Tuesday, March 20, 2007 (Part B)
How many times have I witnessed this scene in Africa? Whites controlling,
in charge of everything. Sometimes it is blatant, other times it is
subtle. However subtle, the swagger is still there. The audacity, the
rudeness and the body language, it is all there. Any person of African
Ancestry, who is relatively conscious or aware, can see and/or feel
it. As I pondered these matters, Yahya came running to my table, the
Vice President will see us in a half hour. I rushed to my room, put
on the proper apparel and rushed to the waiting car. At the car, Yahya
introduced me to a leader in the Justice Equality Movement (JEM). The
driver was sent from the official pool of the President.
In no time, we were at the hotel. The most imposing hotel building maybe
in the country. It was across the street from the parliament and another
grayish-white stone finished building. This structure or hotel was far
more regal and impressive then the President’s palace or home
and workplace. Maybe that is the way it ought to be. Those who serve
the people ought not live far removed from the people or place, which
represents the people. The hotel had been built by the Libyans –
again, the ownership of everything, it seems, is in the hands of others.
When we reached the hotel where the Vice President was staying, we rushed
up to the 8th floor. We were greeted or met by security people. Obviously,
the whole floor was reserved for the Vice President. The Sudanese Ambassador
to Chad was there. (A good sign, I thought to myself.) We went through
a thorough search, and then entered what appeared to be an office. A
mahogany desk with leather chairs set in the corner with a picture window
behind the desk. Two men sat in this area. They gave us the same intense
look that had met us when we arrived on the 8th floor.
Then we were led into the living room or President’s room. It
was tastefully done in red décor. The Vice President, Mr. Salva
Kiir was impressive. He was seated with his shoes off watching a soccer
game on television. Yahya and I sat on either side of him. Yahya spoke
in Arabic, and then in English. He said nice things about me. Then the
Vice President turned to me. I said, “Your excellency, thank you
for your time. I know you are very busy with important meetings. And
the world is waiting with bated breath. First let me express my admiration
for your courage, wisdom, compassion and perseverance. I’ve done
a little research. I know a few things about you. Let me ask you, how
are the meetings going?” I assured him, that our conversation
would be held in strict confidence. (Mr. Kiir was in N’djamena
to forge unity among the Darfurian leaders and countries surrounding
Sudan.) He said, “We should always have hope.” (How many
times have I heard that before? Bishop Tutu used to say in South Africa
long before the end of apartheid. “I am addicted to hope.) “It’s
hopeful that Eritrea, Libya, the Sudanese government representatives
and some of the rebel groups are all participating in the discussion,”
he continued. “This time we are convening ourselves. However,
there are rebel leaders who refuse to attend the meetings. Even though
we offered to send a plane for them.”
Before we could complete our talk we were told we had to leave. There
were representatives of rebel groups and the Sudanese government. They
needed to have an emergency meeting. We left the room, met the representatives
as they were entering. I wanted to say, “Mr. Vice President, I
know there are serious differences. Be it far for me to enter the dispute,
but speaking on behalf of suffering humanity, especially African people,
I plead with you to continue your determined efforts until unity has
As we waited in the conference room with a panoramic view of the city
below and beyond, it was obvious this was an impoverished city. Why?
Why, is so much of Africa improvised when there are vast resources?
The young assistant who waited in the room with us must have been reading
my mind. He said, “There have been so much exploitation by others
and internal fighting, Chad hasn’t had time to develop the resources
and the country. When peace comes progress is made. Then war comes again.
We waited in the conference room for about 45 minutes, hoping to see
Mr. Kiir when the meeting was over. It didn’t happen. They left
in a hurry to see the President, Mr. Deby.
On our way back to the hotel, Yahya explained, he has two seats on the
plane and a cameraman. “The cameraman cost $800 US for the duration
of the time we will be in Chad. Now he needed one more seat. In the
evening we will have two meetings,” he said, “with rebel
Before the interviews, we decided to eat dinner. There was a wide variety
of foodstuff. I opted for a fruit dish of watermelon, cantaloupe and
mangos, all delicious. The interviews took place in the garden near
the pool. The first interview was with Dr. Ahmed Diringe, leader of
the National Redemption Front and Sudan Federal Alliance. He was an
elderly man, knowledgeable and expressive. He had resisted the Sudanese
government since 1969. He headed the opposition party. He was former
governor of Darfur. He is widely respected. He represented the resisters
at the peace treaty.
In his interview, he recounted the history of the struggles in Sudan.
He said, “Sudan gained its independence in 1956 and has never
been able to formulate a democratic government or a strong federal government.”
He indicated he had met with President Salva Kiir because he and all
rebels wanted peace. The Sudanese government had sent Mr. Kiir to ask
what did the rebels want? He hoped that a peaceful solution could be
The next interview was with Muhammad Salim. He was much younger. There
was more fire in his belly than Dr. Diringe. He like Dr. Diringe wanted
peace. But, he felt the government’s policy drove them to arms.
He was critical of those who came out to the refugee camps, took pictures,
made money and was never heard from again. I assured him that it would
not be that way with us. Both interviews lasted over an half hour each.
Both interviews were video taped by our cameraman named Walid. It was
after midnight when we made our way to our separate places. It had been
a along day, but very productive, I do believe.
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm
Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who
needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures,
predatory lending and/or subprime lending.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday
from 2pm to 4pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House
of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @
On Monday, May 12, 2008, 5pm – 7pm, join Rev. Daughtry and the
members of NRLAA on a March & Rally in Support of Darfur. At 5:00pm,
we will assemble at the Chinese Mission and march from there to the
NEED QUALITY CHILD CARE? – Call the Alonzo A. Daughtry Memorial
Daycare Center Located at 333 Second Street, (Between 4th & 5th
Avenues) downtown Brooklyn, NY (718) 499-2066. Immediate openings in
a state of the arts center.