During the sharp political polarisation of the 1990s, when some questioned the very validity of "Sudanese Tolerance", the Sudanese National Council was formed in London.
Those who got together to announce its formation in 1994 had different political views; but were united in the desire to improve Sudanese-British relations and channel support for the Sudan. Since 2005,the Council has sent 19 "support caravans" in which British as well as Sudanese experts took part. The beginning was mainly medical; but soon agriculture and veterinary medicine were included.The chairperson of the S.N. Council since its foundation is Sheikh Ibrahim AlTayeb. Members included Dr Ahmed Aldawwi, Mr AlTaj Allam, Mr Salah Abu Noura, Professor Bagadi, Lawyer Abdussalam Said Ahmed, Dr Muwaffaq Alfahal, Journalist Imam Mohamed Imam, Mr Alfatih Ahmed Ali, and Mr Abdul Azeem Khadir. Those who pioneered actually traveling to the Sudan included Dr Abdul Jaleel Ali, Dr Kamal AbuSin , Dr Mohamed Alfatih Badri, Dr Omer Nugud, Dr Maher Hamad and Dr Ali Abbas Imam. The list of British participants is also long and impressive.
On 20 February, the S.N. Council held a farewell event on the occasion of the departure of HE ambassador A.Hamad AlAzreq who has been promoted and will take over as Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In his speech HE Al Azreq (who is a talented poet) said that he was the one who presented credentials to Her Majesty the Queen; but many distinguished Sudanese were also effective ambassadors. He said that on some occasions he had to rely on the help of the "other ambassadors" to solve some problems. Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Tayeb would listen and ask one question: how much does this person need? The cheque always follows.
At a time of National Dialogue and an all-round desire for reconciliation and consideration of the common denominators; the success of the S.N. Council provides both an example and a precedent. The Council used to invite me when I was one of the writers of the opposition. It continued to invite me after I returned to London to work at the embassy. This proves that the legendary Sudanese Tolerance is very much alive and can provide more proof of its efficacy in the future too.
Khalid Al Mubarak