By Carly Sikina, STAND Canada Blog Writer    


Amal Madibbo is a Sudanese-born associate professor of sociology at the University of Calgary and recipient of the 2018 Embassy of Sudan in Canada Award. She has been an instrumental figure in strengthening the relationship between Canada and Sudan, with a focus specifically on education. She understands the important role education plays in development and social change, specifically in regards to global immigration, multiculturalism and race relations.

Amal Madibbo is an individual who has dedicated her entire life to human rights and social justice. “I think my work… started as long as I can remember” she states, “my family is in Sudan and has been involved for a long time in issues… of human rights and social justice.” She continues, “My family taught me to care about what’s going on, what’s happening in my society… and to do my best just to contribute in humble ways…”

Having experience working in both Canada and Sudan, Madibbo identifies the similarities between the two countries. “From now on, I would like to combine these two together – so not studying Canada and Sudan as separate spaces but [instead] as complimentary spaces or spaces that are similar in many ways.”

Her Research

Madibbo’s research focuses on social justice and the inclusion of diversity. She states that unlike Sudan, Canada has a multiculturalism policy. Sudan, on the other hand, has what she likes to call “everyday multiculturalism”, which is a result of the diversity present throughout the country.

She conducts additional research, which focuses on past and present conflicts in Sudan, such as the conflict in Darfur, the tension between Northern and Southern Sudan as well as the conflict currently occurring in South Sudan. Despite these issues, Madibbo says “the Sudanese as individuals are very peaceful” and she focuses on identifying the root cause of the conflicts transpiring across the country.

Madibbo identifies the politicized nature of the Sudanese civil war. She states that the political leaders “benefit from the conflict” and manipulate the narrative to accommodate their needs. “Until now, [the Sudanese people] coexisted peacefully… but there are… misconceptions again, led by [political leaders] that make people in Sudan think that they should fight one another, they should kill one another because they are against one another because one group is oppressing the other.”

Policy Recommendations

Upon close examination of the conflict in Sudan, Madibbo and her team of researchers have developed relevant policy recommendations to help the government implement their suggestions.

Madibbo views education as the primary solution to the conflict in Sudan. “Education is key” she states, “people need to be educated.” She explains that people must understand the benefit of living together and the importance of creating “spaces of inclusion.”

Madibbo explains that many people around the world hold misconceptions regarding the war in Sudan, which are ultimately endorsed by many Sudanese individuals. “The idea of a civil war implies that the people are fighting [but] this never happened” she states, “…It has always been a fight between a government and a revolutionary group.” She continues, “Most of the Sudanese are mixed – both North and South Sudanese” therefore, the notions of identity and ethnicity are blurred.

Education is a primary focus of Madibbo’s research. She believes education must become increasingly available in Sudan as it contributes to sustainable development. She states that education also reminds people “that they lived together for centuries, [and] they are still living together – yes, they are fighting but yet, these spaces of inclusion coexist with these new spaces of exclusion.” Furthermore, Madibbo believes education will impede political leaders from manipulating individuals and therefore, result in a more peaceful society.

Global Initiatives

For years, Madibbo and her team have participated in education initiatives including volunteer teaching in Sudan. Madibbo focuses specifically on training graduate students and new professors in Sudanese universities. She has also partnered with professors in the Netherlands to create a winter school for Sudanese university students.

Her project began in urban centers, but over time, she recognized the ways in which the skills she teaches are better suited for rural areas, in order to increase access to education. Madibbo collects books and brings them with her to Sudan to share with the students and she believes the “next step is to help with the curriculum development…”

As a result of her commitment to strengthening the relationship between Canada and Sudan, Madibbo received the Embassy of Sudan in Canada Award in September 2018. She understands the significance of this award. “[It shows] an openness and willingness on the part of the government of Sudan to cooperate increasingly with Canada… it means the government is actually interested in these connections…”

Madibbo emphasizes the importance of creating better policies with regards to education, health and ultimately, development and urges Canadian and Sudanese policymakers to work together.

Source of Inspiration

The inspiration behind her work stems from her view of “life as an opportunity, which means it’s a responsibility.” She continues, “…The previous generation paved the way for us… so I don’t get all the opportunities that I have enjoyed and I am enjoying – I don’t take them for granted, they didn’t just happen, they happened because many sacrifices were made in the past…”

Madibbo understands the importance of global thinking in regards to social justice. She is inspired by the work of Egyptian physician and sociologist, Nawal El Saadawi. “So [Saadawi] says that a revolution is not just a big action – a massive change – it is… daily life actions that will… make the world a better place…” She continues, “[Saadawi] says [change] starts locally, where you are… it is not someone, somewhere else’s responsibility, it is my responsibility… we all have some sort of power.”

Madibbo believes in the power of the next generation – young adults with a passion for social change. She emphasizes the responsibility young people have in regards to society and the world at large. “Martin Luther King said that, ‘injustice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’” She continues, “If a problem is occurring somewhere, then it is our problem, then there is again, a collective responsibility.”

She concludes on a positive note. “Social change should be lead by youth – you are the future leaders….” She reminds us to never underestimate the power of young adults with a drive for social justice and a vision for change.   

Read more of Amal Madibbo’s work on the conflict in Sudan:

Books

Madibbo, Amal. Canada in Sudan, Sudan in Canada: Immigration, Conflict and Reconstruction Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015. 209. Print.

Journal Articles

Madibbo, Amal and O’Neill, Kate. The role of memoirs and non-fiction accounts of genocide in creating new imagined communities: Rwanda and Sudan“. World Studies in Education 15.1 (2014): 21-38. Print.

Madibbo, Amal. “Conflict and the Conceptions of Identities in Sudan”. Current Sociology 60.3 (2012): 302-319. Print.

Madibbo, Amal and Soleski, Ashley. Canada’s Contributions to the Resolution of the Darfur, Sudan’s Conflict. The Asian Journal of Canadian Studies 16.1-2 (2010): 59-87. Print.

To read more about STAND Canada’s policy recommendations, click here!

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