Hussein Shariffe was born on July 7th, 1934 in Omdurman, Sudan. His father Dr Mamoun Hussein Shariffe was a medical doctor and grandson of alKhalifa Sha- riffe and his mother was Sayda Shama Abdelrahman AlMahdi, daughter of Al-Imam Abdelrahman ElMahdi. His parents were first cousins and his great grandfather was Al-Imam Muhammed Ahmed El-Mahdi, Sudanese politician and religious leader, the single most influential personality in the history of the modern Sudan.Shariffe was educated at Victoria College in Alexandria, Egypt. In England he studied modern history at the University of Cambridge, before joining the Slade School of Fine Art. His first solo exhibition, including the painting Angel Pregnant with Moon, opened at Gallery One in July 1959.
Shariffe’s paintings, using vivid juxtapositions of colour, were seen at Gallery One in North Audley Street in April 1963, shortly before he returned to live in Sudan. There he worked as a lecturer at the School of Fine Arts, Khartoum (1964-6) and founded the literary and arts periodical Twenty One in 1965. Wishing to reach a wider audience, Shariffe turned to film-making in the 1970s.