A few weeks ago I received a hip hop video "B Sotak" from NasJota records aimed at getting out the vote in Sudan. It was a very good video and song, so I made an appointment to interview E-Hab Abasaeed, the president of NasJota. The elections are the first in over 20 years, and I wanted some insights. As anyone following events knows, the lead up to Sudan's elections had been riddled with problems, with claims of vote-rigging and threats, but the biggest complication was the withdrawal of main opposition parties. This automatically gave incumbent president Omar al-Bashir an obvious advantage, offering him a "mandate" to govern that the international community would be forced to recognize regardless of his indictment by the ICC for crimes against humanity. And no less a VIP than Jimmy Carter initially legitimized the election. But what is the experience of those in Sudan who are actively trying to instill the roots of a democracy in their homeland? We couldn't go to Sudan, but in a sense Sudan came to us, when we interviewed E-Hab who in turn connected us with Hisham Haj Omar, a member of Girifna, a youth movement in Sudan that tries to raise awareness of the election process and promote political dialogue in Sudan. In addition to their grassroots activism they have produced entertaining videos with a message.
Obviously both of these men are anti-Bashir. And as of this writing, with the election just recently over and votes not completely tallied, it remains hard to know how representative the vote will be. First the Polish air crash, and now the volcanic cloud that is paralyzing air flight has swept the election off the front pages, making it appear that our own politicos and media seem to be resigned to Bashir's win. Witness this recent article that appeared in the New York Times as if paving the way for acceptance of his victory.
If you are interested in seeing both videos excerpted here in their entirety, go to girifna.com.