a truly talented Sudanese singer/songwriter, enriching the music scene with a mixture of north and east African tunes with Arabic influence. She characterizes her music as “East African retro pop”, and her songs have a life-affirming buoyancy that makes it hard not to dance along as you listen.

She’s crowned as the new princess of Nubian pop and Sudanese retro for a reason, and all I can say is YESSS and MORE PLEASE. She and The Nubatones made a great debut album, Silt, released two years ago. There are many amazing tracks on that album, including Soukura and Habibi Taal, which I am posting here today.

I am in love with this album – enjoy the energy and the beauty of the music and – dance along!

Previous Playlist:

Kaan Wafi, Pieces From Exile

Yasmine Hamdan

Atab by Cheb Abid

Fadimoutou Wallet Inamoud

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art of resistance, Sudan

Salahi’s Garden & What’s Inevitable.

el_salahi/photo: Behind the Mask 1 by El-Salahi © Haupt & Binder/

Ibrahim El-Salahi is a Sudanese artist, an important figure in African and Arab modernism. El-Salahi is considered a pioneer in Sudanese art and was a member of the Khartoum School that was founded by Osman Waqialla.

Hassan Musa writes about El-Salahi (he first heard stories about him when he was a teenage boy): “I was fascinated by the idea that an ordinary Muslim man could live as an artist, because in my imagination they were unreal creatures who came out of European literature”.

El-Salahi’s international success soon turned him into a national hero, so much so that in 1970 the Department of Tourism distributed a poster in which El-Salahi posed in his studio, with the caption “Sudanese artist at work”.

mid-late-60s-6e_0/photo © Ibrahim El-Salahi, via Tate/

El-Salahi developed his own style and was one of the first artists to elaborate the Arabic calligraphy in his paintings. He developed an iconography from sources in primitive and Muslim art, leading to the formation of the Khartoum School.

He was an assistant cultural attaché at the Sudanese Embassy in London from 1969 to 1972, when he returned to Sudan and became Undersecretary in the Ministry of Culture and Information until September 1975. At that time he was imprisoned without charge for six months.

Deprived of pen and paper, El-Salahi secretly drew designs in the sand during his daily 25 minute exercise break, protected by other prisoners, and quickly erasing his work as the guards approached. He summed up his experience in prison in a series of parables. Hassan Musa mentions his favorite one:

For the first few weeks of detention, we claimed Freedom and Respect according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then, because the prison food was tasteless, we asked for a few onions.

One day, during the monthly visit of the Director of Prisons, it was my turn to ask for the precious onions. We were given three onions, which were to last us until the next visit. I took a piece of onion and planted it in the damp soil under our earthenware jar of drinking water, hoping to see something growing. When the onion became a plant, my fellow inmates called it ‘Salahi’s garden’.”

ibrahim el salahi/photo © The Inevitable, Ibrahim El-Salahi/

The Inevitable is El-Salahi’s reaction to his time spent in prison: the canvas divided into nine separate sections that represent the different periods of time incarcerated. Niccoló Milanese writes about the painting:

In The Inevitable, eyes are either shaded-out into black voids, or are averted from the viewer. Only a soldier keeps a sideways watch on us. The picture is machine-like, sharp and cold. For there is a demand and a prayer made in each of El Salahi’s designs, and in this picture the questions posed are the same, but here the responsibility is even greater: who will dare to look at this? Who will dare to do something to avoid The Inevitable?”.

In the summer of 2013 a major retrospective show of El-Salahi’s work was mounted at Tate Modern – it was Tate’s first retrospective dedicated to an African artist.

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art of resistance, Qatar, Sudan

Khartoon! by Khalid Albaih.

kal/image © Khalid Albaih/

Khalid Albaih is a Romanian born Sudanese political cartoonist based in Doha, Qatar. He considers himself a virtual revolutionist, publishing his political cartoons about life in the Arab world on various blogs and websites.

As a loyal follower of his work, I couldn’t agree more. His Khartoon! facebook page is a place you should definitely visit. Here are some of his great cartoons, to get you excited about his work.

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//all images © Khalid Albaih//

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art of resistance, South Sudan, Sudan

To Be A Poet: Story Of A Refugee.

i-d-activist-of-tomorrow-abe-nouk-to-perform-at-sydney-opera-house-1444199564/Abe Nouk, photo © Ben Thomson/

Abraham (Abe) Nouk is a poet, MC and author. He came to Australia as an illiterate Sudanese refugee and has become an award-winning spoken word artist and poet. His family arrived to Australia in 2004, as UN High Commission designated refugees. He taught himself how to read and write English in just three years after arriving to Australia.

