Published in The Citizen Newspaper – September 4th, 2013 in my weekly column Blography of Sudan
“Blog 45”, “What am I?”, “Who am I?” and “Where am I?” are the titles of the first four posts in this blog which were posted in October 2011. These titles reveal an interest in questioning and a pursuit of definitions and answers that becomes the nature of the blogger’s following posts.
“Basically, I’m skeptical, sarcastic, and female” writes the blogger describing herself, a mix of characteristics that can put a person in some quite interesting situations when in a city like Khartoum. It might be a rant on being broke turned to an exploration of the value of a human being or another on bleaching products widened into a discussion of identity. Luckily we get to read about these situations in the bloggers eloquent and quite intense language. Though she created a special category under the name “Rants” to speak out her passionate opinions on such situations, the truth is, the passion and intensity can be enjoyed almost all over the blog.
The blogger is from the “Sudanese diaspora of North America” and she is currently establishing a life in Sudan and in this process she once described herself as “still perplexed, still unable to fit in, still unable to ‘mainstream’.” That explains why the expected reader of this blog seems to be quite foreign to the Sudanese culture as the writer stops again and again to breakdown and explain Sudanese idioms and traditions that might be very normal for tose who live in Sudan. This provides a unique view into some aspects of life in Sudan, it is the view of someone who is both an insider and a fresh-eye. For example. this distant-proximity beautifully breaks down and explores the relations within the Sudanese family in posts like “Redefining The 3amma -Redefining the father’s sister-” and “Nas Nana -grandma and them-”.
This blog is written mainly in English and occasionally using some Sudanese words and phrases and providing an English translation. The blogger uses her bilingual skills to coin new phrases too, we can see that in the title her post “N wa Akhwatoha -N and her sisters-” which uses the Arabic grammatical expression to refer to the English N-word. Beautiful!
Right beneath the blog’s header we find a link to the website of the Sudanese spoken-word group Nas With Notepads (NWN) which indicates the bloggers interest in the art of spoken-word. And since her pieces vary between prose and spoken-word the following are one of each style. Check Blog #45 for more of her work and especially for part II of the “Shut up, you are Haram” piece to know what stories the T-Shirt brought with it. Don’t worry. You’ll know what I am talking about once you read the following pieces, enjoy.
From Alucan’s spokenword category:
POLITICKIN’ posted by Alucan on August 2, 2012
If you’re brown, you get the crown
For a limited time only, and subject to availability
Poster child for poverty
Stand there and look cute
With your big, round, tear filled eyes and
Your own personal fly
Placed oh so carefully on the corner of your mouth
They’re not interested in your education
Not interested in your degrees
In your languages or worldly ideas
It’s much more interesting to hear your struggle
Much more exotic to picture you rescued from the rubble
War-torn and broken
Saved by the “Benevolent Ones” and brought to the land of bread and butter
So you come home
You come home and you wait to be embraced by your own
Wait to have your self-worth finally set in stone
White ain’t right
But your shade, it’s gotta be just right
And your family’s connections gotta be tight
‘Cause in WhoVille
It’s all about who you know
That cash crop you grow
And the hot air you blow
And they’re not interested
Not interested in your education
Not interested in your degrees
In your languages or worldly ideas
It’s much more interesting to watch you struggle
Like crabs in a barrel, they snap at your feet
Tugging and pulling until they’re basking in the sick glow of your defeat
You’re a party favor
You represent jungles and safaris
Flying carpets and veiled beauties
Perfect for show and tell, you’re flaunted by all
‘Til the Twins fall
And then it’s not long before you cease to be exotic
Branded as a fanatic
And detested by the public
So you come home
You come home and you wait for them to take you in their arms
Wait for them to erase the scars
Over here you’re branded again
This time a slave
To the imperialist sahyouni (Zionist) wave
That is, until you’re needed
For your perfect accent
So those ignorant bastards
Can avoid disasters
Improve their image
Using your welcoming visage
And suddenly bit Amreeka (American Girl) is no longer khawajiyya (foreigner)
No longer fadee7a (a source of shame)
But “bittana! Sudaniya aseela!” (our daughter! A real Sudanese!)
So over there you’re a zealot
And over here you’re a sell-out
And though you’re screamin’ and kickin’
You know you’re stuck
In that wicked game of politickin’
“SHUTUP! YOU’RE HARAM!” posted by Alucan on November 04, 2011
This phrase seems like it’s about to come in real handy (props to @FouseyTube).
Especially since someone decided it was time to stamp out the female form from public view. Yup, women are good enough to give you life, but God forbid you should have to look at a print of one in the street! The horror – the shame!
The national effort to eradicate women by (not-so) slowly indoctrinating our ladies to adopt the ‘ibaya/burka/ invisibility cloak as their new uniform has come up with an ingenious and much more effective method – one that eliminates women from advertizements such as flyers and billboards.
It started off with spraypainting women’s faces in black on billboards and placards around the city. Then someone was like, “hey~ why waste all that money on spraypaint when you can just take them out all together? and what’s more, all that money we spend on female models and black spraypaint we can just save and then divide amongst ourselves!” and many a back was patted and many a pocket was fattened thanks to this great initiative.
Okay, so maybe it didn’t quite go like that. But the point is, all of a sudden ads which previously had women in them conveniently didn’t, and (not-so) little by little women completely disappeared from the Khartoum advertizing landscape.
Then a couple of weeks (maybe a month) ago someone was like, “but you guys, what about ads that are targeted towards families? or just women?” and then there was a lot of humming and hawing but then that same dude from last time was like, “i got it! cartoon characters!” and there was much rejoicing and he totally got a fat bonus.
Okay, so maybe the timeline is a little off. But the point is, suddenly families were computer animated, and you’re being told to get a breast exam by a cartoon hijabi drawn in pastel pink (“I’ve had my fake breast examined – have you?”).
But whyyyy? why are real women disappearing? and by real women, i don’t mean “a woman who can hold down a man and understand him”, i mean your basic everyday human live action woman.
I will not attempt to provide answers. I will, however, tell you what people say. Apparently, the ruling minority considers women (in any pose, dress, or form) too illicit (read: haram) for public view. One time, I helped translate this ad from English to Chinese for this big telecom company (<cough>MTN< cough>) as a favor for a friend. The draft ad was supposed to show a Chinese traditional opera singer with half of her face covered by a giant fan. It was beautiful. MTN rejected it because the woman (or rather, HALF HER FACE) was “too sexy”.
But then again, if a tea lady’s feet can be exciting enough to make it law to have them wear socks, then why not a fully covered, overly made-up, half face?
….maybe that’s why Sudanese girls wear so much make-up! *ZING*
And another thing: why only printed ads? Why not television ads like Alwabil Tuna, Alwabil Rice, and Alwabil Sanitary Pads ? (that last one doesn’t exist) Our eyes are still assaulted by the same fat, ugly, bleached-face lady on those ads. If anything, she‘s illicit! Her ghostly white face and bloated (probably) cancer riddled carcass are enough to make anyone think suicidal/homicidal thoughts.
But seriously, though. The removal of these printed ad campaigns, which were just starting to instill in us some much needed self love by portraying women who actually looked like us (you know, BROWN) – fine, heavily airbrushed forms of us – has dealt a double combo beatdown: not only are we left to wallow in our low self-esteem and high self-hatred, but we now have the extra burden of feeling washed out, insignificant, and completely rejected by our society.
Well, I guess I’m gonna be getting a lot of wear out of this awesome t-shirt I will be receiving in 17 days: