Sunday, March 25, 2007
Well, it was check out time. We decided we would go to Abeche today.
After breakfast, we went to the moneychangers. It was in the market.
This was the most congested of all the markets I had seen. Stores and
vendors were jammed tightly against each other. Peddlers were all over
the place. Through these narrow streets cars, SUVs, motorbikes, manual
bikes and pedestrians have to maneuver. It required the most extraordinary
driving ever developed. Only coming around the mountains from the airport
to the city in Grenada, West Indies could compare with the skills necessary.
When we arrived at the moneychanger’s place of business it was
a shack. I was looking for a large structure. But here was just a small
6x8 hole in the wall. Yet, all these moneychangers, big and small, transact
great sums of money. Outside set a twisted body beggar with his hands
out. “He surely knows the right place to sit.” I mumbled
to myself. On the way back to the hotel, our driver purchased something
that looked like fruit. He said, “Eat these and you will never
have diabetes. It is bitter. And, it is good for the blood.” I
told him I didn’t have diabetes, but I am prepared to consume
anything that is good for the blood. I tasted it and true to the driver’s
description it had a bitter taste. What it did for my blood I know not.
Returning to the hotel, we paid our bill and packed our bags. Yahya,
meticulously, went over every item on the bill. He discovered that they
had over charged us $10. Then, while I ate lunch, Yahya and the driver
went to pick up our cameraman, Waleed. I had lentil soup, cooked veggies,
bread and salad. I truly enjoyed eating at this hotel. Earlier, I had
called Leah. She said if there were any trouble to call and they would
have a plane in readiness. I told her I had faxed a statement to the
church. She said with recognizable concern in her voice, “Be careful.”
I said, “I will, but I’m doing okay. I am in my groove or
in my place. I am in the heart of Africa trying to save a people. This
is where I need to be. This is where I want to be. If something should
happen, I could think of no better place than that it happened here.”
When Yahya returned we did our filming of the hotel. As we were leaving,
unbeknownst to me riding with us was a Darfurian. He had just arrived
from Brooklyn, USA.
It was about 2pm when we finally hit the highway. I spoke at length
with my wife via my cell phone. I still cannot get over the miracle
of this little machine. Here I was, deep in Africa, thousand of miles
away, talking to my wife as though she were in the next room. She told
me she had done our annual baptismal ceremony and was preparing to deliver
the major message. The drive from N’djamena to Abeche is 600 miles.
The driver said he had done it in 8 hours. Later, I learned “no
way.” It was a comfortable, scenic drive down the highway for
about 200 miles. Then we hit the dirt or clay roads. For the rest of
the way we drove on washboard like roads, hard, rough with ridges. We
bumped and bounced through the night. We passed a number of small villages.
We made several stops in villages. The first was Bokora. It was 4:30.
It was prayer time for the Muslims. At 4:55 we started again. We turned
off the highway into a small square. It was another market. There were
meats cooking on the open fire. Youth walked around selling telephone
cards and fruits. There are two characteristics of these villages, and
maybe the towns, mosques and markets.
Farther down the highway, we stopped in another small village. We were
greeted with the customary cordiality broad smiles, handshakes, hugs
and isolamalakem. We asked the two men who greeted us if we could go
inside the compound. There were about 7 cone-shaped, straw and mud-constructed
huts. A couple of them were for the animals. There were two being constructed.
We looked inside. I was shown the seed, dukion. Yahya said, “Fro
the seed we get the dukion-like pudding or pie. That is one way of using.
There was allocated a pound of seeds per person. It has great protein
value. There was a red cement cone-shaped structure about 4 feet high,
which is where it is kept. “It can be kept there for 10 years,”
said Yahya. I went into an empty hut, round shaped like the Native American’s
wigwam or Eskimo’s igloo. I wondered what was the reason for this
consistency of the pyramid shape found in many cultures.
There were two elderly women squatting with a large pan. I walked over
to them. I smiled, they smiled back. The young women hurried away. The
elderly woman showed me the peas she was shaking from the husk, smiling
as she held up the pan for me to see. We thanked the two men as we headed
for our car. Around 8pm, we stopped at another town. There was another
market. This one much larger than the other. And it seemed to be a hangout
center, and a bus depot.
The buses, trucks, vehicles of all kinds and shapes were loaded to the
nth degree. I marveled at the amazing skills that are necessary to load
and drive (or just load) one of these vehicles. I have stood mesmerized,
as I have seen them speeding down the highway. How did they get so many
people and things on these vehicles? It seemed, as they swayed down
the highway, they would surely fall. But, I never saw an overturned
As we walked around the market, it seemed nobody was eager to go home.
I purchased guava juice and continued to eat the cashews, walnuts, raisin
and cranberries I brought with me. There were many items comparable
to markets or stores in the USA, foodstuff, clothing, jewelry, etc.
Driving through the night, no streetlights, rugged highways and a driver
who seemed to be practicing for the Indy 500, wasn’t the most
enjoyable ride. Then we began to have car trouble. Occasionally, the
car would shut off while moving. The driver would pull over to the side,
open the hood, do something with the wires, get back in, then we would
push to get the car started. Once the car was started, the driver would
stop and we would pile in and resume our travel.
In addition, we had three flat tires. One of them was fixed, requiring
considerable time an effort. We drove for another two hours, had another
flat tire; after a short distance had another flat tire. We were an
hour and a half away from Abeche, the tire on the car and our spare
was flat. It was decided that the driver and the cameraman should go
into town. They boarded a truck with the flat tires and headed for town.
It was around 4am when they left. It was 9:30 the next morning when
they returned. The three of us slept in the car. I tried to sleep, but
the snoring of the two men keep my eyes open. I decided I might as well
enjoy the cool of the morning outside the car. I did my stretching exercise,
walked and ran. I found a rock that was used to warn drivers of a big
drop in the highway. I sat upon the rock, read the scriptures and prayed.
Yes, God works in all things for the good. Another benefit derived from
staying in the car was a savings of $240. That was the total cost for
the four of us nightly at the hotel. Our money was running low. We had
to watch every penny. So a savings of $240 was a substantial amount.
It was a mysteriously delightful morning. I felt an embracing spiritual
presence. Plus, spending the night in the deep, quiet and rugged beauty
of an African desert in the cool of the morning, praying, meditating,
waiting for the morning light, was a uniquely priceless experience.
I will remember it as long as I live.
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 @
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
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.