Keeping faith with my grandfather’s Sudan

Daisy Abboudi

It feels as if Daisy Abboudi has known Sudan, her grandfather’s country of birth, all her life, yet she has only visited once when Sudan seemed set on a democratic path. Now the recent military coup has shaken her. Read her piece in the Jewish  Chronicle:

“Sudanese people are the best people in the world. I am telling you. They are the best people in the world”, my grandfather, Eliaho, told me a few months before he passed away. We quickly understood what he meant. One day, we asked a shopkeeper at the market for a lunch recommendation; he took us to his house and fed us himself. On another occasion, no less than five strangers led us around Omdurman, trying to help us locate my grandparents’ old house.

Almost a month ago, on 25th October 2021, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (Commander-In-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces) launched a coup. Facilitated by an uneasy alliance between al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Himedti’ Dagalo (commander of Sudan’s paramilitary militia), Prime Minister Hamdok and other ministers were put under house arrest, where they remain. The country has been subjected to an internet and communications blackout ever since.

While we were in Sudan, our driver and guide was an English Language graduate, a revolutionary whose best friend Ali had been killed whilst protesting in 2019. He talked passionately of a brighter future for his country. At one point, he gestured to the headscarf I had chosen to wear, saying: “You know, you don’t have to wear that here. Not any more.”

I haven’t been able to contact him since 28th October.

The people of Sudan are now protesting once again. Mobilising miraculously in a country without internet or mobile connections, millions march, peacefully and defiantly risking their lives, refusing to accept another military rule.

I am under no illusions. I understand that a democratic civilian government is likely to be slower to pursue normalisation with Israel than a military dictatorship. I know what the general population of Sudan thinks of Israel and, by extension, of Jews. The reason I study Sudan instead of living there is as a direct result of antisemitism; the numerous graffitied swastikas and horned Stars of David decorating the streets of Khartoum reminded me of that.

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