Lions of Khartoum: Sudan’s Wrestlers After a Revolution

Lions of Khartoum (29 minutes / Sudan / English subtitles) explores the role of Khartoum’s iconic wrestlers in the Sudanese revolution of 2019, through the voice of Mudawi, a childhood wrestler-turned-wrestling commentator. Until the 2019 Sudanese revolution, Khartoum’s local wrestling organisation was run by Islamist party acolytes (kīzān), who were more focused on making money from ticket sales than training the athletes or promoting the sport. During the horrific June 2019 massacre in Khartoum, one of the wrestlers was murdered by the Janjaweed, the former regime’s paramilitary forces. His face now adorns the wrestling stadium formerly controlled by the kīzān. Against the extraordinary backdrop of revolutionary change, however, the film shows us that the ordinary mundanity of life continues for Khartoum’s wrestlers. The film builds on the filmmakers’ 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork, living and training with Khartoum’s wrestling community prior to and during the Sudanese revolution.

WATCH HERE

FILMMAKERS

Paul Hayes is completing a PhD in anthropology at The Australian National University and has been an Associate Researcher at Centre d’études et de documentation économiques, juridiques et sociales (CEDEJ) in Khartoum since 2018. He completed 12 months of ethnographic research, living and training among Khartoum’s wrestling community, in the midst of the Sudanese revolution.

Mudawi Hassan is a commentator at Khartoum’s East Nile wrestling stadium, and has worked for numerous international researchers and filmmakers, in Khartoum and Darfur. In 2018, he graduated from Omdurman Islamic University with honours in communication and television. He participated in almost every major protest event in Khartoum during the revolution.

CO-FILMMAKER STATEMENT

This was a collaborative project between me, an Australian PhD student of anthropology, and Mudawi, a Sudanese wrestling enthusiast and community leader from Khartoum. The film, which focuses on Mudawi’s reflections after the revolution, will form part of my broader PhD thesis which explores the embodied material culture of Sudanese wrestling. For that, I spent over 12 months training and socialising with the East Nile wrestling community, while also living with Mudawi’s family. Unexpectedly, the fieldwork took place in the lead-up to, and during the start of the Sudanese revolution, which led to the army overthrowing President Omar Al Bashir in April 2019, after months of street protests. The footage for this film was shot only in December 2019, during a return visit to Mudawi’s family, precisely one year after the revolution began. The film tries to convey only a tiny taste of the lives of its interlocutors and their involvement in the revolution. It is a partial, tentative story, and one which I think raises more questions than it answers.
Paul Hayes, Canberra, March 2020

International Alumna of the Year Award – Angella Ndaka

Congratulations to Angella Ndaka, who has been awarded the 2020 ANU International Alumna of the Year Award for her important contribution to gender and social inclusion in Kenya.

After graduating from ANU in 2015, Angella formed the team that set up the Women in Leadership Network (WILN)-Kenya chapter. She is the current chairperson of the network and has led three Women in Leadership grants that have empowered women and girls in rural communities in Kenya.

Watch a video here.

All Public Events Cancelled at ANU

As a precautionary measure and based upon the advice from our expert panel, we will cancel all public and social events from Monday 16 March until the end of semester one, Saturday 20 June. This is a precautionary measure that we know will be disappointing for many, but our aim is to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread by limiting activity on campus without disrupting our essential teaching and research activities. 

Cancellation and postponement will extend to all discretionary events including ticketed and non-ticketed public events, public lectures and concerts.

Essential activities related to teaching and research, including tutorials, lectures, staff meetings and community services like childcare and cafes will continue as normal at this stage. 

Podcast: Truth and Trust

In this podcast episode, ANU’s Kirsty Wissing joins the Familiar Strange panel to explore ideas of truth and trust as related to her PhD research around water and purity in relation to the hydro-power Akosombo Dam in Ghana.

Who decides that water is pure? Who has the authority to decide? Is it a question of how water is packaged, or a question of spiritual values? How do ideas of cleanliness show us who is trusted and trustworthy?

Listen to the podcast here.

