17 January 2018

Sudanese expats going home

Sudanese expats in Qatar (Photo: Sara Hassan/Al Jazeera)

It’s tough being an expat, it takes a lot; living abroad, struggling to make that money, working hard day and night, being over worked, and occasionally subjected to racist incidents. Yes, I’m talking about that 90-year-old white lady in the bus, who held on to her bag as soon as she saw me get on as if it was an endangered species.

Feeling like you are in exile, you hear about what’s happening back home in Sudan and you miss it. You hear about the good news and celebrations. You also hear the sad news, and wish you were there to help, but instead you settle for giving moral support and occasionally sending money back home.

Throughout your stay abroad, you know that people are counting the days and months you have been abroad, they somehow also know exactly how much you make per month, and if they don’t, they assume that your monthly salary is the equivalent of Sudan’s annual GDP. The thing is, even if they don’t make any of these assumptions, you think that they do, and it worries you. It’s all in your head. Or is it?

So anyways, you get that annual leave, which in order to get approved you have to win a bare knuckle fight against a grizzly bear. You pack up and go back to Sudan, emptying your bank account in the process just to buy gifts for everyone, you also buy new things for yourself so that you look like a successful expat, and so that people refer to you as ya mudeer. When you eventually get to Sudan, you have a great, but also exhausting, time only achieving 10% of what you set out to do during your holiday.

During the holiday you have a great time and you are inadvertently the shining star, everyone and all the fun and cool activities were happening around you. So you convince yourself that this is how life is back home all the time. This temporary holiday state of mind makes you forget that when you were back in Sudan, you only ran into these people accidentally on occasions. You also realize the sad truth that a bunch of your university class mates have not had the opportunity to work a single day since graduation and have applied literally everywhere, and used every single connection available – including your cousins’ neighbors’ nephew’s school mate’s father who might be able to help.

So by the end you are sad for leaving everything and everyone behind, but you have to be thankful for the life you are living and you have to realize that you are blessed.

2 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Reem Gaafar
    5 August 2012 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    This reminds me of the ‘good old days’, especially the part about emptying your bank account just to buy gifts! However, having lived both experiences and finally deciding to come back to Sudan, I have to say that coming home isn’t so bad, it just depends on what you’re expecting. Especially when living in the Gulf there’s always the issue of having to worry about whether or not your contract will be renewed, or if you piss a local off or whatever, which means that you will be back home in a flash. You can’t do anything unless you ‘get permission’, not even a driver’s license. No matter how hard you work you can never keep up with your peers, you will never be on the same promotion line with them, you will never compete over senior posts. You will always be an expat, which is effectively a second-class citizen. Someone who is expendable. Its probably different outside the Gulf, but not much. There are many advantages to living abroad, but there are also advantages that can never be found outside Sudan. I think people have to see for themselves instead of judging that ‘anywhere is better than here’ and trying the impossible to get out.
    Thank you for this post, I’m sure it will resonate quite deeply with many people.

  • Dalia
    17 August 2012 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post. As someone who’s worked in Sudan and in the Gulf, I can tell you working in Sudan was a very positive experience. Socially it was wonderful to network and form relationships with colleagues. The camaraderie and feeling of belonging was really gratifying. Everyone knows you need these “ma3arif” to get stuff done in Sudan.

    You get more opportunities for training, promotion etc then as an expat in the Gulf. All my peers have went on to senior positions in Sudan, while here I am stuck in the same middle management position. Not to mention being treated as a second class citizen…don’t get me started on that…

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