Living Links

This post is also available in: Arabic

As Khartoum’s temperature drops, the tempo of life and work picks up in Sudan.

The time of Haj and of Eid al Adha is upon us: a time of reflection and sacrifice. Before the holiday period started, I was busy with our fifth Ministerial visit to Sudan since starting my job here sixteen months ago. Mr O’Brien spent an intensive three days focusing on humanitarian and outstanding north-south issues as well as the role of the private sector as a potential engine for growth. Five Ministerial visits testify to the strength of the UK’s commitment to Sudan and to the strong ties between us.

Those ties have kept me – pleasantly – busy in the last few weeks. The breadth and depth of UK-Sudan links never cease to amaze me. On a recent Saturday together with 4000 people I attended a marvellous concert at the National Theatre, where a young English folk band (Sam Lee and the Gillie Boys) played with three stars of Sudanese music (Dr Al Fatih Hussein, Omer Ihsas and Dr Manal). It was a unique evening of musical collaboration and cultural harmony.  I am proud the British Council was able to help the Minister of Culture in re-starting this long-standing international music festival. Later in the week I entertained a visit by the Academy of Royal Colleges, including two eminent Sudanese doctors based in the UK. Part of their mission was to take forward a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health to develop cooperation in public health management, emergency medicine and family health.

Not all my time has been spent on music and medical cooperation. With Special Envoys of several countries I spent two days in Western Darfur, where some precarious stability is returning but people continue to suffer displacement as a result of insecurity and fighting. With Mr O’Brien I also travelled this week to White Nile State to see the impressive sugar factories at Kenana and the new White Nile factory. We also saw the hardship faced by thousands of southern Sudanese as they relocate to South Sudan via Kosti. Mr O’Brien expressed the need for both governments to do everything possible to ease the plight of these people.

In Khartoum, amid economic challenges and an impending Government re-shuffle, I have continued to call on Ministers, senior NCP officials and central bankers: one or two of whom have dual UK-Sudanese nationality and nearly all of whom have studied at UK universities. UK-Sudan educational links are rich. At the Ministry of Education I discussed progress on implementing a pilot programme with the British Council for training 900 teachers of English in Khartoum. Our Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, had launched this cooperation with Minister of State Suad Abdel Razig when he visited in July. He was the first Minister from any country to come to Khartoum after secession.

Given the strength of our ties and of bilateral relations, I was concerned to see that my last blog had led to news headlines and complaints from several sources. As I have said before, it is not my intention or my Government’s intention to have a public falling out.  The strength and depth of our relations should mean that we respect each other’s right to hold and express our views. On many issues we agree; on some we don’t. That seems to me entirely normal. We have known each other so long and so well that we should neither be surprised nor take umbrage if on occasion we do not see eye to eye.

9 Responses

  1. Nicholas (or better Amb Kay), really happy that you are writing these blogs. Like someone said “its a new art in statecraft”. I am hope that your latest blog isn’t a “caving in” as a result of the furore caused by your previous posts. While I dont think its constructive to be constantly punching the #NCP (even though they make it so easy) I like your candor and style. Keep it up.

    Noticed that you pulled the comments section. Are you not posting comments anymore? Its understandable as I think the exchanges on last one got a little nasty and out of line.

    • Amgad says:

      Its understandable as I think the exchanges on last one got a little nasty and out of line

      Really you are so biased, you consider the opposing views as nasty and out of line???

      the ambassador him self went out of the line and breached the

      ambassadorial code when he Reincarnated the advocate tongue which is

      against vienna convention that govern the relations between states.

      It is my belive the role of the ambassador every where is to boost and

      enhance the relations with the hosting country away from any intervention

      in the internal affairs or inciting and igniting any group against the excisting

      government, I have revised the blogs of the british ambassadors around

      the globe no one of them crossed the lines most of it is general stories

      and expericenses from the countries where they are working. no one of

      them criticised the situation for instance in Rowanda, Juba , Kumbala or

      even Saudia Arabia or Quatar.

