A Sudanese journalist and artist has made his home in Tuam

Nasir’s paintings reflect his native Sudan

SUDAN is a long way from Ireland: in fact 5,584 km away and more than a seven-hour flight. Imagine you’re living there and have decided that for your safety and that of your family, you have to get out because you have been tortured by the political regime more than once and are now in fear you might be killed.

That’s what faced journalist and artist Nasir El Safi when his humanitarian work attracted the attention of the regime of Omar al-Bashir which came to power in 1989 and ended in a coup d’état in 2019.

Nasir decided he had to get out of Sudan, looked at his possible options and decided that Ireland has a good Human Rights record. In any language that is a big challenge. Nasir takes up the story.

“I was born in Kosti [a big city south of the capital Khartoum which is on the western bank of the White Nile River] Sudan in 1974, studied Media and Public Relations in Sudan University and worked as a journalist in a number of newspapers including Al Sahafa, Al Haria and the oldest independent Sudanese newspaper, Al Ayam (founded 1958).”

The story of this newspaper will probably explain why Nasir had to flee. It was closed twice by the Sudanese Government in the 1960s, was published again in 1986, closed from 1989 to 2000 and when it reported on the crisis in Darfur in 2004 was closed indefinitely.

In spite of that, the ex-staff of Al-Ayam reported incidents of harassments by the security forces in 2006. Up to 20,000 people had read Al-Ayam daily.

Read the full feature in this week's edition of The Tuam Herald, on sale in shops and online www.tuamherald.ie