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Khartoum Dancing, Rising and Breaking the Chain of Fear

I was not excited by the several invitations to join the one billion rising to end violence against women. My reasons were not because of dancing as a mode of expressing an idea or advocating for a political cause rather than how this event looks like and where it should happen. Hosting the event in Ahfad University for Women was a safe choice and a way to minimize the risks of challenging the political and social authorities. Additionally I thought the event should be relevant to the Sudanese context in terms of patterns, causes and activism to end violence against women. I was really frustrated after having a conversation on twitter with one of the activists who claimed to be close to the event organizers saying that its not about the awareness raising rather than performing, singing and having fun!!

On the day of one billion rising, thousands were dancing & having fun in Ahfad while 35 women from Nuba mountains were detained for four months without a trial, hundreds of women being caught, lashed and jailed daily by public order police, millions of displaced persons are women and they are more vulnerable to violence and personally I was running in a hospital corridors holding a friend of mine who was detained and tortured by NISS officers.

Few weeks ago I've met with two junior students from Ahfad in a training workshop. Those young ladies volunteered to perform the dance for the workshop closing and never said a word to explain their performance and that assured my point of view.

I have to confess that my thoughts about the one billion rising was wrong .

Few weeks ago a documentary of the event was on Youtube I've watched it and I think it was amazing. Huge efforts were put on the preparations of that day, rehearsal and messages that have been taught to those young ladies and the noise made are worth noting. The abusive comments on that video have made my day; It reflected the success of such an event, challenged ignorant fundamentalists who cannot bear the idea of women dancing, their ignorance bright in their spelling mistakes and their claims that "Dancing is not a part of the Sudanese culture"

Shared dancing between women and men is a part of the Sudanese culture, but within the past 20 years restrictions were made on it and it was regarded as a sin. Dancing in Sudanese culture was mostly women's job. In Nawom Shogair book "Geography and history of Sudan" he described different kinds of dancing like "Alshabal and the bridal dance" as ways to seduce men, to reveal the sexiest parts of a woman's body and to proof how qualified they are as women, and their asset is a beautiful flexible body.

I think whether dancing is a Sudanese culture or not (as the crazy obsessed persons claimed) it has no relation but even antagonizing the idea of dancing as a liberating action; emphasizing on the body ownership of the dancer/ campaigner. Additionally I cannot see why the president's dance is an acceptable thing while it is not when it comes to women.

If women own their body, their suffer from gender based violence would end and dancing is a reflection of body ownership. Having those thousands of young ladies feeling empowered, challenging patriarchy and dancing not to be admired or seduce men but to show the freedom of their souls is a huge and remarkable issue.

The body ownership expressions were always a nightmare for patriarchs who cannot see women beyond their control and cannot handle seeing their sex objects moving out of their space. those norms which decide on behalf of women what parts of their body should be covered or revealed, how they should move, believed on relating honor to a woman's hymen and hence give power to men and certain social institutions to own that body, abuse it, torture it and even deny its right to live in some cases.

I salute those who broke the chain, danced and liberated their minds and bodies. I salute those who challenged patriarchs. I think you are on your way to liberate a whole nation. Its a long way but you already started your journey. I know someday those women will took the streets to grasp their rights.

Graffiti by Sudan Unite Group in Ahfad University for Women
Sudanese Bridal Dance
Participants on OBR event in Ahfad University for Women


olutosin's picture


We the Global Change Leaders 2013 joined in the dance at Morrison Hall, Antigonish Canada, testimonies followed the dance. It was liberating, healing and connecting. Lets keep on dancing to break the chain...sometimes, the chain of spectators are broken instantly. You do not know who is message was delivered to, it is on time and pronto. We are our sisters keepers.

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town


Yosra Akasha's picture

great to know that millions

great to know that millions of women across the world have enjoyed feeling of liberty and power for few minutes in their life time

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Y's picture

You have shown great wisdom

You have shown great wisdom in this post, Yosra. Only a wise person is willing to keep her or his eyes open, even when first impressions are not positive. I believe that harmony comes from looking for the positive in every situation.

I believe that all expression of emotion keeps us aware of our passions and those of others. The expression of passion in seemingly non-threatening ways has always been one way that women impact others. We have a saying here, "There are more flies drawn with honey than with vinegar."

Blessings to you.


Yosra Akasha's picture

thanks Yvette, I couldn't let

thanks Yvette, I couldn't let it go without admitting my misunderstanding. In a country like Sudan women are not allowed to express their emotions and passions, when they do that Its another unconventional way to challenge unfair power relations and impact others.

Best regards,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

anab87j9's picture

Hello Yosra: Body ownership

Hello Yosra:

Body ownership is also a dreaded thing for most women because they are not yet able to comprehend the value of something that was taken away from them in the name of tradition. We have a tough task ahead, sister!

