Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir—because that is his full name—could now be expected to be weighing his chances of ending up before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Now that he no longer has the protection of the state of which he was chief for three decades, he must now be feeling quite naked, and vulnerable.
When the ICC announced that it wanted to indict him in connection with crimes against humanity committed in the Sudanese province of Darfur, Bashir thumbed his nose at the court, openly mocking it as a paper tiger.
But now things have changed, and, unless he chooses most carefully where he goes to spend his ill-gotten gains, he could easily find himself behind the bars of a very comfortable prison somewhere.
But that is not what moved me particularly regarding this evil man’s ouster when his own soldiers decided to thrown in their lot with the thousands of protesting masses in the last days of the general’s rule, though I have to admit I find it to be the proverbial good riddance to bad rubbish.
What particularly moved me was the organisation of the protests, which were largely orderly and violence-free, a fact that was quickly reciprocated by the military patrols who were sent to clear the streets but instead refused to use violence against the people. (To be fair to the man, even Bashir publicly conceded that the demonstrations against him had a legitimate cause!)
The crowds that came out en masse to protest against Bashir were not your usual riffraff made up of people who no longer have anything to lose.
No, these demonstrators were/are lawyers, physicians, journalists and other professionals, motivated by pent-up anger against a regime whose only desire was to stay in power by whatever means possible, never mind how much the common people suffered.
There is always something beautiful when professional such as we have witnessed within the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA) risk their jobs and pay for the cause of fighting for greater liberty in their country; this denotes a raised level of generosity and selflessness. I believe it is a spirit that should be emulated by our professionals closer to where you and I live.
Then there were the women, and by gosh what women! Shedding the traditionally defined roles for women in a seriously conservative setting, they have been coming out in droves and taking the lead sometimes in cases where men were too scared to step forward.
I especially fell in love with Alaa Salah—sadly, I am not the only one to do so—who was watched worldwide on top of a jeep shouting instructions and encouragement.
I came to learn that the “kadankas,” whose name has been adopted by women like Alaa were legendary Nubian women who fought for gender justice centuries ago.
Every dramatic social movement creates images of extraordinary people who emerge from nowhere to give colour and verve to an otherwise fat and tepid protestation.
The Sudanese women simply lifted my spirits to new heights with their exuberance.
However, it would be remiss of me not to throw into this statement the Algerian girls and women, who have been saying that the departure of Abdelaziz Bouteflika is not enough, and calling for a total clean-up of the stables of the old “pouvoir.”
Alas, we are not permitted to be overly romantic. What takes on the visage of a courageous people’s movement today can easily be hijacked by political scoundrels in our midst, and many of those we have invested our faith in have turned out to be, not only less than deserving of our trust, but outright charlatans.
But that is precisely why the struggle is permanent, because every new victory must provide a plank for the next phase of the combat.
The man who announced the ouster of Bashir does not sound good at all. He, minister of defence of the man he is now replacing, wants the military council he will head to rule for two years… blah, blah.. the more it changes the more it is the same thing?
Luckily, the women (and others, of course) have seen through him and they are saying a resounding No to Awad Mohammed Ahmed al Auf, the new strongman. When you think it is a light you are seeing at the end of the tunnel, make sure it’s not an oncoming train.
Editors note: This article was published before the head of Sudan's military council Awad Ibn Auf stepped down.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]