The Oasis Reporters
April 12, 2019
Thirty years ago when Omar al-Bashir overthrew the military regime of Jaafar El Nimeiri, something else changed in the life of the women of Sudan.
“I clearly remember my childhood was taken away. We were young, but we dressed freely as teenagers and pre-teens,” Roubi El Roubi explains, “Suddenly, everything changed: The way we dress changed, our school uniforms changed. For my generation, it was a strange experience, we had a taste of freedom and then it suddenly transformed. We became sexualised objects and our bodies became a battleground for those in power.” She told France 24 TV that she was ten then.
Exactly three decades after the 1989 coup, the 41-year-old activist and member of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party said she was exhilarated by the leading roles women played on the front lines of the latest anti-government protests.
It took the powerful singing voice of a Sudanese female singer in a white toub, traditional galabiya or long gown of native Sudanese women that went viral to ignite the final push that toppled Al Bashir.
Suddenly, 22-year-old Alaa Salah, an architecture student became the symbol of the repressed female power in traditional Sudanese society which was replaced by the Sharia law imposed by the dictator to entrench himself in power.
The new Islamist outlook introduced by Gen. Bashir imposed on the ancient land at the crossroads of African trade routes, where merchants from as far as India and Anatolia settled, helped to upset greatly, the cultural heterogeneity that was an integral part of Sudanese identity.
Salah’s garment became the nostalgia and longing for a cultural renaissance that is defiant of Bashir’s new order that he tried to use in obliterating 3,000 years of Sudanese history.
Additional reporting : France 24