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Malcolm X and Sudan

This article was originally published in Sudanese Community and Information Centre – London.

Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) is by far one of the most influential activists of our time and increasingly so among the current Muslim generation that has gained ‘a new  kind of consciousness’. In  a time where Islamophobia has been on the rise in the West since 9/11 and Muslims are seeing their civil liberties being violated, Malcolm X remains a source of inspiration of strength, critical observation of the establishment and need for greater grassroots mobilisation.

For many people within and outside of the US context, Malcolm X holds a great place of respect and admiration as a man who advocated not only the rights of African-Americans but for the oppressed people of the third world, in Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia. Even Rosa Parks whose act of refusing to move from a white only seat triggered the civil rights movement, stated that Malcolm X – not Martin Luther King who capitalized on her act – was her hero.

Throughout his active political years with the Nation of Islam until his death, Malcolm X had a few, but interesting, encounters with Sudan and Sudanese. He travelled to Sudan in 1959, visiting Khartoum and Omdurman, he spoke of Sudanese in glowing terms saying, ‘’I was impressed the most by the Muslims of the Sudan. Their religious piety and hospitality are unmatched anywhere. I really felt in heaven and home there.’’

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.”

Malcolm X

Malcolm X in Sudan with Sheik Ahmed Hassoun, 1959.

Malcolm X in Sudan with Sheik Ahmed Hassoun, 1959.

In 1962 Malcolm X felt increased resentment from high ranking members of the Nation of Islam (NOI) in Chicago for his public recognition, and they were suspicious of his aspirations of eventually succeeding Elijah Muhammed. Malcolm sought to deflect these feelings by reducing his media appearances and promoting Elijah Muhammed’s cult by defending the NOI against orthodox Muslims. From the outset, the Muslim community in America looked at the NOI as a heretical cult but rarely spoke against it.

One of the first Orthodox Muslims to publicly criticise the NOI was a Sudanese student at Pennsylvania University called Yahya Hayari. Malcolm responded, both privately and publicly, with a letter to the Pittsburg Courier against Hayari saying it’s ‘’difficult for me to believe that you’re a Muslim from the Sudan’’, he further aggressively defended Muhammed and accused Hayari of sounding ‘’like a brainwashed, American negro’’ that had ‘’been in Christian America too long,’’ yet Hayari continued prompting Malcolm.

In the same year, another Sudanese student from Dartmouth College called Ahmed Osman, who attended services at No. 7 Mosque (the active Harlem Mosque that Malcolm himself set up) engaged with Malcolm during a question and answer session. He directly challenged Malcolm on Elijah Muhammed’s prophetic claims and the assertion that whites were literally ‘’devils’’. Osman was ‘’greatly impressed by Malcolm’’ but not by his answer. Afterwards, the two exchanged letters and Osman sent literature from the Islamic Centre in Geneva with which Malcolm was grateful for and requested more. Despite Osman’s insistence for Malcolm to join true Islam, he was unprepared.  These engagements between Yahya, Ahmed and Malcolm must have helped lay the tracks for Malcolm’s exploration of orthodox Islam as he would later incorporate their discourses against the NOI.

In chapter 18 of Malcolm’s autobiography edited by Alex Haley, when he discusses his Hajj and the warm exchanges with various Muslims who expressed their solidarity with the struggle of African-Americans in the US, he pointed out a Sudanese “high official’ who hugged him and said “You champion the American black people.” In Mecca, Malcolm befriended a Sudanese called Shiekh Ahmed Hassoun who taught in Mecca for 35 years, eventually served as Malcolm’s spiritual advisor, and later taught at the Muslim Mosque Inc. which Malcolm created four days after his departure from the NOI in 1964.  It was Shiekh Ahmed who prepared Malcolm’s body for burial at the Faith Temple Church of God in West Harlem where he lay in state and oversaw his burial.

It’s common that Sudanese feel their country is rarely recognised or mentioned some way or another in contemporary history, however, many should take pride in knowing that Sudanese were closely involved in the inspiring story that is Malcolm X’s incredible life.


Omar Zaki is an active half-Sudanese student with an BA History degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and former Union Secretary for the SOAS Student’s Union. He is currently doing an MSc in Global Politics at the London School of Economics (LSE) with a focus on conflict, humanitarianism and human rights.

