Archive | November, 2008

Mo Ibrahim on Afro-optimism

29 Nov

“Africa was perceived, it still is to some extent, as a place which is very difficult to do business in. I don’t share that view. Africa has 53 countries. And you find that three or four countries in these 53 are dominating the news.

There is, I think, a problem with image for Africa. Whenever there is a problem with image, whenever there is a gap between reality and perception, there is a good business there. I’m an African. If I don’t do it, who else will do it?” Continue reading


More Hilarity from Arab Leaders

28 Nov

This time, its the Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi. Whenever Gaddafi speaks, I usually prepare myself for the absurdity that will surely ensue. Most of the time, I can’t tell if he’s purposely being ridiculous and secretly testing how many idiots will agree with him, or he’s just outright inane. This ’07 video however is proof that he’s got a great sense of humor, because I am sure he’s not serious.

All hail the Queen

28 Nov

Who ever said monarchies were no fun, obviously did not watch this video by Queen Rania on youtube:

I Jinxed India!

27 Nov

I have a confession: through a convoluted turn of events, I might have something to do with the recent Indian terrorist attacks! (Dear FBI: my middle name is “kidding,” please disregard the confession on this blog, you have more important things to do anyway.)

Well, I’ll tell you what happened, and you be the judge of my connection, either way, I do believe it to be incredibly ironic. So this morning, as I was getting ready to head out to work, I was thinking: “why do most people mistake me for an Indian?” When I was first told I looked Indian, I was surprised to be honest. I did not think I looked Indian at all. Even though I still hold that view, I do see where people are coming from. In the States, I get asked if I am Indian 90% of the time, a lot of the time by Indians. The other 10%, I have been mistaken for Dominican, Brazilian, Polynesian, and the really sharp self-described “worldly” ones just point out that I am probably North African. So I said to myself: Self, you know it is actually better to be mistaken for an Indian, because then all the subsequent conversations will revolve around people’s proclamation of their love for Chutney, questions about Cricket, or if it gets really intense, they will want to discuss their friend Sanji’s arranged marriage, and inquire about whether or not my family is forcing me to marry “that Indian doctor.”

This I thought, was a lot easier than saying that I am Sudanese and getting either one of two looks: The “Aww I’m sorry” look, which usually comes from people who are generally sorry anyone has to be from Africa, or the Arab world (or lo and behold, an Arab country in Africa!) They then take liberty in divulging their views on the Darfur “genocide,” terrorism, that Arab restaurant they tried the other day, and how they would have never guessed I am Sudanese, because I look Indian. The other look comes from people who take it upon themselves to hate anyone who is not a disenfranchised African. Its more of the “you have no right to have that Gucci bag and enjoy life, while your people kill Darfurian babies, you Arab Sudanese murderer, you” look. That look I generally ignore, because it usually comes from the “omg, Africa is not a country?” crowd.

Anyway, I kept thinking about this while driving to work, and decided that from now on, if someone decides I am Indian, then so be it, because I am sick of discussing the politics of my country and neighboring train wrecks. I decided that some days, it’s just easier to discuss the deliciousness that is Masala and why I worship cows. That’s until, two hours later, India was all over the news for terrorism. Damn. No more “are you going to wear that red dot on your forehead” conversations. I am afraid I jinxed India!

Mexico on Darfur

25 Nov

This is an interesting article by the Sudan Tribune titled: Unfortunate Mexican statement on ICC move against Sudanese President.

Qatar’s Museum of Islamic Art

22 Nov

I love Qatar for many reasons and have great respect for its people, culture, and leaders. I also love the Doha Debates, Qatar Foundation, Shafallah Center, Qatar Open, and most importantly, Qatar’s commendable foreign policy. There is yet another reason I can add to my “Why I love Qatar” list, which is: The Museum of Islamic Art. The museum houses the world’s largest Islamic art collection, at over one thousand artifacts. Check out Aljazeera’s coverage of the museum’s unveiling ceremony, which was attended by one thousand dignitaries from around the world. Fantastic!

Side note: I wonder how much money it took to ‘lure‘ renowned architect I.M. Pei out of retirement.

What Does Angelina Jolie Have in Common With Arab Leaders?

21 Nov

Well, other than the fact that they have all been blessed with incredible beauty, turns out she’s also a fan of censoring any criticism of her image. According to the New York Times, Jolie has been orchestrating her public image for years, successfully constructing a facade of sainthood. Many moons ago, Jolie was known for looks ,wild ways, infatuation with blood and sharp objects, and her über sexual persona—she is bisexual. She is also the woman who stole Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston (how dare she do that to Rachel!) However, instead of being known as a husband snatcher, she is constantly praised for her international mini-army and her humane efforts worldwide. So how did she transform her public image?

The article states that when Pitt and Jolie “negotiated with People and other celebrity magazines this summer for photos of their newborn twins and an interview, the stars were seeking more than the estimated $14 million they received from the deal. They also wanted a hefty slice of journalistic input — a promise that the winning magazine’s coverage would be positive, not merely in that instance but into the future.”

