Zamzam Camp — Hassan Arbab has seen innumerable horrors and made countless sacrifices over the years of conflict in Darfur's north and east Jebel Marra. On Monday afternoon, he was honoured as a Hero of Radio Dabanga, and reunited with his family for the first time since the fall of the Al Bashir regime in April 2019.
Arbab met with Radio Dabanga editor-in-chief Kamal El Sadig outside Zamzam camp near to Nyala, capital of South Darfur, and guided him through the vast camp for internally displaced people to the home where his wife and three children were waiting.
El Sadig is visiting Sudan for the first time since the station was established in exile in Amsterdam 11 years ago. Over the past few days, he has travelled from Khartoum to El Fasher and Um Keddada in North Darfur, and thence southwards towards Nyala.
Arbab, who hails from the Jebel Marra area, which faced repeated attacks and bombardments by government troops and militia forces, and bloody clashes between those forces and armed rebel groups during the final years of the Al Bashir regime, has sent Radio Dabanga up-to-date reports from the area for several years.
He has covered incidents, social issues, and acted as a war correspondent when clashes occurred between government forces and armed rebels. As a stringer for Radio Dabanga, he was detained by both government and rebel forces. This curtailed his movement, prompting Arbab to make the difficult decision to send his wife and children to the relative safety of Zamzam camp, while he remained confined to war-torn Jebel Marra.
Hero of Dabanga
After his reunion with his wife and children, Radio Dabanga editor-in-chief El Sadig presented Arbab with a certificate of appreciation as a Hero of Dabanga, as well as a new smartphone for him to continue his important work.
"Personal circumstances prevented Hassan Arbab from attending a special function held at the National Museum in Khartoum last week, so as he couldn't come to us, we came to him," El Sadig told the Radio Dabanga English desk.
Accepting the certificate, Arbab voiced appreciation to Radio Dabanga for being the voice of the voiceless in Sudan and Darfur, and for what the radio station has meant to people in the area.
"Radio Dabanga has had a massive impact on Sudanese people on the ground," he said. "Right from the station's beginnings 11 years ago, it meant a great deal to the people of Darfur to be able to tune-in and hear news from their own area. It connected people."
Kamal El Sadig says that the enthusiastic welcome he and his delegation have received wherever they have gone is encouraging. "This visit has really brought home to me what Radio Dabanga has contributed, and what it means to our listeners throughout the region.
"The contribution of dedicated and courageous stringers like Hassan Arbab and the others who we honoured in Khartoum, who often operated at great risk, has been essential for us to continue to broadcast independent news from the heart of Darfur and Sudan," he concluded.