Monday, September 29, 2008

A funny way to celebrate

On Sunday, I arrived in a small town/village called Tawila, a short helicopter flight from the capital of North Darfur. It's been extremely interesting being here, talking to people who say the government continues to harrass them and almost weekly, there is some kind of incident, even in the camps that are supposed to be refuge for the displaced - anything from looting to rape to killing. In the past few weeks, there has been renewed fighting in North Darfur between rebels and government troops. One of those areas is about an hour and some's drive from Tawila. On my way to the town, from the helicopter, I could see a convoy of landcruisers driving through the desert. When we arrived, helicopters gunships were flying over the town. People were a little tense that something was going to happen, but it never did.

Today, I was in the shower, when I heard a noise. I couldn't quite tell what it was. At first I thought maybe an animal on the roof. Then I thought a knock at the door. But when it persisted, it sounded more and more like gunfire. Of course, the first outbreak of gunfire and I'm in the shower. Shit. I scrambled to get out of there, ran into my room, grabbed my recorder and ran outside with my hair still dripping in time to get the next round of shooting on tape. It was far away, and I couldn't see anything, but I could hear it loud and clear. Bam. bam. bam. It kept going and going. I looked around me, and the guards at the UN base were very calm. The peacekeeper looked my way, waved, and walked back to his post. No one was scrambling. I assumed fighting had resumed in some far away mountain. I waited for the peacekeepers to start loading up the trucks and get out there. No one moved. The shooting kept going and going, and I thought, this place is going to explode! I tried to ask one of the peacekeepers what was happening. He didn't speak English. I found one who did and he said very calmy, "This is how they announce the end of Ramadan." Yes. Very logical. In a country of war, that is so very appropriate. "Instead of fireworks, they use live ammunition," one UN police officer joked. A funny way to celebrate.

1 comment:

Asif said...

That is classic... I can just picture the guy waving to you with your hair dripping everywhere. LOL!