The article goes on to describe Jolie’s restrictions on what is to be reported about her: “According to the deal offered by Ms. Jolie, the winning magazine was obliged to offer coverage that would not reflect negatively on her or her family.”

Smells like Arab leaders.

Disclaimer: The aforementioned “analysis” has no intellectual merit whatsoever.

3enda Hosni Thanni

21 Nov

Of all the tyrants and dictators in the Arab world, Hosni Mubarak is my favorite. (If you haven’t picked up on the sarcasm, pick it up and let’s move on to the next point.) Hosni Mubarak has always been so dedicated to ensuring the “goodwill” of his people. He has never been a fan of nepotism or cronyism, and obviously does not go to sleep before making sure every Egyptian street child is warm and well fed. His cabinet has also been known for integrity and allegiance to the improvement of Egypt. Of all the lovely dictators in the Arab world, he has never been one to say something and do something else. Also, he is famous for his transparency and openness to criticism (especially by the Egyptian press.)

Looking at pictures of Hosni Mubarak give me tingles in silly places. Also,hearing this quote about his impression of South Sudanese people warmed my heart and made my day:

“I was overjoyed when I found out that all Southerners I met spoke Arabic because they were trained in Egypt”

Collective “Awww” pweaze. How selfless and positively affirming of him! How magnanimous is he? I especially love that no Sudanese person is treated badly under his watch, or ever brutally murdered or shot like a dog. Love him.

Some crazy people, who are pooh-poohers of every great person on earth, say that he is only interested in South Sudan because of Egypt’s desperate need for the completion of Jonglei Canal, a hydro-construction project that guarantees Egypt more than two billion cubic meters of Nile water annually. I say hydropolitcal motives have no place in his tender heart!

Those people are delusional and clearly want to convince the world that Hosni Mubarak has special interests, and is not doing this for his love and sincere concern for the Southern Sudanese people. After all he did say:

“I came to Juba for the first time and it gives you an indication that we are concerned about southern Sudan”.

Say Nay to silly skeptics and vindictive vendettas. Haters.

Quote of the Day

20 Nov

سوداني الجنسيه
والزفه مصريه
واللبسه هنديه
ودي الرقصه غربيه
يا حليل الهويه

Awad Dakkam song by Taha Suliman

The Dichotomy Between Religion and Culture in Sudan (Part 2)

20 Nov

I began the first part of “The Dichotomy between Religion and Culture in Sudan” by proclaiming my love for Islam, so I thought it would only be appropriate to begin the second part by proclaiming my love and attachment to our great Sudanese culture. So here it is: I love Sudanese culture. However, many aspects of our culture sadden me, and matters only get worse when religion is used to sanctify shameful cultural practices. Being from North Sudan, I will obviously have a different view of “culture” than someone from other areas, so forgive me if I am not all-inclusive. However, I am not being divisive either, because in the broad sense, what I am writing about is applicable to any place where religion and culture are intertwined and where one is wrongfully used to justify the other (almost every non-secular country.) I do believe that the two are extremely important and fascinating aspects of life. I can not imagine a life where one is living in absolute terms of religious practices, completely ignoring cultural traditions, or vice versa. However, I find it mind-boggling that some who claim to be “religious” choose to believe in clearly anti-Islamic behaviors, and even defend culture on account of Islam.

A good example of this is marriage in North Sudan. Now this is a big one to tackle, and I will probably address this numerous times in the future, because I believe it is one of the most disappointing aspects of Sudanese life. How so? Marriage in Sudan has been historically afflicted by ancestral antagonism. Most families in the North consider it a taboo to marry from Southern tribes. North Sudanese families are so enchanted by this notion of “Nasab” and “Asal” (Lineage and tribal affiliation) that it has successfully hindered marriages between people from distinctly different tribes. I am not referring to marriage between a Muslim from the North and a Christian Southerner here, but what I am getting at is the objection to marriage between two tribes of the same religion, especially when one is considered “3abd.” Inter-tribal marriage, so to speak, is sometimes rationally justified (because people often associate better with others of similar backgrounds) so I understand that it is not for everyone. But, if you are going to say that you are a good Muslim, you can not at the same time support prejudicial notions like investigating a family’s lineage to find out if the person in question is descendants of slaves—also known as having a “3irig”– which is utterly unacceptable and un-Islamic. You can’t be a racist and a good Muslim at the same time.

By supporting such discriminatory practices, people are hurting the culture rather than preserving it. Culture is dynamic not static, so we must be able to recognize that tribes cannot be permanently isolated and intermarriage will inevitably happen. The aforementioned case in point is only one of many where Islam is incorrectly used to validate appalling cultural practices which ironically negate Islam. It is absolutely essential to be able to recognize the distinction between religion and socially constructed cultural values, and be able to prioritize accordingly. It is also essential to admit that if you acknowledge certain un-Islamic cultural behavior, you are not to quote Islam. Having traditions and a rich culture is essential to humanity, but having the ability to discard negative cultural practices and evolve past them is, in my opinion, more valuable. Islam gave us the ability to do so, and I hope that Sudan embraces that fact, which is a far better implementation of Islam than using it as means of imposing rigid and ridiculous rules on people in the name of religion.