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Love at the Time of Independence

The Debates on Romantic Love in the Sudanese Left-Wing Press of the 1950s
Elena Vezzadini
p. 197-221


This article explores the way in which romantic love and companionate marriage were debated in Sudan at the time of independence by analysing a small corpus of love stories published in a special column of the left-wing newspaper al-Saraha. I start by contextualizing the left-wing press at a time of tremendous political, economic, and social change in Sudan as a key to understanding the pedagogical mission of al-Saraha. I then describe the various opinions on companionate marriage discussed in these texts and analyse them structurally, highlighting both common patterns and systematic omissions. Finally, I seek to interpret the spread of the ideal of romantic love in Sudan in relation to the theory of the rise of individualism as a sign of a modern State, and to show that the solution these texts proposed was not to disconnect individuals from society, but to reform society as a whole so as to harmonize collective and individual wills.

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Love in Sudan
History and the Sudanese press
The press and factional politics
The press and the workers’ movement
Love in al-Saraha
The nature of love
Conclusion: Love in Sudanese society

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Love in Sudan

Love is the emotion I associate most closely with my experience of Sudan, not only because I often describe my relationship with the country as a question of love, but also – more prosaically – because love literally fills the air there. Love stories were one of the favourite topics that friends and acquaintances of all ages liked to talk to me about, but this is not merely a private matter: love is discussed on television shows and radio programmes, and is one of the most widespread subjects of music and poetry, including the music that assaults the ears of passengers using the mu‘assalat, the public transport system. Love stories make fortunes for telephone companies, as people spend hours on the phone discussing relationships (Lamoureux 2011). In the evenings at home, I used to be lulled to sleep by the soft voice of my friend talking on the phone to the man she would later marry. Of course, these many words are also spoken as a substitute for physical contact, which...

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Elena Vezzadini, « Love at the Time of Independence », Égypte/Monde arabe,Troisième série, 14 | 2016, mis en ligne le 21 octobre 2018, consulté le 21 janvier 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/ema.3613

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Elena Vezzadini

My principal research interest is the social and political history of colonial Sudan. My research and publications have focused on nationalism, labour, slavery, race relations, and archival studies. My PhD, which I completed in 2008, is on the social history of early nationalism in Sudan and the 1924 Revolution. I am currently a research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique based at the University of Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne. I am the author of Lost Nationalism: Revolution, Memory, and Anti-Colonial Resistance in Sudan, published by James Currey in 2015.

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