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Ibrahim El-Salahi Pain Relief at The Saatchi Gallery, London

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A Date for your Diary

Join us on International Literacy Day, 8th September

Women’s Education Partnership is delighted to invite you to join us in conversation with groundbreaking British-Sudanese author, Leila Aboulela at Eventbrite Leila Aboulela Words Matter in celebration of International Literacy Day, 8th September this year. Leila Aboulela will be talking with British-Sudanese journalist, Adela Suliman and taking questions from the audience. You can book your tickets at Words Matter

Read more in our blogpost Words Matter with Leila Aboulela. See too Leila Aboulela

“When I write I experience relief and satisfaction that what occupies my mind, what fascinates and disturbs me, is made legitimate by the shape and tension of a story. I want to show the psychology, the state of mind and the emotions of a person who has faith. I am interested in going deep, not just looking at ‘Muslim’ as a cultural or political identity but something close to the centre, something that transcends but doesn’t deny gender, nationality, class or race. I write fiction that reflects Islamic logic, fictional worlds where cause and effect are governed by Muslim rationale. However, my characters do not necessarily behave as ‘good’ Muslims; they are not ideals or role models. They are, as I see them to be; flawed characters trying to practice their faith or make sense of God’s will, in difficult circumstances.

See A Thousand Prayers if you are interested in Sudanese Sufi traditions.

If you enjoy Sudanese literature, see our post on the first Sudanese woman novelist, Malikah ad-Dar – Trailblazer

Above, a stunning visual tribute to Malikah Ad-Dar Mohammad (1920 -1969) and her novel, variously translated as “The Great Emptiness/ Hollowness or The Wide Void/ Vacuum” (Alfaraagh al’ariiD,1970/2), shown here by kind permission of Assim Jubara, of Iqoona;

Update on our Teacher Training Programme

See Teacher Training in Action for the latest scenes from our teacher training program for primary school teachers working in deprived communities in Khartoum. The program is carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and is funded by The British and Foreign School Society.

Below, teachers in training exploring lesson design. 

Update on our Income Generating Programme for our Literacy Participants

We are very happy to confirm that, thanks to a generous donation by the Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust, together with pledges from individual donors, we now have sufficient funds to cover all the costs of our latest income generating project for our literacy participants. Our soap-making programme will enable our literary circles to earn much needed income lost during the Covid-19 pandemic while benefiting their communities with affordable and safe supplies of soap.

Read more in:

Building Resilience

Our Literacy Programme in a Changing Sudan

Our REFLECT women’s literacy programme plays an essential role in enabling some of the most marginalized in Sudanese society to engage in local decision-making on issues that directly affect their communities. With increased literacy comes the self-confidence to speak in public, approach local representatives on questions of concern and initiate community change. Our participants receive orientation in local government structures, election processes and voting rights.

Learn more in Literacy and Democratic Engagement

Our Latest Cultural Posts

Meet the highly talented artist, Mutaz Mohammad El-Fateh, pictured above, who uses natural vegetable tints and dyes in his work. In a ten-question, quick-fire interview, Mutaz talks about his artistic vision and why nature is so important to him. Read the interview in Coffee and Hibiscus Flowers 2

Above, examples of Mutaz’s work created using coffee grounds. For more background on his work, see Coffee and Hibiscus Flowers

Read a personal tribute to the Sudanese Lyre in

The Sudanese Tambour

The lyre vibrates with echoes of Sudan’s troubled past – its Ottoman coins, minted in Cairo and Istanbul and its Victorian halfpenny, the currencies of slavery, invasion and imperialist conquest. And yet it sings too – of trade routes across vast continents, spirituality, love and longing, and the enduring power of music to give solace.

Safia Elhillo, pictured above, is an American-Sudanese poet whose work embraces the dissonance and joy of living multiple cultures as she negotiates the Sudans of her exiled parents and those of her own generation.

Read extracts from her work in “Everything that is lost will be given a name”

Below, a verse from Safia Elhillo’s “to make use of water”, The January Children, p 4

“…they called our grandfathers the january children lined up by the colonizer & assigned birth years by height there is no answer we come from men who do not know when they were born & women shown to them in photographs whose children left the country & tried for romance & has daughters full of all the wrong language.”

The Hakkamaat are much more than female singers and poets. Read about their complex, troubled and troubling role in Sudanese life in:

“Her Words Slayed Dragons”

Described as folk poet hawks and doves – even Sudan’s “gangster rappers”, the Hakkamaat wield power to incite and inflame, and to advocate passionately for calm and unity at moments of crisis. Renewed interest in the Hakkamaat, coupled with official efforts to remold their role as influencers must be set against underplaying or sanitizing their history as instigators of ethnic conflict. In contrast, while not technically Hakkamaat-penned, the rousing songs and chants of Sudanese women urging peace and disciplined resolve – songs instantly amplified by social media – were to play a key role during the peaceful 2019 revolution.

Some of the best sesame oil in the world is made in Sudan. In The Camel and the Sesame Seed we meet a sesame oil producer proud to be using traditional camel-powered milling methods.

Above, a blindfolded camel powers a traditional sesame oil press on the outskirts of Khartoum. Below, screenshot of the silky froth of recently pressed sesame oil from the brief video dedicated to this ancient craft, embedded and annotated in this post). Sesame oil produced in this way is known as Simsim al-Walad and is prized throughout Sudan and beyond for its purity, taste, nutritional and medicinal qualities.

This is a literacy and orphans post for

Women’s Education Partnership

See Community Literacy and At a Glance for more about our work.

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2 comments on “Latest News

  1. simon boyd says:

    Brilliant. Thank you for posting. I haven’t seen the latest figures on ticket sales but last week they were very low, so the more promotion the better. I’ll try to use your material in an email – does one paste it in? Thanks Simon

    On Sat, 7 Aug 2021, 19:38 Women’s literacy in Sudan, wrote:

    > womensliteracysudan posted: ” A Date for your Diary Join us on > International Literacy Day, 8th September Women’s Education Partnership is > delighted to invite you to join us in conversation with groundbreaking > British-Sudanese author, Leila Aboulela at Eventbrite Leila Ab” >


    1. Hi Simon, I’ll email all the links this evening. Many thanks.


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