Journal of the People’s Pastor

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


Darfur Diary: Part XII – My Journey To Chad, Central Africa
Back to N’djamene

Friday, March 30, 2007 (Part A)

After the brothers had slept for 2 hours, it was now 5:00 am we started again. I have to confess, I was annoyed. “Why?” I asked myself, “Could not they have organized traveling time in a way that each brother, could have driven a portion of time?” There were 4 drivers. (Mohammad had decided to return with us without my knowledge or consent.) Each driver could have taken a turn while the others slept. Instead, all of them spread their trusty rugs on the ground and there they slept and snored.

Two hours down the road another flat, and, the one in the trunk was flat. It took 3 hours to fix one of them sufficient for us to travel. We made it to a village called Araft, where everything is primitive. Because the tire was still leaking air, they tried to pump air into it with a bicycle pump, which did not work. They decided to walk down the road to find help. They flagged one of those trucks packed with stuff and people on top. They returned with help and pumped more air into the tire. It seemed that the trucks carried an answer to every problem.

Back at the village, which sits on either side of the road, I watched as a lamb was being disemboweled and put on the fire. The lamb was cooked and sold. As the poor creature’s skin lay at the feet of its stripped body hanging from a tree, I was so glad I had become vegetarian. Little children stood long starring at me as if I were from Mars. Heavily armed military vehicles went whizzing passed by. “Is this usual or ordinary?” I asked Yahya. “No it isn’t,” he emphasized.

At 10:20 am, we were on the move again. There was a huge mountain range before us. As we were traveling around it, at 10:30 am, another flat. While we waited for help, we sat beneath a tree and I wondered, “Oh God, Why?” Help came at 11:45 am. A Good Samaritan loaned us the spare tire from his car. We learned the military vehicles were due to President Deby traveling this way. At 12:15, we arrived at a village called Mango. We gave the tire back to the Good Samaritans. Our tires were fixed – I hoped. We learned that the Good Samaritans were newsmen. We promised each other that we would stay in touch. At this point, we have not done so.

Mango reminded me of a bus stop. There were, as always, a market and a Mosque. At the fix-it shops, cars and buses had stopped for repair. In the market there were fruits, water, clothing, vegetables, jewelry, etc. We departed Mango at 12:45 pm. We got as far as the next town, Gadaria. It was a good thing too, for at 1:45 pm, yes, we had another flat tire. This time, for the first time the left front tire. This made flat #7. And it seemed, the right front tire was going down. We pulled over and waited for the Good Samaritans. Yes, the air was slowly easing out. Kindly, they brought a rug for me to sit upon. While we waited, at least to comfort us, there were surrounding us picturesque mountains wrapped in a blue haze not far in the distance. The blue haze provided a delicate touch to the barren invincible mountains.

It must had been 120 degrees easily. The air was scorching but dry. Thank God, we were near a village called Tchelme, when a man riding on his bicycle said he would find somebody to fix the tire. I made the suggestion we push on. If the air goes out we will flag the Good Samaritans. Or we would make it to the village. In any event, it was better than sitting and waiting.

However, they decided to wait. The fix-it man returned. His tools were few, old and inadequate. Mercifully, at 3:00 pm Good Samaritans #2 arrived. They took the spare off the back of their car, put it on ours and followed us to town. The Good Samaritans #2, said they had 6 flat tires. To make matters worst for us every time we stopped we had to push the car to get it started again. We started off again at 3:15 pm, in a few minutes we passed Bird Mountains, where the birds journeying from the Soviet Union, stopped for water, then completed their trip to South Africa.

At 3:55 pm, we caught up with Good Samaritans #2,they had had another flat tire. Now they demanded their tire back. There were passionate verbal exchanges in Arabic. I know not what they were saying. Good Samaritans #2, got into our car with the flat tire, we drove back to the place we had just passed. It was now 4:05 pm when they started working on Good Samaritan #2’s tire. I sat in the car battling heat and flies, surrounded by onlookers. Any event, in these leisure-afflicted villages, is a happening that convenes crowds immediately, especially the young.

Military vehicles and the huge packed trucks constantly passed by. Here at this place they occasionally stopped. It is a security checkpoint and there is a school. I started working on a press statement if I had to stay, which I was fast coming to believe that would be the case.

It was 4:30 pm, when the tire was fixed. Then they began working on the engine. We waited on Good Samaritans #2 to fix his car. Now with both engines roaring, at 4:50 pm, we were on our way.

Anxiously, aware that both cars were without spares. I wondered if we would make it to the next town. Every bump on the rock-saturated road, heighten our concern. We were like desert travelers, praying for an oasis. Or like mountain climbers, frantically searching for a trail in a snowstorm. While our situation wasn’t fatal, it was very serious. I was concerned about Good Samaritans #2 also. They had thrown us a lifeline. Now, would they need it back and would they get it back. They were lost in the cloud of dust ahead of us. The road looked awfully menacing. “Oh paved highway, come into view,” I prayed.

Perhaps a better analogy, I thought than mountain climbers and desert travelers, were seafaring sailors. We looked, eagerly, anxiously down the highway for the paved road that would save us. As sailors long at sea, braving the fury of a raging storm look for land, we looked for paved highways. But the road kept getting bumpier and rougher and we kept looking and praying, but we saw only more twisting, bumpy, hot, dusty, hard road.

Good Samaritans #2 has now lost us completely. If our tire goes, there is no spare and none to help. It seemed the road was putting up the fiercest fight. The driver seemed to be driving faster. I wished he would slow down. Maybe, I thought, there would be less wear on the tire. But, faster and faster he drove. Farther and farther away seemed the paved road or town.

It was now 5:30 pm. My flight was at 11:00 pm. We still had hours of driving before us. Another flat tire would just about end my chances of making the flight. We passed village after village, by now they all looked the same but they did not have the equipment to fix the tire.

In the distance, the road seemed to be getting darker and darker as the dust cleared. Maybe, we were nearing the pavement I thought. At the same time, the road seemed to be getting sharper with deeper grooves. As far as the eye could see, there were only dirt roads and the dust had reappeared. It was not a good sign.

To be continued…

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Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.

On Saturday, August 2, 2008, all are invited to Join Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry in Prospect Park at the Music Pagoda (The Nethermead) from 11am to 5 pm, where he will be celebrating 50 years of practicing a wholistic ministry and providing activist service to the Community. Entertain will be provided by Randy Weston, the Anointed Voices, The Cohen Brothers, Min. Lawrence Craig, Bishop Nathaniel Townsley & the Gospel Jubilee. There will be words of encouragement from the activist community, the religious community, the political arena and many, many others. The event is free. Bring your own food to cook out. Rain date will be at the House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue, downtown Brooklyn, NY, same day same time.

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