      I am not against the freedom of opinion but believe me acoording to the

      diplomatic norms the ambassador Kay is not the right person to do so as

      long as he is representing his country in Sudan.

      • Amgad, you are certain about a lot of things, aren’t you : the role of an Ambassador, the Vienna Convention and the fact that Ambassador Kay and I are the same person.

        Mark Twain once said, “Education is a path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”

        It seems that you are still at the beginning of that path. Good luck to you.

        P.S. “Cocky” means overly self-confident in an arrogant way.
        P.P.S. Its Kampala, Qatar and Rwanda – there’s a spell-check embedded into this comments window for heaven’s sake. Education…

        • Amgad says:

          Education is a path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.”

          Good, new term . last time I learned the idiom ( be in your bonnet) thanx

          for that, I am working hard to learn more vocabulary and idioms, and that

          what education ia all about.

          You know what is your problem??

          you are only interpreting events according to your own perspective,

          ignoring all other point of views as if you are perfect. we might think

          differently but we should take on board that no one of us is perfect..

          What are you arguing about?? the role of the ambassador??

          forget about my opinion go back to vienna any book

          about diplomatic norms…ask any career diplomat…

          My argument is quite apparent ( there is alot of wrong policies , economic

          crise in Sudan) ( nevertheless, it is not the role of the ambassador to

          highlight them)….

          It is so regretable to draw a blind eye to the main subject and focus on the

          veneer like spelling mistakes in a failed attempt to provoke me. or it might

          be a sort of tactics or manipulation to scramble the my main argument.

          in all cases you are smeering your self. you should lend credence to your


  2. Amgad says:

    Dear Ambassador Ahmed Mohamed, yes that what we want just focus on

    your diplomatic mission rather than playing the role of critics…

    well done Ahmed Mohamed

  3. Ali says:

    The popularity of your blog on World Food Day emanated from the helplessness of the Sudanese who are waiting for Godot to save them. The blog revived the false hope that the international community may act aggressively against Al-Bahsir’s regime and help them get rid of it. So don’t think that you are saying the unspoken or writing masterpieces. The above blog should have a title addressed to MOFA’s leaders because of its apologetic content.

  4. Nicholas Kay says:

    Thanks to everyone who has commented on this and previous blogs. It’s great to see a lively debate.

    Some of you may have noticed that the FCO has changed the platform we use for these blogs. We now use WordPress and although the previous blogs have been migrated to the new platform, unfortunately none of the previous comments can be migrated automatically. I have therefore cut and pasted those comments and will post them in the form of a comment from me.

    Here are the comments on Living Links that were posted before the migration (I apologise for the odd formatting):

    Khalid 1 week ago

    • Khalid

    I have been
    following all Mr. Kay`s blog. I really appreciate that he decided to share us
    all these experiences, observations and opinions. The article he wrote on October
    17th was actually rich with facts and as they say “facts talk about
    themselves”, and that was why it reached many of us. Then of course people reacted,
    everyone did on his or her own way!

    The world
    has changed, the world is globalizing, new theories and the way of doing things are
    being changed too , as aresult, and one of these things is the role of ambassador.

    we have great deal of communications technologies which make our life easier
    and faster, and it really decreases the hierarchy. Bosses, leaders, ambassadors
    are reachable now. They share their experiences and opinions, and of course
    this is new for us. It is a democratic culture. What is important is that people need to
    develop a talk culture.

    facts and the truth are hard to handle. Yet, let me tell you this; in this new
    world you cannot hide the truth, nor hide from it.

    I again, Mr.
    Kay`s time is appreciated.

    Mebebo2006 1 week ago

    • why your blog is going smoother ? It is kind of afraid

    Williamamiller 1 week ago in reply to Mebebo2006

    • No smoother than a similar blog (if such had existed) would have been years, and years ago, and one could add with similar upbeat.

  5. Ahmed says:

    I think its not appropriate in the new format for those who replay to debate each other , instead of debating the blogger s views .

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