Meet Anwar Dafa-Alla, TED volunteer translator

Posted by: Matthew Trost


In the next weeks, the TED Blog will shine the spotlight on the fantastic TED volunteer translators — offering a glimpse of the people whose efforts continue to enrich the Open Translation Project. Today, we’d like you to meet Anwar Dafa-Alla.

Tell us about yourself.

My full name is Anwar Fatihelrahman Ahmed Dafa-Alla. I was born in Port Sudan, Sudan on January 23, 1978, and got my early education there. Graduated from the AASTMT as a Computer Engineer in 2003.

I’m married and have a small Sudanese family, my beloved wife Salma and my lovely daughter Egabl, the most valuable people in my life.

I’m the oldest brother of nine, four boys and four girls.

I worked as web designer/developer during my university days, and then as a part-time lecturer in my home town after graduation, for two colleges, and I established my own small company in the capital city of Khartoum in 2003, just before I came to South Korea and joined the Master course in Chungbuk National University, CheongJu, Chungbuk, Korea.

I finished my Master course in 2006, established my own company here also, till I suspended it and switched again to full-time Ph.D student at the same lab, hopefully to graduate next year, 2010. My research areas include, but are not limited to, databases, data mining, security, social networks, Internet applications and some mathematics.


What drew you to TED?

Some Sudanese friends and I are sharing video lectures, papers and whatever comes to our hands. My lab mate sent me a link to a very inspiring talk. Later I watched the “African Einstein” talk by Neil Turok. The first thing came to my mind is how to spread this talk to many people in my country and our continent.

We love to follow the new ideas and discoveries from all disciplines. And I’m always optimistic that the best that humanity can offer has yet to come.

Participating in establishing several NGO and groups in Sudan, such as Sudan Developers Association, I believe in the ability of open source and collaboration work in changing our world to a better place.

And that’s exactly what I found in TED. I believe that every idea worth spreading, no matter what’s my humble opinion about it, reveals some “hidden possibility” in human-human interaction or even human-machine interaction. I’m a big fan of Hans Rosling, and I always whisper to myself: let my dataset change your mindset. :-)


Why do you translate?

I’m a kind of restless guy, so I would do more than one task in parallel (multitask). Education is a life mission for me, through which my country Sudan, my continent, Africa, and the whole world can flourish.

I translate for the millions of Arabic language speakers (spoken by more than 280 million people as a first language). I translate because it’s a way to promote mutual respect between different cultures, people, religions, etc. Translation is a way to exchange ideas among us as humans.

I also translate for my friends; I think it’s a good gift that could change something in their lives. I translate for my daughter, your daughter and every kid and for the coming generations. I hope they’ll one day benefit a little from my translations.

Participating in the translation project is good method to show how compassionate we are toward each other, given that Arabic speakers are from different religious and cultural backgrounds.

Being from a country like Sudan, 7,000 years old, and the first civilization that built pyramids, I translate to promote peace and prosperity in my country also, complementing the efforts of my friend Emmanuel Jal who has done good steps that will change people’s perception about our Sudan — even among Sudanese themselves. The message of peace and love, that we’re one people, one nation, unlike what politics suggest. So, through translation I can change a little bit as well.

Currently my country has some conflicts; a lot of people have a single story about Sudan; even in our neighbor countries, we are stereotyped in a bad way. And that must be changed by us, solving our problems and participating actively in the global society. I met with a lot of talented people in Sudan; they couldn’t get the chance to show their creativity. For example, I met with Mamoun, 12 years old boy who does mathemagic. Unfortunately, he’s suffering from a disease.

I translate also because it tends to create new tribes and I meet a lot of great people. One of my favorite hobbies is to know people and cooperate with them for good causes. I would like to thank everyone who contributes something through TED, the compassionate place, where the are great Ideas Worth Spreading.


NEW! Read this Q&A in Chinese >>

Comments (34)

  • shoaib ahamed commented on Feb 26 2012

    Assalamalekum…..Great Brother..More sudans students are studying in India…
    Reallly Inspired By you…take care

    • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on May 25 2012

      Wa Alykom alsalam dear Shoaib, thanks a lot for your feedback, and my greetings to students in you brother.

