Two but One

Nafisa Bedri

Ahfad University for Women

There was once a man with a very strong personality, very popular and loved by basically everyone who knew of him. This man lived a very happy fulfilled live which grew more and more as he grew up, but what was more than surprising is why he never found it enough, he could never see beyond the smiles and simple conversations of those people, he always found a hole in every relationship he had, a problem to escape the prison of commitment. This man had a tough job of keeping everyone satisfied but at the same time remaining in his own space without them knowing, I for one respect this man for he found the time to please others and himself without ever thinking twice.

There was once a woman, no friends, no social life, no hobbies, no interests and was very low on the popularity scale but one thing this woman did have was satisfaction, she found herself more than enough to fill her time and space. This woman could sit in one place for hours just listening to herself argue about issues that she couldn’t bother share with anyone because she simply didn’t see a reason, she busied herself with tasks that she only benefited from their outcome. In total this woman had a personality no one would ever discover because she would never share what she was convinced belonged to her and only her.

What if in a dramatic twist these two very opposite people would one day meet, and without knowing share a conversation, and just when both of them thought they led a perfect life, a life they had no intention of changing, one of them makes a completely insignificant remark that triggers a series of thoughts into each of their minds and alters the paths of their lives forever.

I did say dramatic twist.

Let’s be a little bit more realistic shall we? What if in a less dramatic scene the man is faced with a problem, an obstacle, a tough decision perhaps and for the first time in his life he feels as if his mind is not enough to answer its own questions. The woman and at the same time is also being swallowed into her own mind trying to decipher codes she created in order to solve her own mystery. They both find it disappointing that what they once considered an unstoppable force is now a dark empty space void of all the answers it once possessed. They are both connected in a way no one but them would understand yet each one of them believes they are facing it all by themselves.

Aloneness.

Loneliness.

Words that trigger a feeling of sadness and emptiness that can overwhelm even the strongest of our kind, it can disable armors and tear down walls just by existing, and those same words can be translated into power and strength, all depending on the receiver. Thus your mind is always and forever alone but you always have the choice to share your thoughts and accept whatever reaction you get because at the end of the day as soon as you decide to open up your mind to others you can’t expect the same reaction you found within it, but something foreign and new and your willingness to accept their words is a sign you’ve grown into something bigger than yourself and can now learn to be two instead of one.

Five Days in Arashkol

Yasmin Osman
AHFAD UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN, OMDURMAN, SUDAN

At Ahfad University for Women we have an annual trip to a rural area, where a portion of the students go and spread awareness on various things related to the year’s motto. This year the motto was ‘Together for the health of the rural woman’, and it was my turn to go on the trip.

To say that I was apprehensive would be a large understatement. I didn’t know who I was going with. Will my team be a cohesive unit? Will we get along? Or will we end up poking each other’s eyes out by the end of the week? I didn’t know where I was going either.  When the Dean told me I was going to Arashkol, I heard something along the lines of ‘adas’ (which is “lentils” in Arabic), so when I tried to ask my father about the area or look it up in the atlas or online, naturally I came up with nothing. That left me in a state of near panic, thinking “Oh my God!!! Not only are we going to a rural area, we are going so far off the beaten track that even my Dad hasn’t heard of this place before!!!”

It wasn’t until the actual day of the trip that I figured out what the proper name of the place was. Apart from the police stops every so often, the ride was uneventful. I spent quite a bit of the five and a half hours in a state of stupor, hovering somewhere between sleep and consciousness. It turns out Arashkol was as far off the beaten track as I thought it was.

We were a rather large group of 17 girls and our supervisor and we were housed by the Sheikh in his mother’s house. At first different members of the group did not know each other, so they kept to themselves, forming little cliques within the group, but as our work forced us to come together, we started to get to know each other. As with any large group, there were a few who stood out. There was the unofficial leader, the group joker, the mother hen of the group, the quiet one, the lazy one, the crazy one, the trouble maker, etc. I have never lived with so many girls before in my life, and while it was an experience, it is not one I would want repeat any time in the near future. A girl needs to have her recovery time.

