Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

Part V: Darfur Diary – My Journey to Juba


Tuesday, December 4, 2007 –

On Tuesday, December 4, 2007, I worked intermittently through the night and until 6:30 in the morning catching up on my diary notes. At 7:30, I went for a walk, which lasted for 1⁄2 hour.

The asphalt-paved streets were crowded with old smoke-spewing vehicles. There were blue and white taxis and jitney buses everywhere – just like in Brooklyn and maybe a thousand other places or cities. All the vehicles were crowded with human beings. The fumes and dust were so bad, I was forced to cut short my walk. (I learned later that pollution is a major problem in Addis.) But, it was not just the pollution; it was the filthy, broken sidewalks. The street sleepers were awakening from their slumber. Some were crawling from beneath the paper cardboard boxes and dirty rages. There were deformed babies with their hands out for charity. The old, bent-over men and women clad in dirty clothing, barely able to move, all of it caused me sadness and drove me back to the hotel earlier than I had desired.

There were attempts at cleanliness. Store merchants were sweeping in front of their little stores – one merchant was even mopping the sidewalk. There was orange-colored clad, big straw-hat wearing street cleaners. These were the municipal workers, I was told, subsequently. There were window cleaners. And there was long stretches of clean, paved streets and sidewalks.

There was energy in the movement of the bustling crowd. Uniformed schoolchildren with book bags, suit and tied men and women with attaché cases and or papers or books under their arms, swiftly moved through the streets.
The countless little stores that lined the streets were getting ready for business. There were fruit and veggie stores, a furniture store with furniture as big as the store. There were barbershops and salons, cafés, restaurants and bars. Down every unpaved street that fed into the four-lane street was saturated with little stores. Then on the sidewalk were vendors. I wondered, in most Arab/African countries where everybody seems to be selling something, who is doing the buying? I passed the federal prison, nothing compared to US prisons. It was an old two story, sprawling complex of buildings. There were walls 10 to 12 feet high and a lone rifle-bearing guard standing at the entrance to the prison. I walked by a fire and service building and yard. There were at least four fire engines waiting in the yard. There was a small clinic was adjacent to where people slept on the sidewalk. There were polishers of shoes, oddly, they seemed to be doing a striving business.

I came to a statue of Menelik II. Near the statue is the St. George Church, which houses one of the Arch’s of the Covenant. When Menelik defeated the Italians in 1896, in the Battle of Atwa, he promised he would rebuild the church. (It reminded me of Constantine who claimed to have seen a cross in the sky, assuring him victory over Maximus. After he was successful in the war, he made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire in 313 A.D.
Menelik I, has an interesting story according to our guide. There is a legend that says, when the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon, he wanted her to sleep with him. She first refused then changed her mind on condition of secrecy. Solomon had a condition too. She could not touch any of his property. Late at night, after eating spicy foods, the Queen was thirsty. Seeing a jar of water beside the bed of Solomon, she took a drink of the water. Solomon awoke in time to catch her. She had broken her promise. After making love, Solomon published the act.
After Menelik I was born, he decided, against the wishes of Solomon, to return to Ethiopia. Solomon, broken hearted, required all of his noble men to send their first born to Ethiopia, so that he would not suffer alone. Among the first born of the noble men was the keeper of the Arch. He took the Arch with him. That is how the Arch came to Ethiopia. The original is in Axum. There are copies in other churches.

Returning to the hotel, I went to eat, more from habit than from hunger. My walk had invigorated me physically, but mentally and emotionally, I was still haunted by some of the things that I seen.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were buffet. Eggs scrambled and fried potatoes and bread that looked like a brown napkin and various kinds of meats constituted the buffet. I settled only for two glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice.

After breakfast, good news, we were informed we would not have to go to the Juba Mission as we were told last evening, but everything had been taken care of by the Juba officials. All we needed to do was go to the airport. We decided that we would spend the day site seeing.

Before we departed, we learned in a telephone conversation with Yahya that Condoleezza Rice and President Salva Kiir would be meeting in Addis Ababa. I asked him to set up a meeting for me with Salva Kiir. I thought about it, and later called him back to cancel the idea. It occurred to me, it would be too pushy and inconsiderate of me to ask for a meeting, even a photo opt, when Salva Kiir has grave issues and/or business before him. Then I would be in Juba anyway. I could see him there.

To be continued…

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.

The Timbuktu Learning Center presents A Community Forum on Mortgage Foreclosures, Predatory Lending Debt Restructuring, Thursday, January 10, 2008, at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

On Thursday, January 31, 2008, at 7pm, The Brotherhood Department of the House of the Lord Church, during the Timbuktu Learning Center’s Thursday Night Community Forum, will sponsor The Screening of a Documentary entitled “Another Look at Egypt,” presented by Professor Clinton Crawford of Medgar Evers College.

Attend a Rally of Support for the Sean Bell Family, on Sunday, February 3, 2008, 5pm at the House of the Lord Church. We will also be mobilizing for the upcoming trail starting February 4th.

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 @ www.holnj.org.

For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.