Friday, June 27, 2008

It's Complicated!

So, what am I doing here anyway?

I'm here to write articles and produce radio pieces for some newspapers and radio stations in Canada and the US (as a freelancer). I want to look at some stories that I think haven't been told while the world focuses on Darfur. First of all, Sudan has been portrayed as a very violent place, where Arabs are killing blacks in a brutal genocide. But this isn't the case across the country, and in some villages, Arabs have hosted blacks fleeing the war in other parts and integrated them into their communities. Second, Darfurian rebels took up arms against the government claiming their region had been marginalised for years. But Darfur is not the only neglected area in Sudan, and actually there are many groups in different areas right across the country that have/are/want to take up arms against the government. Third, many people are not aware that there was a civil war between north and south Sudan that killed 10 times the number of people who died in Darfur. That war ended in 2005, but in the past few months, has come dangerously close to re-erupting because many parts of the peace agreement have not been implemented by the government.

Anyways, those are some of the things I plan to look at, but this place is just so damn complicated that I'm trying to sort everything out in my head before I blog about it (that's why I haven't been blogging much. My days have been mostly consumed by work and my work is not at a stage of explanation yet! Plus, I received a grant from an organisation that funds journalists who go to 'under-reported' areas, and will be blogging for them (the Pulitzer Center) about the more journalism-oriented parts of this experience. I'll send you the link when it's live.)
So instead of telling you my thoughts on the conflicts here, I instead will reassure you that I have said goodbye to my friend the lizard, and moved on to cleaner pastures: ie. a UN guesthouse. My feet are starting to crack from the dryness, my skin is always sticky from the heat, I drink an incredible amount of water everday (Sometimes your mouth is so thirsty but your stomach is already bloated from all the liquids) and I'm becoming accustomed to wearing a scarf everytime I leave the house (which unfortunately means no tan).
I did get to one cultural event yesterday though. Here are some pics from a Sufi ritual I went to. Every week, hundreds gather to pay hommage to a great Sudanese Sufi leader, Hamd El-Nil (from what I understood) outside his tomb in a big cemetary. They stand in a huge circle, swaying to the drumming, chanting La illiha illa Alllah (there is only one God), until the sun sets.

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