Dr. Rashid Diab: The Sudanese Culture May Help Politics Secure a Dialogue Satisfactory to Conflicting Parties

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW)—The National Salvation government is now more than 25 years old and so is the political dispute, which has resisted all attempts for solution, between the Salvation or Ingaz (later on renamed the National Congress Party, NCP), on the one hand, and the political parties and armed movements, on the other. All political mechanisms and tools have failed to find a solution to the dispute and rid the Sudanese people of the evils of politics.
Following eighteen months of the call for a comprehensive national dialogue by the President of the Republic and Chairman of the ruling NCP, Omar al-Bashir, and the date for convening the national dialogue in sight, a new term began to surface in the political scene, that is culture which may hopefully succeed in what politics has failed for finding a way out of the deep-rooted and highly complicated crisis.
But culture, with its various instruments, is still being shyly proposed as one way for reaching a national political consensus without determining a specific method for this end. It is still being called for by some, rather than all people, most likely due to the overwhelmingly high pitch of politics which overshadows the culture and its role in contribution to the general political issue of the state and the society, in spite of its success in unifying all the Sudanese people.
SUDANOW Magazine met Sudanese international artist and art-theorist Dr. Rashid Diab and asked on whether culture can play an effective role for assisting the Sudanese people to resolve their political problems or not and on how this can be done.
He says resort to and soliciting the Sudanese culture may direct and help the Sudanese politics achieve a successful dialogue that is acceptable to the other party and at the same time satisfactory to all parties and to the society.
But first of all we have to extend the concept of culture beyond the usual definition that it includes art, singing, poetry, music and painting. We have to be fully aware and recognize that culture is consciousness of the national feeling and lies in enjoyment of the melody and beauty of the truth, freedom of expression and affiliation to a beloved country, Dr. Diab said.
He added that consciousness of this concept of culture requires a high degree of awareness and general planning for shaping a unified vision based on the opinions which arise during the various theatres of dialogue.

Rashid Diab Arts Centre
Rashid Diab Arts Centre

He went on to say that serious efforts must be exerted in research and studies in the various fields of arts, political systems and methods of knowledge for reaching a stable common ground that accommodates the previous and current opinions and revives the common memory to transform it in the general national interest.
Dr. Diab said the culture which can change the society from weak to strong is the one which is based on evaluating and analytic knowledge that is aware of the communication aspects at the level of constructive relations which provide the foundation stone of a modern state.
What leads to a collective leadership and sharing is the institutional thinking which is made up of accumulated knowledge, experience and continued projects which do not belong to a person or a place, Dr. Diab said.
He added that the collective administration ensures concern with all forms of participation, vision and understanding of the members of the institution, casting aside the individual decisions and at the same time adopt the decisions issued collectively by members of the institution who are willing to make additional decisions because they are aware of the value of their institution.
Culture is influential for changing the behavior of the people into a sophisticated effort reflected in respect for others and in a strong affiliation to the state and the country, he said adding that such behavior is identified as civilized because civilization is the physical image of culture.
He said the nations which have achieved development and established justice, equality and freedom have relied on their thinkers, scientists, artists and others and benefited from their bright ideas, far-reaching visions and aesthetics and through them those developed nations built beacons of knowledge and values of social existence and provided conditions of creative education and institutional advancement for enrichment of life and emotion.
He cited as examples for those nations Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea which have managed, in a short period of time, to concentrate efforts for appreciation of the value of the brain and the knowledge asset of their peoples.
Diab believes that the Sudanese culture has a peculiar definition in addition to the scientific one which is derived from Western concepts. The Sudanese culture, he went on, is of a humanitarian and emotional behavior and is of an intimate psychological, familial and social linkage, something which others can recognize only on visiting the Sudan.

Dr. Diab speaks to the reporter
Dr. Diab speaks to the reporter

Although there are negative signs in this humanly behavior resulting from racial leanings, it is dominated by feelings of equality, amicability and solidarity, siding with the weak and poor and dwarfing the arrogant, he said. Even during regimes of dictatorships and atrocities, we do not go beyond the limits like what happens in countries around us, he added, attributing this to the peculiar Sudanese culture which has placed a self-imposed standard for restraining the political conduct as the first role of the culture is to retain itself and then to retain its relationship with the politics.
However, Dr. Diab went on, the stage currently being experienced by the Sudanese culture differs from the past ones. There are several mattocks which are now demolishing the foundation and methodology of the Sudanese culture, he said, adding that those mattocks are applied from within the Sudan, by the Sudanese themselves, and from abroad. All of them are attempting, deliberately or indeliberately, to change the features of the Sudanese culture for economic reasons to make the Sudan consume everything of poor quality. The feeling of inferiority makes a person behave against his own interest and the less his ability of comprehension the more stubborn he becomes as the stubborn person is the one who possesses half rather than the whole truth, Diab said.
He noted that it is the intelligentsia who block the way of the bad wind because they possess wisdom and preserve the culture of the nation. Continuity of the true culture of a nation is achieved in several ways, including documentation and recording all of its forms of proverbs, dictums, tales, heroics, etc., and trimming them and preserving what is useful for handing over to the future generations in a modern method.
He pointed out that a major mistake which has remained with us since the independence is the disrespect for the leaders of culture and failure to benefit from them.

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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