Many people fear for the Sudan of the near future and not only because of the dark clouds that are gathering over its political horizon and the characteristics of war that threaten it through the silent race between hope for unity, fear of separation and increasing tension between the North and South on one hand, and wars that spread like wildfire in Sudan, the land of one million miles, on the other.
This shared fear comes as a result of the passing of men who love this country in all its magnanimity, kindness and simplicity. These men represent the most wonderful value of Sudan i.e. tolerance. Such tolerance was extended even towards political adversaries, who these men treated in a cordial manner, and they adhered to the idea that a political disagreement does not imply invalidating the “other” or severing relations.
We have seen a generation of politicians who quarrel in parliament and clash politically; but away from the conference rooms and the halls of parliaments, you will see hands being shaken and hear the sound of laughter as these men visit each other’s homes and meet at social gatherings at the residences of friends of different political orientations. It is almost as if these men who laugh with another are not the same people as those were arguing about political matters shortly beforehand. If a personal quarrel arose then a mediator and the respected elders of a tribe would intercede between the two parties until the differences are resolved.
Following the successive deaths of some great figures of this generation, one cannot but fear for the Sudan, and the values that characterize the Sudanese people. There is a generation that is being raised today in a tense and convulsive atmosphere and in the shadow of vicious wars that sow doubt, establish mutual hatred and enhance the idea of invalidating the “other.”
These fears and sufferings intensify upon hearing certain news such as that of the death of Sayyid Ahmed al Mirghani, the former president of Sudan and Vice President of the Democratic Unionist Party who died in his sleep at his home in Alexandria, Egypt.
Shortly before his death, the distinguished Sudanese writer and journalist Mohamed al Hassan Ahmed passed away in hospital in London.
In another of London’s hospitals, the brilliant Sudanese novelist Al Tayyib Salih is battling an illness, whilst his vast fan base prays for his recovery.
Those who knew Ahmed al Mirghani will always remember him for his kindness, humility and above all, for his love of his country. There was a conciliatory nature about him that always rejected confrontation in favour of dialogue and peace. I personally had many conversations with him, either over the phone or in person, and he never changed his position regarding the importance of reaching an agreement to peaceably solve the problems while also protecting “the country.”
As for those who knew Mohamed al Hassan Ahmed, they will always remember him for his generous and tolerant spirit, and that his homes were open to everybody to the extent that his houses, whether in London or Khartoum, resembled the parliament in its heyday. You would find politicians of various political orientations, and cultural and economic figures of different trends, raising their voices during discussions; but these were always appeased with laughter and jokes.
Many of the symbols of that great generation passed away before Ahmed al Mirghani and Mohamed al Hassan Ahmed and it is difficult to mention all of them or their remarkable achievements in this short space. Their deaths cause one to feel melancholy and fear for Sudan and its value of tolerance.