He is now also a founder and director of Collingwood youth arts space, Creative Rebellion Youth. About the importance of art he says: “I think only art can save us in these times of conflict and political misunderstanding. Art is the only focus that might keep us from destroying the world – it’s an avenue for social change – once people get busy with art everything else falls into place.”

There is a short new documentary about Abe, called To be a poet: A Story of a Refugee. See it and listen to his wisdom, his ways of love and togetherness. Remember it in these times of refugee(s).

This is not a play

This is life

And some of us just want to live

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art of resistance, Sudan

Time Travel Booth: 70’s And 80’s Sudan by Abbas Habiballa.

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Sudanese photographer Abbas Habiballa was born in 1950. He started taking photographs when he was fifteen years old.

He took photographs of numerous events in Sudan, his surroudings, neighbours and family everyday life. Take a look at some of the vibrant moments and beautiful humans he captured with his camera.

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//all photos © Abbas Habiballa/Elnur//

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For more on Abbas Habiballa, visit Elnur.

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art of resistance, Sudan, travel

Sudan: The Sun & The People.

The work of Denis Dailleux keeps on inspiring me. From his great Egyptian photo series Mother and Son and Martyrs of Revolutionto his beautiful stories from Ghana and On the footsteps of Rimabaud (Ethiopia & Yemen). What makes it so enchanting and so real at the same time, is his way of capturing people – no matter how beautiful the scenery is, with Dailleux it’s always about the people.

Ten years ago, in his photo series from Sudan (Agence VU), Dailleux presents “a country marked by the sun and the languidness. As usual, the photographer achieves his photograph with people. And then, they accept to show their lives without any fireworks.”

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//all images © Denis Dailleux/ Agence VU//

For more on this project, go to Agence VU, and for more on Dailleux and his photography – viist his Agence VU profile, and his official website.

And now – go through the photos again and listen to this great tune by the musical legends of the Sahara desert – Tinariwen.

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South Sudan, Sudan

Dinka: The Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan.

Thirty years of work on the African continent have carried Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher across 270,000 miles and through remote corners of 40 countries in exploration of more than 150 African cultures. In the process, this team of world-renowned photographers has produced fourteen widely acclaimed books and made four films about traditional Africa. They have been granted unprecedented access to African tribal rites and rituals and continue to be honored worldwide for their powerful photographs documenting the traditional ceremonies of cultures thousands of years old.

The Beckwith-Fisher images are the result of a long, enduring and deeply respectful relationship with African tribal peoples. This, combined with their photographic skills, creates an intimate portrayal of ceremonies long held secret that might have never been recorded. Their work preserves and presents the power, complexity and celebration found within the rituals of African tribal life.

“Through our books and lectures we tell people about Africa’s core values: respect for their elders, the benefit of growing up as part of a community, and the importance of living in harmony with nature and one’s own spirit world.”

Their book  Dinka: Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan, was the fruit of a 30-year study documenting the vanishing people in war-torn Sudan. It is a window into the past, present, and future of an extraordinary egalitarian pastoral people, and arguably the greatest cattle keepers of the African continent.  It is a true celebration of one culture.

Here are some of the incredible images.

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l_BF084DI_1228349357all photos © Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher

For more of their amazing work and more on this book, go to Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher official website.

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art of resistance, Iraq, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria

The world(s) of refugee(s).

Yesterday was World Refugee Day. Observed on 20th of June every year, it is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. There are over 44 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world at the moment.

Refugees stories should be more present in media all the time, not just on this day. However – it is good to have them in the headlines and in focus atleast one day of the year.

I’ve assembled some photos, searched my way through great Magnum‘s collections, so here are refugee stories from all over the world, captured by Magnum’s photographers.

LON141140KENYA. Kakuma. Residents from Kakuma Refugee Camp watch evening screenings in the camp set up by FilmAid. 2012 (© Olivia Arthur/Magnum)

PAR447870LEBANON. Saida, 2013. Ein El Helwe palestinian refugee camp. Since 2012 Premiere Urgence NGO has built new infrastructures for drinking water and sewage in Hai El Sahon area. The camp is divided in 15 sectors. Each one is leaded by a popular comitee. Abu Icham at home with his family. (© Jerome Sessini/Magnum)

mijanmarMYANMAR. 2014. SITTWE. Rakhine State. Local area where a number of camps have been set up for the Internally Displaced People – all Muslim, who were attacked by the local Arakan people who do not want them living in Myanmar. These are Muslim children from the host Muslim population where the IDP’s have been put in camps. Fishing for small fish in a pond. (© Chris Steele-Perkins/ Magnum)

