interviews

Interview with Sudanese American Friendship Association

Mohammed Saad

Ramadan in Sudan is characterized by many beautiful and intimate social customs that reinforce many positive societal values, and sometimes these customs turn into an intellectual and cultural cross-fertilization, which makes group breakfasts suitable for rich discussion.

After a generous invitation from Mr. Abdul Qadir Al-Khabir, I went to his home as part of a delegation from the Sudanese American Friendship Association and found that this association is working on projects that are truly beneficial to the two peoples

Abd-Algadir Al-Khabeer, Chairman of the SudaStructure Group, on the strength of the US/Sudanese Relations:

Patrick Curry, in 1893 came from Al-Mogran and rode a boat for 6 months and 20 days. He went north, passing Al-Gezira Slanj. He learned the customs of Sudan, wore its local clothes and participated in religious prayer.

At the end of this journey, they found a long line of Sudanese men, wearing their white robes. Praying their Eid prayers, in a place called Zeydab, so he joined them in prayer and after the finished their prayers they grew very fond of him.
He was invited to stay with them and live amongst them for a while, and after three to four weeks he was given a wife, land to till, and two bulls to work with.

After three years, in 1896, he went to the dual rulers of Sudan and told them that he wanted to grow something no one else is growing, that being cotton. He asked for a permit and some helping hands.

So in actuality, cotton farming wasn’t brought to Sudan by the Englishmen, but by this American man who lived among the people and made a family there.

So he went back to America and started bringing back with him 200 Americans until 1991, who still live there and haven’t left the country to this day.

We were, and we are, and we will always be convinced that we are a unique people. And this is certified by regional and international witnesses.

You as Americans are also a unique people, just like us. And we have always been very close. It is just in 1993 that there was a collision in ideology.

The previous regime was an ideological Islamic power, while you are a western Christian power. But what was done did not just pressure the regime, but the whole of the populace.

We had 70 billion dollars in debt thrown onto our back and we have missed opportunities forth 2 trillion dollars. The biggest agricultural project in the world (Gezira scheme) was destroyed, and a rail road that was a leader in all of the middle-east was lost to time.

In short, listen carefully; We Have To Be Compensated…

Sami Ahmed Al-Ja’ali Introduces the Association:

The Sudanese American Friendship Association was established on the 2nd of January 2021, under the supervision of the International People’s Friendship Council. It is one of 87 associations under the umbrella of the International People’s Friendship Council, and it is an old establishment with over 20 years of service.

It is a new initiative by the Council that will end by 2025. It is a forum to discuss challenges and opportunities that face the Sudanese banking sector, and it has a lot of Banks participating in it.

Thanks to the Zoom video call technology, the US Treasury and the Deputy Chief of Mission managed to send a representative, and here in Khartoum, the banks were represented by their managers.

A brochure will be issued every two months, with the next one being about agricultural investment in Sudan, and it will be made in co-operation with Social Security and Investment Authority.

The Association now has a Headquarters, in Riyadh (Khartoum), and in this HQ, international meetings are held every Saturday with their purpose being; the transfer of ideas and implementing the association’s program in the coming period.

We have a lot of programs but the Sudanese American Forum is the focus of the Association at the moment, but we plan to have initiatives, projects, and proposals that will see that light soon.

A lot of these associations have been around for a long time, do you believe this initiative will have an actual impact on the reality of Sudan? And why is that? Could it be the more democratic air around now? Or is it American support?

In truth, we are very hopeful that change will happen, and that the association will have a tangible part in that for many reasons.

And as you have said, the current atmosphere is also very helpful, with Sudan being lifted from the Sponsors of Terrorism List on the 14th of last December. This is one of the reasons but also not the singular reason for it. Right now, the American side looks to this new Sudan as serious in implementing change and committed to following through with the right steps.

And how is the response from the American embassy?

Right now, we have not requested any support from the American side on any level.
Even our headquarters is a rented property. We told the Americans that we do not want money, we as Sudanese, businessmen or otherwise, can carry this association through our own effort.

We also have a lot of support from the Sudanese expats in America, and they are very enthused with our current work.

Mohammed Almoatasim Hakkim:

I call it (Sudanese American Friendship Association) the embassy of Africa in Sudan. America wants stability when it comes to security in Sudan, America is fighting terrorism, America fears illegal immigration, they fear Boku Haram and Da’ish(ISIS).

America wants the Sudanese nation to be strong when facing these challenges.

Sudan also requests from America some lawful requests, those being the openness of Sudan to investments.

Sudan is a new Sudan.

It is important for you as an organisation to support national union and the unity of the Sudanese voice.

Prof. Salah Qarnaas:

Sudan is categorised, as you have known, as one of the three countries capable of providing food and clothing to the world.

We want to move from linear economics to circular and green economics.

Linear economics are products that that have a singular path, while Circular economics can recycle and reduce waste.
Especially as the Sudan of the revolution. Sudan is a very weird occurrence in the world at the moment, having changed from a regime to another without loss.

I have personally come from a generation that saw free education from the start to doctorates. So I see myself owing a huge dept I have to return to the next generations.

The youth of today can create miracles if they find guidance, and I am ready to give it, to the best of my ability.
We in the American friendship Association do not want anything and have no want for green cards. We only want to work with them to extract this potential.

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