Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

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



Saturday, March 31, 2007

I was awaken at 2 am, I pulled the lever, arose from the car bed at 2:15. I added a few more paragraphs to my journal. All things considered, I felt rather vibrant. I did feel a slight stiffness. But overall I was surprisingly energized. And I still felt contented, even a little excitement. I still believe that God was doing something on a grand scale. I couldn’t wait to see what it was.

It was a heavenly morning; quite, occasionally animals could be heard in the distance. There was an ever so slight cool in the air, just enough to gently invigorate the skin. The sky was a darkish blue with silver splashes across the heavens. There was a full moon with a ring around it. Gratitude began to well up within me. I’m a blessed man, I thought to myself, to be here in this country, on this Continent of my ancestors and for which I have fought so hard to liberate and revive its once greatness. And to be on this monumental mission was a blessing that comes to relatively few in a lifetime. More than I could express, I was grateful. At 2:45 am, I made entries in my journal on visiting the refugees. Everybody was asleep, so I walked up and down the solitary highway, pausing to stretch occasionally.

Mohammad had a blanket. He slept about 20 yards away. The others slept on the ground. Incredibly, I thought to myself, how sound they sleep even on the naked earth.

I returned to my car bed, feeling guilty for my luxury while others had it so hard. Around 5:30 am, day was breaking and the brothers, at least Ibrahim and Yahya, had begun to show signs of life.

We started to flag occasional travelers. They would stop but couldn’t help. One traveler wanted to give us his spare, but it wouldn’t fit. I marveled at the hospitality. They would not pass a waving road sider, standing by a broken vehicle.

At 7:30 am, a car stopped, beckoned us over. The driver wanted to take us to N’djamena. Yahya and I got into the small Toyota. If it had been a horse and buggy, we would have been grateful. This was an interesting man. He was dressed in a beige traditional Chadian garb. He was a man of sizeable bulk, with hanging jowls and keen eyes. His English was very good. He worked for a Canadian oil company. He used to work for Exxon. He is a geologist by profession. He works in N’djamena. His family is in (I forgot the name of the town), about 50 miles away. He commutes on the weekends. Now he was headed home. He saw we were in distress, so he turned around to help us. (“Thank God,” I whispered.)

Our conversation turned in the direction of oil, the economy and politics. He said Exxon had struck a deal years ago as they were exploring for oil. 14% of the profits would go to the government.

Whatever happens in the future, Chad would still get its 14%. This was supposed to mean Exxon was taking a risk. I know nothing of oil, but it is hard for me to believe that Exxon or any other corporations that have been in business as long as Exxon doesn’t know whether or not they are going to succeed. So much for Exxon, or the oil companies’ risk taking. Exxon gets 86% and the government gets 14%. I asked, “Can’t they break the contract?” Knowing the answer before I asked it. “They better not.

Those are the things that make for war. All foreign countries will do anything to protect their ‘vital interest’ or ‘their way of life.’ Even though it is derived from exploiting other people’s resources.” He went on to say, “There is a clause in the contract that is supposed to favor the government. The lease expires after 30 years. But by that time the oil companies would have exhausted the oil reserves. Then they move on to other pickings.”

We rode in silence. I surveyed the rough, endless landmass. So much to be developed! I thought of the bumpy roads, primitive villages and towns, the horrors of the refugee camps, the constant military caravans, and pondered the folly cruelty, barbarism and obscene expenditures of vast resources for war and human greed. I asked myself, “Does humanity deserve to live? Who is the blame for this appalling state of affairs?”

Now we had reached N’djamena. The dusty city was buzzing. We passed the President’s house, or I should say, his palace. And the house of his son close by. It seemed everywhere there was garbage. They had not developed a disposal system. France and all the exploiting colonizing countries ought to be made to pay whatever the cost until Africa has been modernized. It was enough to sicken you, when I remembered how they built their own countries from the riches of Africa.

We arrived at the Chinese hotel or motel across from the Novotel Hotel where we had stayed upon our arrival. They had one huge room with two small bedrooms for $240. We decided not to take it. An old friend of Yahya’s met us at the hotel. An Indian businessman. He was very friendly. He had a young assistant with him. They became our guide and chauffer. We checked out the Meridian Hotel. It was in-your-face French, which would have been all right, but it was too expensive. $220 per night. As we turned to leave, the receptionist said that we could get it for $180, if we represented a corporation. (It seems that the rich are always getting breaks. Or it appears everybody wants to help those who already have, or may need no help.)

We located the Sahel Hotel. You would have to know it was there in order to find it. It is located on a side, dirt street between two (2) main streets. The President’s mother lives in the area. Groups of people, sat on the ground or on their rugs and as usual, gab, gobbled and sold their wares.

The hotel was small. Everything about it was small. The room was about 10x10. There were a small TV and refrigerator, two small tables, one for a nightstand and the other for a desk. There was a toilet, faced bowl and shower. There was a regular size bed, an old wooden closet, fans in the ceiling and window. So it was cool and comfortable, and, most importantly, it was clean. It cost $100 per night. Overly priced I thought, but that’s the way things are in this country. Everything is absorbent.

It had a quite garden, with shrubbery and trees, surrounded by the rooms and a swimming pool. It was rustic and relaxing. We decided to stay.

Afterward, we went to secure our seats on Air France. It was settled; we would depart on Tuesday, April 3rd. Then we decided to do some shopping in the marketplace. But first we had to get our money changed. I picked up gifts for loved one and returned to the hotel. We went to dinner at the Novotel Hotel, which had become my favorite eating-place in N’djamena.

I had a long telephone call to my wife, church and community. I dictated a statement to the press, assuring everybody I was well and gave the date of my return.

In the evening, Mohammad came by my room, again on behalf of Darfurians. He wanted to express gratitude to me. Also he had a gift. There was a map of Chad carved from wood, which sat on a small stand. It was simple but powerful. I responded by saying I appreciate the hospitality and I will always treasure the gift.

Later, we sat by the pool with Indian friends, the Brooklynite with his baby, Yahya and Mohammad. It was a beautiful, quite, cool evening. Such is life, a few hours before we were standing on the highway trying to get help after sleeping all night in a car and on the ground. Now here we were relaxing by a pool surrounded by flowers, grass and trees and jasmine fragrance.

After we had spent hours discussing politics, Africa and the world, I returned to my room. It was good to be sleeping in a bed. During my prayers, I fell off to a sound sleep.

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. ALL FORUMS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED FOR THE MONTH OF JULY AND AUGUST.

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.

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 holistic 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.

Our Annual Freedom Walk will take place on Saturday, August 16, 2008
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.

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.