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In one special evening in Khartoum, the Zol and Zola club hosted a discussion titled “Who are we? A research on identity amongst Sudanese youth” and invited the interested parties to reveal and discuss the results of the study they undertook around the topic of identity. The study was supervised by Wafaa Alamin, the club founder, and a number of the club members to highlight the identity issue and introduce visitors to the club activities. We attended the event and had a chance to sit with the club founder to know more about its different activities.

Wafaa Shua’ib Hamza Alamin was born in Sudan and lived abroad – specifically in Ireland – until her high school years. She chose to return to do her undergraduate studies in Sudan in order to know more about her home country, language and traditions. She graduated from the School of Medicine at the University of Medical Sciences and Technology (UMST) and returned to Ireland to pursue her postgraduate studies. Upon receiving her Master’s degree in 2013, she decided to establish the “Zol & Zola” club a year later, in October 2014. 

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Photo Credit: Wafaa Alamin

About that Wafaa commented:“The idea started when I was in Ireland, I wanted to do something that has an impact on my community in Sudan; as any idea or project is usually met with disappointing and negative comments even from those close to it. That was my starting point, the idea was to create a society with no negativity, one which motivates its people to accomplish their ambitions, a society that can build itself, to be a place where people can read, study, work and have training courses. We want people to benefit from what the club offers so they come out of it aware of their goals and work towards achieving them. We’re working to create a new environment for self improvement, where those involved are developing themselves. Even the name “Zol & Zola” came after a long search for a name that could represent and be directly linked to Sudan, and one that’s also catchy to people- Sudanese or otherwise”.

We noticed that Wafaa’s specialty field is different from her club’s idea, in that regard she noted:

“I like medicine, I specialized in obstetrics and gynecology and I liked doing research about these specialties. Although the idea is a bit different from my academic career, we have a research department in the club and we tackle health issues related to my area of specialty and many other areas”.

Tell us about the club projects.

We are still in the early start-up phase, but we began offering self improvement workshops last April. The first workshop was titled “Find your Goal” where we worked on discovering skills, strong attributes and other qualities people can develop. We also organized an African fashion show last December. Now the center is open to receive students, professionals or whomever wants to benefit from the workshops that the club regularly presents, as advertised on our Facebook page. We also hosted “Maktabatna” a free public borrowing library project with Education without Borders, based at the club. 

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Image Credit: Wafaa Alamin

In your courses do you work on improving individuals or groups? And what type of programs do you have?We put together all the programs offered at the club, then we use them to train ourselves before offering them to the public. These workshops do not necessarily offer new information, the distinctive thing is that we work with trainees to apply the information on their lives, goals and habits. We currently offer group workshops, but we are ready to organize trainings based on individual needs for improvement.

Let’s talk about the last study you did on identity, what was the motive, and what were the results?

We didn’t initially plan on having a research section at the Club, and this study was by pure accident. One of the first and most important questions we sought answers for from the people joining the club was: what is your goal and what do you want to do with your life?

We found that most people do not want to continue living in Sudan, so I thought we should look deeper into that issue. The research was welcomed among the younger generation; 984 people partook and 96% of them said they want to immigrate. We analyzed the results and used them in training courses, then we got hit by the identity issue. We found out that one of the most prominent problems facing the young generation is that they don’t know who they are; they suffer from an identity crisis. Thus, we started a month long online research on identity in which 530 people participated. Based on it we concluded the types of identities that represent this sample of young participants. The study is available on our website.

Did the study consult experts?

During my Master’s I did many researches, so I had a solid background on the basics. The forum’s teamwork has an accumulative experience that helped construct and publish the study. When we opened the research for public discussion, we got opinions from other specialists and realized some mistakes which we are working on resolving before our next research.

What were the results of the study?

We’re very diverse in Sudan and have different features, skin colors, languages and cultures. The real challenge is celebrating every detail that identifies us as Sudanese because identity is a big word, the longer we debate on it the deeper it gets. Identity has different forms: the identity of the individual, the identity of the environment, the identity of the culture, the identity of the country, the identity of the society and it varies from one country to another. It also changes within the people as their lives change, but it’s nevertheless very important. If you want to be a productive person you should be able to answer the question: who am I? what do I want to do?

The research allowed us to lean on this diversity as a base for harmony in our club community. So when someone joins Zol & Zola, one of our essentials is to find out their self-described identity and to celebrate it together.

We were satisfied with the previously mentioned results, but we will continue conducting studies and in Zol & Zola club in the fields of development, self improvement and public health in a more applied forms.

To learn more about the Zol & Zola club events and workshops, visit their website. 


Tasneem Dahab

Tasneem is a writer, journalist and blogger interested in Sudanese culture. She is passionate about literature, cultural and societal exchanges through social media platforms. She was born in KSA in 1991 and graduated with a BSc in Chemistry from Sudan University for Science and Technology. She acknowledges that chemistry paved the road for her interest in literature and writing, and tackles it wholeheartedly. Tasneem can be reached via www.facebook.com/tasneem.mh.gold .