African Success Stories: Renaissance in Khartoum

We started the African Success Stories theme on our social media to highlight different ideas of what is an ‘African Success Story.’ Here is one of our African Success Stories from Ramey Dawoud, a Sudan/USA based musician, actor and activist.

Ramey Dawoud

One African success story that is near and dear to me is the current rise in interest in history taking place in Sudan. There is a sort of renaissance taking place in Khartoum. I believe this is much needed in a capital city as diverse as Khartoum, where you have a population consisting of hundreds of various tribes and ethnic backgrounds. You have a generation that has suffered under an oppressive regime for the past 27 years. When your whole life, you are kept from understanding and learning about who you are, you grow up with little to no knowledge of self… which leads to no value of self. A sad reality is that we have always chosen individual failure over cooperative, collaborative success.

This sudden spike in studying of history, the Kingdoms of Kush, Nubian Pharaohs and Queen Kandakas gives young people a sense of identity, both group and individual, and provides the confidence needed to pursue one’s goals. Now many have the mindset of doing for ourselves, rather than waiting for someone else to do for us.

Andariya comes to mind. An online magazine founded by Omnia Shawkat, Andariya has become one of the leading digital platforms sharing stories, art, and the latest news from both Sudans.

Weam Shawgi is another example. Weam is the founder and owner of Iseis Café — a Nubian themed coffee shop, with books of all sorts lining the walls, making it a popular spot amongst the youth of Khartoum. In music there is Salute Yal Bannot — an all girls band that has taken the Khartoum music scene by storm after their song “African Girl” spread like wild fire on social media.
Then there is Sudan Film Factory — led by Talal Afifi, SFF gives filmmakers a place to call home. Through workshops, and collaborative efforts with professionals inside and outside of Africa, SFF provides filmmakers with the opportunity to enhance their craft and some have gone on to participate and even win awards internationally. Since 2014 SFF has given Khartoum three successful rounds of the Sudan Independent Film Festival. In fact, Faisal Goes West, a movie that I starred in made its Sudanese premiere at the inaugural festival.

This paved the way for similar groups and organisations to come together outside of Khartoum. Probably most notable is TEDxWadMedani. TEDxMedani has had four TED events which led to the same group to create an annual film festival currently preparing its 3rd consecutive run.
It is these groups of young people passionate about their roots and history who will go on to shape not just the countries they represent but our beloved continent as a whole.

I personally have always believed that the way forward for Africa begins by first learning our past. This is why I try to always share what little I know, whether it be through my music, organisations, or even my online presence. It’s funny, some people get annoyed.. they say I talk about Africa too much. Perhaps they don’t understand, being African is not a part time job.