A few months ago I started following Sara Elhassan aka Munchkin which brought pictures of protests in Sudan into my timeline. But I didn’t get invested until a video by this courageous young Instagram user Zara (@musaltd) made me dig deeper: Over and over I listened to Zara’s speech and I realized I had to inform myself now.

Zara was asking to help raise awareness and I started wondering if I could use the tools available to me (which is sketchnoting and my reach on Twitter) to support the cause.

It was quite important in this case to acquire knowledge through verified sources to not spread false information. So I started consuming a bunch of videos by larger news agencies such as Al Jazeera, BBC, the Guardian and France 24. (Sources linked below.)

But as news agencies got raided and banned from Khartoum the voices of Sudanese activists, journalists and artists (such as Omnia Shawkat, Reem Abbas, Khalid Albaih and others) started to become an incredibly important source of information.

I started mapping a lot of information on some blank paper and tried to find connections. Early on I realized I wanted to show more than human rights violations committed by the military council.

This is the sketchnote which was posted on Twitter on June 12, 2019.

The sketchnote said: What is going on in Sudan? A peaceful revolution demanding a political transition led by a civilian administration. After 30 years of violent dictatorship and prices for food and fuel skyrocketing in December 2018 the people of Sudan started a months-long peaceful sit-in protest on Khartoum's streets. The protests are political debates, knowledge exchange, cultural celebrations, art exhibitions, music concerts, supported by bakers and medical staff and organized by the Sudanese Professional Association. In April 2019 president Omar al-Bashir was forced from office but a military council took over. They started a violent counterstroke against the protesters which peaked on June 3, 2019 killing and raping hundreds of people while shutting the internet down. Sudanese people then started a civil disobedience while the military council received financial aid from Saudi Arabia. Help now by raising awareness, donating, contacting your government representatives and join demonstrations.

Sources

Please keep in mind that I am not an expert on Sudan. There are a lot of perspectives (historic, colonial, political, sociological, economic …) that need to be understood to get the full picture. I wanted to help raise some awareness and so I gathered information from the following sources to transcript them into the sketchnote:

  • Al Jazeera “Sudan: Crackdown on protests, clampdown on media” which includes an interview with writer, broadcaster and engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied
  • Al Jazeera “Sudan civil disobedience campaign starts”
  • BBC News “‘Nubian queen’ becomes Sudan protest symbol”
  • The Guardian “Sudanese doctors say dozens of people raped during sit-in attack”
  • France 24 “Sudan: Alaa Salah, the woman dubbed ‘face of the protests’, talks to FRANCE24”
  • BBC Africa “Sudan’s Secret Hit Squads Used to Attack Protests - BBC Africa Eye documentary”

Here are some interesting further reads, videos and podcasts:

Aftermath and current situation

The tweet got a lot of views (currently it’s at 174k) and I got many messages from people who had learned about Sudan through the sketchnote. I’m glad because this was the idea.

However, a sketchnote in this situation can only be a snapshot. A lot of information that is needed to get a deeper understanding was not included in the sketchnote. I’d ask you to stay informed, follow the mentioned accounts and stay involved.

Apology

When posting the sketchnote on Twitter the skin tone of the depiction of the activist Alaa Salah got lightened. This happened by applying a filter that should enhance the image. A user pointed out that the depiction whitewashes and erases the activist’s Blackness. I am deeply sorry for this mistake. Especially since whitewashing happens on a systemic level in education and media such as films and advertisements. I will pay attention in the future that this will not happen again.

Using this sketchnote

I’ve been asked if this sketchnote could be used and duplicated to spread awareness. I am absolutely fine with any usage which has the motive to raise awareness. I’d ask for 3 things though:

  • Please attach the sources stated above whenever you re-use the sketchnote.
  • Please do not modify it. If you need to modify it please get in touch.
  • I’d love to hear where and how you’re using the sketchnote - please get in touch :)