Making Sense of the High Profile Activists

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So Elhaj Warrag wrote an article and so did Moniem Al Jak, about many of Alex De Waal’s latest articles including his review of John Young’s book on the “Fate of Sudan”.

When I first started hearing these names around me, names of people, books, events and fancy initials that I seemed to lack the tools to decode, I felt so ashamed. After all I claim to have some interest in Sudanese politics; I should be able to understand that.

De Waal is the founder of Making Sense of Sudan, a self-proclaimed “leading site for critical online debate and discussion about Sudan”!!! WOW, hah? a big juicy reason to be more interested in this whole conversation. Such reasons kept revealing themselves, a researcher who’s the expert in Sudan, a book that is the road-map of understanding the Sudanese puzzle… etc etc.

So I read the articles, tried to acquire some of the books, followed the conversations and basically invested a good amount of mental labor trying to figure the seems-to-be-very-informed conversation these people are having.

As I read every article I had an uncanny feeling that I am missing some essential information preventing me from fully understanding what they are saying. It seemed like there is somethings I should have known. There are somethings the writers expected their readers to already know and therefore they are never mentioned.

This feeling in addition to a previous question of “how come I didn’t know about these people and books?” made me wonder: who knows about these people and books? Who reads these books? Who are these people writing for?

I was trying to figure this group out. This group of “high profile activists who work at NGO’s and as (consultants)”*; who seem to know it all, who can affect events and who have access to “the big people”.

One thing I could figure out is that they seem to enjoy talking to themselves about themselves

Their whole dynamic, actions, existence even are very … idiocentric.

They are not interested in “us”, viz. those who they haven’t met “in a Workshop organized by the UN” prior to this event or had a discussion with “in the office of Yasir Arman” after that event.

They are not interested in informing us, not in convincing us, not in winning us, not even in using us

Though in all their very informed conversations they seem to look down at the authorities involved and even blame them for the current state of Sudan, yet they are willing to see no one but these authorities.

High profile activists!!! They are weird. I don’t know if they figured out that the only way to protect the status of their VIP club is by monopolizing information, or if they just forgot there’s a world outside their VIP club.

Who knows.

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*as defined by a third party in a conversation on the topic

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2 responses to “Making Sense of the High Profile Activists

  1. Muzan, I see what you’re saying here and I guess many “normal, non-activist”-type citizens probably share your frustration and disappointment at the seemingly idiocentric nature of many of our democracy campaigners.

    Having said that, I still think you are being unfair to Haj Warag by including him in your questions: “who knows about these people and books? … Who are these people writing for?”.
    Myself not an activist by any means, I’m obliged to say that during the 2000s Haj Warag through his writings and media appearances was one of very few voices that helped me and many of my generation inside Sudan in resisting the continuous brain wash that was aimed at us from our schools, state media and certainly military service training camps. He was vigorously writing, debating and explaining an alternative to the seemingly only narrative that was available to us all these years.

    It is for the role he has played in engaging many Sudanese from INSIDE Sudan during that period, that I’m feeling you’re being too harsh on him in this regard.

  2. Pingback: On Activists and Audiences | Hibiscus with Ginger·

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