Home | News    Monday 15 September 2008

Sudanese blogger uses YouTube videos to deliver political messages

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September 14, 2008 (WASHINGTON) – Up till recently Anwar Dafa-Alla uploaded videos into YouTube showing his newborn child for his family and friends around the world to view.

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Anwar Dafa-Alla, Phd Computer Science Candidate Chungbuk National University, South Korea

However one day the computer science PhD candidate studying in South Korea came across a news item that infuriated him after which he decided that he will use the video medium to deliver what would be conceived as political messages.

In August the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir awarded members of the Egyptian soccer team 35 vehicles and monetary disbursements in honor of their achievement in winning the 2008 African Cup of Nations held in Ghana earlier this year.

Anwar said that was a turning point in his perspective of things in Sudan.

“The reward came at a time when the Sudanese people are in desperate need. They need every single penny…We hear about an oil boom and flow of money but the people don’t see it” he told Sudan Tribune in an interview.

Dafa-Alla, who is also the founder of Sudan developers association, uploaded a handful of videos condemning the reward in very strong terms and accusing the Sudanese head of state and his aides of mismanaging the country’s money and the priorities of their people.

“If they didn’t say it to your face Mr. President I will. Fear Allah Omer. Fear Allah. You belong to the Islamic movement and held you conference recently. You spoke about Islam and related stuff. What you are doing has nothing to do with Islam. Hear it from me today before you do so in your grave” Dafa-Alla said in one of his videos.

Asked whether the ban by Sudanese authorities on YouTube website undermines his work, Dafa-Alla said that the largest groups of people viewing his videos are from inside Sudan.

The videos came a few months after Dafa-Alla met with Al-Bashir on his visit to South Korea and even personally presented him with a symbolic gift on behalf of Sudanese expatriates living in South Korea.

What caused the shift?

Dafa-Alla said that he has been away from Sudan for five years and relied on conventional news sources for information on what is happening in the country hence his favorable view of the Sudanese government previously.

However the announcement by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo in mid-July that he filed charges against Al-Bashir made him dig deeper into what was going in his homeland.

“I am now finally reading between the lines” he said.

“It is because of the actions of the authorities in Khartoum that Sudanese people are suffering. US sanctions for example prevent Sudanese from using Google. It is a result of their policies” he said.

Dafa-Alla also said that the decisions taken by the government are not always a reflection of what the average Sudanese wants and cautioned of problems down the road because of this.

“I did not choose this government or elect it. They took the microphone from me and spoke on my behalf. Their [government] weakness prompted them to make unreasonable concessions at the expense of the future generations. We will be the ones paying the price” he said.

“The statements made by Sudanese officials challenging the whole world won’t harm them but their people in the long run” he added.

He dismissed Khartoum’s arguments that media reports on Sudan are driven by the West and are exaggerated.

“I don’t think so. Sudan is listed as one of the failed states in the world. I don’t think it’s a subjective or political list made up by the West. There are specific criteria to evaluate a country. We are also one of the most corrupt countries in the globe.” Dafa-Alla said.

He further said that standards of living in Sudan are deteriorating particularly for families that were known to be wealthy.

“I come from a historically comfortable family. They were merchants. In 1989 he built a 3 storey building that cost 1 million Sudanese pound at the time. That was a big sum of money at the time. Right now my family is financially unable to build the foundation for a house in Omdurman” Dafa-Alla said.

“No one from our family particularly the youngsters ever thought about leaving the country to make a living. Things have totally changed now” he added.

“Pretty much my entire generation living in Sudan wants to leave the country. They are in deep despair and lost hope in the future. I talk to them daily. I personally know computer science graduates who are working in cell phone stores” he said.

Dafa-Alla lashed out at corruption in Sudan which he described as “widespread at the highest levels of government”.

“When I hear that one of Al-Bashir’s brothers have property at the most prestigious areas in Dubai then this must raise an eyebrow. The president comes from a humble family. So where did they get all this money from?” he questioned.

“Recently there was a public confrontation between the governor of Khartoum and the mayor over some public bids. The way I see it is that this is a dispute between two thieves. It wouldn’t surprise me if I see both men one day mobilizing people publicly in the name of Islam” Dafa-Alla spoke sarcastically.