AFRICA, Front Line Defenders

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Front Line Defenders issued 37 urgent appeals on behalf of human rights defenders at risk in  19 African countries – Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of  Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

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In 2012, human rights defenders in Africa 1 continued to face serious challenges to their security. Throughout
the year, Front Line Defenders received reports of killings, death threats, physical attacks, abductions, arbitrary detention, judicial or other forms of harassment and police intimidation. Many governments increased  repression against human rights defenders by introducing or maintaining legislation that substantially restricted their work. In countries affected by armed conflict, non-state actors also targeted human rights defenders.

The year was marked by the killing of two LGBTI rights defenders. In South Africa, Thapelo Makhutle was  brutally killed on 9 June 2012. He was a member and volunteer of LEGBO, an advocacy group based in  Northern Cape which provides support and training to rural LGBTI communities that face stigmatisation
and harassment.

No arrests have been made to date in connection with the killing. In Tanzania, the body of  Maurice Mjomba, who worked with the Centre for Human Rights Promotion (CHRP), was found on 30 July  in Dar es Salaam. The body showed signs of beating and strangulation. As reported in part 1 above, 18  journalists were murdered in Somalia, in most cases for their reporting of human rights abuses.

Numerous physical attacks were reported in Burundi, Chad, DRC, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and  South Sudan. In the DRC, human rights defenders based in the conflict-torn Eastern region were the most vulnerable. In particular, women human rights defenders were physically assaulted, and some of them  raped, while working in remote villages. The situation worsened even further with the advancement of the  rebel movement M23 who captured the city of Goma in December.

Meanwhile in Northern Mali, controlled  by Islamic Jihadists intent on imposing sharia law and a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, human rights  defenders were forced to practice self-censorship to avoid reprisal attacks.

HRDs focused on fighting corruption continued to face the threat of violent assault or prosecution.  Cases were reported in Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and South Sudan. In early July in South Sudan, an  anti-corruption HRD was abandoned by unidentified kidnappers after being subjected to a three-day ordeal  that included beatings and food deprivation. In Kenya, in November, an anti-corruption activist was assaulted and injured by two unidentified men. Before hitting him, one of the assailants demanded he drop a pending lawsuit alleging corruption in the procurement of election-related material.

Peaceful demonstrations were disrupted, often with violence, and human rights defenders involved  in the protests were arrested in Cameroon, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. In Swaziland, in  April, police forcibly disrupted events organized by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and  other civil society groups to commemorate the 1973 ban on political parties as they called for democratic  reforms; fifteen trade union members were arrested. Ahead of the protests, the Swazi Government issued  a notice of de-registration of TUCOSWA. In Zimbabwe, women human rights defenders from Women of  Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were arrested and detained for participating in demonstrations in January, June,  July, September, October and November.

There were numerous instances of judicial harassment in Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti,  Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritania, Sudan, The Gambia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. In Mauritania, prominent antislavery HRD Biram Dah Ould Abeid was detained for more than four months with six colleagues over allegations of “threatening state security” in connection with a protest against texts of Islamic scholars used

to endorse slavery. In Kenya, HRD and community organiser Phylis Omido was charged with incitement to
violence and unlawful assembly after staging a peaceful demonstration against a local lead-processing plant reportedly responsible for lead-poisoning in the Mombasa area.