The people of Arashkol were simple but hospitable; there wasn’t a door that was closed to us. The Sheikh in particular was a warm and gracious host. He exuded a calm, soothing aura that put people at ease, something I have learnt to associate with deeply religious people. As we met various groups of citizens, we got to know a very different way of life, a life that could have been ours if we were born to other families. I’m not going to get into the tedious details of life in Arashkol—suffice to say that the village fit the stereotypical Sudanese village. To be honest, where we were staying, while life wasn’t hard, the people we met made us realise how wonderful we have everything back home.

The people were not completely ignorant on the subjects we were going to deliver, but a startlingly large number knew of the dangers of some of their practices and still continued to perform them. For example, female genital mutilation was a widespread practice and by far the most common problem they had, and although they practically recited the dangers of that particular practice back to us, the people still continue to do it.

Though I have only just come back from Arashkol, I must say that my memory is a hazy blur of images. (I confess that is at least partially due to what I think are the early stages of Alzheimer’s.) But there are parts that stand out clear, like once when I looked around one of the halls before our presentation and saw all of the girls interacting with the village women, or when I was lying under the stars, despite the cold that was making my toes numb, discussing the purpose of life with my best friend, or just sitting in silence next to a friend on the banks of the White Nile absorbing the beauty of our Nile.

I could go into detail about exactly what we talked about there, and what we found out about the place, but to be honest what I believe I benefited most from this trip was the importance of group work, and how working in a cohesive unit was imperative. I learnt that everybody is a capable individual in her own right, and that in order to be able to coordinate plans successfully, one must utilize everybody’s strengths and play to them. People, if given a chance, will step up to the plate magnificently. I also learnt that even the best laid plans can go awry, and while a control freak like me might find that hard to deal with, it is best to have plans B and C prepared as well as being ready to improvise.

Arashkol, a land whose name comes from the ancient Nubian words meaning “land of the king’s throne”, was a place where I renewed the pledge to strive for change in my country, and reaffirmed my faith in the soul of the Sudanese people. It is places like that which remind me why I entered Rural Extension, Education and Development in the first place, places which are tied so intrinsically to their roots but still striving to develop, without losing their identity or that which makes them unique. I made friendships that I am certain will last, and renewed bonds that were beginning to fade. I believe I benefitted as much from this trip as we hope the people benefitted from us.

Ahfad, Sports and Self-discovery

Doha Hashim Khalifa
AHFAD UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN, OMDURMAN, SUDAN

My friend once asked me a very important question why do I study in Ahfad? That was back when I was still in my first year, I didn’t have an answer which made me question my own decision, but as I grew older and wiser I’ve come to realize that Ahfad is more than a university it’s a journey through which I myself got to experience pretty much everything I wished and hoped for.

I’m currently a fourth year student which means I’ve been in Ahfad for five years, long as they might seem they have truly flown by. One of the things I love about my university which I would not have found anywhere else in Sudan is the fact that I can still play sports. Playing basketball and football have been a joy to me ever since I was maybe 13 and when you reach a certain age in Sudan people expect you as a female to start behaving like a “girl” and become feminine overnight, being the stubborn person I am, I stood against all those beliefs and decided to keep enjoying life as it is, this is where Ahfad like a light in the dark saved me. I’ve been playing all kinds of sports ever since I become a student both on personal and competitive levels; I’ve even started practicing new ones, all because I simply can.

Being a student in Ahfad means you have the freedom to practice any kind of talent you previously had, and have the chance to acquire new ones, from music, drama and even art. Discovering your talent will not only boost your self confidence and help you find your way through college but also allows you to discover new aspects of yourself and perfect them.

There it is, one of the many reasons I have chosen Ahfad as my home for the next two years of my life, and if I had to I would do it all over again, because it has and will still continue on proving to be a truly rewarding experience.

To Connecting Girls

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.