A year ago, political scientist Tarig Hilal captivated the audience at TEDxKhartoum with the story of the Sudan he saw — not a place of violent strife, political unrest or pervasive poverty, but a country of beautiful natural landscapes, a rich history and a hopeful generation of changemakers ready to turn a new chapter in their country’s history.
“I’m going to tell you a story,” he says in his talk, “It is the story of a generation. My generation. It is a story of our romance with the past, with the losses of our age, and a hope for the future.” He describes an old Sudan of “wide open boulevards and tree-lined streets … trains that ran on time … and jazz nights by the Nile,” a recent Sudan of diaspora, food queues and “shattered sidewalks,” and then a future Sudan of hope and promise.
After it appeared online, Hilal’s talk inspired so many responses from Sudanese youth — moved by Hilal’s call to action to “believe that the future is not a matter of what will be, but what could … [to] dream a new dream, the dream of our generation” — that the organizers of TEDxKhartoum were motivated to do something more. They wanted to do something involving the people of the country in which Hilal so believes: to transpose the conversation into a film.
With TEDxKhartoum organizer Anwar Dafa-Alla as executive producer, a Kickstarter campaign was launched — the first used to fund a film in Sudan — to help the team adapt the talk into a short film, Our Sudan, with the transcript of Hilal’s talk spoken by Sudanese youth of various tribes and backgrounds. Soon, the project surpassed its fundraising goal by over £2,000.
“The video Our Sudan is designed to inspire young Sudanese in Sudan and the diaspora to think differently about themselves and their future,” reads the film’s Kickstarter page. “Sudan’s youth need to start to re-imagine Sudan and its future — to believe that things can be different and that it is in their power to make that difference.”
After success on Kickstarter, the film was made and launched online at the beginning of June, just a day before Dafa-Alla traveled to Scotland to represent TEDxKhartoum at TEDGlobal and only a month after TEDxKhartoum’s 2013 event was unexpectedly shut down by the Sudanese government.
“In less than 3 weeks … the total views are [over 39,000] so far,” Dafa-Alla tells the TED Blog, “and it sparked huge conversation in our community, particularly among the youth … As a TED volunteer translator and TEDx organizer, I find this worth spreading since it reflects what we are doing on the ground. And it might inspire others from the TED/TEDx community to do the same.”