She was eventually acquitted in November. Human rights defenders throughout the region had their work undermined by acts of police interference and intimidation, including in DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria,  Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. In Uganda, police in Fort Portal intensified their harassment against  members of Twerwaneho Listerners Club (TLC) through a series of repeated summons to appear before  the prosecutor, who warned them of possible criminal charges of incitement to violence and sectarianism in
reaction to TLC’s advocacy work on illegal evictions. In the Northern region of Gulu, police raided a drop-in  centre run by a women’s rights group in May without a search warrant. They confiscated computers, documents and other office materials and entered personal email accounts. Five members of the organisation,  which also works on sex work, were subsequently charged with living on the earnings of prostitution. In  Zimbabwe, police launched a manhunt against members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) and  raided the organisation’s offices in August, claiming to be searching for illegal and offensive material, and  arrested 44 members who were in a meeting at the time of the raid.
The space for independent civil society remained limited in Sudan, where HRDs were arbitrarily arrested and
subjected to intimidation, ill-treatment and torture, in particular at the hands of the National Intelligence and
Security Service. Civil society organisations were publicly accused of working for foreign interests and three organisations were closed down in December. The space for independent civil society is non-existent in Eritrea,
where dozens of journalists and other dissenting voices remained in long-term imprisonment without charge. In  August, reports emerged that three of the ten journalists arrested in a 2001 crackdown died in prison. No significant progress was realised in the fight against impunity in relation to the killings of HRDs that occurred in recent years. Although the cases of those suspected of involvement in the killing of Floribert Chebeya (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 2010 and of Ernest Manirumva (Burundi) in 2009 were both   heard on appeal, there was no hope that the proceedings would in the end deliver justice; calls to investigate senior figures within both countries’ security services, who may have been involved in the killings,
continued to be ignored.

Country in Focus:

Burundi Burundi’s reputation as country where human rights defenders and journalists enjoy substantial space to do their work is long lost. In recent years, the government has steadily imposed restrictions, either legal or de facto, on freedom of expression, of association and of peaceful assembly.

Most worrying in 2012 was the continuing use of violence and threats of violence against HRDs, in addition to the use of the judicial harassment and administrative measures to restrict their work. In February, Leonard Hakizimana, the head of the Matongo branch of the Ligue Iteka, was murdered after receiving repeated death threats. In June, the Bubanza correspondent of the independent radio station Radio Publique Africaine was the victim of a violent assault and had to be hospitalised. Two of his attackers were arrested, then released a few days later due to reported political pressure. In June, a prominent women’s rights advocate went into hiding as a result of multiple threats against her. Pro-government media outlets were used to foment hostility against prominent human rights defenders and journalists by running a continuous smear campaign against them.A number of HRDs continued to be dragged in court.

The president of an anti-corruption group was arrested in February and sentenced in July on charges of making false declarations in relation to a statement denouncing corruption in the judicial system. Because of an interview with a rebel group, terrorism-related charges were brought against a Radio Bonesha journalist, host of a popular talk show debating topical issues including human rights. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in May, and the appeal remains pending.By the end of 2012, proposals were put forward for draft legislation on non-profit organisations that included new restrictions on their activities, including a requirement for such organisations to renew their registration on an annual basis.

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Sudanese WHRDs at The Frontlines

The report on the Situation of Sudanese Women Human Rights Defenders, reflects the situation of Sudanese Women Human Rights Defenders during the period from 2009-2012. In this report we try to highlight the main challenges  facing WHRDs in Sudan, and document the escalating violations against them by state and non-state actors. The work of Sudanese WHRDs in the period covered in this report is the most risky and affected by the fundamental changes which took place during the 3 years this report (5)

 The secession of South Sudan in July 2011 created new challenges, especially in North Sudan where just months later a new civil war began in what became known as “the new south” (in the region of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile). Additionally, the conflict in Darfur continued to escalate since 2002.

Women’s Movements in Sudan took many turns through modern history, but the situation of Sudanese women is interconnected with the country’s complicated sociopolitical history, and ethnic power relations, that define the power and wealth distribution in the community.  The situation of women, both activists  and non-activists, is deeply affected by the historical developments and ethnic power relations which created the modern Sudanese state and society. Throughout this report we follow Sudanese women human rights defenders struggles, triumphs and risks. Reminding us of the situation of Sudanese Women Human Rights defenders, their achievements, the violations they deal with the increased risks they encounter during their human rights work.

Since 2009 a new wave of women’s movement in Sudan  began when Sudanese women human rights defenders started the new approach of direct confrontation with the government and the conservative Sudanese community. Women took their rejection  of discriminating laws and social patriarchy to the streets, demonstrating against the legislations that degraded women’s dignity. Laws such as articles 151-152 of the Criminal Act of 1991 , and the Khartoum Public Order Act of 1998 which controls women’s movements and appearances on the public space, and contains humiliating punishments like whipping in public for the crime of wearing so called “indecent clothing”. One of the main challenges facing WHRDs are  struggles with Sudanese government officials who act with impunity, hindering justice for the WHRDs.

