Visit their site: www.sudanesecommunity-sa.orgHeadQuarters: Pretoria
Sudanese Jalya in Gauteng: Giant steps in the right direction
Although few Sudanese have arrived in SA before the radical political change that took place after the release of the Great Nelson Mandela and the real inclusive all SA democratic elections of 1994 one can say that Sudanese presence in this country began building up effectively after the said change. The number of Sudanese exploring SA had grown appreciably during the mid to late 1990s. Most of the comers then settled in Johannesburg and few in Pretoria. The majority were bachelors in search of opportunities for better living, employment, business and education options. As is natural in such phenomena of exploring opportunities in new lands fewer families made it to SA at that time. Johannesburg was in most cases the launching port of transition from where many moved inland to Cape Town, Pretoria and other cities. At that time, there was only a small diplomatic mission from Sudan started operating in Pretoria in 1994 as an office of commercial relations between the two countries.
It is no surprise that Sudanese living in these cities had intimate relations and enjoyed good fellowship and social bondage. However, by about 1997 numbers of Sudanese in Pretoria had swollen to moderate levels to induce stronger need for more communal association. That marked the early beginnings of establishing regular activities and interactions between members of the community living in Pretoria which crystallized in the start of a weekly soccer practice of a small group at the Arcadia Museum Park. Like today the weekend soccer activity also provided a pleasant opportunity for families and children to get together and entertain. Numbers of arrivals kept growing and a full embassy for Sudan has become established in Pretoria during the late 1990’s. Communal life of members of the growing Sudanese Julia began moving to higher degrees of association and participation in joint social events and activities. The weekly soccer practice (Tamreen) became a regular feature of the community life in Pretoria. With sufficient numbers including friends from South Africa and members of the African and Arab communities, the Tamreen moved to proper venues at the Rugby Club grounds and University of Pretoria sports fields. Celebrating Eid, weddings, births and other happy events together and sharing emotions, caring for and supporting grieved fellow members at times of sorrow became the pulse and rhythm of social bonding among community members.
Eventually, initiatives from many led to organizing the first consultative meeting of the community in Pretoria in 2003 at the soccer practice fields. A subsequent founding meeting in 2004 established a formal body for the Julia under the chosen name of Sudanese Community in Gauteng (the province encompassing Johannesburg and Pretoria cities metros and surroundings). The first constitutional Executive Committee of the Jalya was elected at its Third General Assembly in 2005. The Jalya then obtained an official status as a registered NGO with the Department of Social Development of the Government of SA in 2006.
The Jalya had over the past few years grown from strength to strength in organizing social and cultural activities and events entertaining and enriching the life of its members and their friends crowned with winning prestigious prizes in international competitions (please see Album library of photos in another section of the Jalya web). More gratifying is the fact that members of the Jalya in Gauteng and elsewhere in SA, young and old and their families had over the recent years proudly achieved great successes in their personal and professional life, educational aspirations and business objectives.
Launching a website for the Jalya is another welcome addition to these achievements and as you know the webpage can serve much functionality and I would encourage all members to take good advantage of such a facility. The Jalya has also recently embarked on an ambitious effort to establish a community centre (Dar) for its members and friends, a project that is progressing well and deserves the support and collective efforts of all to see a successful conclusion.
I would like to salute all members of the Jalya, those who served on all executive committees and various sub-committees for the admirable contributions they have all made to reach where we stand now and many more remains to be achieved in our journey to attain brighter horizons and better tomorrow for all.