‘Nubian queen’ rally leader who Ousted Bashir has a message for Ugandans

Viral 'Nubian queen' rally leader speaks up about Sudan protests

A Sudanese woman propelled to internet fame earlier this week after leading powerful protest chants in the capital told AFP on Wednesday that women were key to the uprising against President Omar al-Bashir’s iron-fisted rule.

“Sudanese women have always participated in revolutions in this country,”

Alaa Salah said after a footage went viral of her standing on a car, singing and conducting crowds outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.

“If you see Sudan’s history, all our queens have led the state. It is part of our heritage.”

In the clips and photos, the elegant Salah stands atop a car wearing a long white headscarf and skirt as she sings and works the crowd, her golden full-moon earrings reflecting light from the fading sunset and a sea of camera phones surrounding her.

“I’m very proud to take part in this revolution and I hope our revolution will achieve its goal,” added the engineering and architecture student at Sudan International University.

Dubbed online as “Kandaka” or Nubian queen, she has become a symbol of the protests which she says have traditionally had a female backbone in Sudan. Her new-found fame pushed her to set up her own Twitter account in which she thanked everyone “from the bottom of my heart. The struggle for a democratic and prosperous Sudan continues”.

In another tweet on Wednesday she said she “wanted to get on the car and speak to the people… speak against racism and tribalism in all its forms, which affects everyone across all walks of life”. Supporters celebrated the young protest leader across social media networks, calling her a “hero” and an “icon”.

“This image from Sudan will be in the history books,” wrote one user. But late on Wednesday she tweeted that she had been receiving “death threats” after her footage went viral. “I will not bow down. My voice cannot be suppressed,” Salah wrote.

Demonstrators have been camped outside the military complex for days asking the army to back them in demands that Bashir step down. Women have made up a large part of the demonstrators that since Saturday have thronged outside the sprawling army complex.

Braving regular volleys of teargas, the crowds have been the biggest yet to rally against Bashir’s rule since unrest broke out in late December. “In such movements, women are widely participating not only for their rights but for the rights of the entire community… there is no difference between women’s rights and community rights,” Salah told AFP.

“Women of Sudan always encourage their youths to fight. This is part of the history of Kandaka,” she added. Salah said she has taken part in the protests since they first erupted on December 19 in response to a government decision to triple the price of bread. The unrest quickly morphed into a nationwide campaign against Bashir’s rule with rallies held across cities, towns and villages.

The longtime leader had remained defiant and imposed a slew of tough measures including a state of emergency across the country. Officials say 49 people have died in protestrelated violence so far.

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Patrick Luwagga is the editorial director of cross-platform content for UGANDANZ. He works across the newsroom and with business partners to drive and develop ambitious editorial projects that include digital journalism, video, data research, polling, live events, and thought-leadership series that are supported by outside underwriting. As executive director, he is responsible for the creation of Political news section, prior to joining UGANDANZ, Patrick was the chief editor for the national weekly news magazine of Kasese Times. In that role, he covered several presidential elections, wrote and produced two television documentaries, and was a regular commentator on television and radio news programs. Patrick was born in Masaka and grew up in Kasese. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Makerere University where he was a Knight Foundation journalism fellow.