20 April 2019

Sudan: Political Cartoonist Seeks Lasting Change with Iconic Images

A week after the Sudanese military ousted Omar al-Bashir as president and seized control of the country, protesters continue to demand representation and civilian rule.

Thousands of kilometers away, Khalid Albaih monitors the events that are unfolding in Khartoum, the capital, with rapt attention. He scrolls through his social media feeds for updates, and consults a network of contacts about the latest developments.

Since December, the protests in Sudan have swelled into an uprising that toppled Bashir, who had held power for nearly three decades.

The military is now in charge, but protesters want a civilian government, leading to a series of high-profile resignations and ongoing tension.

Within the chaos, Albaih looks for decisive moments. Then, he draws them, capturing complex events with simple designs that highlight key actors and their motives.

‘Deja vu’

A Sudanese political cartoonist, Albaih has for years lived in Doha, Qatar, where he witnessed the Arab Spring, a series of political revolts, unfold. He sees parallels between Sudan’s uprising and the changes that gripped countries such as Egypt and Libya.

“For me, this is a deja vu,” Albaih told VOA.

Albaih sees himself as a kind of interlocutor.

“I’m trying to, as much as possible, push for what’s happening in Sudan — translate as much as possible — to make sure that the people around the world understand the facts from our point of view,” Albaih said.

Born in Bucharest, Albaih never worked for a newspaper. But his cartoons and commentaries have drawn a large following online. As the Arab Spring unfolded, he created a cartoon a day for eight years.

Now he’s aiming to tell the world what’s happening in his home country, in the hope that knowledge translates into action.

But convulsions in Sudan have felt more personal. “It hurts,” Albaih said. “It’s very hard to get your heart broken twice,” referring to the rise of military rule in the wake of Bashir’s ouster.

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