• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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From Sudan to Nigeria, Lessons on sustaining a revolution

From Sudan to Nigeria, Lessons on sustaining a revolution

There is a crucial need for a central organizing and coordinating body that leads the revolution activities. In Sudan’s case, we elected for this body not to be a partisan one as people were losing faith in the opposition parties, and having them on the front might have repelled people from joining. Hence we went for the Sudanese Professionals Association as a coalition of unions and civil society organizations. This body was explicitly formed to lead the Revolution and was led by several activists and accepted political faces who were operating secretly inside the country but had some leaders residing abroad for their safety and the Association’s sustainability.

As the Revolution developed, a broader coalition was made to include political parties, civil society organizations, religious groups, and armed rebels groups, which was then widely recognized as the political backbone and cover for the Revolution. It was named rightly named “the Freedom and Change Forces.”

This body organized and coordinated the revolution activities, set the dates and times for protests and civil disobedience and communicated with the national and international stakeholders.
As the Revolution progressed, The Revolutionary Committees were created in the residential areas in Sudan’s cities. These committees helped to mobilize the youth of their neighborhoods to join revolution activities.

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The Power of Communications:
The Coalition communicated ran an excellent communication campaign through the following:
1- Created official social media pages on Twitter and Facebook, but it eventually included Instagram and other platforms.
2- Launched mottos and hashtags such as #تسقط بس and promote them widely on and off social media
3- They promoted revolution icons who broke their fear and contributed to the Revolution (including some heroes who gave their lives for the cause).
4- It facilitated the creation and promotion of the Revolution Art, including photography, poetry, songs, graffiti, and drawings. Art enabled the Revolution to connect to the soul of the Sudanese culture. Putting all of this art and media on social media helped bring the international community’s attention to what was happening in Sudan.
5- The Revolution appointed spoke persons in many big cities worldwide, making it easier to reach out to international media, TV stations, and even local radio stations in the USA and UK.
6- Reaching out to national and international celebrities and starts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram had helped to get the message of the Revolution to the world. Examples of those will be Rihanna, Idris Alba, LL J Cool…etc.
7- The Revolution unleashed humor and satire on the previous regime, defeating the fear in people’s hearts from the security forces’ brutal force then. Ridiculing the senior members of the previous regime in public helped put pressure on them and make them look defeated.
8- They used historical dates of previous revolutions to set new activities such as April 6, October 21, which are dates of revolutions that tumbled previous military regimes in the 60s and 80th in Sudan.This renewed the hope for change again in the hearts of Sudanese.

Reduce The Cost Of Participating In The Revolution:
One of the biggest challenges of revolutions is the fear of the high personal cost for the people who join. Fear of getting arrested, hurt and injured, getting fired from a job, or losing one’s life or the life of loved ones. Hence, whoever is organizing the Revolution needs to work on minimizing this cost as much as possible, and here are few techniques that might help achieve that:
1- Start small acts like letting the horn on the car off at a specific date and time for a minute or putting on a specific T-shirt color. The purpose here is to make it accessible for many people (mostly new ones) to feel what it’s like to say no to oppression without really putting their lives in direct danger.
2- The use of short well organized civil disobedience has also enabled many people to participate in the Revolution safely.
3- The experience proved that it is better to call for distributed demonstrations rather than big central ones. It became more common to have local demonstrations in the outer city and residential areas, making it harder for the security and police forces to control and spread their resources thin. Having many demonstrations at the same time will give the impression that it’s much bigger than it was at the early times
4- The Sit-In site was a village of its own with services such as a health center and kitchen. It was a significant source of solidarity and togetherness, giving many people the chance to belong to the Revolution and contribute in whatever way was comfortable for them.
5- Always come up with quick and small ones and present them accumulatively to project the idea of growth and achieving goals.
In the end, let me remind you that the Revolution is an accumulative act that takes time and a lot of effort. However, fatigue and frustration can set very quickly if results and goal achievement are not being seen on the horizon. Growing and sustaining a revolution requires lots of strategic thinking, excellent communication work, and a whole lot of inspiration-seeking.

Husameldin Elnasri is a Tutu Fellow.