In the thought of the late secretary-general of the Sudanese Communist Party, Abdel Khaliq Mahgoub, the intricacies of culture and politics are deftly interwoven in a thorough ethnographic and philosophical critique of state and society. Mahgoub's wide-ranging writings engaging questions of liberation led him to devote his life to localizing Marxist theory in the Sudanese context. His explication of the tools of translating Marxism challenges absolutist interpretations and applications of a single idea in a cultural context unfavorable to its growth. This essay draws on Mahgoub's impressive intellectual contributions to patterns and processes through which Marxist politics can be mobilized to defy egregious state transgressions of democratic rights. Throughout his work, which is analyzed in this essay, two preoccupations figure prominently: the commitment to creating a public culture that accommodates innovation and renewal in transforming a society shredded by exploitative discriminatory practices, and the struggle for the reinforcement of a vision of liberation more expansive than the one presented in the nationalist discourse, which Mahgoub critiqued as forlorn and unable to produce a coherent vision on political transformation. “Marx in the Vernacular” traces these intellectual and political concerns in Mahgoub's thought and links their pertinence to current issues in Sudanese and African politics. Multiple relevancies of Mahgoub's legacies are elucidated alongside analysis of tradition, humanism, Marxist anthropology, and the nature of the national democratic revolution.

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