He also said that the government officials are growing very distant from the day to day difficulties facing the average citizen.

“Some of these officials are my relatives. I can almost claim that they wouldn’t know the temperature in Khartoum since they are locked up in their air conditioned houses and luxurious cars. It is a lifestyle that does not reflect what the bulk of Sudanese are going through” he said.

Dafa-Alla disclosed that he was approached by semi-governmental organizations to work on a campaign to “improve the reputation of Sudan” in the cyber world.

“I told them this won’t work. There has to be real change on the ground. Trying to change the term genocide in Darfur to beauty of Sudan on the web is unrealistic and will not do anything to improve the country’s image” he said emphatically.

He also downplayed the efforts to collect million signatures opposing the ICC move.

“I can create a bot that would generate the required number of signatures. How would you authenticate these signatures? Who is the third party who will make that determination? Is it the Arab or Islamic world which stood silent by what is happening in Darfur? Only the West with this kind of infrastructure who can validate it” Dafa-Alla said.

In one of the videos Dafa-Alla uploaded he mentioned a news piece quoting the spokesperson for Al-Bashir’s family in which he said that “the president will not be extradited to the ICC until the last child in Sudan perishes”.

Responding to that Dafa-Alla in the video said “I am not willing to sacrifice my wife and kid for Al-Bashir. Who is he [Al-Bashir] anyways for me to lay down my life for him? This is simply unacceptable. Al-Bashir is a person and Sudan is a country”.

“Al-Bashir would have been the symbol of sovereignty for the country if he was elected. He only represents a very limited political faction in the country. We didn’t say take him to the death row. We said go to court and fight these allegations. At this point they are just accusations” he added.

Asked about Al-Bashir’s statements where he denied war crimes in Darfur and that only 10,000 died Dafa-Alla gave an example of a South Korean tourist who was shot dead on the borders by North Korean forces causing a total breakdown in normalization of ties between the neighbors.

“If Al-Bashir thinks that 10,000 is a small number then I don’t see why anyone should make a sacrifice for him. If the value of the Sudanese soul is counted by numbers to say that only a certain number of people died then this only means that the people in power cannot be trusted with the peoples’ lives” he added.

Asked whether he is optimistic with Sudan’s future Dafa-Alla said that “he sees no reason for optimism”.

“Under the current leadership as well as opposition parties it does not look like things are likely to change. It requires a radical transformation” he said.

“We need a Sudanese state treating its people equally; not an Arab or Islamic or African state but a Sudanese one. If that means secularism so be it. I am living in a secular state and never felt discriminated against” he said.

Dafa-Alla said he will continue uploading videos despite advices from his friends and family to put a halt to it fearing government reprisal. Some have even accused him of being “unpatriotic”.

“When politicians live up to their responsibilities I will return to my lab for my work in computer science. I have more videos on a wide array of issues coming up. I received overwhelming encouragement from people so I feel a duty to continue” he stressed.

(ST)

Anwar Dafa-Alla YouTube page

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  • 15 September 2008 16:35, by aliya boy

    Dafa alla is a sign,
    Saddam left in a very shameful way, he himself could not believe it. All his respected family and everything, everything including the school children who use to dance for him just to show a political side to the world, they all turned against Saddam, they urinated on him.
    I bet Beshir will end up there no matter when, he seems not to know.
    People like Dafa Alla are the very people who didn’t speak for themsevles at the time we the Southern Sudanese were called names and marked for death.
    Now things are getting hot inside Beshir’s house and outside the house, where will he hide? The Technology has come to change the world and politics, the method is bad for dictators and oppressors, but excelent for the sufferers and freedom seekers.
    I would say brother Alla, you have a mission to rescue your fellow muslim in Sudan and around the world from the box of dinial and wrong idiology.
    Caution: you must be careful and know that you would have enemies coming from the president to get you, don’t trust unnecessarily, you have just entered a very important zone and you must work to protect it. Don’t be suprise that you might become a president of Sudan one day, I would advice you to work on that because you got something this and the next generations are looking for. Beshir and the rest will go, they wouldn’t get a lot of sincere votes when it comes to it. (you should try politics to help your people. Did you watch the American politics of this 08?) a brother brought something called CHANGE, HOPE, now even the oldest politician of the same old fashion is talking CHANGE AND HOPE!!!!.
    Just remember, give me a call if you become the president of Sudan, I will be in the Southern Sudan.
    Thanks, Aliya Boy

