I remember the first time I started steadily writing is after I read George Orwell’s essay “Why I Write”. That was in 2005, the same year I graduated from high school with a pretty good average, when you’re from Sudan and you get such a degree you’re expected by your immediate and extended family to become an engineer or a doctor, I applied and got accepted to Sudan University’s Electrical Engineering, one of the best engineering schools in Sudan, not so many people know that I merely chose that because I had a childhood fantasy of becoming like Judy Foster in Contact, years later I realized I was fascinated by her story and not her job. Strange enough is the fact that the guy, who directed Contact, is the same guy who directed two other childhood favorite films of mine –I should probably note that I lived my childhood in Saudi Arabia-, Forrest Gump and Castaway. I began writing poetry and rapping also around that time, I’ve been listening to Rap music for over a decade of my life, printing lyrics and reciting them at my house was my fun and that’s how I learned English by the way. I was enjoyed what some rappers identify as “audio films”, in fact looking back now, the first track I recorded was more this kind, you can check it out here.
Long story short, in 2010, an opportunity that I’ve never dreamt of emerged; the Goethe Cultural Center in Khartoum offered a 6 weeks intensive workshop on Documentary Filmmaking, I applied but for some reasons I was accepted as a “listener”, the workshop was conducted by Kasim Alabd, an Iraqi-British filmmaker who I’m so grateful to because he decided to include me as a listener and I got to participate in other student’s works and not do one of my own, comes 2011 and the Goethe Institute launched the project Sudan Film Factory a great initiative led by the Sudanese artist Telal Afifi, and I got to participate and work on a story of my choice, and it was screened in January 2012.
Why Am I telling all of this? Well, up until tonight I have always had doubts that I might’ve made a mistake and disappointed my family and future by dropping off engineering even though I have the positive support from most of my friends, but tonight I realized how proud I am that I’ve done so, so many boys and girls I got to meet at the school of authentic journalism have amazing and interesting backgrounds, and so many of them love telling video stories and also so many of them despise “institutionalized education”, and they all want to earn a living doing what they love. I feel so empowered after hearing all of their stories, and I can’t wait to get to know all of them better.
I know for sure, if my government finds out about my participation in the School of Authentic Journalism, they will call me a spy, an agent, an advocate of the west, a traitor, etc. they’re just so evil that they cannot see the beauty that laid within the walls of a Mexico City restaurant tonight, the beauty that will continue to be an inspiration to me and to the other students for the rest of our lives, because no matter what colors our skins are, what languages we speak, what faith we believe in, we all want a better home, and a better Earth.
In February 2012 a couple of friends and I established a media production company in Khartoum, I wanted to name it Apedemek after the Nubian lion god of Ancient Meroe, the ministry of commerce didn’t like the name and we eventually had to settle with the name Tashawor, I’m gonna go back to Sudan, stronger and more determined to do what I love and to build with my old and new friends “the Sudan that we’ve been dreaming of daily”(1).
(1): a line from a poem by the Sudanese revolutionary Poet Mahjoub Sharif