It’s a breathtaking image.
According to Arabic media, her name is Alaa Salah. This is the young Sudanese woman standing on top of a car, raising her right arm as she leads the crowd in a chant, all of them echoing her words back to her.
“Thawra!” the crowd shouts — Arabic for “revolution.”
“Kandaka” is the name being given to female protestors in Sudan, which is the title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan whose gift to their descendents is a legacy of empowered women who fight hard for their country and their rights. For Hala Al-Karib, a Sudanese women’s rights activist with the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, the photo, taken by Lana Haroun, sums up “this moment we have been waiting for the past 30 years.”
And according to Hindi Makki, founder of Side Entrances, an organisation that showcases Muslim women’s spaces in relation to men’s spaces – her outfit tells us a lot about the message she was trying to convey.
“She’s wearing a white tobe (outer garment) and gold moon earrings. The white tobe is worn by working women in offices, and can be linked to white cotton (a major export of Sudan), so it represents women working as professionals in cities or in the agricultural sector in rural areas. Her earrings are the gold moons of traditional bridal jewellery (Sudanese, like many Arabic speakers, often use moon-based metaphors to describe feminine beauty). Her entire outfit is also a callback to the clothing worn by our mothers and grandmothers in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, who dressed like this while they marched the streets demonstrating against previous military dictatorships.”
Protests that began in December over the cost of bread tripling and cashless ATMs quickly morphed into a nationwide movement of demonstrators calling for Al-Bashir, who has ruled the country since 1989, to step down. State security forces have responded to the protests with what human rights advocates call excessive force. At least 8 people have been killed between April 6 and 8 in violence related to the protests, and hundreds of others have been teargassed, beaten in the streets, and thrown in jail without being charged. Women specifically have reported instances of sexual harassment and threats of rape.
Today, this photograph has not only become one of the most iconic images of the protests in Sudan, but affirms the leading roles women play in revolutionaries.
— التلفزيون العربي (@AlarabyTV) April 9, 2019