    repondre message

    • 15 September 2008 20:54, by Garang Ayang Kuoi

      Dafa Alla,

      I could not disagree with you any further on this matter, but the pain I am feeling right now is that there are no enough out spoken folks like yourself inside Khartoum. The so called national congress (NCP)party which is currently subduing the country affairs is filed up with bunch of bigots whose ideals are driven by false Islamic patriotism, which is a mechanism that they uses to fulfill their dreams and futures. The Sudanese people are living in the state of denial of which religion division is a driving force of our people’s suffering. It is going to take so much time to bring hope and change to Sudan unless the black Arabs like yourself realize that what divide us in Sudann is misinterpretation of Islam and intolerance of other religion and ethnic groups within Sudan. So keep on doing what you are doing and get others of your type join the movement, because this is the only way wars will stop in Sudan when we all acknowledge Khartoum’s imperious systems.

      When I first read about the ICC indictment against Al-Bashir, my very first reaction was that I donot care how ruthless this president has been, but we as Sudanese people should come togather and confront the ICC collectively as people who are on the process of recancilliation and political unification; unfortunately, Al-Bashir has failed the test by even further threatening the Sudanese masses with what one of his gangs called "political Tsunami" which meant that if the ICC issue an arrest warrant against Al-Bashir, then there will be massive killing of Sudanese people, and that his Islamic oriented Jihad will retaliate against the international forces such as UN peace keepers.So I changed my mind on the process because this guys ain’t getting it that the ICC indictment against him is a serious internation business that he must not ignore, but something that needs internal and external political cooperation. So I am please with your stands on Khartoum brutality and impracticality of its political ideals which have been devastating our nation for years and years.

      repondre message

    • 19 September 2008 17:52, by Anwar Dafa-Alla

      Thanks dear for your courage ...
      I don’t want to be a Politician... I want to be just Computer scientist who can serve his country through his major.
      And that applies everywhere in Sudan...not only where I was born or grew up.
      Regards,

      repondre message

  • 15 September 2008 21:11, by kush

    Thumbs up Bro!!As a southern Sudanese whose only reward this government ever accorded me was a complete sorrow, despair,abject poverty and neglect,I say you are a most bold,visionary........though a deadly threat and a possible target to Bashir’s "Kill and let Eat to the Fill" regime.I admire your videos and Boldness.Please add some more to the site.

    repondre message

    • 19 September 2008 17:56, by Anwar Dafa-Alla

      Thanks dear Kush for your courage...
      I will upload more soon isa.
      I really feel sorry about your case and let’s together do our best to prevent it from happening again in Sudan.
      Regards,

      repondre message

  • 16 September 2008 00:43, by deng ngang

    We need you Dafa and many others to ask Bashir in islamic language if he will understand what you are saying.

    repondre message

    • 16 September 2008 02:32, by Bol Madut

      Dafalla,
      Sudan would be a better place for all of us if many people in the North think like you.

      repondre message

    • 19 September 2008 17:59, by Anwar Dafa-Alla

      If ALBASHIR did his political Role without mentioning ISLAM, then one could understand something from politics point of view...but he’s speaking about Islam often, and there is nothing on the ground related to ISLAM...that’s just insincerity.

      repondre message

  • 16 September 2008 03:19, by Kur

    Sir, telling the truth will not hurt but liberates the minds and souls of the people seeking freedom. If people keep quiet about the actions and policies of this primitive regime, we will go down tthe abyss of eteranal destruction and corruption of the kind not known in history. So this regime must face justice for their actions in Darfur or else the country will never stand on her feet again. Hence, thank you, sir, for your courage to speak against this evil ruler sent by satan to hold Sudan hostage. We must liberate ourselves. These gangs of tyrant will not leave power through peaceful means. They need the ICC guns and the fighting spirit of the Sudanese people to dislodge them.

