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Fatima: The legacy that matters

By Salah Shuaib

It is a name that possesses a compelling legacy which Sudanese intellects cannot compare or ignore. She is perhaps the bravest woman ever known throughout Sudan’s modern history. Besides this, her wonderful smile has a special brand where you would witness its shining affection and suavity. Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim is well-known for her candidacy when it comes to taking positions in regards to political issues, even though her tears are always almost ready to proceed whenever she sees neglected street-children.

The killing of her husband, AlShafie Ahmed AlSheikh, by the former Sudanese president, Jafar Nemerie, played a major role in strengthening her personality as she continued to persevere and combat issues of great importance. For almost half a century, Fatima dedicated her life to Sudan’s political struggle against dictatorship, poverty, and intolerance. Whether through her party or alone, the feminist figure was always eager to stand up against all odds which were traditionally presented as hurdles obstructing Sudanese women’s dreams.

Talking about Fatima’s character, or the role she played, it is important to explore the reasons for her exclusion in a male-dominated environment where women are still suffering from marginalization, contempt, and disdain. However, the important thing is that she battled to break a lot of societal taboos and to strengthen the active presence of women in all public spheres that are monopolized by men.

Unfortunately, the courage that she acquired during her life had been buried with her. The good news is that Fatima, through her dedicated efforts for change, was able to pass to women of all generations her optimism, resilience, and bright experiences. Due to this, the country grieved as the nation lost its most prized activist and people from different backgrounds and origins collectively mourned in remembrance of her legacy.

In the past, there have been many women who might have contributed, like Fatima, to make the social situations better, but what distinguishes Fatima is that she was always striving to keep focusing on progressive works and addressing the intractable problems that Sudanese women face without compromise.

She was a voice that did not stop or tire when addressing the rights of women and the miserable conditions and restrictions that hinder their free movement. No doubt, her struggle has brought great benefits to women in rural and urban areas, but what Fatima had achieved had also helped men, as the lessons and qualities the women of Sudan were able to adopt from Fatima, helped them concerning family needs.
The depiction of Sudanese women before Fatima’s era was full of contempt and bias against them. Despite that, there were brave men who had taken it upon themselves the task of overcoming the difficulties Sudanese women suffered from. Nevertheless, the symbolism of Fatima’s struggle was valuable, vital, and meaningful in many social spaces. Unlike the men who dedicated themselves to resolve the Sudanese society’s women issues, Fatima rose against those curbs that prevented the presence of women in social activities, as well as raising her voice to express comprehensively worthy insights.

Some of the rights Sudanese women have gained are due to Fatima’s tireless struggles since the 1950s, when public knowledge didn’t allow for changing obstructive social values. Fatima, then, worked extremely to pave the way for future generations to continue the struggle until women find their full essential rights.
Despite her several roles, Fatima’s main chosen mandate was to be the voice for women. This has been manifested in many ways; she was the editor-in- chief for a women newspaper, a public-school teacher, and a famous speaker in women’s movements rallies to lobby for all kind of Sudanese progress.

Her glorious story witnessed a breakthrough when she was elected as a parliament member in the mid-Sixties, as one of the Sudanese Communist Party candidates. She became the first woman to have a membership of the first Parliament, where she fought firmly to raise the issues of women amidst the patriarchal block, which was only loyal to the ideas boosting ignorance. She held many seminars that discussed gender issues and published books dealing with the core references that had constituted the encroachment of women’s life advantages. Fatima travelled around the world to sensitize Third World women to the importance of raising their voice until they free themselves from the injustice imposed on them. Thus, the icon of human struggle became the recipient of international awards - and she deserved to be the leader of Women’s Rights International Organizations.

It is Fatima who made Sudanese women’s struggle valuable, attractive, and meaningful. She will be remembered, for a long time, by all Sudanese generations seeking to restore democracy. In fact, she laid the beginning of its discussions with much hope, sternness, and loyalty. The tremendous admiration from the aspiring masses of change toward her legacy has certainly set high standards for real national struggle, and this is what matters for her promising nation.

*The writer is a Sudanese journalist, he can be reached at salshua7@hotmail.com