Like a kid exploring a new territory, I find myself patting my way to new information about The Sudan I don’t know. In a way the fact that I don’t know much to begin with is a blessing as it insures a fresh and objective way in approaching the subject and a nearly complete elimination of preconceived ideas.Yet also a curse as I lack the basic understanding of the country’s dynamics that an insider would easily have.

Like most people, almost 80% of the news that I am bombarded with from international news agencies about Sudan cover mainly a wide spectrum of morbid issues starting with the south-north Sudan conflict ,and ending with the troublesome Darfur case, with a whole lot of other miseries in between. The other 20% would usually cover the occasional interest that international celebrities show in Sudan from time to time in their work like the tribute song (living Darfur) by Mattafix, or by the act of protesting like George Clooney’s protest and arrest at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, and so on.

My interest in Sudan however grew tremendously during the recent Sudan revolution (still a work in progress). A flood of articles, speculations, and public dialogs filled the virtual space, between blind enthusiast supporters, skeptics of the Sudanese revolution ever catching up with the Arab spring, and the pessimists that see no use in it all. The sudden spot light shed on a nearly forgotten/ignored part of the world, heavily misunderstood and often negatively portrayed in the media steered genuine feelings of hope and belonging within. Hope of a better future for the Sudanese, and a sense of belonging to an almost foreign land to me. It could be the mere fact that people are demanding their rights that steered such feelings and it could be also that I see my reflection in them. I can see a brother or a father that looks like my own, that made it more of a personal experience.

With interest came the need to know everything that is to know about Sudan, and instead of using a pragmatic approach to tackle the issue, and to help me gain more insight into the historical, social and political aspects of Sudan, I found myself intrinsically drawn to the allure/charm of the Sudanese art, music and literature. I started exploring different genres of the Sudanese music, ranging from what is called “Aghani el-banat”, sung in weddings, to old vintage traditional songs drenched in wise lyrics to the new generation of Sudanese artists influenced a great deal by R&B, Rap, and reggae styles of music. In reading Sudanese literature, both writers, Tayeb Salih author of “Season of Migration to the North” (voted one of the top 100 books of all time, nominated by writers from around the world) and the more contemporary Leila Aboulela author of “the translator”, found their way into my list of favorite authors.

I realize however that I need to learn more and read more, if not in the name of nationalism, then in the name of curiosity and satisfying the anthropology enthusiast in me. Indeed stopping now would be like stopping at the tip of the iceberg.