Saturday, December 8, 2007
After an hour workout, I went to breakfast. I was disappointed. We had
purchased watermelon, ate half yesterday, and we were looking forward
to finishing it for breakfast. The watermelon was put in the freezer,
it was frozen stiff. I settled on chopped pineapples, came to my room
and continued eating nuts, dried raisins and cranberries; I called them
my survival edibles.
After lunch, I ate soup and cooked veggies. We decided to ask our driver
to take us sightseeing. It was 4:00pm when we set out for the Nile River.
We arrived 30 minutes later. It wasn’t that it is that far from
the hotel, it is the roads. There is one paved road, about 500 yards
long that ends at the Nile River. As I have discussed before, the roads
are unbelievably bad. What adds to the amazement is that we take paved
roads for granted in the USA. Then, to find yourself in a country where
a paved road is a luxury is hard to digest. There are only three (3)
roads that they were working on. I’ve already described them in
You really have to be here to see it. Although the roads and sidewalks
are very difficult to navigate, there are still lots of vehicles and
people moving about. In time, they will make smooth roads. We were told
that the vehicles have substantially increased since 2005. All across
the open spaces, in what appears to be unorganized arrangements, are
tents, shanties made of straw and mud. There are some stone and brick
houses. Even some of the hotels are made of tents. Everything, café,
restaurants, grocery stores, seemed old and/or dilapidated or falling
down. Garbage seem to be everywhere, however, the University of Juba
was the most imposing structure. Perhaps that is as it ought to be.
It shows the high regards for education. There were no tall buildings.
The school was surrounded by a colorful brown and white stone wall about
five (5) feet high. There were other fairly well constructed buildings
– churches, mosques, schools and hotels.
When we reached the Nile River, its appearance seemed appropriate for
this time and place. It was like a snake, long and twisting, but narrows
at its width. It too seemed old, dirty and polluted.
We rode further up the road, got to a bridge which was broken; only
one lane could be used. It discouraged us from crossing to the other
side. There at the River bank, people washed clothes and themselves,
planted gardens, built huts, lived and died, and the mighty Nile rolled
on. It reminded me of the Ganges River in India. One of the cities I
visited while in India was Calcutta. Some people call it the low point
of human suffering. I went down to the Ganges River. By the side of
the River was a crematory, or the place where dead human bodies were
burned. They would bring the corpses borne on a makeshift bed of sticks
and twigs. There was a line of people coming to the place of cremation.
Having arrived and having located a place, they would put the corpse
on top of a mount of wood, set fire to the wood, stand and/or sit and
watched the bodies burn. The sight, smell and feeling will forever be
etched in my memory. And then, looking out from the crematory was the
Ganges River. Along the River, people prayed, washed clothes, bathed,
ate, played and answered the call of nature.
We departed the Nile River and headed for the mountains. There seemed
to be one mountain range. It is not huge as mountains go. It’s
one unique feature that I could see. Its huge rocks and/or boulders
seemed to be stuck on the side of the mountain. It seems that they were
ready to slide down at anytime. Needless to say, we didn’t spend
a lot of time viewing the mountain and its surrounding. After a brief
stay, we headed back to the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel, we
were joined by Yahya. He had been in meetings through the night and
day. He said, he is afraid to go to sleep. He might miss something.
I asked him, how was it going? “They haven’t moved an inch,”
he said. Slumping down and shaking his head, I tried to encourage him.
I said, “But its all worthwhile. Your life is devoted to a great
cause. If you can help to save Darfur, perhaps, you can help to save
Sudan, and who knows, maybe save Africa.” He nodded, seemingly,
glad for the encouragement.
He said there are 23 tribes. They have divided the structure into 19
sectaries and a 15 member revolutionary council. The challenge is how
to get representation from the 23 tribes into positions that are satisfactorily
He did have good news. President Silva Kirr will see us tomorrow at
11:00am at the Cathedral. He said, he, the President, is under a lot
of pressure. Even the newspapers are criticizing him for the interest
he is showing Darfur. It is infuriating Khartoum. Also, Yahya said,
sadly shaking his head, fighting is going on in Abeche. The rebels are
in Chad, probably with the support of Khartoum. They are trying to overthrow
President Debby. [Several weeks ago, the rebels succeeded in reaching
the capital of Chad, N’djamena, creating more tension and suffering
in the region. At this writing, it seems that President Debby has regained
control.] Yahya went on to say, what we do in Darfur will send a message
across Africa, Arab expansionism is over.
We arose, shook hands. We agreed to meet at 9:30am tomorrow. In my room,
I continued to think about the importance of the activities here in
this shamefully underdeveloped land. I wondered, in these long intense
deliberations, what is the driving force? Is it a personal agenda, or
are the people’s agenda put first? Also, images of the days travel
stayed on my mind. The primitive stage of the people’s development
caused me to bounce between sadness and anger. In this land, so rich
with resources and so underdeveloped, first I was angry. My anger was
directed toward Europeans, Arabs and all who have exploited Africa’s
resources to build their own countries. How heartless and cruel to take
so much and give back so little, almost nothing. Then, my wrath was
turned toward the African leaders. How could they allow this to happen
– to let their countries be exploited and get back so little?
How could a leader agree to such a thing? Earlier I discussed how some
of the oil fields are split up. China gets 40%, Malaysia 30%, India
25% and Sudan 5%. How could a leader agree to such a thing? All that
wealth being taken out of the country, building up other people’s
countries, while their own people live in the most deplorable conditions.
But, then that line of thinking was cut short when I remembered who
got the mightiest army. Leaders are sometimes forced to do the bidding
of powerful nations, even against their will. For they know, if the
army isn’t let loose upon them, the market places of the world
will be closed to them. So, my anger towards African leaders subsided
and gave way to sadness.
It was now 11:30pm and I turned my attention toward the meeting tomorrow
with President Kirr. What do I want from this meeting other than photos?
What should be my approach? What questions should I ask? I began making
notes. I finished at 1:30am.
To be continued…
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community
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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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