A new documentary short from The Guardian sheds light on “The Spider-Man of Sudan,” who like the fictional version remains anonymous for good reason.
The 19-minute film, which you can watch above, spotlights how the man first attended protests against dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, which led to a transitional government. That government was then overthrown by a military coup in October 2021.
“We had a 30-year dictatorship in Sudan. People died, but in 2019 we won our revolution,” the protester says in the film. “Now, the generals, Burhan and Hemeti stole that revolution. They took all our new freedoms and my best friend from me.”
The man then began to wear the Spidey suit in honor of his childhood friend who was killed by security forces.
He interprets the meaning of Spider-Man along the lines of the story he and his friend where told when they were younger about the spider that spins a web across the cave opening where the Prophet Muhammed and his companion hide, so that his enemies who walked by could not see into the cave.
“He was my best friend and they killed him,” the man says in the video while visiting his friend’s grave, which reads Abubaker Salah Alnosh, The Martyr 17th November 2021. “They won’t silence our rage. We shall never forget the blood of our martyrs. We will get revenge or die like them.”
The red and blue costume has come to represent the more recent wave of protests against the military regime, which involve water cannon, tear gas and sometimes live bullets. At least 95 people have been killed in the fresh round of protests since October, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.
“The night comes and the night goes, every day is like this,” the anonymous activist said. “With the will of God, we still come out. Until today we continue to try to liberate the country but we have no fear. The people of Sudan, all of them, will continue to face the security forces and their bullets.”
When the Spider-Man of Sudan is not in the streets dressed up as the web-slinger, he teaches robotics to young, homeless children as a self-taught scientist.
The video also shows him meeting with a resistance committee.
The film was made by Phil Cox, director of the 2017 documentary “Betty: They Say I’m Different,” about Miles Davis’ wife. Cox’s director credits also include 2017’s “Captured in Sudan,” about the 2004 Darfur genocide, and 2011’s “The Bengali Detective.”