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First Week in Khartoum, Sudan
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Nov 16, 2008 - 5:15:43 AM

Elie B. Smith
First Week in Khartoum, Sudan
November 15, 2008 11:49 PM



Before I left Paris, France for Sudan, precisely, its political and commercial capital, Khartoum, I had read and watch a lot of things about this great African country. Sadly, all what I read about Sudan were negative things. I am a person with a will of steel or should I say, I have convictions that are almost impossible to change. And at my own humble level, I am well read about Africans and Africa’s history and politics. I know Africa has an intriguing and equally very intricate history. But I also know that, those who have shaped and fashion out Africa, do relish presenting the African continent and its diverse population, in an extravagantly and astonishingly stereotypical and prejudicial manner.  To put things simply, some elites and media outfits in Western countries, do seldom present Africa in good light. Hence, I have always ignored their comments and reports concerning the continent. Even though, I have ignored western media and their favourite excise, which is to extrapolate news about anything happening in Africa, especially things which are negative and the trendiest of them all, these days, being the Darfur crisis, I must confess that, my constant feeding or reliance on western media and their so-called experts on Africa, for information concerning the continent, has had a profound negative impact on my moral.   


For no matter how strong willed or well read or even well informed, that one may be on any subject or Africa in general and Sudan in particular, as I had pretended to be, regular consumptions of western media information, finally makes you doubt.  I used to strain myself and thought or even out right concluded: why must African leaders act as they are presented? It is also certain that, some African leaders are not saints. But I asked myself: Why must we stand by a watch Arabs annihilate black Africans in Darfur as western media have cheaply presented the crisis to be? I have, I must confess, I almost accepted the presentation of Sudan as western media have trained my ears and minds to be. I had even forgotten that, Sudan was a black African country and also that she is very important to any conscious black people on earth. Another intricate aspect with Sudan is that, she has more than 59O tribes, amongst which, 90 are located in Darfur.  I had also forgotten that, a large part of what is today called North Sudan was one of the earliest parts of the world and Africa to convert to Islam. I had equally forgotten that, the Darfur crisis was not a racial conflict, but tribal. Furthermore such tribal conflicts amongst tribes with ancestral antagonism were equally present in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Nigeria and Mali. All these countries have the same mix of population as in Sudan in general and Darfur in particular.  


Hence it is as difficult like searching a needle in a haystack to make out who is who in Sudan in general and Darfur in particular. The crisis in the Darfur, which is today Sudan’s headache, pits farmers against grazers and such conflicts are rampant in the abovementioned countries. But in Darfur, it has been exacerbated, not only because of climate change, but mostly because of western countries, who wants to control the rich endogenous resources of a region and a country, presented by Major-General Horatio Kitchener, when he began his Sudan campaign 1898, as a vast barren land.  I considered Sudan before I could set foot, as an Arab state. For Western media do present Sudan as an Arab state and the crises in Darfur as a racial war. They present Sudan to be at best, a sort of Saudi Arabia or at worst, a kind of Afghanistan that doesn’t want to accept its name. But the Sudan that I saw, for the first time on the 1st of November 2008, is not an Arab country, but a purely and proudly black African country, proud of her multiple black African heritages. It is true that, in Northern Sudan, where Khartoum is located, the lingua franca is Arabic, but that doesn’t in any way mean that, Sudanese be they from north, east, and west and south are not proud of the black African ancestry.   


I had an opportunity to test the Sudanese, to find out which way or which side, their loyalty tilted. For the pigmentation of ones skin, is not enough to classify one in one camp or racial group or the other. For as western media had made me to think that Sudanese were Arabs, which to me, meant White Arab from Saudi Arabia or northern Egypt, I discovered while in Sudan that, Sudanese were black and also discovered on Saturday November 2nd, during the away finals of the 12th edition of the MTN CAF Champions League that, Sudanese were truly proud of their black African ancestry, even though a majority of them are practicing Muslims and whose native tongue is Arabic.  That Saturday night, away leg finals, which served me as a yardstick to measure Northern Sudanese acceptance of their black African roots, pitted Al Ahly Sporting Club of Cairo, Egypt against the upstart West African club of Cotton Sports of Garoua, Cameroon. And under the tent which was were we sat to watch the football match from a large flat screen TV set, I was stunned to discover that, all Sudanese present under the tent were rooting for Cotton Sports of Garoua. But there were nonetheless two noisy and excited individuals in the crowed under the properly air-conditioned tent who rooting for Al Ahly. And I suddenly discovered that, the only two supporters of Al Ahly under the tent were Egyptian workers, who are in Sudan in large numbers, just like the Chinese, Indians, Bangladeshis, Eritreans, Ethiopians and the French, enjoying the economic boom that Sudan is basking in.   


And when the match ended with the convincing 2- nil victory of Al Ahly over Cotton Sports FC, one Sudanese near me cried: I am sick and tired to see Arab clubs dominate African club football the way they are doing. I was shocked and then I asked: are you not an Arab? You must be happy. I added. To which he shouted back angrily: I am an African. Are Egyptians not African? I retorted. And he yelled back at me: look at me, I am a black African. I did need not to have any special discerning powers to conclude that, I should stop the conversation, because blows could easily be exchanged. But, from my current sojourn in this country, I am now resolute, when next I hear, read or watch news from leading western broadcasters and newspapers, concerning Africa,  I will not only ignore them or take  them with a pinch of a salt , I  will  try to find my own way to get the truth. But sadly, while I have the chance and opportunity to get informed or travel to some African countries, not every one can. This means that, western media outfits still have a field day to misinform and denigrate the African continent. Perhaps it will end, when Africans decides it is high time to start writing their own stories and also inform the world about their continent, rather than allow our enemies to do it for us. But Africans must also try hard, to avoiding giving batons to our enemies to hit us with. Look at the Democratic Republic of the Congo, if we are mocked at, it is often because, our own creation or cause .  

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