Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Message from Sudanese thinker Haidar Ibrahim Ali (1-2)




I received the following message from Professor Dr. Haidar Ibrahim Ali; head of the Sudanese Studies Centre. I knew the honorable man more than thirty years ago. He is a prestigious Sudanese professor and thinker. I do not exaggerate when I say that he is a human thinker whose thought and human composition exceed limits of nationalism.

Professor Dr. Haidar comments in his message or it’s better to say he gives evidence in his message for what I wrote in a previous article about Sudan. In that article, I called upon “Almasry alyoum” newspaper to hold a seminar about the Sudanese-Egyptian relations and invite Sudanese figures to this seminar. However, the editing management omitted the newspaper’s name from the article’s heading without prior permission from me. I actually thank them for such change as it’s more convenient this way since “Almasry” will not respond to the initiative and in this case, this would have been embarrassing for both parties; the writer and the publishing institution. Though, I did not pay attention to this as there are other things more important than discussing ethics of the relationship combining the publisher and the writer.

Now we come to the message I received from the Sudanese polymath Dr. Haidar Ibrahim Ali:

Dear Brother Ahmed Elgammal,
I wish you are doing fine. I also wish you a happy new year in which all your long-awaited wishes can come true. I thank you for your initiative aiming at pushing away this mode of political depression prevailing on both sides. Such thing is well seen through the bad language heard, gross discussions adopted, the inability to conduct an objective dialogue, also in giving green light for media outlets using vulgar language; the thing that contributes to messing with the awareness of the masses. Such vulgar and bullying-like discussions moved to TV studios that became more like spots for consuming drugs.

I couldn’t believe what I read in the papers and saw over the screen wondering: Have we really reached this limit of cultural and political deterioration? As I belong to that generation which has an image of Egypt in his mind totally different to what takes place on the ground or what we see and hear. As I witnessed when I was still young prior to independence the slogans chanted defining the kind of mutual relations with Egypt saying: “Long live the unity of the Nile Valley.” Such unity was perceived by some as the unity of the two peoples under the Egyptian royal regime. The Left, meanwhile, used to say: “Long lives the common struggle;” that was the struggle against occupation.

At that time, the Egyptian universities were teeming with Sudanese students. Also tens of brilliant students were dispatched in “As-Sanhouri study mission” at the end of the forties to France. Later, they came back to lead the national patriotic movement and some of them even assumed important positions in the national governments. Sudanese border guards, meanwhile, were patrolling the Egyptian borders defending their second homeland. They also made neighborhoods inside Cairo like Ain Shams and Al-Gabal Al-Asfar look like Sudanese ones. Tens of marriages between Sudanese and Egyptians took place.

During that period of time, Sudanese poets like Gaili Abdel-Rahman, Tag as-Serr al-Hassan, Muhammed al-Fitouri, Mohie ed-Din Saber, Mohie ed-Din Fares, Gemaa’ and Abdullah ash-Sheikh al-Bashir were shining stars in Egypt’s gatherings of literature people. Before them, al-Akkad encouraged novelist Mu’awiya Nour to write in As-Siyasa newspaper and he did. Also at establishing Al-Masa’a newspaper at the beginning of the sixties, Gaili Abdel-Rahman was assigned the task of supervising the culture page.

As to Sudan during that period of time, Cairo University – Khartoum branch was considered an academic, intellectual and cultural enlightening institution. Khartoum University does not forget Dr. Abdel-Aziz Ishaq who, upon coming back to Egypt, established “the African League” giving the opportunity for shining stars interested in Africa and Sudan like Muhammed Fa’eq, Abdel-Malek ‘Ouda, Helmi Sha’rawi and Botros Ghali to appear.

The best of what was written about Sudan in Arabic was written by Egyptians; atop of them is Abdel-Magied Abdeen who wrote “History of Arab culture in Sudan”, also in mid history the reference was Mustafa Musa’ad’s writings, later were Shawqi al-Gamal, Muhammed Fou’ad Shokri and Nasim Maqar, in literature were ‘Abd Badawi, Ezz ed-Din Ismail and Muhammed an-Nuwaihi. I myself have studied in the High Institute for Teachers – later the faculty of education – at the hands of Dr. Muhammed Zaki al-‘Ashmawi who introduced me to modern poetry. He used to wander in the lecture hall with his ancient roman stature reading to us in his sonorous melodic voice poems of Abdel-Mo’ati Hegazi “The way to the lady” and those of Salah Abdel-Sabour “Hanging Zahran” and plays like “Oedipus the King”.

I also studied Al-‘Arud or the study of Arabic prosody and snippets of Semitic Languages at the hands of Dr. Khalil ‘Asaker. Writings of Dr. Sa’ad Maher Hamza were of the early contributions in economy, also writings of Dr. Kamal Desouqi in socio-psychology, Salah ed-Din ash-Shami in geography, Dr. Muhammed Awad Muhammed who authored the copious reference: “Northern Sudan and its tribes,” also book of Dr. Abdel-Qader Mahmoud titled “Sufi thought in Sudan” which was the first attempt in this academic branch. We cannot forget Dr. Muhammed Mohie ed-Din ‘Awad in the branch of Law and Dr. Tolba ‘Owaida who opened his heart and Zagazig University which he established for the Sudanese when he came back to Egypt. Many of those who love Sudan specialized in authoring books about Sudan; such writings were marked by both academic impartiality and lovingness as well. Atop of them are Mr. Helmi Sha’rawi who studied in Juba University, late Mr. Youssef ash-Sherif and Mr. Ahmed Hamroush, and Mrs. Amina an-Naqqash.

We belong to a generation who knows well how blood and souls of both Egyptians and Sudanese were shed in prisons of Ibrahim Abdel-Hadi during the royal era. In such regard, Ahmed ar-Refa’i wrote in his biography titled “Distinguished Leftist” the following: “Few days after I was released, one of my companions came knocking the door exclaiming: “do you know that Salah Beshri is dead? And that today is his funeral?” I felt very sad. Salah was my colleague during my imprisonment time; the Sudanese engineering student diagnosed with Tuberculosis and who was deprived of medication in order to make him kneel and surrender,” page 128. A protest holding the corps of the Sudanese patriot swept Cairo – that was the relation between Egypt and Sudan you Ahmed Moussa and Tawfiq Okasha. The government sent his body in a military plane to be buried in his hometown Atbara in an attempt to appease the anger.

At that time, dogmatic groups like muslim brotherhood and communists used to have common membership in the two countries. For example, “HADITU” movement had decided that the communist Sudanese becomes automatically a member of the Egyptian group when he comes to Egypt and vice versa; the Egyptian member of HADITU becomes automatically member of the Sudanese communist party when he goes to Sudan.

We shall continue the message and article next week.

Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar




This article was published in Almasry alyoum newspaper on January 17, 2018.

To see the original article, go to:


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