In 2011 Sudanese people, inspired by the Arab spring, took the streets, demanding regime change. Women and youth led this movement,  which was violently cracked down on by the Sudanese authorities. Women found themselves victims of rape, detention and prosecution. At least 150 women were detained, sexually abused or tortured, while dozens were injured and beaten in the protests. The protests against the regime broke down again in June 2012,  when the attack on women human rights defenders was more violent.  Fourteen women were detained for more than 5 weeks, while another 100 wee detained for days or hours during the 2 months of demonstrations. The police used live ammunition against protestors, killing Tahany, a 17 years old female student protester. The police fired rubber bullets against peaceful protester which led to the injury of four WHRDs. Women Human rights defenders in Sudan are living at risk, without supporting networks or protection mechanism from either the government or NGOs. The lack of capacity of human rights NGOs in Sudan and the firm restriction forced on them by the Sudanese government means WHRDs face risks which could lead to them losing their lives, while simultaneously their work is highly underestimated and not documented. Sudanese WHRDs, work in a violent environment, putting their lives at risk, while they have no support or protection networks of any kind and they are disconnected from the regional and international protection and support mechanisms.

Act for Sudan

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Act for Sudan is an alliance of American citizen activists and Sudanese U.S. residents who advocate for an end to genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan. Act for Sudan is dedicated to advocacy that is directly informed by the situation on the ground and by Sudanese people who urgently seek protection, justice, and peace.

Guiding Values

  • Elevate the voices of Sudanese inside and outside of Sudan, in part, by viewing expert policy recommendations through the lens of the Diaspora and the displaced.
  • Approach advocacy in a holistic manner, taking into account all relevant issues and regions in both the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.
  • Identify the policies of the National Congress Party as the root cause of Sudan’s problems which include but are not limited to genocide, mass atrocities, displacement, and extreme poverty.
  • Address crises in Sudan in a timely manner that conveys a sense of urgency and upholds the dignity of the Sudanese people.
  • Advocate for what is necessary rather than what is politically correct or expedient.
  • Advocate for the civil, political, social and economic rights of the Sudanese people, including the opportunity for democratic transformation.
  • Create a partnership with Members of Congress that yields bold action with regard to U.S. policy.
  • Value an inclusive and collaborative process that engages, develops and empowers a network of grassroots activists.
  • End impunity.

Alliance Members:

Abukloi Enterprises, Inc.
Lightfoot, VA

Abyei Ngok Community Association – U.S.

Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan
Jacksonville, FL

African Soul, American Heart
Fargo, ND

American Anti-Slavery Group
Boston, MA

Americans Against the Darfur Genocide
Washington, DC

American Friends Service Committee

Arry Organization for Human Rights and Development

Barnabus Fund
United Kingdom

Blue Nile Association of North America

Brooklyn Coalition for Darfur & Marginalized Sudan
Brooklyn, NY

“Change the World. It just takes cents.”
Denver, CO

Colorado Coalition for Genocide Awareness and Action
Denver, CO

Connecticut Coalition to Save Darfur
Vernon, CT

Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy
Falls Church, VA

Darfur Action Group of South Carolina
Columbia, SC

Darfur and Beyond
Phoenix, AZ

Darfur Human Rights Organization

Darfur Interfaith Network
Washington, DC

Darfur People’s Association of New York
Brooklyn, NY

Dear Sudan, Love Marin
Tiburon, CA

Essex County Coalition for Darfur
Montclair, NJ

Foundation for Global Collaboration and Peace
New York, NY

Fur Cultural Revival
Portland, ME

Genocide No More–Save Darfur of Redding, CA
Redding, CA

Georgia Coalition to Prevent Genocide
Atlanta, GA

Human Rights & Advocacy Network for Democracy (HAND)
Brooklyn, NY

Idaho Darfur Coalition
Boise, ID

International Justice Project
Newark, NJ

Investors Against Genocide
Boston, MA

Iowa Center for Genocide Prevention
Des Moines, IA

Jewish World Watch

Jews Against Genocide
New York, NY

Joining Our Voices
Baton Rouge, LA

Lane County Darfur Coalition
Eugene, OR

Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur
Boston, MA

Never Again Coalition
Portland, OR

New York Coalition for Darfur and All Sudan
New York, NY

New York Darfur Vigil Group
New York, NY

Nuba Mountains American Advocacy Group
Fresno, CA

Nuba Mountains Advocacy Group, USA
Batavia, OH

Nuba Mountain Peace Coalition
Dallas, TX

Nuba Mountains International Association USA

Nuba Vision Coalition, Inc;

