22-year-old Alaa Salah, an architecture student at Khartoum, has been crowned Nubian Queen or Kandaka after her videos singing and conducting crowds amidst the heated protest movement against Sudan’s President Bashir, went viral on social media.
One of the ‘iconic’ photos taken by local photographer Lana Haroun in Khartoum on Monday shows her standing on top a white car with protesters surrounding it keenly listening in, most of them with their smartphones in hand, recording as she passionately delivers her message of ‘revolution.’
The current wave of protests against the 30-year rule of Omar al-Bashir started in December but intensified at the weekend when huge crowds gathered at a crossroads in front of a heavily guarded military complex in the center of Khartoum, forcing Bashir to step down after a successful military coup that put him under house arrest.
Salah said she does not come from a political background and was glad that the image, taken on Monday evening at a demonstration in the Sudanese capital, had been viewed so widely when she took to the streets to fight for a better Sudan. Her mother is a fashion designer working with the traditional Sudanese toub and her father owns a construction company
“I’m very glad that my photo let people around the world know about the revolution in Sudan. Since the beginning of the uprising I have been going out every day and participating in the demonstrations because my parents raised me to love our home,” Salah said.
A line in the poem she read “The bullet doesn’t kill. What kills is the silence of people” has been popular with protesters, and was chanted by demonstrators in January 2018 and during unrest in September 2013
Her attire which she wore during the protest, which is popularly known as toub has become a symbol of the female protesters, which has seen her narrowly escape arrest in other demonstrations. Women made up a large part of the demonstrators who have, since Saturday.
“The toub has a kind of power and it reminds us of the Kandakas. Women of Sudan always encourage their youths to fight. This is part of the history of Kandaka,” Salah said.
Despite receiving death threats on Wednesday Salah refused to give in to the threats saying that she will not bow and her voice cannot be suppressed.
Her determination and courage saw an online community, including those far beyond the boundaries of Sudan, react to her videos and photos with many calling her a “hero” and an “icon”.
@DonaldBKipkorir: The unfolding revolution in Sudan against Dictator Omar al-Bashir, 75, that didn’t have a leader has finally found one in a pretty & iconic Alaa Salah, 22 … History shows that the most successful revolutions are led by such angelic leaders
@safahalhassan: This photo of the young Sudanese woman, Alaa Salah passionately leading chants in a nationwide anti-government protest belong in History Books. They say the present is female.
@TheArabWave: The iconic symbol of Sudan’s anti-govt protests, her name is Alaa Salah. She’s a 22-year-old engineering student. She leads the crowd in a chant, all of them echoing her words back to her. “Thowra” the crowd shouts —Arabic for “revolution.
@sirharryfresh: I’ve always believed women are an important part of moving the church, community and our country forward. They should never be sidelined, Alaa Salah 22 year old female in Sudan has been influential in making Al Bashir resign as Sudanese President, good riddance!