The 2016 Zambian Elections and the Role of the International Community

African Studies Reading Group, Thursday 21 November 17:00
Lady Wilson Room, Sir Roland Wilson Building, 120 McCoy Circuit

THE 2016 ZAMBIAN ELECTIONS AND THE ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

Zambia had long been hailed as a model in the region so hopes were (naively) high that the 2016 presidential election was going to be undertaken in the true spirit of democracy – but that was not to be. This presentation describes how various actions taken by the ruling party appeared to have been copied directly from a “Dictator’s Handbook” on “how to rig an election”, just as used in other countries, including Uganda and Zimbabwe. A charade was played out, of pretending to follow international standards while at the same time, and often in plain sight, many blatant irregularities and major transgressions against accepted electoral practices occurred. There were also abuses of constitutional processes after the elections. The result was the end of the Rule of Law in Zambia.

The role of the international community before, during and after the elections is described and analysed and an attempt is made to explain why  observer mission “referees” handed out the equivalent of “yellow” and even “green” cards,  in stark contrast to the international commentators who produced “red cards”.  It was as if they had officiated at different games.

Margaret O’Callaghan is a Canberra-based independent scholar, former Visiting Fellow at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy and a former United Nations Population Fund representative to Zambia.

All welcome. Refreshments provided.

Intra-Party Politics and Conflict in Ghana

African Studies Reading Group, Thursday 24 October, 5 pm.
Lady Wilson Room, Sir Roland Wilson Building, 120 McCoy Circuit, ANU.

Recent studies on democratization and conflicts in Africa have largely focused on civil wars, as well as national, sub-national and local elections. Little attention has been given to conflict and violence as a result of internal processes of political parties. The dynamics of intra-party conflicts differ from those at the national or sub-national levels, and therefore should be treated as a subject in its own right. Political parties in Ghana are beset by intra-party conflict, which poses a significant threat to the democratic development of the country. Drawing on elite interviews and ethnographic observations, this presentation will argue that the struggle for power, the lack of internal democracy, ethnicity, factionalism, and patronage have contributed to intra-party conflicts and violence within Ghana’s two dominant political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP).Ernest Akuamoah is a PhD student in the School of Politics and International Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies (First Class Honours) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana) and a Master of Philosophy in Political Science from the University of Ghana, Legon. His PhD project examines the impact of term limit relaxation on electoral violence.

All welcome, refreshments provided.

Early Career Research Small Grants Scheme

ANU’s Herbert & Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry is welcoming applications for the 2019 round of the Early Career Research Small Grants Scheme (for activities to be undertaken in 2020).

Three grants of up to $5000 each will be awarded to emerging scholars to assist research into the causes, the histories and the effects of ethnic, cultural, religious and sexual bigotry and animosity. Applications are open to all Early Career Researchers and PhD Scholars working in Australia, and are due on 15 November.

Full details of the Scheme are available here on the Freilich Project website.

Seminar: “Dual Exposure: Transcendental Harm in the Islamic Ontology of Pollution in Tunisia”

Wed 28 Aug 2019, 9.30–11am
Marie Reay Teaching Centre, Kambri/Room 3.03, Building 155

Exposure to harmful substances typically occurs through the entanglements of bodies and materials in late industrialism. How this exposure is measured depends as much on the sensory perception of these materials, as on knowledge and technologies that reveal unperceivable substances, and assess their effects on a given organism. In Western toxicology harm from exposure therefore emerges between perceivable and hardly perceivable worlds. This is also true of North African Islamic epistemologies of pollution. Here harm is constructed in the relationship between the physical world (alam al-shahada) of humanity, and the spiritual world (alam al-ghayb) inhabited by the angels and jinn. Based on 15 months of ethnographic research in Tunisia during a waste crisis in the aftermath of the revolution, this paper explores how exposure and harm are shaped by ontologies that organize the relationship between people, materials, and the unseen. It argues that certain materials can pierce the veil between the physical and sprit world in North African Islam, thereby removing the protecting of guardian angels, and attracting evil forces. Exposure from pollution in Tunisia can therefore be seen as ‘dual’ in that it renders the individual vulnerable to potentially harmful substances as well as vulnerable to the harmful effects emanating from the spirit world.

Dr. Siad Darwish is a sessional academic at the School of the Humanities and Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong. He holds a PhD in anthropology from Rutgers University and an MA in the Anthropology of Development from the University of Sussex. His research traces waste flows and unequal chemical relations between cells, bodies, the micro-ecologies of his field sites, planetary ecology, and sometimes the otherworldly. Using this approach, his first book manuscript is an exploration of the environmental politics of the Arab Uprisings in Tunisia. Find out more on sdarwish.org.