In the midst of turmoil and conflict, where adversity threatened to tear them apart, Mohamed Obeid and Aliaa Abdelhamid found solace in each other’s arms.
At 29, Mohamed Obeid and Aliaa Abdelhamid found refuge in Cairo, fleeing the fierce conflict in Khartoum. Their nuptials, celebrated in August 2023, were a culmination of tribulations, fervent anticipation, a harrowing journey, and a war that threatened to tear them apart.
Mohamed reflects on their early days, saying they began with “nothing but uncertainty.” The war saw them depart with meagre possessions – a few garments, vital documents, and an abundance of love. This love propelled them to establish their new life in the midst of chaos.
From Revolution to Romance
Aliaa and Mohamed became emblematic figures during the Sudanese revolution in 2018. Mohamed was deeply entrenched in the Bahr resistance committees, while Aliaa stood firm in the resistance committees of Kafori alongside her brother, Babiker Abdelhamid. Tragically, Babiker, a doctor, was killed providing medical aid to protesters in Khartoum’s Buri district in early 2019.
The duo reminisces about their initial encounter during a march to the presidential palace following the military coup on October 25, 2022. From that day, the pair were inseparable, often spotted riding to protests together on a motorcycle. Amidst the haze of tear gas and revolutionary fervour, a unique love blossomed between these two rebels.
The tranquil evening of April 14, 2023, saw Mohamed and Aliaa relishing the Ramadan nights in Khartoum’s Sunt Forest. However, their journey home took a sudden, eerie turn with the conspicuous absence of the typical security checkpoints. Little did they know that their world was on the brink of a seismic shift.
By daybreak, news of the escalating clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces flooded the media. Aliaa remembers being jolted awake by Mohamed, declaring, “The war has started.” She recalls her disbelief, initially convinced the conflict would dissipate in days. But, the situation only deteriorated.
As violence surged, Mohamed relocated to Wad Madani, just a short distance from the capital. Simultaneously, Aliaa and her family sought refuge in a safer district. Communication became a challenge. Aliaa says, “We relied on a neighbour with a generator at a health centre to charge our phones.” Days seemed interminable, with Mohamed tormented by concerns for their futures and Aliaa’s safety.
The Decision to Commit
A brief relocation saw Aliaa’s family settling in Dongola, Northern Sudan. Despite their efforts, the financial strain was palpable. During this tumultuous period, the couple frequently discussed their uncertain future in Sudan, the prospects of relocating, or waiting for the war’s end.
One pivotal conversation saw Mohamed broaching the subject of commitment, asking Aliaa, “New beginnings or not?” Recognising his intent, she replied, “A wedding? How?” His response was instant: “Yes, let’s get married.”
Their families were taken aback by the sudden decision, prompting a flurry of questions about logistics and future plans. Mohammed’s mother’s exuberant ululation in response drew curious neighbours, keen to understand the celebration’s cause.
Celebrating Love Amidst Adversity
Aliaa’s father, Hajj Abdulhamid, expressed his reservations, suggesting, “Wait until we return to Khartoum. I don’t have a place for the wedding here.” He hinted at Egypt as the next rendezvous point.
Soon after, both families embarked on their journey to Egypt. But Mohamed faced a delay in visa procurement. Upon his arrival, he promptly proposed to Aliaa, ushering in the Cairo wedding festivities.
The event was a modest affair, graced by close family and friends. Reflecting on their journey, Mohamed and Aliaa mused, “There’s no better time for new beginnings. Wars are devastating, yet they reveal unexpected opportunities, deepening our appreciation for life’s simplest joys and grounding us in reality.”
As the conflict rages on, the International Organization for Migration reports that approximately 4.1 million Sudanese have been internally displaced since April 14, 2023. Moreover, over a million have sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Chad, South Sudan, and Central Africa.
This story was produced by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) and the North Africa Media Academy (NAMA), in collaboration with the Al Adwaa Media and Journalism Services Centre, and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The views expressed in this publication do not represent the opinions of MiCT, NAMA, Al Adwaa, or BMZ.