‘Art is continuous resistance’: Sudanese cartoonist draws to bring hope, truth

Sudanese cartoonist Khalid Albaih works at his home as a TV news broadcast shows images from Sudan, in Oslo, Norway April 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche

By Gwladys Fouche

In his living room in Norway, while the TV broadcasts pictures of the violence back home in Khartoum, Khalid Albaih does what he has become known for in the Middle East and beyond: draw cartoons.

His latest, entitled The Dog Fight, depicts the two main Sudanese foes, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and paramilitary leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, as dogs fighting over a piece of meat in the shape of Sudan.

“Art is needed in times like this because it is important to show people art is about hope, art is about showing there is a different way to talk about things,” Albaih told Reuters. “Art is continuous resistance. Art is our way to continue fighting.”

khalid albaih
Sudanese cartoonist Khalid Albaih works at his home in Oslo, Norway April 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche

Albaih, 42, known in the Middle East for cartoons on the Arab Spring, government misrule and wars in Syria and Yemen, drew attention beyond the region in 2016 with a drawing of African American football player Colin Kaepernick kneeling, his afro in the shape of a clenched fist.

The image went viral and was worn on T-shirts by prominent Black artists. The rapper Snoop Dogg posted himself wearing it on Instagram.

In Oslo, Albaih is co-head of the arts programme at the Kawaakibi Foundation, a group founded in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring protest movement to explore ways media can promote democracy and human rights in the Middle East.

With the Internet still up in Khartoum, Albaih is in constant communication with friends and family or reposting practical advice to his social media followers, like how to behave at checkpoints, in the hope of helping those trying to leave.

“We are stuck in the middle between these two monsters,” he said.


Sudanese cartoonist Khalid Albaih watches a TV news broadcast at his home in Oslo, Norway April 20, 2023. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche
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