  • AHMD MHMD commented on Nov 7 2011

    thank alot dr-anw and i’m so proud of YOu and i wonder how i don’t know you
    and i guess you’r a magical guy have big mind to help this country to be at first
    thank u again and i promiesed you i will meer You to take just some of yours

    • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on May 25 2012

      Thanks a lot dear AHMD, hope we’ll meet soon:)

  • Mohammed Alserier commented on Sep 23 2011

    Always proud of you my friend :)

    • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on May 25 2012

      Thank you my friend Mohammed Alserier :)

  • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on Aug 25 2011

    [flickr video=5964049927 secret=2871b08f9f w=400 h=226]

  • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on Aug 25 2011

    I really enjoyed been with my fellow TED translators during TEDGlobal 2011 in Edinburgh…loved the acknowledgement for Translators (Video)

  • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on Aug 25 2011

    Thank you dearest Mansoor & Doaa <3

  • Doaa Akram commented on Jun 21 2011

    Keep up the good, no, great work, Anwar.

  • mansoor taybe commented on Jun 4 2011

    The most beautiful gift given to us is ) TEDxkhartoum (

    we love U

  • Anwar Dafa-Alla commented on Dec 10 2010

    Thank you so much dear Muaz…I’m glad that You’re helping us on planning to TEDxKhartoum

  • Muaz Ataalsid commented on Dec 2 2010

    Great cause ya Anwar…

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Jul 30 2010

    I see that the youtube link broken!!! here it is with Arabic subtitles :
    TEDxDubai – Bruno Giussani – 10/10/09

    Thanks to June Cohen also..for her nice shout on WEB 2.0 conference…
    Web 2.0 Expo SF 2010: June Cohen, “Ideas Worth Spreading: TED’s Transition…”

    Here is our Arabic translators group in Facebook:

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Jul 30 2010

    A lot of thanks dearest Seda :)
    God bless You :)

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Jul 30 2010

    Thanks Lina …

  • Ay?e Seda Demirel commented on May 18 2010

    A single story may destroy, but a single man’s devotion can build up a whole new country!
    I really feel and enjoy your enthusiasm and humanity…
    Please, keep up with your good intensions and positive attitude, brother :)

    • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Jul 30 2010

      A lot of thanks dearest Seda …God bless you sister :)

  • Lina Elimam commented on Apr 3 2010

    Thanks Anwar, for inspiring me to join the TED translation project. I’m also proud to see a devoted Sudanese here who participates in reflecting a good picture about our country. A STEM fellow who spreads and shares ideas worth sharing. You have a lovely family, and precious little daughter; May Allah keep yall safe.

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Dec 9 2009

    Here is our Arabic translators group in Facebook:

    and I would like to thank Mr. Bruno Giussani , Ted Europe director for his recognition to our works at TEDx Dubai 2009 here in Youtube:

    Thank you all and Let’s spread the Ideas

  • enas satir commented on Dec 5 2009

    reading this made me feel so great..! makes me feel proud to see a follow sudanese doing well :) wish u all the best
    n yea.. i signed up for the voluntary translation program as well

    • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Dec 9 2009

      Dear Enas, reading your words made me so proud that we can support each other toward improving our situation…I’m so glad that you’re joined the Open translation program…will do my best and happy to cooperate with you in advance.

  • Rajesh Sampathkumar commented on Dec 1 2009

    Why don’t you translate into the African languages? The Arabic language has several representatives in the West and there’s a greater connection between the two cultures in general than between say, Sub Saharan Africa and the West and other English speaking countries. I am sure such translations will help many more people.

    • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Dec 1 2009

      Thank you for your question… In fact Arabic is my mother tongue and I’ve learned English in the primary school. I wish I could translate into other languages, especially Sub Saharan Africa languages since we’re in a desperate need for that.
      I agree with you totally, and I’ll try my best to encourage my friends to do so.

  • Anour Dafa-Alla commented on Nov 28 2009

    Thanks brother Sultan…I wish you all the best too :)

  • Sultan Abdullah commented on Nov 21 2009

    I am a big fan of yours . I wish to you all the best :)