On a lighter side, what a powerful post, Yosra!

Thank you for voicing this!


Yosra Akasha's picture

The task is tough Anab and

The task is tough Anab and I'm sure together we will get it done.

Thank you and keep fighting for justice,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Mukut's picture

Well said !

Absolutely agree ! "Dancing is a reflection of body ownership"- I completely agree that through dance and various others forms of expression, we can liberate our selves from violence.

Well written !

Mukut Ray

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Mukut, great to know

Thanks Mukut, great to know that you liked it

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

bitani's picture


i loved your perspective Yosra

keep it up (Y)

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Bitani :)

Thanks Bitani :)

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Dear Bitani,
Thank you for your beautiful testimony. Your words brought great joy to my heart.

“…Come to me, and I shall dance with you
In the temples, on the beaches, through the crowded streets
Be you man or woman, plant or animal, slave or free
I shall show you the brilliant crystal fires, shining within
I shall show you the beauty deep within your soul
I shall show the path beyond Heaven.
Only dance, and your illusions will blow in the wind
Dance, and make joyous the love around you
Dance, and your veils which hide the Light
Shall swirl in a heap at your feet.”

With much love,

Thank you Crystlle,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

So beautiful!

Oh, Chrystlle,

So beautiful, those words from Rumi!

Thank you.

Dance is what brought me out of a young adult slump and my degree is in dance, so I share these exquisite sentiments.

This was a beautiful response to share.

With Gratitude,

- Sarah

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Yosra, Thank You!

Dear Yosra,

Your approach in this piece is wonderful and highly thought-provoking. At first the reader is compelled to find out why you felt the way you initially did about One Billion Rising. Your change of opinion then comes as a complete and refreshing surprise. What you said about Khartoum Rising, the video, prompted me to go right to youTube and watch it.

Indeed the faces are so full of empowerment and enjoyment and healthy, happy concentration on celebrating their bodies -- and in that way their emotions -- it clearly illustrates why it was an excellent endeavor, which I had not known before.

Your own description of running down a hospital corridor with a battered friend tells, in one brief sentence, so much that we need to know and understand about the terrible injustices and sorrows to which women are subjected, both in your country and other countries, of course. That fleeting moment in your story, in your life, paints a heartbreaking picture that the world must see.

Women need women. Women's friendships are a powerful, faithful, enormously supportive bond.

And so thank you Yosra, for your wisdom as Yvette says, and for all that you have given to us in this assignment.

With Respect,


Yosra Akasha's picture

Thankful to You and WP

Thank you Sarah, I think World Pulse has did us a great favor by opening a platform for women to share their stories and know about each other. I'm thankful to you and all WP sisters and friends for being supportive and caring.

best regards,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

your vision is good, of the development of world person's
yours emmanuel balagizi
drc bukavu/ from organisation osodi
social work for the integrated development in Congo (0sodi)
was created in 2004. its mission is to support women in difficult situations, widows, vulnerable women, children and orphans in rural areas.
1.Why Osodi
with the war in DRCongo repetition, many women fall victim to sexual violence masacrer, buried alive, raped, Osodi has met several cases these vulnerable women, with the support of gwap sweden for help is accompanying a the General hospital of reference panzi has bukavu.
2. with the support of ADSSE we also assiter 2oo households by food from WFP.
3. Osodi was a long trip, a nindja, Zege Walungu Kaziba, Uvira, Kabare idjui To meet with these women and orphans.
4.ISOB (INTERNATIONAL BIBLE SCHOOL Mariata USA) will appuiyer Osodi by Christian books and Bibles to be distributed free to churches and partner organizations Osodi.
5. Osodi to organize several sessions with leading women Kaziba, bukavu, youth, peace, HIV AIDS, art, and the right of women.
Osodi brings us to a procecus integrated development or woman should be integrated in the different structure of Congolese society
6. on the political level: working with economic issues of the country, take decisions as Congolese women addition legality.
7. cultural level: harmonious coexistence of culture.
for osod


Yosra Akasha's picture

Keep doing the good work

Keep doing the good work Balagizi

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

amykessel's picture

Breaking the chain through dance

I have tears in my eyes as I consider how rough and how long the road is that leads to gender equality and basic rights for women in Sudan. I salute you for your heartfelt conviction, and for your willingness to pave that road for yourself and your sisters.

"If women own their body, their suffering from gender based violence would end and dancing is a reflection of body ownership."

I know that Sudanese women will be dancing once again, freely and joyfully, and it will be a beautiful thing. Thank you for highlighting the challenges facing women at the moment, and for recognizing that breaking the chain of fear is done with many different hammers.


Yosra Akasha's picture

Thank you Amy I'm so grateful

Thank you Amy I'm so grateful for your support and being in with solidarity women in Sudan and everywhere

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

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