Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

Darfur Diary: Part IX – My Journey To Chad, Central Africa
A Return to the SLA Camp and more Red Tape (Part A)


It was 8:30am when we arrived at the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) camp. This is the same camp we had visited on Thursday, March 22, 2007. We returned because the president, Khamiss Abdullah, could not devote sufficient time to meet with us on our last visit. As usual everybody was cordial.

As we walked to the meeting, there are things that remain constant, I thought to myself; cordial greetings with handshakes, embraces and verbal exchanges, then the rugs spread on the ground – except where tables and chairs are available or when we meet inside. We took off our shoes, seated ourselves on the rug. For me they brought out extra rugs, which acted as a pillow, this allowed me to lean more comfortably as we conversed.

Then came the food and/or liquid. The liquid is usually tea, very sweet, or water or soda in a can. Again, they always made special consideration for me. They brought me bottled water. If they are serving food, it would be dukium with meat and/or sauce with everyone eating with his fingers, anyone can join the party. After introductions and light conversation, then came the serious talk with Khamiss Abdullah and Musa, the National Coordinator. There is a consistency in the Darfurian recitation of history – atrocities, importunities to the Sudanese government, broken promises or agreements, gratitude to supporters, disappointment with the Muslim world and appeals for support.

The Darfurian from Brooklyn, who was still with us, pulled out a camera. I questioned its use. He put it away. I really wasn’t sure who he was. I said, “I am concerned that we control the images and information. I feel responsible for that.” I told Yahya if you take responsibility that’s fine with me. By now he had put away his camera. The Brooklynite was asked to act as the interpreter. After a few words, he found a reason to leave. I felt he did not want to participate. I wondered why he was on the trip. He didn’t seem to be on the same page with us. I had never seen him in Brooklyn.

President Khamiss is a round face portly man. He is less intense than Chairman Ibrahim, of Justice Equality Movement (JEM) but equally knowledgeable and articulate. I asked him how did he view US support? He said he was very grateful. The US had led other nations in exposing what was happening in Darfur. He remembered that it was Colin Powell who called the situation in Darfur genocide. I pointed out that there are those who say the US is doing what it is doing because they are trying to establish a presence so as to controls resources. Mr. Khamiss said, “No.” He believed it was for humanitarian reasons. I asked him about Jewish support. Did he believe that there was an international conspiracy? He answered the same as above. “What about African support? Have you been getting African support?” I asked. He had a lengthy answer. “Essentially,” he said, “Africa is a poor country. The communication on what’s happening in the world doesn’t reach a lot of the countries. But they have been supportive as much as they can.”

I inquired about Arab support. He indicated that he was certain that there was an Arab expansionist strategy for Africa. That is why Darfur is so important. Their expansion here is spreading. Next, it is Chad, then the Central Republic of Africa. Arabs from other countries are being brought in to fight us and occupy our land. It will be the same for other African countries. So, we are fighting for all of Africa. Obviously, Arabs do not support us.

There were remarks from the Coordinator. He echoed President Abdullah. But he wanted to emphasize that the government of El-Bashir never keep promises. He cited one by one the broken agreements. The agreement that had been signed by one of the Darfurian leaders is a SLA faction. He did so under great pressure from the USA. He was locked in a room for 17 hours. He was threatened with charges of violating the International Convention, which forbids use of solders under 18. Finally, he signed. He was brought into the Sudanese government. It was his solders that were killed in Khartoum and others were arrested. His situation is precarious. (While I was in Chad, there had been a conflict with this particular leader’s solders and the Sudanese government.)

I asked if I could talk to the solders? Without hesitation he said, “ yes!” I wandered among the solders. I was amazed by their youthfulness. I really believed they were younger than what they claimed. Randomly, I asked, “Why are you here?” While there maybe variations, their answers were always the same, “love ones killed or brutalized, women raped, homes destroyed or taken; to fight for our rights, to fight for our freedom.”

Before I continue My Journey to Chad, I want to note that we had our second annual Father’s Day remembrance of Darfurian Fathers. We met Sunday, at 9:30am at the Isaiah Wall across from the United Nations. I spoke to the onlookers and passersby informing them, at least those who did not know, about the situation in Darfur and that we wanted to remember the Darfurian father’s whose families had been destroyed, wives and daughters raped, land taken and who now languish in refugee camps. After prayer we walked to the Sudan Mission at 305 E. 47 Street. We repeated the same program.

The National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned about Darfur (NRLAA) sponsored the program.

Upcoming Events

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 9pm.

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 @ HYPERLINK "http://www.holnj.org" www.holnj.org.

On June 19–20, 2008, in honor of Juneteenth, The Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) will host its Annual Emancipation Day Celebration. At 12noon on the 20th there will be an Unveiling & Dedication of a Plaque marking the stop on the Underground Railroad at the Old Bridge Street Church, which served as a safe house for run-away slaves. Many invited guest speakers. A Luncheon (invitation only) will follow with Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry as the keynote speaker. At 7pm, there will be a musical concert & dinner, all free to the public, at the House of the Lord Church featuring The House of the Lord Anointed Voices, the renowned singer, Minister Lawrence Craig, Bishop Nathaniel Townsley & The Gospel Jubilee and many others. Dinner will start at 5pm (No cost with reservation). Contact Peggy Iman Washington, the Program Coordinator, @ (718) 596-1991 or (718) 797-2184.

On Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 2pm the 30th Annual Randolph Evans Memorial Scholarship Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at the House of the Lord Church. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke will be the keynote speaker.

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.