23 February 2018

Ambiguous Belongings

(Credit: Sabah El Basha)

In skin color yes, I was an outsider.  I received endless stares, however they were never uncomfortable feeling, just a curiosity that they had about me and I about them.

The news only portrays Sudan as a malicious country steeped in war, my experience was about as far from this as one could imagine.  I was only treated like family.  The only barrier that existed between me and them was the color of my skin (and the fact that my exposure to everything Sudanese was relatively new).  I was in Sudan for ten short days, but eight months have passed since I visited and I relive parts of those ten days nearly every day.

I long for the hours that the heat hung in the afternoon making the weather perfect for napping.  I miss drinking tea with milk and sugar, or was it sugar with milk and tea? in the morning and evening and black tea during the day.  I miss the fierce, competitive games of Arba’a Tashar(a card game)…I must admit that I was scared to play at first in fear of losing a limb.  I miss how one hour rolls into the next – time is nonexistent other than the visible signs of the sun setting and rising…Rush – this word does not exist in Sudanese Arabic, however it is a difficult concept for a Westerner to grasp growing up in an overly time-conscious, watch checking society.

And the weddings, 500 people small.  “Do we know these people who are getting married?” My friends scoffed at my question and answered, “No, do we have to?”  I thought only Owen Wilson crashed weddings, in Sudan, he’s probably the only person that has not crashed a wedding.  Most of all, I miss the way in which there is no sense of personal space, no item belonging to the individual – another foreign concept for an American to grasp.  Individuality is the cornerstone of our own society.  Individuals look after one another, really look after one another.  Your chores become their duties without ever asking or feeling burdensome to the other individual…after nearly two years of being exposed to the Sudanese community, this concept still leaves me dumbfounded.  I see Americans struggling daily, never expecting help from family members who have the means to assist them, being embarrassed even to ask for help from their own family. It is a sad day when the world forgets to help even their own blood.

By no means is Sudan perfect, but Sudanese at least have this right; look after one another, treat your friends like your family – feed them and shelter them.  If it is within your means to decrease the burdens of another individual, especially if it is your family, then you must do so. The world would be a better place if more societies adopted this approach towards family members and friends.

2 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply to Kelley Dawkins Cancel reply

  • Kelley Dawkins
    27 August 2012 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Beautiful words. If everyone could feel this way about each other, there would be much, much less sadness. What a wonderful experience.

  • T Plez
    7 September 2012 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    Tears well up in my eyes as I read this. This is the Sudan I never visited yet came to know through the Sudanese people I’ve met in Malaysia, whether Northerners or Southerners (how I hate to mention any difference). Is it something in the water? What makes their hearts so big? May God bless Sudan with “true development”, not simply mimicry of the West and continued reverence for that which is unique and beautiful in Sudanese culture.

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