‘Don’t shoot us, dad’: Sudan’s uprising in context

Full article available with subscription through the Times Literary Supplement. Excerpt:

The Sudanese know the script of non- violent popular uprising. Indeed, they have a strong claim to being pioneers in the field, long before the 2011 Arab Spring, in October 1964, when peaceful protests forced the country’s military ruler, General Ibrahim Abboud, to quit. The demonstrations were organized in an ad hoc way by university lecturers, other professionals and students. That was one of their strengths – had they spent time debating goals and strategies, they wouldn’t have seized the moment. After four days of rallies across the capital Khartoum, the fifth day’s protest followed the funeral procession of a student killed by the army. Saying, “I do not want to kill another student”, Abboud drove out of the presidential palace on the Blue Nile, crossed the bridge to the twin city of Omdurman where he had his private house, and lived the rest of his life…



Alex de Waal is a Research Professor at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and leads the WPF research programs on African Peacemaking and Mass Starvation.

Considered one of the foremost experts on the Horn of Africa, his scholarly work and practice has also probed humanitarian crisis and response, human rights, pandemic disease, and conflict and peace-building. His latest book is New Pandemics, Old Politics: Two Hundred Years of War on Disease and its Alternatives. He is also author of Mass Starvation: The History and Future of Famine and The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa (Polity Press, 2015) Following a fellowship with the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard (2004-06), he worked with the Social Science Research Council as Director of the program on HIV/AIDS and Social Transformation, and led projects on conflict and humanitarian crises in Africa (2006-09). During 2005-06, de Waal was seconded to the African Union mediation team for Darfur and from 2009-11 served as senior adviser to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan. He was on the list of Foreign Policy’s 100 most influential public intellectuals in 2008 and Atlantic Monthly’s 27 “brave thinkers” in 2009 and is the winner of the 2024 Huxley Award of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Professor de Waal regularly teaches a course on Conflict in Africa at the Fletcher School, Tufts University.  During this course, students should gain a deeper understanding of the nature of contemporary violent conflict in Africa. Students will be expected to master the key theoretical approaches to violence in Africa, and to become familiar with a number of important case studies. The focus is on the origins and nature of violence, rather than policy responses and solutions. The course is inter-disciplinary and involves readings in political science, international relations, and social anthropology, while also touching on economics, environmental studies, and history. 

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