Journal of the People’s Pastor

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


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

Monday, December 10, 2007

I had another exhilarating ritual. I spent an hour doing my exercise. There was a slight chill in the air, which gave me a feeling of invigoration. The sun, reddish-orange, was only half up when I saw the appearance through the trees.

They were stirring in the police academy and military camp, which surrounds the ground where I do my exercise. They gathered around a pump (in certain places they are still pumping water.) I was able to figure out by the uniforms which were police and which military. The police had blue uniforms and soldiers had green camouflage apparel.

For breakfast, I ate an egg made like an omelette. It is my last day; I thought I would live dangerously and sample this animal product. I sat with a man named Mr. A., a member of the Revolutionary Council. He is a short, black man with a round face. He talked incessantly, constantly laughing as he talked. He said that the leadership Council still had not finalized unity. They had been up till 4am. They just fell out and started back again around 7am. The UN representatives are coming to meet with them later. He thanked me again for my presentation, “You really help us,” he said. “We are going to be united. We have too. We used to fight each other, but now we are united. Bashir has got to go,” he said. “He, Bashir, has done nothing for the people. Here in the South there is nothing done. This hotel, waving his hands taking in the hotel, was built after the C.P.A. in 2005. There are people in the South who walk around unclothed. There are no roads, no electricity, nothing.”

He was waxing more animated as he talked. “Bashir is bad for Sudan. We have got to get rid of him.” As we were talking, UN representatives arrived, three (3) white men. Some of the leadership met them and they went to a meeting place within our view. “You aren’t going to the meeting?” I asked. “No, there is a committee assigned to that purpose.” I learned that they had broken down into committees – a committee was meeting upstairs, another committee was meeting in a distant hotel.

They did not meet long, as these meeting usually go, maybe 45 minutes to an hour. As they came forth from the confab, Mr. A. went to meet them. After a while he returned. “What happened?” I asked. “Ah, they want us to agree to negotiate – what for? Bashir has broken every agreement. They need to go to him and tell him to negotiate. He needs to hand over the keys. He is finished. There are powerful groups with us and ready to move. He needs to hand over the keys and go away. Save us bloodshed, and save himself. In three months he will be gone.” “But what about the Arabs, want they help?” I asked. Shaking his head, he said, “They will just talk, maybe send him some money, but no troops.” Looking towards the balcony where some Arabs leaders were walking, Mr. A. pointed to them, “They used to kill us. But now they are with us, we want unity.”

I recalled when we were at the Church waiting on President Kiir to arrive. A young brother said to us nodding his head toward Yahya, “They used to kill us, but we forgave them.” He meant that the Darfurians had been in the army of Bashir, when he invaded the South. For twenty three years they fought, until 2005 when the C.P.A. was agreed to. I marveled at their willingness to forgive the people who had killed their people and committed unspeakable atrocities. I thought to myself, it is a lesson we need to learn in the USA. There are times when you need to bury the hatchet in the interest of unity. Implied, of course, unity will advance the cause of our people.

Mr. A. pointed to a short, small black man who was headed toward us, that’s General M. He is a powerful man. He and his people are with us. General M. came over to us. Mr. A. introduced us. The General commenced talking, “We are neighbors.” (Meaning our rooms was next to each other.) “But, we have not communicated. Your speech last night really helped us. It opened our eyes. You have made an impact on us. We thank you very much.” I asked if they would be willing to talk on the video. They agreed. Sharon recorded a very informative and interesting conversation.

As we made ready to depart, the leaders who were still around said goodbye to me with embraces, handshakes and promises that they would complete the unity. Yahya, who had been in a meeting in a distant place, arrived with transportation for the airport. Some of the leaders walked to the car with us. All around the courtyard people were smiling and waving goodbye.

It had been hinted to me, would I be interested in staying longer. Even though I had pressing obligations back home and in Georgia and abroad, if I were pressed to stay, I would do so. It had been a delightful, informative, productive five days. The hotel was comfortable. The food was good. And the people were exceptionally friendly. And the cause was right.

Riding across the rugged road to the airport (these were the worse we had been on.) Yahya said, “The Sudanese messed up these roads during the war.” I didn’t ask how and why. I was more concerned with getting to the airport on time. The flight was scheduled to leave at 4:15pm. It was now 3:45pm. We were turning, twisting and bouncing as the driver slowly tried to navigate the treacherous roads. I really thought we would not make it on time.

Equally, I was concerned to know the progress that had been made on unity. “What happened? How are things going?” I asked. “Oh, we’re unified. It is the Arabs, they want certain things.” “What do they want?” I asked. “They want certain top positions.” After that we rode in silence. I wondered to myself, what I would offer if I were a member of the Revolutionary Council. Surely, not what they wanted. Yet, they had to have something, maybe the creation of a #3 or #4 spot.

We arrived at the airport in time – in fact, plenty of time. The plane didn’t leave until 5:30pm. We had a chance to view and experience the airport from the locals and ordinary visitors’ standpoint. The airport was small, dirty and debris saturated. While we waited in the waiting room, Yahya took care of everything. When he had completed the task, he fetched us from the waiting room to the VIP lounge. The difference was like night and day.

While in the VIP lounge, we met the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Deng Akol. He is a tall, imposing black man. President Kiir had recalled the former Foreign Affairs Minister, because among other things, disloyalty. It added to the tension. Initially, President Bashir had refused. He eventually relented. A couple of people came over to us, introduced themselves and thanked me for my speech on Sunday. They said they were at the church. Yahya said my speech had reached Khartoum.
There was plenty of room on the plane. Looking out of the window, we could see the brown and red ground of Sudan turn into the lush green of Uganda. We landed at Entebbe at 6pm. After picking up more passengers, we arrived in Addis Ababa at 11:30pm.

Amin, our driver and guide, was waiting for us. We checked in the Hilton Hotel. Our journey to Juba was completed. I tried to stay awake long enough to make diary entries. I failed. Sleep conquered.
I fell asleep with the sounds, fragrances and images of Africa playing across the screen of my mind.
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.

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