The Real Reason We Got Bombed By Israel

4 Nov

Generally speaking, sweeping generalizations are not entirely true. However, I’m going to make one giant sweeping generalization about the root cause of all, yes all, of Sudan’s problems, and it’s entirely true, trust me. Ladies & gentlemen, the cause of all our woes is: compulsive hoarding. Which is afranji/infedili for: karoar كرور

Allow me to explain how I’ve gradually and over the years reached this eureka moment. During every visit to Sudan, I noticed that people complain about dust or alkatta7a. Most people in Sudan are coated with a thin membrane of dust that gives them a matte finish (by the way, the matte finish is very trendy these days, for cars though not for people.) Inside of houses, the dust problem is compounded as you can clearly see the dust of today, yesterday, and yesteryear congregating over furniture and lurking in every corner of Sudanese homes, no matter how clean. Gradually, I started noticing that dust is collecting over a massive heap of stuff. Every house has a massive heap of stuff with dust. Useless stuff, but year after year, when I make the ziyarat rounds, I notice the same heaps in the same houses collecting the same dust.

It baffles me that everywhere in Sudan there’s pile of… something. Tops of wardrobes in bedrooms are stacked with suitcases stacked with items probably circa British colonialism (AKA  your mother’s mini-skirts and your father’s Charleston pants.) The most important part of every Sudanese home is Al ma5zan, which is usually someone’s room converted into a storage for piles of useless stuff that’s been hoarded since the beginning of time. Or it’s the deep freezer in the kitchen with some leftover kamoniyya from 7 Eids ago.

If you are in doubt that hoarding is a major epidemic in Sudan, walk down the streets of Khartoum and look up at balconies: so much useless clutter. Or better yet stand for 10 minutes in front of Khartoum airport carousels, for any incoming flight, and see the amount of hoarded crap that’s constantly being hoarded into the country.

Why is this so disconcerting? Sudan is drowning in karoar and garbage. On top of that we’re suffocating on dust. And last but not least, it’s the hoarding of anything and everything that has recently gotten us bombed by Israel. Therefore, I hold karoar epidemic responsible for the Israeli bombing of the karoar in Yarmouk, Malaria, the loss of several children who had gone missing between piles of karoar, and every plane crash that was attributed to foul play by the government or incompetence of Sudan Airways, where the real reason was probably an overload of karoar, and last but not least, holding on to a government of karoar for so long.

An Open Letter to Electronic Mujahideen

4 Jul

Dear Electronic Mujahid,

Hello there. Welcome to my blog. Let me preface this letter by saying that in the event that you drop dead while browsing this page, I sincerely hope that you do indeed reach the highest level of Paradise as a reward for your noble jihad(ism?) In case that does not happen, let’s set the record straight.

You are probably here with the sole intention of making us stop speaking our minds both online and offline, probably by way of harming us. Since I am unsure what it is exactly that you want me to stop doing or saying, I decided to write you. The other reason quite frankly is that I think it’s a shame if we do not get to know each other better. You see, me as a blogger, and you as a blogga-hater, we both probably stumble on the same material online and such. What differs is our motivation, and that’s what I would like us to be clear on. Please allow me to start– my motivation is to protect your rights to speak your mind and live a better life. Yes, I see the irony in that but it is the truth. Truth be told, I live quite the comfortable life. Political happenings and economic fluctuations do not so much affect my life as the weather. But unlike the weather, a rainy day is something I can change. Especially when a rainy day turns into a rainy year, decade, or longer as it is. Those less fortunate who have been scrambling to save for a rainy day have now depleted their resources and they need help and shelter. Of course this is just a metaphor, but if you catch my drift, I’d like to ask you not to rain on the parade protesters asking for the protection of basic human rights and improvement of living standards. I’d like to ask you to recognize our shared responsibility towards those who have no shelter from the rain.

I am writing these words as I assure you that I do not want you in prison, not now, and not ever. I do not want you out of the country and I do not want you to wish that upon me and my fellow Sudanese citizens either. I am writing this because I want to walk in the streets of our country without fearing you. I am writing this because I do not understand why you fear me. As I’m writing this, many of my fellows who are fighting for a better life for all sit in jail, possibly because you targeted them.

All I ask of you is that you recognize the difference you can make. Next time you are lurking online and infiltrating sinful online conversations about decent living standards, please think of the motivation of those risking it all, and your motivation to do whatever it is you think is necessary to do. We do not know each other, but I could be your sister, your mother, your daughter, your cousin– because all those people surely do wish a better life for you and everyone else in Sudan.

That is all. Oh and, please consider a career change. There are numerous ways to serve your country and/or get to Paradise.

Best,

Sudanese Optimist

“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.” — Desmond Tutu

5 Sure Tell Signs Your Dictator Is Just Not That Into You

22 Nov

1- He’s Cheating On You With Another Country
You’ve caught him sending gifts of say, 20,000 sheep, to the lovely country next door, whom you’ve always suspected he has a crush on. This is especially hurtful after you’ve boycotted meat because of high prices. You also suspect something bad is going on with a certain Asian country.

2- He Never Listens To You
He’s never there for you when you need him, even though he really has no where to go since Ocampo put him on lock down, so technically, he should have more time for you, but he doesn’t. He has never let you vote on any major or minor decision that affects your future. He has made it clear that your opinion does not matter, and not only that, that he will not tolerate any opinion of yours that conflicts with his.

3- He Hates Your Family
You’ve begged him to get to know your family members better, but he’s been at war with them since the relationship started. Finally, they decided to abandon you and him in a referendum in July 2011. And the zinger? They didn’t even ask you how you felt about it. The whole thing was traumatizing for you but you could swear you heard him mumble ‘fi siteen dahya’

4- He Keeps His Finances Separate
You have been together for over 20 years, however, he still keeps a separate bank account off shore and you are not allowed to even ask about it. He has seen you struggling with your finances, barely making ends meet, yet he refuses to chip in.

