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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b1w8JsUais. 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.