17 January 2018

MY SUDANESE EXPERIENCE: My return, my experience

Returning to Sudan usually takes one into a world of emotions,experiences and is a road best traveled with an open mind and soul, as Zahir tells us. 

(Translated from Arabic)

(Photo: Sudan Travelogue by frockland)

Coming back to live in Sudan is a bittersweet experience. I, like many, lived abroad in an Arab country and once I returned, have been through a unique experience; of reintegrating into a slightly disconcerting society.

We come back alone to embark on our university studies and our parents remain behind, hoping we’ll adapt quickly, study hard, graduate and make them proud at the end of it all. We’re sent back to be among our relatives and “get to know” our country, but somehow this country makes us seem even more alienated at the door of our journey.

We struggle to adapt, to fit in, but it’s difficult when people are choosing to highlight your differences from the start. The first question we come across is: “have you studied abroad?”, and you innocently and matter-of-factly answer “yes” not knowing the implications of this. Even the rickshaw driver would trick you into this question, randomly commenting that he has never seen you in the neighborhood before. Woe to you if you answer “yes, I’m new here”, as the torrent of “what brought you here?” could hardly be avoided.

I’ve also noticed our treatment is different in most university campuses. Our fees are different; more expensive than Sudanese certificate students’ fees. One day in a lecture the professor asked who graduated from abroad, after spotting us and giving us a meaningful look, he noted – with exasperation, that we’ll be exhausting. This is a notion shared by many, whose first thoughts when encountering us seem to be that we’re all brats, bourgeois and lazy – highly prejudiced of course.

When I first came here, without my family, I tried to get used to the Sudanese way of living, the busy social life and exhausting rhythm. Both parents would call me asking me to pay my respects to this family or those friends and I’d oblige with an “Insh’Allah”. You could say I was hungry for this new experience.

I learned the ins and outs of public transportation, the different neighborhoods and roads in our capital, but I have had my share of getting lost. Many an embarrassing “where are we now?” questions to the bus conductor, I have finally mastered the roads and routes.

Housework was a recurring nightmare, laundry and cooking my meals were especially scary tasks at first. Budgeting was even worse, but I have learned and I have managed well. These fears, the collective experience and the various people I came across in the Sudanese community – both good and bad – have shaped my perception.

The beautiful expressions and various dialects were awe inspiring; I think I learned a new linguistic gem each and every day. I was also introduced to Sudanese history, something that was lacking in my life abroad. I have my grandfather and our sunset tea sessions to thank for that. I enjoyed listening to his simple story-telling manner, but I also learned from a class called “Sudanese Studies”.

When I reflect on my life abroad, I remember how genuinely keen my family was to educate me about Sudan, but my Sudanese experience was only fulfilled when I returned and lived it through and through. Life here is exciting, you learn and come to own a tirade of memories. In Sudan, you’ll feel a unique sense of security and belonging – despite initial doubts – in a place where everyone is Sudanese like you. Returning is something everyone is bound to do, no matter where life takes them temporarily.

4 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply to Ali Alnow Cancel reply

  • Shareef Mulla
    11 November 2012 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Nice one brother Zahir Mustafa. As u know i lived most my life inside Sudan, but still i find it confusing, its like” hot pepper” hot but delicious!!!. But the bright side of living in Sudan is that after living inside Sudan u r able to live everywhere comfortably.

  • Ali Alnow
    13 November 2012 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    This is an amazing article Zahir .. You already know that we share the same thing 😉

  • Rogers
    13 November 2012 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    my friend that is quite an interesting story to share here ,,,,cool bro i just wont to tell you that those stories and memories are the pieces that make part of our personalities in the future its about how we understand and what is the use we get from it .

  • lola alfadl
    21 January 2013 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    I loved this topic a lot actually , being out of Sudan for long time make feel every word you said , though I didn’t got there since I first left it 13 years ago !!
    But actually a lot of my friends who were here in this country and left, had suffered from the same things you went through starting from hearing the usual words” shahada 3rabia ” !!
    And it is not a secret that no matter what happened there it is just a matter of time till people adapt and become a part of the community !
    I love Sudan very much , and have fun cause it’s not like any place here in the world !!

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