Young artists are using their work to voice the frustrations of the masses in a country yearning for political reform.
In 2012, I attended the launch of world-renowned Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi's autobiography, 'A Fistful of Sand', in Khartoum. During the Q&A; session, a man raised his hand to address El-Salahi. "While we appreciate your contribution Mr. El-Salahi, I fail to see the importance or influence of art in society."
Thirty years under the rule of Omar Al-Bashir and his self-dubbed "Savior" regime have led to acute brain drain in every discipline, and a complete disintegration of the arts.
So that man's dismissive attitude comes as no surprise; more so than proof of the violent repression in which the Sudanese people live, it is the natural result of three decades of economic hardship and impoverishment. As one friend put it, "Art was one of the casualties [of this regime] - who has the time for 'silly things' like creative expression and self-actualization when you're worried about your next meal?"