Wednesday, March 21, 2007 (Part C)
I asked myself, why am I here? What is my role? Why have I been in these
situations? Why do I feel such a compassion for suffering, mostly oppressed
humanity? Why did I come here at great expense on behalf of people I know
not? Why? Why? Why?
I responded to the Chairman on this wise, “Thank you Mr. Chairman,
I am honored for the privilege of meeting you and your Executive Council.
I believe God, Allah, Jesus Christ, has ordained that we should meet here
at this critical moment in the lives of countless people. We met with
President Salva Kiir yesterday in N’djamena. He was having a series
of important meetings with government and Darfurian leaders. Last night,
also in N’djamena, we met with Dr. Dirange and Muhammad Salim. And
here I am, 800 miles away in Abecha, meeting with you. It is a fast moving
time in which we live.”
I recited my church and organization’s Pan Africanist background.
I recounted what the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements had accomplished.
I gave the reason for our coming to Darfur, to show support to the refugees,
to meet the leadership, to encourage the international community to do
more. I told him what we plan to do upon my return, press conferences,
rallies, and seminars leading to a major conference in June. Also, we
plan to do a benefit concert in May, which will kick off our Material
Support Drive. “I hope you will be able to attend the conference,”
I said. When I had finished, he thanked me again. We stood, shook hands
and embraced. This time, even more firmly and warmly than before.
Now comes a platter of food. “It is lamb meat. The lamb was killed
especially for you,” the Chairman said. Reluctantly, I had to say,
“I’m a vegetarian.” But as we sat, knelling around the
platter, hands enthusiastically dug into the food. I knelt and fought
with myself if I should eat something. If I did I knew the consequences.
I would be sick and therefore incapacitated for the rest of the trip.
I spied what I thought was an olive. I reached for it; I was told it was
an onion. That’s even better, I thought to myself. I said, “Thank
you for this great feast. I haven’t eaten meat in over 25 years,
but I must at least taste a piece of the cooking.” I took up the
smallest piece I could find, held my breath and took a bite. It was all
that I could do. I coupled the rest in the palm of my hand and reached
for more onions. Later, I threw away the meat. I’m sure these eagle
eyed warriors knew what I had done. Nevertheless, I believe, they appreciated
While we were eating, I suggested to the Chairman that he should make
a statement for our cameras. He would have the opportunity to state his
position and thank the people personally. After some discussion with his
council, he agreed. He will do it tomorrow at 8:00am.
Also, I told him about the offer of the Sudanese government to sponsor
a fully paid trip to Sudan. Again, more discussion. He thought I should
accept the invitation. I showed him our banner. They were so impressed
they wanted to keep it. I gave him the usual gifts, books, t-shirts, DVD,
and a folder with our official statement and press clipping. Again, he
thanked me profusely. We left him standing there as we drove off into
the dusty night. A thousand thoughts were swirling through my mind.
When we returned to the hotel, we were too excited for bed. We decided
to drive around the town. After and hour or so of exploration, we returning
back to the hotel. Our energy level was still high, so we sat around a
table in the open air. We were joined by a Darfurian who is an Ambassador
in the Sudanese government. A tall dark man whose traditional apparel
in white was immaculate. This was odd, I thought. A Darfurian in the Sudanese
government, but I remembered there are always oppressed minorities placed
in strategic positions by oppressors. We talked about my visit. He hoped
that I would visit the refugee camps in Sudan. I would like to, I told
him. It is up to your government.
He said the refugee camps in Sudan are different. They are closer to the
cities, therefore, the refugees can avail themselves of certain amenities.
Some people say they live better in the camps then some people in the
city. Also, he said there were so many voices. There needs to be a united
front – an agreement among Darfurian leadership. Then they should
present their demands and be ready to negotiate. I agreed with him on
the unity question, but I wondered about the refugee camps. I wanted to
say, irrespective of the conditions; even the size of the camps, the questions
is how or why there are refugee camps at all? And, have the government
supported, and even now supports, the janjuweeds who are wreaking havoc
on the people of Darfur? Either because I was to tired or to preoccupied
with the day’s event, I didn’t feel up to responding.
When I retired to my room, my mind was still racing. I tried to close
my eyes, but sleep eluded me. There was so much to think about and so
much to do. Eventually, however, somewhere in the wee hours, I lost consciousness.
(To be continued on Wednesday, May 21, 2008)
Protest at the China & Sudan Missions
To sustain attention on Darfur, on Monday, May 12, we, the National Religious
Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned About Darfur (NRLAA), with various
Asian groups, conducted a rally and march to protest the genocide in Darfur;
the violation of human rights in China and Tibet, and to call for a boycott
of the Olympic Games in Beijing on August 8, 2008. The rally started at
5:00pm in front of the China Mission at 35th Street and 1st Avenue. After
walking in front of the China Mission and chanting for 1⁄2 hour,
we walked up 1st Avenue to 42nd Street to the Isaiah Wall across the street
from the UN. I spoke to the marchers, passersby and personnel coming out
of the UN, regarding the genocide in Darfur and human rights issues. After
which, we continued to march along 1st Avenue to 47th Street to the Sudanese
Mission at 205 E. 42nd Street.
We marched in front of the building chanting slogans, “Stop the
genocide in Darfur” “No Human Rights, No Olympic Games.”
I addressed the crowd on the same theme of genocide and human rights.
I pointed out the hundreds of thousands that had been killed and 2 1⁄2
millions that have been displaced. And, that it was done by an elite minority
Arab government to indigenous majority African people. I emphasized the
boycott of the Olympic Games. I mentioned Steven Spielberg who had withdrawn
his name from participation in the ceremony.
Dr. Ron Daniels also spoke to the crowd offering the support of the International
Black World (IBW), which he heads. While the crowd numbered about 100,
considering the inclement weather, demonstrated the commitment of the
people. The crowd disbursed at 7:00pm vowing to continue the fight.
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to
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 @ www.holnj.org.
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