Khalid Albaih: the Artistic Political Activist
Khalid Albaih, born in Romania on 22nd April 1980, is a notable person due to his many skills. He is a political cartoonist, freelance journalist, and human rights activist from Sudan. International publication platforms, including Atlantic, NPR, and PR, have displayed his cartoons. Moreover, he was the Head of Installation and design at the Qatar Museum.
He works under the name “Khartoon.” This name is a smart play on the word cartoon and Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. He works hard towards his goals. One can see this in his shows as well as his works.
Khalid Albaih’s father was a former Sudanese diplomat, which led to him growing up in his hometown. Like most people in Sudan, Albaih comes from a very political family. Most of his family had some political link, so Albaih grew up in a political atmosphere.
The 1989 coup brought political and economic issues for Khalid Albaih’s family. As a result, his family left Sudan- he was about ten years old at the time. For Albaih, this meant losing his home as well as his friends. The political link to the event left a strong mark in Albaih’s life.
Growing up, Khalid Albaih spent a large amount of his time drawing and reading comics. He went to an engineering university because of his father. Yet, he began to take an interest in graphic design.
He worked at the Qatar Museum as the Head of Installation and design. Soon, Albaih started working as a freelance artist on projects along with his job. He designed logos and worked on many other projects.
Albaih never actually started working as a cartoonist until the age of 28. But even at this point, he wanted to keep his day job and publish his work on the side.
The start of his artistic career
Because he wanted to publish his work in a newspaper, Albaih got kicked out of an editor’s office once, so he started posting his work on the internet. After this, he began publishing his social and political discourse. He also printed comics in newspapers and several magazines. These magazines include Al Jazeera, the Atlantic, and The Guardian.
Albaih also posts his works on social media pages under the self-created name, “Khartoum.” His page on Facebook hit a total of around 81,000 viewers.
He wanted his cartoons to point out African-American players who cared for civil rights. As a human rights fellow at Colby College, he created a cartoon of Colin Kaepernick. Colin was a civil rights activist and a football player. In the comic, he bent on the ground, and his Afro was in the shape of a black fist displaying the black lives matter movement. This act interested many people causing the cartoon to go viral in September 2016. This cartoon was a massive lift for Albaih’s work.
In 2019, Khalid Albaih managed to co-edit and illustrate a book titled “Sudan Retold” while working with Khartoum’s German Cultural Centre. Sudan Retoled was a set of 31 different expressions of the history of Sudan. These were all created by young and new Sudanese artists.
The book included graphical stories about the country’s colonial past. In this, Albaih presented cartoons about various cultures and growing ideals in Sudan. It now holds global appreciation because of public exhibitions. These shows were in Gulf countries, Europe, and the United States.
Life as a civil rights activist
Khalid Albaih was a civil rights activist for local issues, but he cared for universal civil rights movements. The care led to the publishing of cartoons of other current events. The comics focused on the state of refugees in the Syrian Civil War and the Arab Spring rebellion.
Albaih talked about many issues around him to help people notice prominent political issues. One point hit his heart- the importance of Sudanese people living outside the country.
In “Harper’s Bazaar Arabia,” he stressed the importance of the scattered Sudanese community. The Sudanese could only do this by going back to their homes. He told them to stand up and fight for freedom and hope. He also insisted that it was vital for every Sudanese living abroad to come back. It was their duty to stand next to their fellow people on their home ground.
Khalid Albaih made a personal account against the Sudanese revolution in 2018–19. Here, he pointed out the many risks of a stand against this revolution. He emphasized that replacing current older dictators with younger dictators is not a solution to the issues at hand.
Albaih aims to grow social networks for artists around the globe. He focuses on those who live in countries that pose unfair restraints. These include restricting the freedom of artistic expression or lack of public attention. Albaih participated in a self-organized art festival in Karmakol to further fix things.
FADAA is a non-profit online platform set up by Khalid Albaih. It offers a place for artists to build essential connections with one another.
Khalid Albaih worked on “Bahar,” an 8-minute long film about refugees. This film is a collection of short clips. What’s interesting is that refugees and their rescuers filmed them.
Albaih is also working on a fashion blog that talks about the fashion of migrant workers in Doha. It’s called ‘Doha Fashion Fridays”. He has always worked on making his readers see the unseen.
The goal of this project is similar. Migrants in Qatar often work around the week, with their only off day being Friday. On this day, they dress up and head outside. These refugees have become a statistic to the world. Albaih works on making these statistics humane by bringing their stories to light.
Khalid Albaih is someone who works himself during the day at the museum. All the while working to change the world’s mindset. He works on his political cartoons to attract an audience to open their eyes to the right matters in life. His intentions and work ethic is evident when you look at his work throughout his life.