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Sudanese columnist defends comments on "odour" of sub-Saharan Africans


April 2, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – A Sudanese columnist on Tuesday vehemently rejected accusations that his most recent piece contained racial stereotyping of sub-Saharan Africans saying that many of those holding this view possess "ulterior motives".

Mekki Elmograbi (Facebook page)

"[Sitting] beside me was a young man from Burundi returning home after a business trip to Dubai. The plane flying from Nairobi to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, was very small and had no spare seats so stretch legs so I decided to kill time [by] chatting to him," wrote Mekki ElMograbi in Saturday’s edition of the privately owned al-Sudani newspaper.

"He [the Burundian passenger] is like many sub-Saharan Africans who have their sweat mixed with a smell of unpleasant secretions," ElMograbi said.

Many Sudanese who read the column expressed dismay at ElMograbi and claimed that the article expressed racist sentiments.

"I totally reject any wrong understanding of what was written," ElMograbi told Sudan Tribune in a phone interview from the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

ElMograbi pointed out that the second paragraph of the column speaks of how the black complexion is superior to others.

"I said that black complexion is [proven] scientifically to be the best because it contains more colored plates and research has shown that [this attribute] protects from skin cancer," he said.

The Islamist writer went on to emphasise that the issue of sub-Saharans’ odour has scientific reasoning.

"People with darker complexion have a more active Apocrine sweat gland and when it interacts with the bacteria it produces this kind of odour. This is by no means an attempt to undermine [sub-Saharan] Africans and those who understood it this way are wrong," he explained.

"I apologise to my African friends because I myself am an African from sub-Sahara for the explanation [of what I wrote] put forward by others even though I am not bound by how it was interpreted," ElMograbi stressed.

Front page of Al Sudani, June 12, 2011 (TMCT)

In response to a question on the relevance of making a reference to this subject in his column despite its potential to stir controversy, ElMograbi suggested that this was blown out of proportion.

"This is not a an article but a writing of light and mixed nature which includes my impressions at a certain point in time. I have done justice to Africans [in this column]. But there are those who want to exploit this for the purpose of making gains through portraying me as someone who negatively discriminates against Africans," ElMograbi said.

"Many of those [who criticised me] are not honest," before adding that they include people writing online and "hiding behind fake names".

He also dismissed allegations that he took the liberty when writing on this topic that that very few sub-Saharan Africans will read his column written in Arabic.

"This is not correct. I am a columnist in a newspaper that also gets published online and has wide readership. Those who read it and want to use it for [political] trading and practice intellectual terrorism will be quick to translate," ElMograbi said.

"This is not the first time a [controversy erupts] when I write on political issues and then gets translated in as little as two hours after publication," he added.


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  • 3 April 2012 08:45, by E. Defense Forces

    ICC chief spoke to Al Jazeera about the video footage showing Sudan’s Ahmed Harun urging soldiers to "take no prisoners" in Southern Kordofan

    Fears of war as Sudan talks stall

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    • 3 April 2012 23:58, by John

      Mekki Elmograbi called for a secular city to be the capital of united Sudan to avoid separation, he did so before year and he was odd from the ruling islamists. he is a good guy. we as southern sudanese consider him as a modern islamist voice. but i beg him not to write non-serious matters again. we needs him to cool down his people. you are not a doctor dear Mekki ... I am john rich from Fanjak

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      • 4 April 2012 19:06, by Samson

        wait ... wait: "I said that black complexion is [proven] scientifically to be the best because ...........>>>
        if really he wrote this sentence why this website did not START with it?????? he is anti-white, and the reporter is none-professional and bias against him, you want just poor propaganda (shitt on all of you)

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  • 3 April 2012 11:51, by SHAM

    Actually this writer is hardliner pro-Africanizm. I remembered a lecture for him in Abuja in a College; he said white-skinned people are inferior to black-skinned people (if it is a biological matter). Also, he said the African sweat is more natural even it has different smell. I do not agree with him but I think Arab Sudanese people want us to campaign against him using you. he is a true African

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  • 3 April 2012 19:55, by Ebono

    the complex of Mekki is his African odor, coz of that he defends it, his mother is black from nuba mountains ... victims of Bashir ..... his father arab, sister sham loved him and his strong sweat odor when he was abuja and she had a nice time with him hhhhhhhhhhhhhh LoL

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  • 3 April 2012 22:38, by Born-to-Rule

    Mekki Elmograb,

    What you wrote is nothing but rubbish. The problem with you Muslims is you all become judgmental to ward the African by being racist. Why don’t you go to India, they smell worth the Africans you’re denigrating. And since you have the same complexion/and African you too smell like hell!. It’s waste of my time to respond to your idiotic article.

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  • 28 July 2012 17:58, by danaray79

    Truly impressive and nice information. Thanks for sharing. Essay Writing.

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