Sudan now: governing without a government

As you walk into the area of Khartoum now completely controlled by the young ‘revolutionaries’ down town, you see the difference. Street outside: full of rubbish with plastic bags strewn across the roads. Street inside: clean of rubbish – bags to put your garbage placed strategically around and young men with long hair and skinny jeans roaming around, picking up trash and encouraging others to help. Overnight as the crowds thin out, they wash the roads in teams. People arranging prayer areas and ensuring privacy to do so. Volunteers organising checkpoints every few metres to ensure no one gets through with weapons. Women search women and men search men. “We apologise for the search brothers and sisters. This is for your own safety and your brother’s safety”, is the refrain repeated to anyone moving through. A pharmacy run by young volunteer pharmacists to dispense medication to those who need it. Medicine provided by companies and individuals for free. Two blood donation trucks to ensure those injured in the protests obtain the blood they need. People collecting cash contributions and bags of money left at the side of the road for anyone to take if they need money to get home. Shifts organised – the ‘day revolutionaries’ go home at night after the ‘night revolutionaries’ arrive to take over. Tents set up and run by volunteers to arrange cash, water and food donations. Traditional Sudanese hospitality not forgotten – anyone visiting MUST drink tea or water. No cars allowed in unless you’re bringing donations – water, drinks, food. No exceptions or ‘mujamala’ even for foreign diplomats – the U.S. Charge D’Affaires was stopped outside when he came to visit. Street children being fed and looked after – included in this new society. Group parties on every corner singing nationalist Sudanese songs and performing traditional dances. Security? Taken care of. Makeshift blockades of bricks and borrowed razor wire block the roads to stop any attacks at night after a few failed but violent attempts to forcibly disperse the sit-in. Missing the football? Supporters sent a huge screen to watch the last big Barcelona match. The roads in Sudan are normally chaotic and, during a black out, the traffic police (if they appear), can hinder more than they help. But the roads leading to the army HQ have been taken over by the people who are happily directing huge volumes of traffic and hundreds of parked cars. Children are given flags and biscuits, carried on shoulders so they can see above the throngs of people. Birthday parties, weddings – you name it, it’s happening right there in the street. Christian Sudanese Coptics holding fabric shades over the heads of their Muslim brothers while they pray under the hot sun. Without any ‘leaders’ whatsoever, these young Sudanese managed to effectively run this sit-in, this mini ‘state’ within the capital, and do so politely, without infighting, ego or provocation. Instead humour, cooperation, unity and solidarity are the order of the day. The Sudanese people have a long and proud history of peaceful change. Stay proud.

Opheera McDoom op Facebook