Sudan’s 2020 in retrospect – Cartoons by Omar Dafallah

A peace deal, COVID-19, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution, protests, removal from the USA list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST), a conflict in Ethiopia… Sudan has witnessed many changes in 2020. Like last year, Radio Dabanga presents you with a visual retrospective of the year featuring a series from the sharp-witted and often barbed pen of veteran Sudanese cartoonist Omar Dafallah.

Floods in Sudan, a cartoon by Omar Dafallah

A peace deal, COVID-19, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution, protests, removal from the USA list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST), a conflict in Ethiopia… Sudan has witnessed many changes in 2020. Like last year, Radio Dabanga presents you with a visual retrospective of the year featuring a series from the sharp-witted and often barbed pen of veteran Sudanese cartoonist Omar Dafallah, whose cartoons have been used to illustrate Radio Dabanga reports over the past two years.

The first quarter of 2020 revolved around the peace talks being held in Juba, public dissatisfaction about the slow implementation of the ideals of the revolution, ongoing violence, especially in Darfur, and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The events in the second quarter of 2020  in Sudan have been marked by the global coronavirus pandemic, as in much of the rest of the world, while the country's economic situation worsened.

The third quarter of 2020 was marked by public frustration and dissatisfaction with the slow implementation of the ideals of the revolution in Sudan while the country also suffered from severe floods, the ongoing pandemic, shortages and currency inflation.

The last months have seen a second wave of COVID-19 infections, normalization of ties with the USA and Israel, a bloody conflict in Ethiopia, and disputes over the formation of the Transitional Partners Council (TPC)


December 2019

Cartoon about the imprisonment of Omar Al Bashir. Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan keeps former dictator Omar Al Bashir in a Sudanese prison while the people of Darfur want his transfer to the ICC in The Hague. El Burhan's statement that his government did not intend to transfer Al Bashir to The Hague caused widespread criticism among opposition parties.


January 2020

While the Juba peace talks seemed to be producing paydirt, security concerns remained present across the country with acts of violence still being commonplace, especially in Darfur. Displaced community leaders in Darfur decried the planned withdrawal of the UNAMID peacekeeping force and demanded protection after repeated attacks.


February 2020

Cartoon depicting ICC prosecutor waiting at Khartoum Airport for Omar Al Bashir. As the peace talks continued,  the first agreement were made on accountability, rehabilitation, justice, and the role of the ICC. According to Sudan’s Attorney General, the peace talks would determine whether Al Bashir would be extradited to the ICC, but no decisions were made that month.


Cartoon satirising El Burhan' s meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda. Sudan’s Sovereign Council says the encounter of its president was driven by ‘his responsibility to protect the Sudanese security’. They also stated that the Sovereign Council adheres to Sudan’s position regarding the Palestinian cause and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state.


March 2020

Cartoon depicting COVID-19 rolling the world to its grave. While preparations for the response to the global coronavirus began in January, Sudan was coronavirus-free unto mid-March when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Khartoum. The Council of Ministers also decided to close all schools, universities, and religious institutes for a month to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


April 2020

Cartoon depicting COVID-19 entering Sudan from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. In April, The Ministry of
Infrastructure and Transport closed the Sudanese-Egyptian border in an attempt to ward off the spread of the coronavirus. 
UNAMID donated material to the Ministry of Health as support in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.


Cartoon mocking El Sadig El Mahdi's proposed 'new social contract'. In April, the National Umma Party under the leadership of El Mahdi announced it would suspend all its activities for the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC). It called for “a new social contract” to rebuild the country and reform "the structures of the transitional period in order to achieve the tasks stipulated in the Constitutional Document”.


May 2020

Cartoon showing an healthcare worker of the Omdurman Treaching Hospital being wounded while he is fighting COVID-19,  
referring to the attack on four medics in the hospital on May 20. May saw an escalation of COVID-19 cases across 
the country increasing the burden on the already worn-out health services in Sudan. The country reportedly witnessed
unprecedented mortality rates attributed to the virus, the poor health care, and shortages of medicines.


June 2020

Cartoon satirising the relationship between El Burhan and janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb. June saw Sudanese peace talks resume with high hopes, while Khartoum extended the coronavirus lockdown. In a surprise development, former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb was arrested in the Central African Republic and transferred to the ICC in The Hague. He was indicted for crimes against humanity by the ICC.


July 2020

Cartoon mocking the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Early July, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan resumed talks on the GERD. However, major points of disagreement remained unresolved.


