On December 19, 2018, demonstrations broke out all over Sudan. Initially, people were protesting the rising price of bread, an essential food item to many Sudanese, and astronomical increases in living costs. Living under al-Bashir’s rule for nearly three decades, the Sudanese people have been caught between two difficult choices: rise up and fight the oppressive regime, or protect their families. It is a choice no one wants to, or should have to, make. While protests have taken place in Sudan over the last ten years, it was clear to everyone here that this time was different. People were more tired and fed up than they have ever been. Standing in endless lines for bread and gasoline was the last straw for many.
I found my way to Sudan in late January 2019, even though I was aware of the ongoing protests and political turmoil. I am the daughter of a Sudanese immigrant to America and an Italian-German-American mother, and I am married to a Sudanese man living in Sudan. Despite the instability and danger, we are only able to be together in Sudan, so I booked my ticket here with mixed emotions.
While I often struggle with my identity as a Sudanese-American, the fact of the matter is that this regime has impacted my life directly. The bottom line is that living in Sudan is difficult — it takes courage, strength, and tenacity. Many of us are living “on a blessing” or “بالبركة”, as we say. As an outsider looking in, I want so much better for my people. Simultaneously, as a person living under this regime, I want more for myself. I feel anger and rage, but most of all, sadness at the state of our country and our lives; many of us feel the same way. Why us? It’s a question we have no answer for.
My perspective is unique. I am a Sudanese-American experiencing this revolution firsthand. It was never my intention to be here at this time, but it seems God had other plans. There is something I want the world to understand — revolution is far from the romantic tales in history books. Revolution is hard and dreadful; it is soul-sucking at times. It is hunger and it is pain. But most of all, it is sacrifice. Revolution has moments of beauty and inspiration, that tend to go viral on the internet, but many people fail to recognize the price that those living in Sudan pay. Many of us live day to day, wondering if there will be electricity tomorrow. We wonder if we will be able to afford medical care if one of our family members is beaten by the police. We wonder if tomorrow we will be blocked from contacting our relatives overseas and accessing news and information on the internet.
Many people have paid a bigger price and have died rising up against this oppressive regime. I am truly moved by their commitment and willingness to sacrifice their lives for something bigger than themselves — for all of us. But I want to call attention to another important point: those of us living in Sudan, born here or otherwise, are not another case of “history gone wrong.” We are not to be studied and analyzed, without recognition of our humanity. We are human beings. We deserve true democracy, we deserve human rights. And we deserve to be able to provide for our families’ basic needs. We come from a complex past, haunted by colonization, civil wars and many years of harsh rule by a regime that has robbed us entirely of the wealth and riches of our country.
Do not romanticize our struggles; send your support and call attention to our cause, and realize that this is our battle to fight and at the end of the day, we are the ones who are carrying the burden of death, hunger and instability.
Those of us who were born in or currently live in “developed” countries must realize the privilege that we have. As a person of both the developed and the developing worlds, I have learned a lot during my time in Sudan. I urge you to value the brave actions of the people in Sudan, whether they are on the ground protesting, or protesting in their homes. Some of us can only protest in our hearts — and we still count. We all overcome many adversaries each day, simply by waking up and living our lives. Do not romanticize our struggles; send your support and call attention to our cause, and realize that this is our battle to fight and at the end of the day, we are the ones who are carrying the burden of death, hunger and instability. You cannot stand with us in the same place we stand; you can only stand by us. Finally, we are not simply a story for media consumption. We are intelligent people, just like you, in a situation that many people could never dream of enduring.
The fight is not over yet. As reported by many media outlets, al-Bashir has been ousted, only to be replaced by a temporary military council led by one of al-Bashir’s closest military lieutenants, General Ahmed Ibn Auf, who was also ousted within 30 hours of his “rule.” We will fight until this regime falls completely and an independent civilian government is in place. That is the wish of the majority of our people. Many more people will suffer, and some may die. The world watches on, most of them from the comfort of their safe homes, but this our fight for our country. Revolution is our choice, but at the end of the day, was it really a choice? To those still dominating our country, all we have to say is, “just fall, that is all” or “تسقوط بس.” We are not giving up.