    Kur

    repondre message

    • 18 September 2008 05:48, by Anwar Dafa-Alla

      Thanks Dear Wasil for conducting the Interview...
      Thanks Sudantribune.com for publishing...

      Thanks to you all for your courage...
      I have uploaded another 2 video’s...

      The first is about Sudan & Terrorism
      can be accessed here

      The second is about the Identity question in Sudan...African/Arab Debate!
      can be accessed here

      Your feedback is highly appreciated.
      Anwar Dafa-Alla

      repondre message

      • 19 September 2008 06:33, by Khat

        Dafa, when did you learn to be an African not Arab? You Northerners have been preaching this for years which, infact resulted in the death of two million lives of innocent sons and daughters of Sudan. Have you understand the term "Sudan" now? Darfurians have dearly paid after butchering and slaughering Southerners in the name of "Arabism and Islamism." Have you understood you are blacks not Arabs now?
        May Northerners come to their senses please God.

        repondre message

        • 19 September 2008 17:48, by Anwar Dafa-Alla

          Dear Khat,
          I don’t believe in this kind of discrimintation (Northeren vs. Southeren), this is my humple point of view...
          As a Sudanese Young guy, I think that we inherented this trouble from the older generations who still in charge...but we must struggle and fight to remove this dark image.
          I questioned my self several times about the benefit of being Arab or whatever... and I realized that being just Sudanese is the best for our sake.
          This kind of questions don’t come to your mind under the circumstances of growing up in Sudan, Frankly speaking the first time I started think about that, when I socialized some Suadi,Phalstine, Egyption,Yeman and Kwiuti people during my school period in Alexandria (1998 2003).
          I’m totally different from them...I started to re-visit our history books, and research the original ones (not the manipulated ones)...great change has taken place in my personality...
          I’m a big fan of our late Hero (Garang),
          and I’m fighting for better Sudan, where people are 100% Equal .
          You have the right to blame me from your prospective as my ancestors did the worset things in our beloved Sudan.
          Anyway, I’ll do my best to raise my Child in a better ethics than what I grew up on...
          regards,

          repondre message

    • 19 September 2008 18:00, by Anwar Dafa-Alla

      Thanks dear for stopping by...
      Only malefactors fear the truth...

      repondre message

      • 20 September 2008 17:44, by Khat

        That is good Dafa but be careful when going back to Sudan because Bashir and other False Arabs will now think that you are a traitor of Arab Nationalism in Sudan. Your head might be chop off. It will take many centuries for your brothers in the North to realize the mistakes they have committed. What they have been advocating was falsehood and it will be too painful to recover from that disease. Hope some of young people will diagnose it however, it is going to be a tough road. As long as Arabism is the song of the day in Khartoum, Southerners will be gone now and forever. As Dr. John said "Sudan will never be the same again."
        Wow! really tough road.
        Be safe sir.

        repondre message

  • 2 December 2008 09:49, by mandino

    I agree that the using a video in delivering a message is such a powerful tool. But one really has to be careful in selecting the right media though... There is one site though: http://emmaacademyproject.com/ that uses a video to deliver the message of education throughout the world, asking everyone to help participate in educating our fellow people in Sudan, they need our help.

    repondre message

    • 24 January 2009 15:59, by Anwar Dafa-Alla

      Thanks dear for your feedback...
      I’m campaigning with Emmanuel Jal for building Emma Academy school...I’m also one of the founding sponsors there...you can check my company’s logo (Afro Arab) at the sponsors page at http://emmaacademyproject.com/ and in facebook (where the campaign started)...
      Yes, toward spreading Education in Sudan, so we would be able to overcome our current groomy situation.
      Regards,
      Anwar Dafa-Alla
      anwarking@gmail.com

      repondre message

  • 15 December 2010 20:47, by Bol Bol

    I have an opportunity to get know Anwar through facebook in the last two years and I can say there’s something special about this guy. I was skeptical about him when I first came across his videos on youtube, but the more I get to know him the more I begin to admire him. If vast majority of Northern Sudanese think the same way Anwar think Sudan would have been the greatest country in the African continent. I know this article is going to put him at odd even with his close relatives and we must applaud him for it. Truth is truth, no matter who says it. Keep up the good work Mr. Anwar.

    repondre message

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