Am at a standstill.
News after shitty news keeps assailing my ears & eyes but like any good fairytale I wanted to be able to write a story where even when things looked bleak, there was that fatigued happy ending. The ‘And this is why we should continue to hope & believe in…’.
I wanted to so badly give a finale of those feel good movies where the sports team scores that winning shot in the last second, and you, the crowd would roar in slow motion triumph.
I wanted to tell you that the Sudanese #BrokenCipher Team, after countless attempts & a generous donation from @mediastow, actually got to make it to the #GlobalCyberlymbics because they were finally able to get their U.S. visa last minute.
But they didn’t.
Instead they got held back because they couldn’t provide viable proof that they would actually return to Sudan and not truant off into a refugee seeking asylum sunset.
But who wouldn’t?
Fair or not, what happened to the #BrokenCipher Team was a consequence for the ‘riots‘ that had taken place in Sudan at the German, British and U.S. embassies. And just as it was easy for a rotten few to cause chaos and set damage & fire upon properties, it was easier still for the U.S. department to smirk at all Sudanese visa applicants and deny them with a ‘Ya right.’. For every action is a reaction, except that reaction left many Sudanese stranded with a needed treatment, medical checkup, or a education, parent, sibling, relative, bride/groom waiting anxiously abroad.
Add to the mix of dreariness the unfolding scandal of the Yarmouk military plant, where the NCP is blaming Israel for air strikes, while the world shrugs with a ‘You had it coming’. And as the citizens of Khartoum wail in rightful panic and outrage, I wonder if their hearts felt any sort of a bond with those that have and continue to witness & suffer in Kurdufan, Darfur, and the Nuba Mountains.
Just as Khartoumians stood and looked with bewilderment at their shattered windows, broken sinks, and collapsed ceilings, I too was dumbfounded. Just how much more of this inept government will Sudanese take? Where in the hell is rock bottom? Or are we digging past the rock?
My six year old nephew recently came back from Sudan. Having been raised abroad, his vacation was quite the culture shock. He was asked the usual, ‘What do you think about Sudan.’ We were expecting the cute, ‘It was hot! The flies! And sandstorms Omg ewwww’.
But he instead gave a dead pan face and said; ‘Sudan is shit.’
My initial reaction was a bark of a laugh because he used a cuss word that am thinking he may have caught from me… kids are annoying like that. My second immediate reaction was the ‘SMH’ moment, thinking kids these days are getting raised into selfish punks who have no appreciation for their culture, their roots, their…
But how could they?
We halved the identity of Sudan, where in the past she was the perfect sacrosanct virgin but now a coked out whore who is possibly infected with an STD. We love hating her, and hate loving her, unable to realize that all that has been done and is being done to her is a consequence of whatever action or inaction we each take.
Am looking at our old neighborhood at Number 3 Khartoum as we make a drive by, and I smile, seeing where we used to go return crates of Coke glass bottles hoping to get a freebie from the store owner; where I’d fell and had a huge gash on my chin & knees from sharp stones; where I’d broken many a toe nails trying to play soccer with the boys; the times I’d lost count trying to count the stars as we slept outside, watching alley cats strut across the 7oosh (veranda) with menacing grace; where that flood that everyone could remember hit and me being lifted over the wall to our neighbors because my Grandmas house was flooded. But I realize… these are my memories. Tinted and skewed in a romanticism that is unfair to my own nephews.
Am demanding him to remember, to appreciate, to worship a past that he has never witnessed.
When he is driven by Number 3 Khartoum, he sees owners of shacks that are supposed to be corner stores with merchandise that if not already is three hours & counting from being expired; pathways of dirt and trash, walker-by’s littering without a care, pieces of sharp objects that are anything but safe; tired looking homes with crumbling walls leaning against glinting mansions that leaves his young mind bewildered at the dichotomy of him sitting in an air conditioned vehicle while right next to his tinted window is a kid his age trying to sell him a pack of cigarettes.
I’d like to tell him; Sudan is complicated, Sudan is misinterpreted, Sudan is mistreated, Sudan is unloved, Sudan is neglected, Sudan is wasted, Sudan is… adrift.
Adrift in our memories of its former glorious self, where we are stuck like an annoying broken record that keeps repeating to all these newer generations the good life they missed with a running commentary of raging disappointment at the current situation, while they are trying to make sense of this reality, growing into wistfully bitter future citizens of a country that they cannot wait to escape because they are unable to find any beauty in this normality.
Because as I visit Khartoum these days, I can unabashedly tell you, not a single thing is ‘normal’ about the normality. And before you go on to label me as the stuck up living abroad hankosha, I hold up a mirror to my Beloved not so that she can be judged and ridiculed, but bettered.
There is nothing ‘normal’ about our capitals streets choked up with beggars, street children, the ‘eefft not another one’ struggling mother dragging along a shabby child with a sign asking for donations, the abandon at how we litter the shit out of every single public/private space, the lechery beaming from almost every single male’s gaze at any female who is left feeling cheapened & unsafe, the dying out courtesy of Salam/Wa Salam Alaykum/Shookran/Afwan, and the ability to be able to adapt & call this ‘normal’.
Don’t answer with ‘Well this is Africa TIS’ or reason it away because its useless excuses that we enjoy using to evade the fact that Sudan is not normal. What Sudan is going through is not normal, and how we, as Sudanese, are reacting to it, is criminally unnatural.
Which makes whatever good, whatever achievement that much brighter. And I mirror all of that back to our Beloved too.
To the activists whether in Sudan or abroad, the bystanders who hid protesters in their homes, the enterperneurs, writers, poets and dreamers, the Sittat al shai with steely determination, maids with the longest and most insane hours, drivers of public transportation even though they hold degrees and doctorates but still work to provide but in effect keep our capitals heart beating, young shabab starting up & working in non-profit organizastions, anynmous peeps funding individuals educations, parents that would sell their souls just so they can afford another year for their kids education, students studying their asses off for exams so they could just maybe be the first in the family to attend university, and even during the most hellish days of heat there are those random strangers that can still greet you with a smile even if they’re outside walking in between cars and their exhaust selling you mobile cards.
Each act is a reflection of Sudan, whether it be in gloominess, or radiance.
On his next visit my nephew will be introduced to awlad al 7ila (local boys from the neighborhood) and though they’ll be suspicious of the outsider they’ll grudgingly accept him because they are in need of an extra for their soccer team, and they’ll snicker each time he makes a wrong move because he is quite nervous, and they’ll definitely trip and never give him a pass, he’ll probably break a few toe nails, and his gait wont be so smooth because his feet are unused to the uneven ground, but then bit by bit he’ll roll up his pants, his sleeves, wipe off the dirt and sweat because he is in the zone, and awlad al 7ila cant even tell the difference between him or a ‘local’ because this game is getting heated, each teammate giving a pat here and there on a good play, having his back at any scuffle, grins so wide and at ease that each demands that he come and visit his home where my nephew will immerse himself in all their stories, gaining friendships that will outlast his lifetime and his very own memories.
His very own memories to preserve, so that he could come back and fight for Sudan.
We all have our very own reasons for loving our Beloved.
My nephew needs & is entitled to a reason to love Her too.