Cartoon satirising the firm power that the Sudanese army continues to hold despite civilian protests demanding more democracy and protection. July saw increased public frustration and dissatisfaction at the pace of change in the country following the revolution, as life has changed little for many in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Al Bashir regime. A demonstrator was killed and dozens were wounded in the Marches of the Millions that took place across the country on June 30 with people demanding civilian rule, peace, and better living conditions.


Cartoon depicting Sudan's ongoing suffering. The country continued to suffer from runaway inflation and lack of foreign currency reserves which are needed to import essential commodities such as fuel and medicines. In spite of the efforts of local and international aid organisations, particularly heavy floods as well as COVID-19 travel restrictions caused hunger to remain a widespread problem. According to a national study, one in three Sudanese children is malnourished.


August 2020

Cartoon satirising El Burhan's attitude to Sudanese citizens as they continued to demand civilian governance, justice, improved security, and better services. Demonstrators all over Sudan demanded a correction of the course of the revolution.


Cartoon mocking El Burhan sitting comfortably while Sudanese civillians drown. Unusually heavy rainfall caused many people to lose their lives or livelihoods as floods destroyed bridges, roads, houses.


September 2020

Cartoon depicting Sudan floods. A particularly heavy rainy season saw the Nile reach record levels and caused the worst flooding in Sudan in the last three decades. More than 100 people died and at least 770,000 Sudanese have been affected. Entire towns and villages were devastated, thousands of homes and businesses washed away, and countless livestock drowned. The floodwaters also threatened UNESCO-listed archaeological sites on the island of Merowe.


Cartoon satirising USA and Sudan negotiations. In September, the two countries further discussed Sudan’s removal from the USA list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and negotiated about settlement deal. Negotiations included plans to create a special account through which Sudan would deposit funds that would go to American families affected by terrorism.


October 2020

Cartoon depicting the arrival of the ICC prosecutor in Sudan with El Burhan and Hemeti awaiting her. In October, Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of ICC in The Hague arrived in Khartoum. This was the first visit of an ICC prosecutor to Sudan since the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) referred the situation in Darfur to the court in March 2005.


Cartoon portraying a healthcare worker's endeavour to stop the spread of the coronavirus while people continue thier lives as normal. October saw Sudan's the start of Sudan's second wave of COVID-19 infections.


Cartoon satirising Sudan's efforts to strengthen its ties with the USA and normalise relations with Israel. As negotiations about Sudan's removal from the SST list continued, Sudan, the US, and Israel announed in a joint statment that that the leaders agreed that Sudan will normalise its relations with Israel “to end the state of belligerence between their nations.” The move caused disputes among political parties in Sudan over the executive power of the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers to make such a decision.


November 2020

Cartoon portraying a more militant version of the COVID-19 virus. November saw a fiurther increase of Sudan's second wave. Many universities had to close their doors and stricter health measures were anounced. At the end of the month, the Sudanese Ministry of Health reported the highest infection rates since May.


Cartoon about Sudan witnessing the bloody conflict in Ethiopia. In November, tensions escalated in Ethiopia's Tigray region with violent clashes in the region and a huge influx of refugees into Sudan as thee situation moved towards a civil war. Since November 10, refugees were arriving at the rate of 4,000 a day, rapidly overwhelming the humanitarian response capacity on the ground, according to the UNHCR.


December 2020

Cartoon satirising El Burhan's move to establish the Transitional Partners Council (TPC). December saw a heated discussion about El Burhan's decision to establish the TPC. His plans received widespread criticism from all kinds of political parties and civil society organisations who accused El Burhan of abusing his authority to transfer political power away from the country's constitutional institutions to the Partners Council. 


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these cartoons are those of the contributing artist and do not necessarily reflect the position of Radio Dabanga.

Omar Dafallah was born in Teiba El Sheikh Abdelbagi in Sudan. He studied at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Khartoum and has worked as an illustrator, designer, and cartoonist for magazines, newspapers, and publishers across the Arab world and Europe.

As a fine artist, his paintings have been exhibited in numerous art exhibitions in Cairo, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

His sharp-witted and often barbed cartoons are featured regularly by Radio Dabanga.


Radio Dabanga’s editorial independence means that we can continue to provide factual updates about political developments to Sudanese and international actors, educate people about how to avoid outbreaks of infectious diseases, and provide a window to the world for those in all corners of Sudan. Support Radio Dabanga for as little as €2.50, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.