30 April 2017

MY SUDANESE EXPERIENCE: Sudan, To Me

Mothers Love for Sudan (Art by: Joi Wilson) / 1beautyofislam.blogspot.com

Sudan, from the eyes and sensibilities of Ielaf Khalil. 

Sudan to me is family: It’s aunts and uncles and cousins. It’s relatives whose connection to me I can only understand if I write it down. It’s the exciting but scary rides in a raksha. It’s the fruit and vegetable vendor telling me stories of when I was little. It’s the weddings and the henna and the dancing. It’s Eid and halawet el-moulid. It’s genuine hospitality the likes of which I’ve never experienced elsewhere. It’s lying in the courtyard staring at the clear, starry sky. It’s gathering around a large siniya and sharing a meal. It’s the street vendors selling turmus, nabaq and lalob; the donkey carts and the milk man. It’s the crazy driving and the lack of traffic lights. It’s the complaining about increasing food prices. It’s the Fanta and the Stim. It’s buying fool fresh from sid al-dukhan. It’s the tea sweetened with ridiculous amounts of sugar. It’s the dusty feet. It’s the cell phone obsession. It’s the thob and the jalabiya.

But Sudan to me is also children begging in the streets. It’s the litter and the stray dogs. It’s the sweltering heat and the pesky mosquitos. It’s the fear of getting sick and having to go to a hospital, the horror stories of the medical system, of unsanitary conditions and exorbitant prices for medicine. It’s the racism; what’s your tribe? Does it matter? Would you like to hear about my family history, our language and customs or do you just want to stereotype me? I think the Sudanese part of my identity is confused because Sudan itself is confused. Political Islam, you say? What’s Islamic about racism? Why must one define oneself through the exclusion of others? Instead of drawing lines and putting up barriers why can’t we embrace the diversity of our people? Why can’t we learn about their different customs, languages, and histories? I don’t pretend to understand politics in Sudan, but I do understand morality.

My feelings on Sudan are complicated. To me, Sudan is the land of uncertainty. Its governance exasperates me, and though I live ten thousand kilometers away, its hardships still pain me. Its bonds still hold me, because no matter where I go, it will always be my home, its people will always be my people and I will always want to change it for the better.

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