An entrepreneur and business women, Saba is a Sudanese woman who has forged her way in the cosmetics industry creating her unique brand of hair and skin products specially developed for dark skin. Her company, Sabamedica which launched in the UK, where Saba graduated as a pharmacist from the University of London, now has outlets in Khartoum and Dubai catering for men as well as women. Her success has not been without challenges. Setting up business in Sudan, Saba had to confront difficult social stereotypes relating to independent, single, working women living abroad. Her determination, a characteristic Saba says is inherent in her family, has been key to her success. Her plans for the future include expanding her business both in Sudan and abroad.
Layla Zakaria Abdelrahman
A Sudanese scientist & inventor whose scientific breakthrough discovery will transform the sugarcane industry by using manufactured seeds. For the first time in history, her technology allows sugarcane to be grown from seeds in the same way as grains, improving overall yields whilst reducing costs. Her patented technology is also applied to other crops and biochemical processes. Her work has earned her global recognition. She admits that her motivation to succeed was developed by her grandmother who took care of her from the age of two. Layla graduated from the University of Khartoum, and later completed her masters and doctorate at the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST).
An ambassador at Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maha investigates the theme of how “we are all ambassadors” and destined to play many roles on life’s stage. She is a mother, tennis player, member of the Sudan Automobile Association and author of a 2012 novel, Nile Blues, dealing with the separation of South Sudan thus proving there is no set role for Sudanese women on the world’s scene. Maha has travelled to scores of countries and is fluent in four languages, both aspects she feels compliment her Sudanese identity rather than water it down. The comfort with which her numerous identities sit coupled with a wicked sense of humour have helped Maha to take her ‘place on the stage’.
Known as coach Maha, she has through sheer determination and her love of sport succeeded in being one of a handful of Sudanese women to occupy high-ranking posts in the field of junior and women’s basketball and volleyball. A member of Sudan’s national basketball and volley ball teams in the 70s, coach Maha confronted numerous social and financial challenges to arrive at the position she is in today. Maha was dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’ by one of her local clergyman after separating from her husband and having to face a strict Coptic community as a divorcee and single mother. In addition to giving private basketball and volleyball lessons, coach Maha also teaches these sports at schools and in the voluntary sector. Although she still faces challenges in her daily work, Maha says her previous hardship motivates her to stay positive and carry on.
From herding livestock in her native Nuba Mountains to being nominated as one of 1000 women for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, Siham is a Sudanese woman who has overcome odds through determination, patience and innovation. At an early age Siham challenged social norms by being the only girl from the Nuba Mountains at her local primary school in Khartoum. Siham later accompanied her husband to Nigeria on Church mission. In Nigeria, and despite not speaking Hausa Siham learned many of the skills she would later transfer to Sudanese women. These skills included handicrafts such as crocheting and nutritional information. Siham finally settled in a neighbourhood in Khartoum that was soon to be populated with internally displaced people from her birthplace. She was recognized internationally for her work in women’s development, peace-making and literacy.
A graduate of the fine arts department of Sudan University, Sara lost her hearing after contracting meningitis at the age of two. From early on, Sara learned to adapt to a ‘hearing world’ but constantly faced reminders that she was ‘different’. At the end of her schooling years, coincidence brought her in contact with the world of the deaf, their societies and colleges, which Sara embraced. From there and throughout her years studying fine arts, Sara became an ambassador for the deaf, bridging the gap and aiding communication between them and the hearing. “Deaf people are the same as hearing people” Sara explains “they have the same feelings and ideas”.
Souad Ibrahim Ahmed
An educationalist and pro-democracy activist, 77 year-old Suad says she was born a rebel. It is this trait which has brought her into confrontation with various social norms and ruling regimes at various stages of her life and which has made the household name she is in Sudan today. Despite being forced by her health to be house-bound, Suad has not lost touch with the outside world using all means of new media to stay abreast with events and express her unbridled views on affairs.
The internationally renowned TV and radio presenter was born in Omdurman and is a descendant of the Babikir Badri family –a pioneer of women’s education in Sudan. Zeinab travelled to the UK aged two where she was educated. She is an Oxford graduate in philosophy, politics and economics and has a post-graduate degree in Middle East affairs from London University. She was awarded an honourary doctorate from London University for her services to broadcasting. She has worked in broadcasting for three decades and is a global name at BBC World News where among other programmes she presents HARDtalk, interviewing personalities such as the Dalai Lama. She has four children – two sons and two daughters.
Show them beauty is
Rosa’s courageous stands
The story of Wangari’s trees
How Harriet never lost a passenger
And Mahatma marched to the sea
How Mandela was free in his cell
And Victor Jara never stopped singing
How Martin’s words painted pictures
that started the bells of freedom ringing
Excerpt from the poem How to Change the World by Rasha Hamid. Rasha is a free form artist who enjoys singing, poetry, film making and photography. During the day Rasha teaches at a junior school in Khartoum. A Sudanese – American, Rasha returned to Sudan three years ago. She says her favourite songs are love songs and those with a political message.
Rana Badr Aldeen
Known as Ranaway she is a rapper and dancer who began her musical endeavours aged 17 when she says she discovered she was ‘good at writing poetry’. An IT graduate, Rana turned to rap to create her unique style of music. Her vision is to represent Sudanese women and show that they are capable of doing more for themselves. “I sing 4 women freedom and peace. I sing to encourage young girls to follow their dreams” - RANAWAY.