By: Ounaysa Arabi
On the 19th of June 2019, when the Japanese photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba was observing a crowd in a Gabra neighborhood sit-in, a teenage Mohammad Yousef began reciting poetry against the military dictatorship, as his fellow protesters used their mobile phone flashlights at him amid the shutdown. Chiba, who works for Agence France Press (AFP) captured that perfect moment, and his photograph won the prestigious World Press Photo of the year.
Since the winning photo was captured in Sudan, Khartoum’s Sudanese National Museum hosted the World Press Photo exhibition, attracting a crowd of diplomats, artists and journalists. From the 7th of February until the 28th, the exhibition featured several artists and music bands every Thursday.
This scene was on the 19th of June 2019 during a power outage and the internet shut down that followed the sit-in massacre on the 3rd of June back in 2019. The protest was in Gabra neighborhood as during the internet shut down people used to protest in their neighborhoods which are usually organized by resistance committees.
The photographs were showcased in a very captivating setting, the light distribution and colors contrast, especially at night… the way the ancient pieces at the museum were highlighted, and unlike the old days of the ousted regime no dress code was imposed, the environment was safe and welcoming to everyone, an atmosphere of freedom.
The diversity of the audience was the most prominent characteristic of the exhibition, people from different age groups, genders, ethnicities and nationalities visited, also government officials, musicians and artists, it felt like the Sudan that Our youth fought to see.
The deputy ambassador of the kingdom of the Netherlands in Sudan, Sjoerd Smit told Altaghyeer that the world press Photo hosts a yearly exhibition in the country of winning photographs.
He said that they chose 249 arts and culture to organize the event after seeing their distinguished portfolio.
Smit praised the work done by burri resistance committee to rehabilitate and refurbish the national museum, noting that it’s closed for reconstruction.
249 Arts and Culture defines itself as a cultural organization that aims to promote Sudanese Arts and cultures through supporting peaceful co-existence and empowering marginalized groups, focusing on women specifically and the people who are affected by the civil war.
Mohmmed Ja’far, the director of 249 Arts and Culture, told Altaghyeer that when they decided to organize the exhibition for the first time in Sudan, they needed an outdoor space given the pandemic. The Sudanese National Museum was the perfect fit for the exhibition.
According to Ja’far, the Museum required rehabilitation and maintenance, to revive it and bring back its elegance and that’s why they have cooperated with burri resistance committee whom they’ve worked together on several projects since the December revolution in 2018. Burri resistance committee supplied them with generous technical support, an irrigation engineer, electrical engineer, a professional gardener, a technician and 9 young men. The team worked for 3 months straight, nonstop 9 hours a day.
He added that there are other partners who participated in the making of the event, Sudan Layout who documented the whole event, Capital radio, the media partner, and UNICEF who sponsored two workshops on female and children Photography, also ‘the other vision’ who sponsored a workshop of narrative photography and ‘SAVANAH labs’ who hosted four workshops of the event, in addition to Sudan Animal Rescue Center and Takreer which is a recycling project.
While the exhibition ended last week, the works on rehabilitating the national museum continue, as more events are expected in the future.