We were graced with the opportunity to chat with Mutwakil Abdul Mageid 20’ to learn more about the outstanding work that he and his colleagues are involved in with Sudan Bukra- an innovative solution to freedom of speech in Sudan.
Sudan has been through some major political changes in the past months. A fight for democracy, a change in leadership, a massacre of over 120 lives, and a nationwide Internet shutdown, which silenced protesters and left millions of Sudanese people without access to information, e-commerce and the ability to communicate with the rest of the world. It was at this point that a group of Sudanese professionals, including Mutwakil Abdul Mageid ‘20, decided to take action and start Sudan Bukra, a free-to-air, crowd-sourced and crowd-funded broadcasting channel that provides civic education to the Sudanese community.
Mutwakil Abdul Mageid is a key account manager for Ericsson, currently managing MTN accounts in Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, and Eswatini. He is also a Class of 2020 ALUSB MBA student.
In describing what led him to ALU School of Business (ALUSB), Mutwakil says,
“I was in pursuit of an MBA that is relevant to my inspiration as well as my big-picture plans – an MBA that is relevant to Africa. I did not know this existed until I came across the ALUSB MBA programme, which focuses on doing business in Africa and on leadership – the two main things that I was looking for!”
Could you share with us some context on the events that took place leading up to the internet shutdown?
“On 19 December 2018, the people of Sudan started a movement of ‘Freedom, Peace, and Justice’, seeking political change from a thirty-year regime of dictatorship. After months of protests and demonstrations, Sudan was able to remove Omar Bashir from power, along with his regime, but only for the minister of defence to take over.
This resulted in the people of Sudan returning to the streets. On 6 April 2019, they rallied in front of the military headquarters and vowed not to move until the execution of the declaration of freedom. A declaration was signed by all parties and civil societies asking for a democratic transformation. Two months later, the military took over power and suddenly there was a massacre at the sit-in area in Khartoum, resulting in the loss of over 120 lives, which was quickly followed by a total internet shutdown the following day. The main purpose of the shutdown was to cover up on-going violence and silence protestors. There was also a blackout, aimed at dispersing the protestors from the sit-in area.”
Protestors using their mobile phone lights at the sit-in area, Khartoum
What is the story behind the Sudan Bukra?
“Sudan Bukra means Sudan Tomorrow. Based on a contextual meaning of the Arabic word “Bukra”, it alludes to hope and optimism.
We named this project Sudan Bukra to communicate a message of hope for the future of Sudan.”
Mutwakil continues, “Based on how dictatorship works, my colleagues and I knew that the people in power would try to cut off social media since it’s something that they can’t control. We wanted to find a means by which the people of Sudan could still reach out to each other using a combination of traditional media (Television) and content from social media. We came up with the Sudan Burka TV channel as a solution for the freedom of speech. We receive information from the ground, transform it into content for TV and broadcast it. At the same time, we use it as a means to communicate the progress of negotiations, as well as details about the demonstration schedules as organised by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA)”.
Given the risks that you face, what drives you to continue your work with Sudan Burka?
“The main thing that keeps us going is the hope that we have for Sudan. We want the best for the people of Sudan and we believe that having access to information is a way to build our country”, explains Mutwakil.
Sudan Bukra has already reached millions of people, a fact that was confirmed when over 4 million people attended a demonstration organised by the SPA and broadcasted through their platform. It is a pillar of hope and a testament to the resilience of the Sudanese people.
Mutwakil states that he and his colleagues hope that Sudan Bukra will continue to be a platform of civic education for the people of Sudan beyond the current political climate. He envisions a Sudan where the people are informed about democracy and good leadership, leading to the overall transformation of Sudan.
“Do not focus on who will solve the problem, but focus on how the problem will be solved,” Mutwakil Abdul Mageid ‘20.
A true leader for the African Century, we are proud to have Mutwakil as part of our student body and are eager to see the transformation that he and his colleagues will help bring about through Sudan Bukra. Through Mutwakil, we are reminded that leadership is not a position we occupy, but an attitude and a lifestyle of service, vision, and purpose.