Nicholas Kay » Former British Ambassador to Sudan, Khartoum

Parting thoughts

A breeze so hot that it feels solid and the sweet smell of aviation fuel will  be my last impression of Khartoum when I leave next week. Leaving is never easy. But for a diplomat it is a part of life. For many others in Sudan the experience is traumatic. As I write Southern Sudanese have become foreigners in what used to be their own land. Nine months after Southern … Read more »Parting thoughts

Think big; start small; act now

Feature image for:  Think big; start small; act now

“Think big; start small; act now” resonated with me and I think all the audience at the Academy of Health Sciences in Omdurman last Saturday. Professor Hassan Bella used the phrase to describe the philosophy of Mabel Wolff, who founded Sudan’s midwifery training school in 1921. The occasion was the unveiling of a plaque donated by this eminent professor to remember the work of the founders of modern midwifery in … Read more »Think big; start small; act now

Out of Tune

Feature image for:  Out of Tune

Colourful banners and tents spread as far as the eye could see on the ground beside the Mahdi’s tomb. This could have been a scene from a 19th century gathering during the Khalifate. Instead it was the annual Sufi celebration in Omdurman of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) – a week of religious devotion, intellectual exchange and promotion of peace. But this year that was not to be. … Read more »Out of Tune

2012 and all that

Feature image for:  2012 and all that

However hard I try to focus on the present and the future, I get ambushed by the past – sometimes when I least expect it. Over the holiday period, my family called on the head of a distinguished family in Dongola, whose niece works in our Embassy. Other than the overwhelming hospitality, it was also a crash course in UK-Sudanese relations. My host’s father, grand-father and great-grandfather had attended the … Read more »2012 and all that

Another year. Another miracle.

Feature image for:  Another year. Another miracle.

Another year. Another miracle. Twelve months ago we were pleasantly surprised by a small miracle – the Southern referendum was held on time. I recall Professor Mohammed Ibrahim Khalil (Chairman of the Referendum Commission) saying that while it would be a miracle if it happened, miracles do sometimes happen. Now as 2011 turns into 2012, I keep being struck by another miracle – Sudan’s economy. Whether you look at the … Read more »Another year. Another miracle.

Sudan is more than Khartoum

A sea of green is not what I expected. Sorghum and cotton as far as the eye could see. I was in the Tokar Delta in Red Sea State with EU Ambassadors last month seeing for ourselves the impact of EU funding. 250,000 feddans (100,000 hectares) of farmland is now back in production – almost double what there was two years ago. But still only 75% of what Tokar produced … Read more »Sudan is more than Khartoum

People count

Fried fish, foul, tamiyya, kisra, asida and warm flat bread make a good Friday breakfast. Sitting beside the Blue Nile enjoying Sudanese hospitality on a gentle warm day, it would be easy to think Khartoum was a city without a care in the world. Indeed some of the strains I wrote of in early October have eased a bit – inflation has come down from 20.7% to 19.8%, due in … Read more »People count

Living Links

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 … Read more »Living Links

Celebrating World Food Day in Sudan?

How do you celebrate World Food Day in a country where hunger stalks the land? In Sudan, the past month has seen a further half a million people fall into food insecurity. The international community, including the UK, aims to feed 5.2 million Sudanese this year. Food problems are the result of both natural forces – poor rains– and man-made causes, such as conflict. The continuing refusal of the government … Read more »Celebrating World Food Day in Sudan?

Eid reflections

Khartoum is starting to empty. The feeling is of approaching festivity blended with customary  uncertainty  – will Eid be tomorrow, the next day, or the day after? A question that matters to those who haven’t yet received salaries for the month of August! Everyone needs their pay if they are to depart to the four corners of Sudan with gifts, clothes and sweets for probably the biggest family celebration of … Read more »Eid reflections