So, the Sudanese people have decided to take to the streets. Today, the "Duststorm Friday" movement started (Kataha AlJum3a in Arabic) and large numbers of protesters took to the streets. Today, unlike the past week, people became destructive, people are starting to get heated and things are getting a little more dangerous.
Protests have reached the main streets of Khartoum (the capital), Bahri and surrounding areas and suburbs.
What is missing from these protests though, is coherence and direction.
At the moment, the Sudanese people are taking to the streets, why?
Because things are expensive.
The official figure for inflation is something like 30.4% monthly. That is the official figure. (Source)
A few days ago, they raised the exchange rate from 2.8 SDG to a little over 4 SDG.
How on earth are people supposed to live their lives (and run businesses!) with that type of uncertainty? The cost of my trip to uni essentially doubled in a day.
So you can understand the frustration of the people. Hell, I am frustrated and I am not working or supporting a family here.
However, I am not sure people are going about the protests in the more effective way. Why?
1. There are no demands. If you look at the pictures of protesters, they are just storming streets, yelling for "change of authority" and burning things. There are no placards, no lists of criteria, no indication of what people actually want.
2. There is no respect for property. For actual regime change (if that is what is desired), there has to be a critical mass of people who want things to change. You are not going to win over the general population if you are burning their buses and clogging up their roads! Destructive behaviour is the worst kind of behaviour as it gives the authorities the excuse to arrest you and criminalise you on a legal basis -- because what is being done is criminal. What people should be doing is peacefully protesting, demanding their rights and voicing their opinions; that way noone has the legal right to touch them.
3. There doesn't seem to be a strategic outlook towards the future. When I spent time talking to people (before the protests) about why they didn't want change, their simple answer was because they couldn't see an alternative. "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't" they said. That still hasn't changed -- people are asking for a regime change but they haven't given an alternative.
Furthermore, the Sudanese have the example of Egypt to learn from - overthrowing your president is one thing, but that doesn't mean you have changed the system. For systematic change, things need to be planned, organised, strategically thought through...and none of that is happening.
For these reasons (and more, but I want to keep this succinct), I am not sure what the benefit of the protests is going to be. Yes, the Sudanese are a revolutionary people -- they have had at least two coups since independence -- however, that does not mean they are ready or that this will be a simple and easy matter. To be honest, I already am hearing all sorts of stories; students from my cousins' universities gone missing (picked up by the army/security forces and taken to who-knows-where), killings (though unconfirmed) and beating of protesters; the general pandemonium in cases like these. What is sad though is that all this may happen in vain, if not done properly.
However, how does one go about organising something as amorphous as this? Already the groups exist, and clearly this is the domain of the of political parties in universities and such... so providing them direction or suggestions may be the way to go. Perusing (read: obsessing over) the Facebook and Twitter feeds gives me some hope, but all the talk of strategy and planning doesn't seem to reach the people making the announcements and decisions.
It all seems very reactionary at the moment, when it should be proactive and strategic.
...and I am not yet certain what I can do to help, but hell, that's not going to stop me at least trying to somehow be constructive.