Wednesday, March 28, 2007 (Continued…)
We returned to the hotel. I asked Yahya, should we start packing? “No,
wait till the Governor calls,” he said. Then I began to have doubt
if the call would ever come. It wouldn’t surprise me if tomorrow
we were back at the governor’s office. By 2:30 pm, no word from
the governor. Somehow, I wasn’t surprised. Maybe I’m becoming
Africanized. I did get a chance to talk to the Norwegian we had met
earlier. He turned out to be a nice man. He is a scholar. He has studied
in and about Africa for 30 years. His government decided to enlist him
in the work in Sudan, which included peace negotiation. He has worked
at it for 9 years. He knows all the players and was present at all the
peace negotiations. He said he had tried to tell US and Britain that
the Abusha Agreement, the capital of Nigeria, would not work. But they
pressured one of the leaders to sign, adding more evidence that the
leader was pressured to sign the Agreement. He hoped the peace process
could start in earnest, but the US is necessary. He knows Congressman
Payne. He mentioned a Ted Dagne, an authority on the area and is in
touch with all the players. He is at the Library of Congress, Congressional
I asked him about slavery in the south. He wasn’t absolutely certain
and the research done by the Commission appointed by President Bush,
Sr. wasn’t definitive on the subject. They did say there was kidnapping
and pawning. A practice whereby an impoverish family give their children
to wealthy families to raise as their own. And should the blood parents
accumulate enough money they can buy their children back. "What
is in despicable," he said, "are the abuses."
I returned to my room. It was hot and sticky. During the most scorching
part of the day 12 noon to 3 pm, the generator is turned off. It comes
back on at 6 pm, at which time it is turned on by the City. Now, imagine
being in this desert city of mud, dirt, dust, stone and brick, in a
room without lights, refrigeration, A/C and water, for the hottest part
of the day, and you will have a hint at what we endured in Abecha. Even
with all of the amenities, there are still conditions that borders on
the primitive. The bed was lumpy and hard as a brick. Everything from
wall to floor was dirty and dusty. The shower was a spigot, which dripped
cold water some time. The toilet had modern fixtures but they were very
old and worked occasionally. The face bowl was equally old and also
inconsistent in its obligations. I reckoned it was not intended that
anyone would want to spend long hours in the room. The activities, such
as they were, were in the small courtyard. However, it was a busy place.
There always were people coming and going. There were high-level meetings.
It was rumored that President Deby would be joining the meetings. And
so we waited.
Well, at 5:30 pm, I approached Yahya. He said the governor would send
an escort to get us out of the city. It never happened. I was beginning
to have doubts that we would ever get what was necessary to get to the
refugee camp. We discussed our options. Yahya said he would call people
who had the ear of the government to inform them he could create an
international incident. If he didn’t hear, he would call the US
Ambassador and the UN. I posed another option. I would call the United
States and tell people I refuse to leave until I’d visited the
refugee camp. I am prepared to stay as long as it takes, even staying
in the bush. Initially Yahya rejected the idea. Then slowly saw the
potential for international attention. We left the subject agreeing
we would revisit it in the morning.
Later, as I walked the dusty streets in the cool of the evening outside
the hotel, I came to the conclusion; we should wait until 3 pm tomorrow
to hear from the governor. We should not call him. If we don’t
hear, we should move with our plan of having Yahya make his calls. Then
I would call home. But, as I thought more about it, we should do both,
simultaneously, Yahya makes his calls and I make mine.
It occurred to me the US Ambassador couldn’t do anything. He couldn’t
make the Chadian government let us visit the refugee camp neither could
the UN. So, the pressure has to come from elsewhere. I thought that
I could argue, after we had been provided visas by the Chadian government,
they refused to grant us opportunity to visit the refugee camp and an
opportunity to call more attention to the Darfurian crises. The price
I would have to pay would be a few days inconvenience. So, I began to
prepare myself for a longer stay in Chad. In my mind I had settled it.
I was mentally and spiritually ready to stay beyond Easter, which was
Sunday, March 23rd.
Oh, earlier, I had offered my negotiating skills to the rebels. They
politely refused. But they said if they couldn’t resolve matters
themselves they would ask for my assistance. Yahya was asked to help
mediate. I began to wonder if that was another reason God was keeping
us here. The Government is only a pawn in God’s plan. “Resistance,”
I had said to Yahya, “Is often a road toward achieving our highest
I retired to my room at 8 pm. It had been a disappointing day. I fell
asleep trying to keep the faith that everything would work out fine
and that everything was still in God’s hand.
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