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//

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For more on Abbas Habiballa, visit Galerie Clémentine de la Féronnière.

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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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