Friday, April 19, 2019
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Meet Alaa Salah, the 22-year-old Sudan’s Nubian queen who is proof enough that words are mightier than swords and helped remove Omar al-Bashir with a street poem

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  • On Thursday morning, the minister of production and economic resources in North Darfur Adel Mahjoub Hussein told the Dubai-based al-Hadath TV that “President Bashir stepped down”.
  • According to CNN, the former head of state has been placed under house arrest and Sudanese army have reportedly surrounded Bashir’s palace to keep him from escaping.
  • In the midst of all the protest, one face and voice has remained clear that of Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old architecture student in Khartoum and who has since become the symbol of the popular protests.

After 30 years of being in power, Sudan president Omar al-Bashir has bowed to public outcry and stepped down.

On Thursday morning, the minister of production and economic resources in North Darfur Adel Mahjoub Hussein told the Dubai-based al-Hadath TV that “there are consultations to form a military council to take over power after President Bashir stepped down”.

According to CNN, the former head of state has been placed under house arrest and Sudanese army have reportedly surrounded Bashir’s palace to keep him from escaping.


Sudan president Omar al-Bashir

All political prisoners jailed by the Bashir government have been reportedly released.

Bashir, who is an indicted war criminal at the International Criminal Court for his alleged war crimes in Darfur, has been facing street protests for months calling for his resignation.

Last December, mass protests against Bashir’s three-decade rule erupted in Khartoum over the country’s spiralling economic woes that have over the past year seen inflation rates spike to the third highest in the world.

Also read: The end might be near for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir as he declares a state of emergency and dissolves his government


Since the protests erupted in Sudan late last year, security agents and riot police have cracked down on demonstrators but the army has not intervened

The shortages of basic commodities such as bread — the most consumed food item — were reported to be critical, while petrol stations had also run out of fuel. The protests then evolved to demand removal of Bashir with the protesters urging the army to help remove the president.

Tens of thousands of people have since been on the streets chanting anti-government slogans. Since Saturday, thousands of people have been maintaining a protest vigil outside military headquarters demanding Bashir removal.

In the midst of all the protest, one face and voice has remained clear that of Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old architecture student in Khartoum and who has since become the symbol of the popular protests.


Alaa Salah. (Mag)

On Monday evening, she was captured on camera on top of a car leading the demonstration in a song. The photo has since gone viral and viewed so widely.

The day they took the photo, I went to 10 different gatherings and read a revolutionary poem. It makes people very enthusiastic. In the beginning, I found a group of about six women and I started singing, and they started singing with me, then the gathering became really big.” She said.

A line in the poem she read – “The bullet doesn’t kill. What kills is the silence of people” – is popular with protesters, and was chanted by demonstrators in January 2018 and during unrest in September 2013.

While she may look petite in her physique Salah is brave as a lion.

“I have practiced presenting at the university; I don’t have an issue with speaking in front of people and at big gatherings.”

Salah who does not come from a political family says she took to the streets to fight for a better Sudan.

“Our country is above any political parties and any sectarian divisions,” she said.

I’m very glad that my photo let people around the world know about the revolution in Sudan… Since the beginning of the uprising I have been going out every day and participating in the demonstrations because my parents raised me to love our home,” She told the Guardian.


Alaa Salah

Salah comes from a simple Sudanese family and her mother is a fashion designer working with the traditional Sudanese Toub – the dress she captured wearing in the photographs – and her father owns a construction company.

The garment has since become a symbol of the female protesters, and Salah says she narrowly escaped arrest when she wore the toub at an earlier demonstration.

“The toub has a kind of power and it reminds us of the Kandakas,” Salah said.


Salah comes from a simple Sudanese family and her mother is a fashion designer working with the traditional Sudanese Toub

Kandakas were queens of the Nubian kingdom of Kush, which ruled much of what is now modern-day Sudan more than 3,000 years ago.

Salah now says she has to rest her voice as her throat has become sore from all the chanting this week and with the downfall of Omar al-Bashir her work may be done for now and she can take a rest.