“I had a dream” about Abyei (1)
Dr Abdul-karim Elgoni
On the second day after arrival for my annual holiday, I finished eating breakfast under the shade of our Neem tree on our home court, sitting on a luxury wooden chair sipping my favorite black tea, looking far away on the horizon observing fingers of clouds forming in different forms in the sky. A flock of birds passed in front of me led by their leader, and I said to myself where are they going now and whether there is a place more beautiful than this. My brother Hussein Elgoni was talking on his cell phone and I heard him say "It is possible ..Tonight" and ended the call and turned to me and said "Let us travel to beautiful Abyei".
Within an hour we packed our bags and were in the saloon vehicle. It was only minutes until we arrived at the paved asphalt road between Elmuglad and Abyei. There was a sign saying (Alnaam 100 km .. Abyei 160 km .. Abyemnum 200 km). He reiterated that we are going to Abyamnum and not Abyei as there is a tourist project that he wanted to participate in. The owners of the project are two expatriates, one from Dinka Ngok and another from Messeiria living in Canada and they wanted someone from the area to partner with them. They arrived in Abyei airport on their way to the project now. He was positive that this idea will open up new prospects for investment in the region.
On the road we passed a big sign (Almeyram agricultural project .. the future in your hands). Hussein told me that the project was successful vertically achieving good profit in the past two seasons and they are thinking of expanding horizontally to include more agricultural projects, and that he was engaged in a dialogue with them to incorporate some of our projects. Hussein believed that the problem was in the transport and marketing that was solved when the Abyei Development Fund supported the transport and marketing from its budget, which has doubled as the oil prices rocketed and government paid the full share of the Dinka and Messeiria. The service and support provided by the Abyei Development Fund created a quantum leap in the agricultural and animal production in the region.
After a period we went through a village with roadside vendors selling handicrafts and fruits. From the road you can see the drying and canning of fruits plant, which is owned by Deng Alor, the Finance Minister of the Government of South Sudan and a fellow colleague in the primary school. The factory is famous for the mango and pineapple products that are grown extensively after the water harvesting dams and the use of irrigation in the area managed by a South African agricultural company.
We arrived at Alnaam town to refuel and I sat on a table in the Road Cafe and asked for a bottle of water. “This is healthy water produced by the Abyei juices factory” commented the Maitre "no one drinks from the river anymore". The people sitting next to me were talking in astronomical business figures. From their beards, the clothes and the iphone they are talking with, it is clear who they represent. I said to myself they must be the owners of the Mercedes SUV parked in front of the gas station cafe.
A loaded truck passed by and Hussein told me it is one of my friend Hassan Subahi projects, which produces animal fodder because the huge veterinary project that is supported by Abyei Development Fund had improved breeds of cattle and reduced the nomadic movement so owners of milk production companies needed huge quantities of fodder and Elgoni Agricultural company sells its production to them. I heard the voice microphone calling people not to miss the opportunity and when I asked, the Maitre told me that those are the festival days of “the second Cultural Interactions Week", which is sponsored this year by the President of South Sudan Government. It includes seminars, cultural and folkloric shows and exhibitions of agricultural and industrial production in the region. Last year more than fifty thousand visitors attended and that the festival has become a tourist attraction attended by local and foreign tourists.
On the road from Alnaam to Abyei we almost ran over a gazelle that crossed the road without warning. I asked Hussein to drive slowly as we do not want Abyei road to become a "the road of death" like Wad Medani Khartoum road. We passed the meanders of Alragaba al- Zarqa and its tributaries, winding like a huge snake in the scenery that enchanted my mind that I asked of him several times to stop so we can enjoy moments of magic and natural beauty.
Then we passed Alamir Hamid Alnaeem sitting on the Angarib, in front of a number of men and women, seemingly a traditional court trying a man who could not control his desires. I raised my hand with salute, but no one gave me attention. On the other side of the road there was a young Dinka youth standing in front of his Land cruiser with his eyes on his cows in front of him enjoying the green grass.
When we arrived in Abyei I was thrilled by the remarkable transformation that has happened since my last visit. The city was clean with green trees planted on both sides of the road and the park that I see from afar full with families and children having fun on the swings. Hussein told me that behind the garden an Olympic swimming pool is busy with swimmers morning to evening. I noticed that people are busy and there was no children begging people at the traffic intersections.
We continued to Abyamnum driving between sugar cane plantations along the road on both sides. It is for the production of Biofuel as well as sugar. It was the idea of a Dinka investor living in Australia.
To break the monotony of the road I turned on the car radio “Radio Abyei FM". The debate was about the importance of added value on local products and not just focus on the export of raw materials from the region. I said to Hussein, "all the discussions that I hear those days are about the economy and development as no one speaks about the borders of Abyei and the sharing of power and politics. What is happening there?" In laughter Hussein said "People are interested in development. Politics remains a commodity of the Umma Party and the SPLM".
Suddenly a cow appeared in the middle of the road, walking slowly as if priority of movement on this road is for cattle. I realized that the collision with the cow was inevitable and I cried out in loud voice for Hussein to be careful then I cried out again “.. No .. No .. Do not...”
"Say Bismillahi (the name of God)" said my wife, "What is happening to you man .. Wake up the morning is here". I looked around and found myself in the bedroom in my house in Johannesburg. "Should I put Al-Jazeera Channel on"? I did not respond, but I heard the broadcaster saying in the summary news, "the killing of two American soldiers in Afghanistan after their vehicle passed on a bomb planted on the side of the road"..." and the delegation met with the Sudanese refugees in Kalima refugee camp and President Bashir said the western countries are exaggerating news as part of their conspiration against Sudan”.
I tried to return to sleep because today is Sunday, but I was unable. I said to myself I wonder if the SPLM and National Congress politician think about our dreams or are they in a valley and we are in a valley as said in Arabic.