Journal of the People’s Pastor

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

DARFUR DIARY

Part XII: Darfur Diary – My Journey to Juba, South Sudan



Sunday, December 9, 2007

I had a good hour and 12 minute workout. It was a delightful morning. A slight breeze was blowing, and the sun was in a full reddish-gold color. About 7:00am, we had breakfast. Again, I dined on pineapples and my survival edibles. Yahya came by the hotel to pick us up at 9:30am. He said the Darfurian leaders have moved to this hotel. We can meet with them tonight.

Across the rocky roads we traveled, through very small villages or compounds where huts were made of straw and mud, surrounded by fences made of stalks, till we reach the Cathedral. It was a large church, as sizes go in Juba. There were groups of people clustered across the churchyard. They seemed to be holding meetings. It was 10:45am. The President was expected at 11:00am. We were guided to a waiting room. Again, the building was made of stone and looked ancient. The President arrived at 11:00am. He entered with his entourage; we greeted each other and had our talk.

Then we headed to the church. I was told the President wanted me to speak. For all of its size, it was a simple church. People dressed as improvised people everywhere, but whatever constituted their best, they had it on. It reminded me of Sunday churchgoing time in Black America, especially in the South. Whatever you deemed your finest apparel, you wore that to church. Going to church wasn’t just going to church, it was a HAPPENING. It was the event of the week.

I was struck by the picture of a white Mary with little black boys and girls at her feet on both sides of the church. There was a fixture of Jesus on the cross, yes, he was European. I wondered what impact these white figures were having on the children. My mind went back to Ethiopia and the white pictures in the church carved out of a mountain. Such creative genius and then to have artwork depicting God made in the image of other people – people who have enslaved, colonized and exploited your land and your people is difficult to comprehend.

When the ceremony ended, I was invited to come to the podium to speak. I asked my daughter, Sharon, to stand with me. In my presentation, I expanded upon the message that the Priest had given. He had spoke of Jesus Christ as Savior and the expression of God’s love. Therefore, he said, we ought to love each other, treat your brother and sister right. Raise our families to serve God. I said, I agree with all that the Priest has said, however, I would want to add that God is concerned about our total being. In the Bible, God is pictured as concerned about the poor, the oppressed, the exploited, and the sick. Jesus said, [here I quoted the scripture from memory], “The Sprit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…”

I continued quoting the scripture from memory, “The earth is the Lord and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell within.” I emphasized that the world and its resources do not belong to any one group of people. But God want all of his children to enjoy the fruit of His hand. There is enough in the world for everybody. Unfortunately, there are those who come from distant lands and take the resources out of countries that do not belong to them. They leave the people poor, sick and underdeveloped while they take the riches to their own lands, which enable their people to live in prosperity. I commended President Silva Kirr for his leadership. I called to mind the great John Garange. I said that President Silva Kirr should consider being the leader of marginalized people in other parts of the world.

The response to my speech was gratifying. In a customary Roman Catholic worship where emotions are seldom shown, here I was given ovations and verbal responses and as I went to my seat there was those standing and applauding.

After the worship, we, President Silva Kirr, Yahya, Sharon and I, stood outside the church, shaking hands. Mr. Kirr said to me, “That was a great speech.” I replied, “Thank you. I have some more ideas I would like to share with you.” “Yes, that would require more time,” he said. “I will be waiting to hear from you,” I said. While we were still outside, I met a white man named Reeves; he heads the US Information Department. He said he is married to a black woman from Brooklyn, who is an activist from the sixties.

We returned to the hotel for lunch. I had cooked veggies again. I was told the Darfurian leadership is about to meet. They wanted me to come speak to them. Inside the conference room, on the second floor of the hotel, were gathered the 15 members of the Revolutionary Council. We were given permission to film the session. Sharon performed the task. After introductions, each one of the leaders introduced himself and added relevant information. The leader of the Council said, “We welcome you. We thank you very much for all that you have done for us.” Then I was invited to respond. With Yahya interpreting in Arabic, I said, I bring you the love and support of the people of African Ancestry in the USA. We are deeply concerned about what is happening to you. They believe we are one people. We bleed when you bleed, we cry when you cry, we lose when you lose and we win when you win.
Earlier you all stated your names, my name is Herbert Daughtry. But that really isn’t my name; I really don’t know my name. The slave masters who took my ancestors from this great country, Africa, made certain that they would be cut off from the past. For they knew that a people with no link to the past would never achieve their greatness. They would be a drifting people, vulnerable to other people’s subjugation.

I went on to say how the old “divide and conquer” rule had been applied in Africa. I talked about how the Pope divided Africa among the Europeans, told them not to fight among themselves; there was enough in Africa for all of them. So Europeans set about conquering, enslaving, colonizing Africa. They were able to do this by employing tactics which constantly kept Africans fighting each other. Look at Africa today, I reminded them. Look who is fighting whom. Look at the way Africa has been divided up. Look at who really control the resources of Africa. I concluded by telling them respectfully, that what they do here in Juba is so important. It may be that not only Darfur, but Sudan and beyond, hangs in the balance. Then I employed language that I had used when we organized the National Black United Front, probably the most diverse group of leaders of African Ancestry ever who attempted to unite under one banner. I said you should commit yourselves to stay in the room until you come out united.

When it was over, they sat in stunned silence. Then, each one taking turn began to express his gratitude for my presence and presentation. At the close of the meeting, as I made ready to depart, they came forward embracing me and thanking me. One young leader, asked me to be his father. I thought about the first trip that I made to Chad; one of the commanders of the Army asked me if I would be his uncle. On all of my trips to Africa, I have been addressed as father, which causes me, on the one side deep appreciation and humility, on the other side it carries the meaning of being old, in the American society that is not viewed as a state of being which one should desire. But, in African culture, the aged is venerated. So again, I am humbled and profoundly grateful that I would be viewed from that perspective.

We continued to talk to some of the leaders during dinner. One leader said to me, “When I heard you speak, I wanted to cry. But, men aren’t supposed to cry around other men.” On our way to our room, Sharon said to them, “We are praying for you that you might have an agreement by morning. And please knock on my father’s and my door and let us know.”

I prepared a press release and finished my diary for the day. The last digits on the clock I remembered before falling asleep said 11:30pm.

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.

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.

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.