NYC144348CONGO. Dungu, Haut-Uele District. April 11, 2013. Father Benoit Kinalegu runs an orphanage for child victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). These drawings were made by the child victims of the LRA. Haut-Uele District, located in Orientale Province, is one of the areas in which the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) operates. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC136190LEBANON. Bar-elias, Bekaa Valley, 2013. A young Syrian refugee stands behind barbwire at a small lake next to a spring where refugees collect drinking water on the outskirts of the Al-Jarrah tent settlement in the Bekaa Valley. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

NYC149729NORWAY. Vesteraalen. 2012. Melbu school yard. Some levels in the school have more than 50% immigrant children. In Melbu, about 200 of the town’s 2000 inhabitants are asylum seekers. In addition about 200 are permanently settled refugees. (© Jonas Bendiksen/ Magnum)

michael cristopherCENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. BANGUI. March 21, 2014. At the M’Poko IDP camp, a mostly Christian camp located at the Bangui International Airport, children play on the runway. Anti-Balaka fighters mingle freely with the civilians there. (© Michael Christopher Brown/ Magnum)

NYC135138GERMANY,  2013. A painting in the home of Ashgar Hassanzadeh, 34, an Afghan refugee who had three fingers chopped off and 22 bones broken by Taliban threatening him for working with coalition forces. He fled with his family to Europe and was detained in Bavaria. They are now in a refugee camp in Wurzburg, Bavaria. It is the largest camp in Bavaria and refugees usually spend years there before their status is resolved and they are granted residency, or they are deported back to their home country. The refugees are housed in a barracks from the Nazi era and receive a small subsidy from the German government. There is widespread frustration and depression in the camp, including a recent suicide by an Iranian refugee and a hunger strike by another group. (© Peter van Agtmael/ Magnum)

PAR415257Somalia, Mogadishu, 2012. A young girl sweeps infront of her tent inside a over populated internally displaced camp in Mogadishu. Many IDP’s have fled into Mogadishu since it has become more safe after the African Union troops along side the Transitional Government Forces have managed to push Al-Shabaab out of the city. (© Dominic Nahr/ Magnum)

NYC136217JORDAN. Amman. June 12, 2013. Syrian refugee children living in a rented apartment in the Wadi Haddad district of East Amman. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

LON155227Jordan. 2013. Zaatari Refugee camp. Children drawing. One image by a 6 year old boy depicts a man being hanged. (© Stuart Franklin/ Magnum)

NYC141670IRAQ. Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. July 29, 2013. Young Syrian refugees atop the rubble of a former Iraqi Army barracks next to the Domiz camp for Syrian refugees on the outskirts of Dohuk. (© Moises Saman/ Magnum)

And here’s a little bit more  -this is an excerpt from Brothers in hope: The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, written by Mary Williams, and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. It is a children’s book describing a story of a young boy who unites with thousands of other orphaned boys to walk to safety in a refugee camp in another country (first in Ethiopia, then in Kenya), after war destroys their villages in southern Sudan.

“When I turned eight years old, I began to tend some small calves on my own. I cleaned them, nursed them when they were sick, and led them to the very best pastures and watering holes. I quickly grew to love these animals. Then one day everything in my life changed. “

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“Before war came, I had never seen so many people in one place. My village had only one hundred people. Now I was in a moving village with thousands of boys.  Like me, the other boys were away from their villages tending the cattle when war came.”

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I’ve said it already – refugee stories are to be shared and retold, so here are the excerpts from one more beautiful  book – The Lotus Seed  by Sherry Garland, illustrated by Tatsuro Kiuchi. It’s a story of a girl’s grandmother and the special significance of the lotus seed she carried with her when she escaped from Vietnam and made her way to a new country.

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“Nothing that grows in a pond

Surpasses the beauty of the lotus flower,

With its green leaves and silky yellow styles

Amidst milky white petals.

Though mired in mud, its silky yellow styles,

Its milky white petals and green leaves 

Do not smell of mud.”

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art of resistance, Sudan, travel

The Darfur Sartorialist: Grace and colors of Darfur, Sudan.

Now, this is a project I follow and love for some time.

It’s called The Darfur Sartorialist, and basically – it’s a story about a surprise. Pedro Matos is a humanitarian aid worker living in Darfur for the past 4 years. His facebook blog reflects his own surprise with the men and women he found in this remote region of Sudan, and how fashionable people turn out to be in all corners of the world.

Darfur is fashionable. Beyond the conflict and the images engraved in our minds lies a proud people wearing colour combinations unlikely in the trendy West. They have grace and style, and a unique sense for colors – and happiness.

It’s beautiful and inspirational.

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539566_468350163193779_735896431_nall photos ©Pedro Matos

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