Nubia Project

One Million Bones
Albuquerque, NM

Orange County for Darfur, a project of Living Ubuntu
Newport Beach, CA

Our Humanity in the Balance
Asheville, NC

Persecution Project Foundation
Culpeper, VA

San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition
San Francisco, CA

Save Darfur Washington State
Seattle, WA

Servant’s Heart Relief

Society for Threatened People
New York, NY

Southern Sudan Project
Richmond, VA

Sudan Advocacy Action Forum
Lexington, SC

Sudan Freedom Walk
New York, NY

Sudan Human Rights Network

Sudan Unlimited
San Francisco, CA

Stop Genocide Now
Redondo Beach, CA

The Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Church Alliance for a New Sudan
Washington, DC

THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy
Alexandria, VA

Triangles of Truth
New York, NY

Use Your Voice to Stop Genocide RI
Portsmouth, RI

Voices for Sudan
Washington, DC

World Without Genocide
Edina, MN

If you are interested in joining Act for Sudan please email

Homosexual History in Africa – Zande Warriors

Many today feel that homosexuality was something that never existed in Africa until the Europeans came and began to colonize and spread their sexual evils amongst other things to the continent’s people.  But as with most things we hear concerning this in the black church or in the barbershops or beauty salons; this is an absolute myth and lie that has been told to further demonize society’s current view of homosexuality and bi-sexuality.So often we overlook ancient and recent history and pretend things didn’t even exist because they don’t fit our present view of what we deem is morally correct or acceptable.  For example there are cave paintings that were created by the San Bushman in Africa 2000 years ago that show men having sex (seems I am not the only one who loves porn).


 While searching the internet for information related to this topic, I came across articles concerning the Zande (Azande) warrior tribe in Sudan and Congo.  These warriors were featured on a show on Spike-TV in 2010 “Deadliest Warrior: Aztec Jaguar vs Zande Warrior”.  It showcased their ferocity, weaponry and fighting skills (clip is below).  Of course what they may not have known is that in the not so distant past, these warriors not only practiced homosexuality and bi-sexuality but actually married boys or young men.

Warriors would select a boy between the ages of 12-20 years of age and go to his parents and request the boys hand in marriage.  The warrior would have to pay a bride price for the boy which would be in the form of spears (which are still valuable today) and other goods.  Once married the warrior referred to the boy’s parents as gbiore and negbiore…”father-in-law and mother-in-law”.  He and the boy addressed one another as badiare “my love or my lover”.  The boy took on house hold responsibilities that included fetching water, building a fire and holding the warrior shield when traveling.  The two slept together at night and the warrior would satisfy his sexual desires between the boy’s thighs.  It was the duty of the warrior husband to give his boy-wife a spear and shield when he became of age.  He was then trained to become a warrior and joined the warrior company.  Once a warrior, he then took on a boy-wife of his own.  This was all documented and later published by English anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard in early 20th century.

This practice was not limited to just the warriors of the Zande people.  If a boy appealed to a Zande prince, the prince would take on the boy as a page or servant.  The prince would also offer the boy’s family compensation.  When or if the prince died the page/s would also be killed to join him in death because they consumed the “prince’s oil” (wow; read between the lines on that one).

There were some men who had female wives but also married boys.  When war broke out, they took their boys with them where they would perform duties at base camp.  If another man had relations with the boy, the husband could sue the other man for adultery.

This is just one of many examples that I have come across during my research.  It is widely believed with the evidence of the current fossil record that the roots of all homosapien life began in Africa.  Homosexuality and Bisexuality are apart of the over all natural dynamics of human sexuality and has existed for thousands of years…IN AFRICA!

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