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 B)


There was a major difference in this camp, than in JEM’s camp. There were women. They wore camouflaged uniforms and were armed, the same as their male counterparts. I talked to two young ladies. I asked them their ages. Both said they were 19. I asked them about family – mother, father, brother, sister. “Why are you here?” They answered essentially the same. Family members were killed and/or brutalized. One of the young ladies said she was in the army because they raped her sisters and killed her parents. After getting permission, I hugged and kissed them. One young lady drew back and touched her face. Tears came to her eyes. I asked the interpreter, “Why? Did I do something wrong?” He said, “No, she is very moved and very shy.”

Prior to the interviews with the young ladies, I met with a group on the ubiquitous rug. They were from a particular tribe. They had their own leaders. The substance of our conversation touched on the same concerns and issues. They related how they had been victims of the slavery of the janjaweeds. They were firm in their belief that the Sudanese government was behind it all. After we had concluded our conversation, the leaders thanked me profusely.

I returned to the starting place in the camp, sat with President and Musa and others again. Breakfast was served --- dukium, potatoes and sauce. I was assured there was no meat in the food. Although I was full, I did eat a small portion, picking from the tray as others did. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was rather tasty. I could see where I could develop a taste for dukium with spicy sauce and other veggies. In the other camp, there was meat and onion in the dukium.

As we made ready to depart, Muhammad put an Emma on my head. After I selected the style, placed it on my head, I looked in the car mirror, I thought I looked rather dashing.

Leaving the camp with waves and good byes, again, I was amazed at the youthfulness of everybody, except the leadership. I guessed the leadership was probably between 40 and 50 with a few I would guess to be in their 30ties. The meeting lasted until 11:30am.

Surely, I thought to myself, now we are on our way. Then I learned that they did not get the necessary papers signed. I was disappointed and annoyed. “What was there to get signed?” I had been told that everything was all set. We would be able to go to the camp in the morning. Now to be informed that they had been at an office for several hours waiting for a signature, that was confusing and irritating to me. Before I could pursue the question, we were at the hotel. Recognizing my annoyance, they put me out of the car, encouraged me to be comfortable. They were going to secure the necessary papers. It was several hours later when they returned. The whole day was gone.

During the wait time, I pondered the potential danger I was in. If I could produce what I want to, the information would be dynamite. It could deepen and expand support for Darfur, leading to a radical power shift in Sudan. This power shift would be a hindrance to Arab expansionism, but it would make me a target that needed to be removed. There would be, I am sure, many trigger happy people available to do the job --- some in the USA or of African Ancestry.

Yahya returned at 3pm. Always, he had a plausible excuse. This time, he said he has the signed papers, but the governor still has to okay it. He has refused to give the final okay because of the risk involved. They are fearful that should something happen to me, the USA would come down hard on them. The rebels had offered to provide 20 cars for me but the governor said, I am Chad’s responsibility, not theirs. He said he would let us know by tomorrow 9am. Yahya expressed the opinion that maybe the Eritrean had something to do with blocking my request. Eritreans don’t separate politics from humanitarianism. They only think politics. They hate the USA. They don’t want the USA involved. They want to orchestrate the negotiation and get the credit, which they can use to leverage other things. They did effectuate a peace agreement in the East. So, Yahya thinks maybe Eritrea is putting pressure on Chad to keep me away.

I told Yahya, he needed to tell the governor, that I will sign papers relieving them of any responsibility. Moreover, if I don’t visit the refugee camp, it’s not going to look good for Chad. As a final result, I will say to the governor, “I am not going home until I visit the refugee camp, so you will have to take care of me for as long as I stay; or I’m going to stay in the bush with the rebels. I am certain they will welcome me. And then if you force me to go home, I will say to the world that I you harshly kicked out of Chad. Also, if something happens to me, Sudan will be blamed. That will draw more attention to Darfur and Chad.

Yahya, with deep concern in his voice, said he hoped it wouldn’t come to that. I still don’t know why this process wasn’t started yesterday, I said. “I did call and was supposed to pick up the papers this morning,” he responded. “I spent all of this morning at the office waiting for the governor to give me the okay.” Throughout the rest of the day there were continuous meetings. Yahya said they were trying to resolve their differences. There were two separate group meetings. At the close of the evening, they had made no progress, Yahya told me later.

When I retired to my room on the TV, the British Broadcasting Corporation carried the story of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolishment of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by Britain. There was a sermon delivered by the Rev. Dr. Rhodes Williams of Canterbury. All of England’s VIPs were present at the ceremony. “Regrets, but no apology,” said the announcer. There was protest inside and outside. I fell asleep with the Maafa on my mind and the uncertainty of tomorrow. But I reminded myself I am still in God’s hand. The old song came to my mind; “He’s got the whole world in his hand.”

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 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.