Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

PART X: DARFUR DIARY – MY JOURNEY TO JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN


Friday, December 7, 2007

I had a good night sleep. I was up at 5:30am. I started my morning ritual at 6:15am. It was still dark outside. Then, as I was into my exercise, the sun appeared – a brilliant orange/red, an awesome sight. My ritual lasted 1 hour and 17minutes.

At the breakfast table, Mr. D. joined us. We continued where we left off the night before. He still talked passionately about Sudan as the vanguard nation, leading other African nations to consciousness and true freedom. We discussed ownership of oil wells and other resources. He said, “There should be a fair negotiated settlement which takes into account all that the foreign countries have already reaped and the imperative for the resources to be used to rebuild Sudan. There should be ampler opportunities for foreign nations to invest, but the ownership should be in the countries that are blessed to have the resources within its boundaries.”

We returned to the subject of Darfur. Again, he emphasized the importance of unity and having a coalition. We were joined by a South African male and female. The male, a doctor, had been active in the anti-apartheid movement. We knew many of the same people.

Our first stop for the day was the Parliament. It was a simple two-story building. Inside was bare and clean. There were offices along the corridors with titles and names, i.e. chairman so and so. We were guided into a typical hearing room, where the forum would be held. Mr. D. met us and introduced us to the members of the panel. Only about 30 people sat in the audience. There was no printed program.

I was asked to do the invocation. Then the four panelists spoke. Fighting sleep, I couldn’t follow their speeches, plus they spoke softly and with heavy accents. All together they wore me down. I managed to stay awake by writing notes on my lecture that I would deliver to the Darfurian leadership.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by the monument dedicated to John Garange. It wasn’t imposing, but what would one expect. It was just a corridor with white columns along each side. In the center was a crypt with his picture on the side. We paused for a moment. I did a brief recounting of the life and time of John Garange for our filming.

Some where between leaving the Parliament and arriving at the hotel, I asked Yahya to elaborate further on the USA’s involvement in Sudan. He said the USA’s leadership was working hard to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Why it was so important for the USA, I didn’t ask. Later, I regretted that I did not do so.
After we returned to the hotel, around 5pm, Mr. T., with four other persons, came by to see us. Mr. T. and I became very friendly on my first visit to Chad. He was a leader in the Justice Equality Movement (J.E.M.). Subsequently, he broke with JEM and started his own organization. He was very disturbed that he had not been informed of my visit. He said he didn’t know I was here. He learned it from a casual conversation. He was very excited to see me. He said he had another appointment and had to leave soon, but he wanted to come back and explain the position of the five organizations, including his own, which did not sign the Unity Agreement. As before stated, there were 17 Darfurian organizations at the meeting in Juba. Twelve were in agreement and renamed themselves the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army. It was the original name under which all the resistance efforts were gathered. Later, they began to splinter, till they reached the present number of 17. Mr. T. said the five had formed a coalition named the United Resistance Movement (URF). The main reason that they could not agree at that time was because they had to report back to their people. Once they had done that, they would make their decision. It should be done within a couple of weeks.

As Mr. T. was explaining his position, Yahya appeared. He seemed surprised to see us together. Mr. T. wanted to know why he was not informed that I was in the country. Yahya explained he had been very busy day and night. The two men rehearsed their differences with me, of which I do not think would be wise for me to discuss in this article. They both agreed they were not enemies. They were still united in their quest for freedom. The two men departed together.

At 9:30pm, Sharon and Yahya came to my room. We talked till 11:15pm. Much of what we discussed must be kept private. Yahya rehearsed the history of his involvement in the movement. He said, “When we were younger, we could see no difference. The government told us we were all the same. The Arabs were the minority and they controlled everything. But, they said, everything was alright. When we went to college, our observations and questions became more intense and the government less believable. So, we organized protests. My bother was killed as he challenged the government. And I had to leave the country.” His family, who has huge holdings in Sudan, has been and is being harassed. Hence, that’s how the resistance movement began.

All during our conversation, Yahya was seated slumped in a black chair in the small sitting area in my suite. At times, his eyes seemed to close. His head was in his hands most of the time. It was obvious, he was a tired man. Finally, he said, “When I leave here I will stop by Mr. D’s room. Then I will return to the discussion with the Darfurian leaders. We will probably be at it all night.” I said, “Well, I guess that’s it. Take care. I’ll see you tomorrow. Oh, by the way, did you hear from the President?” “No, I will check on it tomorrow,” he said. Laboriously, he arose from his seat. Slowly he walked out of the glass doors to resume history in the African night.

I returned to bed pondering the meaning of this moment. I understood why Mr. D was so confident about Sudan being the epicenter of Africa. There is a plan for Sudan. Again, I wondered what role I would play in all of this.
I thought about a very interesting development early in the day. As Sharon and I stood in the courtyard of the hotel, two women approached us. One was motioning to her body and saying something about prayer. We beckoned an interpreter to help us. He said, “She wants you to pray for her. She is pregnant. She has already lost two sons. She wants you to come to her room and pray for her and her husband.” Surprised and humble, I looked at Sharon with questions written across my face, but at the same time moving with the women toward her room. As we were walking away, a man approached Sharon. He wanted something Sharon had promised him. She said, “When we return.”

We went to the woman’s room. Her husband was lying across the bed. She told him I was a priest and we had come to pray for them. He immediately arose. We joined hands. I prayed and laid hands on them. They were profuse in their gratitude. When we returned to our starting point, Sharon went into her room and returned with a bottle of Pepto Bismol, which she gave to the man. He kept shaking his head and saying, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I turned to Sharon and asked, “Well, what does it all mean? Here we are in the midst of powerful people, deep in intrigue and planning. It may be, the future of Africa, and maybe the Continent, indeed, maybe the world, hangs in the balance and we have been approached to provide healing at a profoundly personal level – to address individual needs in different places, to different nationalities and to different religions.

First a white woman on the plane, as we traveled from Addis Ababa to Juba. We prayed for her and Sharon gave her money. But before, even when we were in distress regarding our inability to get on the plane, we comforted and helped and Indian man. He too was denied entrance on the plane, something about his VISA being copied. Even after we had helped to solve his problem and were on the plane, he found Sharon to ask her for assistance with the telephone.

Now, we were in Juba at our hotel minding our business, and people came to us for help. In addition to what I have already mentioned, she (Sharon) gave the South African sister, who had become ill, her malaria pills.
I wondered what it all meant. Was God sending us a message, confirming or validating our 50 years of ministry, that there should be no compartmentalization in our ministry or in the gospel we preach? Was God confirming that He had called me to preach the good news of His love through Jesus Christ – good news which addresses nations, institutions, systems and individuals whoever they are and wherever they are?

To be continued…

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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.

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 sub prime lending.

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