Farewell to Salma Suliman

Africa has just lost one of its pillars in Nephrology,

Salma Suliman. In a tragic boat accident on September 28th, Salma, her daughter, Khartoum

University Hospital Director Yousif, his wife and son and 8 other members of the renal

unit drowned in the Blue Nile while celebrating a wedding. Salma was born in Atbara, North

Sudan in 1948, graduated from the University of Khartoum in 1973, and trained in

Nephrology under Professor DNS Kerr in Newcastle UK. She was appointed in Khartoum

University as a Senior Lecturer in 1983, and was soon promoted to Associate Professor and

became the Director of Khartoum Kidney Center. Her impact on the development of Nephrology

in her country, African continent and Arab world was outstanding. For many years, she

served as Editor-in-Chief of the AFRAN Newsletter, and was recently appointed as

Editor-in-Chief of the African Journal of Nephrology. She also served for many years as an

eminent member of the ISN COMGAN Africa subcommittee. None of those who knew Salma would

disagree about her warm and charming personality and her outstanding knowledge and

experience in clinical nephrology. Her pleasant and friendly smile shall remain in our

memory for many decades. Cordial commiseration to her friends and colleagues all over the


Rashad Barsoum

Secretary General, ISN

“If you want something done you have to start doing it!” – Salma


Others have provided more detail on the remarkable life and

contributions of Salma Sulieman.  I can offer this reflection:

There are words attributed to Goethe which motivated me from childhood, until I came to

believe that good writing is incompatible with more black than white on a page, and until

I learned that Goethe never wrote exactly this, that the words bearing his name are those

of anonymous translators, loosely practicing their craft with unclear purpose.

“Boldness:  The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves

too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have

occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor

all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man

could have dreamed would have come his way.  Whatever you can do, or dream you can,

begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.  – Goethe”

As a young adult I became fascinated with the notion of the female

adventurer and spirit especially as embodied in the character of Yasmini in King of the

Kyber Rifles by Talbot Mundy. Elusive, almost virtual, and yet the only one truly in

control of very fluid situations throughout the book. With an imagination that made all

things possible!

“There’s a woman you’ve got to work with on this occasion who can

imagine a shade or two too much. What’s worse, she’s ambitious. So I chose you to work

with her.”  (Chapter 1 para 42 http://www.litrix.com/kkr/kkr001.htm.)

And then I met Salma Sulieman in Nairobi in October

2000.  Not superficially like Yasmini or Goethe at all, very much her own person, she

nevertheless exhibited all the above elements of boldness, courage,imagination that had

always fascinated and inspired me,  And what beautiful simplicity is there in her

most memorable statement “If you want something done you have to start doing


Her work on gum Arabic was not only a highly innovative solution to a

major nephrologic problem, it also was a symbol for the cohesion and organizing direction

she provided to many situations in African nephrology.  In many crucial meeting

discussions she was the glue, the adhering force for concrete action with just the right

“stickiness” and flexibility.  Amazing that she was from the Sudan, had

stayed there throughout the troubles, and was building things there in the midst of

staggering adversity!

After spending time with her in Nairobi and Dubai I made plans with

Zina Munoz and others others to bring modern communication technology and expertise to her

growing kidney unit in Khartoum, our wires and gadgets and her gum and motivating spirit!

We planned it in minute detail down to the lengths of the cabling needed ,number and types

of computers and Internet access.  However world events and now this local tragedy

prevented us and our plans remain as unrealized as the events in King of the Kyber Rifles.

But in the end something very real happened:  Salma Sulieman profoundly touched

and influenced us all. We should now find a way to repay the great cosmic debt owed

because we were not able to reciprocate during her lifetime.  We have lost someone

very special who enriched the lives of many and who will be remembered for a very long


Kim Solez

Chairman, Informatics Commission, ISN


I write on behalf of the International Society of Nephrology to convey our

condolences at the tragic loss of Dr Salma Sulieman, her daughter and members of the

Khartoum Kidney Centre.  Indeed, Dr Sulieman was one of our members who participated

in many meetings and was highly regarded and greatly liked by us all.

We are deeply saddened by the loss, and Nephrology in general,

especially in the Arab world, will sorely miss her outstanding contributions.

Robert C Atkins

President, ISN

The sudden tragic death of Salma

Sulieman, her daughter and others from the Kidney Centre in Khartoum, Sudan was most

devastating news.  Salma had just been an ISN speaker at the South Africa

Renal Society meeting in Bloemfontein where she spoke on Nephrotoxins and Acute Renal

Failure.  Salma has been an excellent ambassador for nephrology in Sudan and

Africa.  She was a highly active member of our ISN COMGAN Africa Subcommittee. 

We were working out arrangements with her for an ISN CME visit to Khartoum next February

and I hope it will take place as a memorial to her and her colleagues at the Kidney

Centre.  Most of all, Salma was an extraordinarily fine person who reflected all the

best characteristics of a physician.  Our deepest condolences to her family and to

her colleagues at the Kidney Centre.

John H. Dirks, MD


We announce the untimely passing of Salma Sulieman, a tragedy

compounded by the loss of her young daughter and Dr. Yousif, the Director of the Khartoum

Kidney Center.

Salma was a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the

University of Khartoum. She served on the Board of Trustees of the African Association of

Nephrology (AFRAN) as Deputy Secretary and was editor of the AFRAN newsletter. She was a

member of the Africa Subcommittee of the Commission for the Global Advancement of

Nephrology (COMGAN) of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN); she very ably

furthered the aims of COMGAN by her passionate commitment to promoting nephrology in Sudan

and the rest of Africa. Her many friends and colleagues in Africa and internationally will

miss her friendship, loyal support and quiet sense of humour.

Sarala Naiker

Chairperson, COMGAN Africa Subcommittee

I am sure that all AFRAN members are really sorry for the tragic loss

of Dr. Salma Suleiman, one of the key persons of African Association of Nephrology. She

was the Deputy Secretary of the Society, Editor for the AFRAN Newsletter and Associate

Editor of African Journal of Nephrology. She was one of most active nephrologists in

Sudan. She published a lot of studies on nephrotoxicity and the last project planed with

her during 7th Congress of AFRAN held in Cairo on 16th Jan. 2002 was titled the role of

HCV in glomerular disease in Africa. In fact, it is a great loss to African and Arab

nephrology community. Our sincere condolences to all.

Maher F. Ramzy,

President of African Association of Nephrology

It is a sad moment for me, to all Nephrologists in Jordan and to the

whole Nephrology Community in the Arab word  to the shocking news about the tragic

loss of both Dr. Salma Sulieman and Dr. Yousif in the devastating accident of

drowning  on Sept.28,2002.

Our condolence and sorrow to all of you in Sudan and God Bless their



Riyad Said

Immediate Past-president, Arab Society of Nephrology and Renal



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