Khadiga Babiker Badri
AHFAD UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN, OMDURMAN, SUDAN
Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures is the theme for this year’s Women’s Week—an event organised annually by the staff and students of Ahfad University for Women. A theme is chosen every year, usually in accordance with the global theme of International Women’s Day, and the competitions begin. The different schools of the university work to make the theme into a work of art, painting, theatrical drama, poetry or song, and compete amongst themselves, also through sports and debate, for the ultimate prize, the Women’s Week Cup. I can honestly say that I have seen, heard and breathed the personification of this very statement on the week leading up to and culminating in the women of Sudan dancing in front of Al-Hafeed library to powerful words, enticing a billion women around the world to break the chain.
One Billion Rising is a global movement that was replicated all over the world on February 14, 2013. It was organized in Khartoum through a collaboration between Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre, Makaan, UNFPA, Salmmah’s friends, Open Mic Nights Khartoum, Sudanese Women Empowerment for Peace (SuWEP), VDAY, the British Embassy, Babiker Badri’s Scientific Association for Women Studies, SEEMA Centre, Sudanese Organization for Research & Development (SORD), Blue Nile Lotus, Seema Center and Motawinat Group.
The impassioned women of Ahfad, young and old, practiced diligently, at their homes, at the university club, in the corridors, in between lectures, and at the student centre. For days, within the walls of Ahfad, the chants could be heard at every corner, while its women danced for themselves and for each other, in pairs, in threes, and in hundreds. Teasing each other, correcting each other, and teaching each other, devoutly preparing for the fourteenth day of February, when they would dance and rise to break the chain of violence committed against the women of their country, Africa, and the world.
It was a truly glorious experience. Whilst we stood in lines, the other inconsequential lines, were blown away. Girls of different ages, academic levels, from different countries, and social backgrounds struck up conversations and bonded on how best to time the box steps, or whether to break the chain circle beginning from the left or the right. Even in this time, when Women’s Week is knocking on our doors and interschool competitions reach an all-time high, the competitive digs and remarks were set aside and delayed for another day.
On the most unconventional of Valentine’s Days, hundreds of women stood in lines, mostly dressed in black but different in every other way. They came together in front of the library and danced to break the chain. We weren’t a billion in number, but in spirit. There were synchronised and occasionally spontaneous turns and pivots, box steps and cha-cha-chas. After days of practice, our efforts were finally rewarded. It was, to me personally, one of the most exhilarating, goose-bump raising and moving moments I experienced in my life.
On that day, I not only understood but profoundly felt the meaning of connecting girls, inspiring futures.