Whenever I saw a new Indian face in Khartoum I used to greet him and include him in my mailing list of ‘Indians in Sudan’. This helped me to build a good networking with the Indian community, be it in Omdurman, Khartoum, Kassala, and Port Sudan. Now that I’m back in Bengaluru, India I have noticed a few Sudanese students in my neighbourhood. Met Fuad in the morning on a Sunday at the market. We both were buying vegetables. He was surprised to hear me speak Arabic with a Sudanese dialect and was amazed to know that I had spent 15 years in his motherland.
In 1935 Mahatma Gandhi on his way to England had stopped over at Port Sudan and met the members of the Indian Community who hailed from the same region as Gandhi in India. The name of Gandhi is known to young and old in Sudan.I have met more than one Sudanese person named Gandhi.There is a street named after Gandhi.On the occasion of 150 years of celebrating the Mahatma popular Sudanese singer Reemaz Mirghani sang Bapu’s favourite song Vaishnava Jana to…
The meaning of cute is ‘attractive in a delicately beautiful way and clever’. Similar sounding ‘Qute’ means Bajaj’s motorised quadricycle. It is an advancement over the Bajaj Auto rickshaw. Qute looks cute and is clever because it is economical, fuel efficient, lesser polluting and has agility in crowded streets. I have seen only one in the streets of Khartoum. I am told it comes in many colours , red, blue, green, black. In my opinion, the people of Sudan prefer white cars and bigger the car greater is the status. We Indians take pride in seeing the ubiquitous Bajaj auto rickshaws in the streets but doubt whether the Qute will gain popularity. #FreeTheQute
If you see the building from a distance it may not ring a bell, but on closer look you will read Sudan. Yes this is the iconic Sudan Block at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune, India. In recognition of the sacrifices of the Indian troops in liberation of Sudan in the North African campaign during World War II, Sudan Government, in 1941, donated one hundred thousand pounds. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation in 1949 and the work was completed in 1954. The then Sudanese Ambassador Syed Rahamatalla Abdulla performed the naming ceremony on May 30, 1959. Earlier in 1958, India offered a six –acre plot in the Chanakyapuri area of New Delhi for the construction of Embassy of Sudan.
There is a special kind of celebration on New Year’s Eve in Khartoum the capital city of Sudan. The Shabab (youth) are on the streets merry making the whole night. 1st of January in Sudan has more significance than being the first day of a new year. The official ceremony that marked the Independence of Sudan was held on 1 January 1956 at the People’s Palace. That day both the Egyptian and British flags were lowered and the new Sudanese flag was raised by the first Prime Minister Ismail al-Azhari. Today is 62nd Independence Day of Sudan. Interestingly most Sudanese have 1st January recorded as their date of birth. Today I have to wish 114 Sudanese friends in Facebook on their birthday. Fortunately today is a public holiday.
The Embassy of India, Khartoum usually has a Sudanese speaker in almost every event organized by them in Khartoum. To celebrate the National Unity Day on 31st October’17, which commemorates the birthday of the Iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the speaker was Prof. Abdelgadir Elfadil Abdelgadir of the Department of Environment, AlNilein University. Prof.Elfadil studied at the University of Agriculture at Bangalore, India and later obtained his PhD from the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
The welcome speech at the function was delivered by Ambassador of India H.E.Amrit Lugun who also spoke about the great contributions made by Sardar Patel in integrating 565 Princely States and in unifying the nation. He was a barrister, statesman, a leader of Indian National Congress and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India.
Prof.Elfadil in his speech said the Sardar which means a leader was the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India and made huge efforts to restore the peace all across the nation. Sardar Patel is also referred as Bismarck of India but some say that his task of unifying India was more herculean than Bismarck in Germany.
At the function, the speeches were followed by two films one on the theme of Unity in Diversity in India and a documentary on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
In order to remember him annually, Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) was introduced by the Government of India in 2014. Many believe that if Sarder Vallabhbhai Patel had dealt with Kashmir independently there would have been one Jammu & Kashmir.
Last month my Industrialist neighbour Ashok Bhai Parekh informed me that a play named ’Yugpurush’ about Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual mentor Shrimad Rajchandraji will be staged in Khartoum. I had never read or heard about Shrimad Rajchandraji. I revisited the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi –‘The stories of my experiments with truth’. There I found in Chapter 26 the title ‘Raychandbhai’. This was the person Gandhiji often referred to as Kavi (Poet).The other name for Raychandbhai was Rajchandraji and Shrimad was an honorific or title. The play directed by Rajesh Joshi, written by Uttam Gada and music scored by Sachin-JIga is an award winning play. Besides many awards, Yugpurush has won the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Excellence Award 2017. The creativity and techniques in the play are par excellence. The actors were amazing with 11 actors playing the role of more than 50 people. The lead role of Shrimad Rajchandraji was very well portrayed by Parthsarthi Vaidya . Gandhi was influenced by three persons in his life: John Ruskin, Leo Tolstoy and Shrimad Rajchandraji and of course Shrimad Rajchandraji a living contact had the deepest impression. Raychandbhai sowed the seeds of Truth, Non-violence and Compassion in the mind of Gandhi. They had met in Bombay and continued to exchange 200 letters while Gandhi was in South Africa. The spiritual relationship transformed Mohandas to a Mahatma. Kavi told Gandhi how one can’t wash the blood stains of violence with violence. You need the pure water of non-violence to wash the stains of violence. He also taught him that life is temporary and the body is perishable but prayers lead us to God and the prayers remain forever. This play has had more than 900 shows in almost 300 cities in many languages all over the world and touched the hearts and minds of more than 600,000 viewers. Many of us in Khartoum were lucky to view this play at Friendship Theatre Hall on Friday 29th September. There were two shows one in Gujarati in the morning for the Omdurman Indian Community and another in English in the evening. Ambassador of India H.E.Amrit Lugun welcomed the viewers and the Chief Guest was Federal Minister of Culture Altayeb Hassan Badawi. There were other dignitaries present at the show including Actor and Director Ali Mahdi Nouri who found the play amazing from every department. We remain ever grateful to the benevolent sponsors of the play and the joint organisers namely Embassy of India, Khartoum and Omdurman Indian Community for bringing this heart touching and thought provoking play to Khartoum.
My journalist Mohamed Sharfee dedicated his page today in the local Arabic daily Al Sahafa to Mahatma Gandhi. He also spoke about the arrangements made by the Indian community in Sudan to celebrate Gandhi’s birthday.
Yugpurush is an award winning play performed by artists from India. The play in English is about Mahatma Gandhi and his spiritual mentor. Book your free tickets at
http://Buytickets.at/yugpurush for Friday 29 Sept at 4:30 PM at Friendship Hall Theatre. If you have any problems call Grishma Gandhi 0923047382