The woman is wearing a long white dress and golden moon earrings. She’s chanting from the top of a car while surrounded by a sea of protesters holding smartphones, all trying to capture the moment.
This scene was captured in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, on Monday during the third day of a mass sit-in outside the presidential compound and army headquarters.
Lana Haroun, who snapped the image that has since gone viral, told CNN when she saw the woman she just ran toward her and took three or four photos.
— Lana H. Haroun (@lana_hago) April 8, 2019
“She was trying to give everyone hope and positive energy and she did it,” Haroun said. “She was representing all Sudanese women and girls and she inspired every woman and girl at the sit-in. She was telling the story of Sudanese women. … She was perfect.”
“We have a voice. We can say what we want. We need a better life and to stay in a better place.”
Haroun said she doesn’t have a camera, just her smartphone, but when she saw the one photo she thought it was perfect and showed it to her friends at the sit-in.
“I immediately thought: This is my revolution and we are the future.”
During the protest chant, the woman was shouting “In the name of religion, they burnt us” and the crowd answering “Revolution!” according to a translation that Stockholm-based researcher Suha Babikir and other Sudanese women provided to CNN.
Another protester, Ahmed Awad, took a video of the woman chanting at another point in the evening, calling for the fall of the regime of President Omar al-Bashir.
“She was encouraging the crowd to bring down the oppressive regime that any Sudanese citizen is subjected to. She was calling for Thawra, the revolution,” Awad, who said that the woman was his friend in college, told CNN.
اسمها آلاء صلاح
— #مليونية6ابريل ❥﴾ J̨̐ΘтαяΘ | جُوتارَو 🔰 (@ahmed_awad1997) April 8, 2019
Online commentators weighed in on the dress she was wearing, highlighting the symbolism behind it.
“She’s wearing a white tobe (outer garment) and gold moon earrings,” tweeted Hind Makki. “The white tobe is worn by working women in offices and can be linked w/cotton (a major export of Sudan), so it represents women working as professionals in cities or in the agricultural sector in rural areas.”
Makki said the woman’s earrings are the gold moons of traditional bridal jewelry and the entire outfit “is also a callback to the clothing worn by our mothers and grandmothers in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s” while demonstrating in the street against previous military dictatorships.
“Sudanese everywhere are referring to female protestors as ‘Kandaka,’ which is the title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan whose gift to their descendants is a legacy of empowered women who fight hard for their country and their rights,” Makki added.