In Sudan, Fridays are dedicated to the family when all children meet at the father’s house for breakfast. This writer had the privilege of being with such a family last Friday. This was the house of Abdallah Khalil the second Prime Minister of Sudan from 1956-58. Abdallah Khalil’s son Amir had visited their farm house in Omdurman that morning and brought plenty of dates and other fruits. Amir Abdallah Khalil showed me his father’s room which was no less than a museum with antique collections of typewriter, telephone, music recorder, trophies, rifles and swords. There were photos framed on the walls showing Abdallah Khalil with many heads of state. The one that caught this writer’s attention was the one with Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. This photo was taken when Nehru visited Sudan.
Abdallah Khalil’s son Amir served the United Nations for 4 decades. He retired as Assistant Director General of Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. After retirement he was assigned to UN headquarters at New York as Advisor to FAO for Security Council Affairs. Currently Amir is the Chairman of Omdurman Teaching Hospital.
This photograph shows Eid greetings being exchanged with a hug after performing the last Ramadan prayer in the mosque, be it with friends or strangers. Photo & Design Credit to my colleague Eng.Khalid Saad
Dhirajlal Tribhubandas Ramjidas Shah was born in Sudan in 1930. He was the senior most active member of the Indian Community in Sudan. He had narrated to me the day in 1956 when he had received Mr.Kidwai the first Head of Indian Mission in Sudan. Dhirubhai, as he was called, was agile and alert even at the age of 87. He attended all events, be it the National Day celebrations at the Embassy of India in Khartoum or celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday at the Indian School in Omdurman. I last met him on 7th June, at the Iftar jointly hosted by the Indian club and the Police Association of Omdurman .He was the cynosure of all eyes even on that evening. He breathed his last three days later. We pray for his soul to rest in eternal peace at his heavenly abode.
The Police Association of Omdurman felicitated Dr. Anil Kumar Mithani at an Iftar hosted by the Indian club in Omdurman on the 12th day of Ramadan. Dr.Anil Kumar Mithani a Senior Consultant Urologist and President of the Omdurman Indian Community (truly the Indian diaspora, Sudanese nationals of Indian origin mainly from Rajkot) has excellent public relations. Senior Police Officers like Haytham Osman and others participated at the Iftar which presented a commendable group performance of songs and dance by children of the Police community. Ambassador of India who returned from Asmara the same evening attended the event. He conveyed Ramadan Greetings to all and praised the Police for the good job done since the law and order situation is very much under control in Sudan. He appreciated the joint cultural exchange between the Police Association and the Indian community and looked forward to more such events.
Exchange of Cultural Programs is a symbol of strong bilateral relations between two countries. So is the case between India and Sudan. Embassy of India in Khartoum in partnership with Ministry of Culture Sudan brought Goa Kala Academy under the aegis of Indian Council of Cultural Relations in New Delhi.
Goa Kala Academy performed folk songs and dances of Goa at the National Theatre of Omdurman on Thursday 18 May. Goa is a picturesque state in the West Coast of India. Goa has its own rich tradition of folk lore and folk art tradition. A ten member troupe from Goa Kala Academy performed various folk songs and dances with colourful costumes and ‘props’. The dance forms ranged from winding and unwinding of braids with brisk footwork, lamp dance with gymnastic skills balancing the brass lamps on their heads, warrior dance with swords and horse heads on the waists and stilt dances.
Minister of State for Culture Dr.Hasabalrasoul Ahmed inaugurated the program along with the Ambassador of India Amrit Lugun. They were joined by the Commissioner of Omdurman Majdi Abdulaziz.
The audience comprised Ministers, Diplomats, Dignitaries and members from both Sudanese and Indian communities. The Cultural troupe will also perform in Madani.
National Unity Day was introduced by the Government of India and inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. The objective is to pay tribute to one of the founding leaders of the Republic of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel known as the Iron Man of India. As the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of Independent India, Vallabhbhai Patel is credited for the integration of over 550 princely states into India and for consolidating and modernizing the administrative service. Sardar Patel shaped the narrative of a modern, strong and self-reliant India.
National Unity Day is celebrated by the people of India, organizing variety of events. Embassy of India in Khartoum invited friends of India and the Indian community to celebrate the 141st Birth Anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on Saturday, 5th November at the Indian Community School in Omdurman. The celebrations involved school children to participate in essay competition, dressing up as freedom fighters and leaders of India, speeches and patriotic songs. Ambassador of India H.E. Amrit Lugun opened a photo exhibition on Sardar Patel, paid floral tributes and gave away prizes to the winners of the essay competition. There was also a screening of a short film on the great leader. Ambassador spoke to the large gathering talking about India’s history of freedom movement and Patel’s contribution to nation building in myriad ways.
Mahatma Gandhi had left India but the call of the nation brought him back. He had lived in South Africa for 21 years and when he returned he became the leader of the Indian Nationalist Movement which finally got India its independence from the British. The Father of the Nation, as he is known, was earlier a member of the Indian diaspora. Celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on 2nd October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Indian diaspora should be looked at, not just in terms of numbers, but also in terms of strength. He said that the strength of Indian diaspora can convert ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain gain’. PM Modi added that when the world is keen to engage with India, the Indian diaspora can help to overcome the obstacle of the ‘fear of the unknown’. PM Modi inaugurated a centre for the Indian diaspora in New Delhi named ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra’.
Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday was celebrated by the students of Omdurman Indian School which was organized by the Embassy of India, Teachers of the school and members of the Indian community. The students participated in Essay and Drawing competitions and three students spoke on Mahatma Gandhi. There was uninterrupted live telecast of Prime Minister Modi’s speech on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s (the Great Soul) birthday also observed as International Day of Non-Violence by United Nations.
The name of Indian Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh rang a bell in my mind. He is the man who planned the successful surgical strike on the terrorist’s launchpads on Thursday along the de-facto border of Pakistan. He is the official who briefed the media and today is the face of the Indian Army. Yes, he is the same gentleman whom I had befriended in Khartoum. He was then the Chief of Operations with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in 2006. I had saved his professional card as you can see, he was Colonel Ranbir Singh, YSM when he was in Sudan.
I remember him as a gentleman, well read and always smiling. In fact, I had written about him in the local English daily Khartoum Monitor on Sunday, November 19, 2006. I have uploaded his picture which I had taken when he spoke on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s Birthday at the Embassy of India, Khartoum. The soil of Sudan has made me meet up with many luminaries from India. My salute to DGMO Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh. We are proud of you.
It was a privilege to listen to a talk given by Prof. A. K. Ramakrishnan from the Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi. He was invited by his former student from Sudan Khalid Abdalla Abdelwahab. The lecture was held at the Regional Institute of Gender, Diversity, Peace and Rights within the Afhad University for women. The topic was named ‘Issues of Women’s movements in India’.
I remember some of the names he mentioned in his lecture: Akka Mahadevi, Ram Mohan Roy, Sarojini Naidu, Kamaladevi Chattopadhya, Jyotiba Phule, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, Sharmila Rege, Medha Patkar, Vandana Shiva and Mary Roy. India has seen women in the highest of positions. A bill to reserve a third of all seats in the lower house of Parliament and in states assemblies has never been passed since it was introduced almost 20 years ago. Even as a bill to provide 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies continues to be stuck in Parliament, Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat has said that a proposed legislation is on the cards this year to reserve 50 per cent of the seats in rural and urban local bodies for women. During the promos of the new film ‘Pink’ , versatile actor Amitabh Bacchhan said that he wants to see 50% women in all walks of life. Will the Patriarchal system of our society ever make this dream come true?