By Salah Shuaib
August 27, 2013 - For two consecutive days a group of Sudanese, representing segments of Sudanese and American States, met together to inaugurate the establishment of the Sudanese Americans Public Affairs Association (SAPAA), which is founded recently to serve the American Sudanese community. Also, the essential aim of the new organization is to find ways to upgrade Sudanese public relationship and to figure out how those Sudanese living in the U.S. could maintain ties between Sudan and America for the sake of a better present and future.
The event, which is a new development in itself, was attended by a large number of qualitative Sudanese activists who engaged in discussing the academic papers presented in the conference, which is held by SAPAA at Westin hotel in Tyson corner, Virginia.
Issues that were addressed included the possible approaches to urge the Sudanese to participate in strengthening the social organizations in their second country, the demographic status of Sudanese in the U.S., various immigration matters, and testimonies from a number of business men and women who have achieved remarkable successes in the field of investment in America.
The conference, also, addressed children’s issues, the Sudanese-American youth’s concerns and priorities, and the possibility to take advantage of the Communication Revolution resulted in diverse modern networks.
Moreover, the papers talked about new medical awareness and how could the Sudanese be enlightened by the early prevention method of modern diseases. SAPAA’s conference also paved the way to dialogue about the positions of the American Administration to support programs to fight AIDS in Africa and the reasons that led to deprive Sudan of this support. Other papers discussed the psychological effects of immigration on Sudanese during their presence in the United States.
The education, in all its stages, has received a multitude debate from the conference attendees who talked about ways in which the Sudanese community in the United States be inspired by Sudanese-American successes. Such ones are apparently observed in the field of academic achievements, which may give the Sudanese in the diaspora the examples to benefit from the enormous educational capacities that are available in such environments.
Moreover, the Conference was accompanied by the presence of some Sudanese innovators in the fields of Fine Art, poetry, and singing. Abdul Karim Alkabli and Yousif AL-Musli, the most famous and leading singers in Sudan- beside others cultural figures - contributed in enriching the topics according to their comprehensive knowledge. Also, "Uttar Al-Neal"-an Arabic name of a Sudanese musician group that means “river cords”- presented the Sudanese music pieces the conference members enjoyed with.
According to its preamble, SAPAA is “an independent, non-partisan, non-religious member-driven national organization focused on serving the interests of Sudanese Americans” We read also “through such engagement SAPAA hopes to contribute to the transformation of Sudan and South Sudan into multi-ethnic, open democracies at peace with themselves, and neighbors, strong and reliable partners of the USA.”
No doubt there are great opportunities in front of the new organization to achieve great goals for the Sudanese living in the United States and abroad.
In fact, we have to note that most of those who did this effort have been known for their super-efficiency in the areas of civil work, their well-established experience in planning for the civic organizations, and their Sudanism virtue and sense that led them to offer patriotic services for Sudan.
Perhaps these three factors shown in the founders’ resumes, with their ability and determination to exceed obstacles that face every Sudanese assembly, will set the example. The objectives of SAPAA’s founders here are clear. They are mainly hoping to activate our Sudanese societal capacity via an organization that is able to overcome our political, ideological, and regional sensitivities, which somewhat undermines Sudanese civil work.
Originating after the failure of some Sudanese organizations and communities, SAPAA is loaded with abundant hope, and it is in need to build on some Sudanese successes, to avoid the negatives and to enhance their cooperation energies.
One doesn’t think that SAPAA is being established just to inherit the role of Sudanese national communities and regional organizations which are active in the United States. But the other main aims of the organization are to establish, as we realized through the fruitful conference, a wide umbrella that enables us to benefit from the opportunities of education and collective investment. SAPAA also wants us to pay attention to the Sudanese immigrants who have been settled in the United States and link them with their grandfathers and parents’ homeland and identity.
If there is an observation to make, it is that the new organization should focus more on investing in the new generation’s talents. It is a generation that is often neglected in the work of Sudanese civil society organizations. As this Sudanese-American generation has a degree of progressed consciousness, inspired by the ideals of freedom, creativity at work and the two enriched identities, then it would play a positive role in America, Sudan and South Sudan.
It is true that SAPAA is trying in its first steps to find the ways that lead itself to fulfill the mission. However, it definitely needs to represent all Sudanese through its Board of Directors, and that is what helps attract the members of regional organizations. In fact, in the light of the absence of national bodies that reflect the reality of multi-ethnicity, Sudanese regional organizations have been the only ones to include part of Sudanese efforts in the U.S. I believe that the brothers in SAPAA appreciate the importance of this regional representation and even they have sought access to all Sudanese, without exclusion. And we believe that the political situation inside Sudan have an impact on the failure of many of the civil action in the Diaspora, and thus Sudanese energies have been scattered in regional organizations, which succeed here and fail there.
However, SAPAA needs to contact these members of regional organizations and invite them to gain its membership, so that the organization could lead Sudanese energies to benefit from unification factors. No doubt that these regional organizations, representing all Sudan’s geographic areas, also have the capabilities and enormous incentives that may boost SAPAA’s membership and, in return, they may develop their social and cultural objectives.
Making a good stand to care of it in the preamble, SAPAA offered a virtue to serve brothers and sisters in South Sudan. It has also to include them in planning for the work of the organization. Such a move may also contribute to bring the southerners in huge numbers to SAPAA to give their best.
The two African countries are in need to such an organization which would be a reliable bridge between the two peoples. In the conference we saw the importance of the participation of brothers and sisters from South Sudan. They made a big impact then and showed us how there are historical interests linking the two independent countries.
More importantly, the organization provided an opportunity for the people of South Sudan to gain membership. By doing so it presents an awareness that the fate of the two countries is to have a collective action to assist the two peoples.
Well, there should be a greater representation of youth and women in SAPAA, so long as that the presence of these two sectors is bigger in the United States. We hope that the founders tend to establish branches for the organization in the areas a huge number of Sudanese is really shown.
Since they need time and energy to think wisely, implement priorities and be creative in the outcome of their civil action, SAPAA’s founders should think of forming sub-Bases that relieve them of regulatory hardships.
Anyway, let SAPAA’s continuing work be more able to progress by the experiences of the work of Sudanese organizations throughout all these periods, and let’s also hope that the founders be more open to accept ideas, reviewing aspirations, and listen to the friends’ observations in order to achieve prophetic goals.
The writer is a Sudanese journalist working for Radio Sawa, Washington. He can be reached at email@example.com