5- He Is Physically And Verbally Abusive
At first, you put up with his verbally abusive ways because it was generally directed towards others, sometimes you even felt like he was just trying to protect you. When he told others they are ‘under his shoe’ you questioned yourself but let it go. However, he started being verbally abusive towards you telling to you to lick your elbow and making so many vows (not of the happy matrimony kind) and there’s no stopping his threatening. To add insult to injury, or rather, injury to insult, he is physically abusive towards you whenever you disagree with him.

If your dictator exhibited one or more of the aforementioned signs, it’s time to give him the boot. Find someone who values you. You’re worth it.

Sudanese Film: Faisal Goes West

15 Nov

A while back, I saw the trailer for Machine Gun Preacher [insert massive rant here] and felt a sense of pity for the consistently appalling representation of Sudanese in both Arab and western films. Thankfully, I stumbled on a White-Texan-savior, without a klashinkov in hand, but with a strong message and a beacon of hope for Sudanese cinema in the form of an independent film depicting a Sudanese family’s adjustment to life in America called Faisal Goes West.

Bentley Brown, who has grown up in Chad and worked in Sudan, is the award-winning filmmaker behind Faisal Goes West, or as he is also known as “that khawaja that speaks better Arabic than me.” As an aficionado of independent films and all things Sudan, I was very excited to make a pledge to back the project financially but felt that it’s not enough, so I called up Bentley to see how I can help (Also, I wanted to talk to the khawaja that speaks better Arabic than me, but that’s secondary.)

There are two important points that Bentley clarified: Firstly, this is not just a film about Sudan, this is Sudanese cinema. In large part, the actors, artists, and producers involved in this film are Sudanese. Bentley stressed “Faisal Goes West is Sudanese cinema. Sure, it will be filmed outside of Sudan and away from the grips of the Sudanese government’s chokehold on cinematic expression, but it is a step, nonetheless, Sudanese encouraging one another (and anyone, really) to express themselves through film.” Secondly, this film revolves around the issue of identity, which is a major issue that affects Sudanese people socially and politically. As Bentley put it “in many ways, the story is a global one: family comes to America with high hopes, family hits a wall, family must rebuild in order to survive. Focusing on a coming-of-age character like Faisal offers a beautiful dive into issues of generational clashes, dignity, and identity–this last one is especially important to me, كخواجة متربي في تشاد . It is sad how easily we forget that people are people. Skin color, appearance, language, etc. are merely factors of a humanity that is in a rapid process of mixing and moving. In this sense, the most important issue that Faisal will address is that of identity. What does it mean for Faisal to be Sudanese? To be American? Not to mention the labels society places on him: “African,” “Arab,” “black”…and the list continues.”

Faisal Goes West is an important film, and I am thrilled that someone as talented, well-rounded, and driven as Bentley is leading this production which I am sure will garner international attention and will be, for the first time, a positive representation of Sudanese people in film. In his own words Bentley explains: “Documentaries largely reflect the international community’s interest in Sudan for mere political or feel-good humanitarian reasons–as if Sudan is a constant case study of suffering and people in need, and foreigners can be the ones to help. But I know Sudanese to be different–they are a people extremely diverse in language, background, politics, religion, and one aspect that is rarely conveyed is the sense of communal resilience present across Sudan and the Sudanese diaspora. This is what I want to convey through the characters in the film: a message of persevering, even when hardship catches you by surprise.”

Now that I’ve got you wrapped up in fluffy dreams about seeing a Sudanese film winning in Sundance, I need you to listen up and focus. Faisal Goes West needs your help to become a reality. Bentley is doing his part to bring about positive change for Sudanese people. Here’s what you could do:

- Make a financial pledge here in order to help the project reach its goal. The deadline is November 22nd, 2011.
-Talk about the film with your family, friends, online friends, and imaginary friends–basically everyone. Spread the word!
-Contact Bentley Brown if you have any talents that might be of use to the movie or if you have an important point you would like the movie to cover.
-Change your facebook/twitter profile photo to the movie poster (below) so you can get people asking about the film.

If you don’t do at least one of the above, it might mean Machine Gun Preacher is your favorite movie and you think George Clooney knows everything about ‘the Sudan.’

*Bentley Brown grew up in Ati, Chad, where his parents ran rural medical clinics. You can read more about him here.

UPDATE: The film got fully funded. This is happening. Thank you all for your support.

On Secession: The 5 Stages of Grief

6 Jul

With the independence of South Sudan fast approaching, North Sudanese citizens are coming to terms with the biggest change in the history of their country. For many, supporting independence is bitter-sweet, or tinged with retrospective regret. Others are unconflicted and happy about independence, although the happiness could sometimes be a result of a ‘good riddance’ attitude towards secession. I have observed many emotions and reactions to the independence of South Sudan amongst North Sudanese citizens, and based the following observations on the famous Kübler-Ross model for dealing with loss, commonly known as ‘The Five Stages of Grief.’ These observations are from the perspective of North Sudanese people only since I am assuming that the near unanimous vote for secession by South Sudan is enough proof that they are not considering this a cause for grief–

1- Denial — “Sudan will never separate. The South needs us and we need them.” “They can never run their own country, they have so many tribal issues” “Separation plans are just rumors by outsiders who are trying to destroy Sudan”
This stage sadly lasted from independence, throughout most of the war, until the signing of the CPA agreement when some people’s perception of a unified Sudan was rattled. A pivotal point was the death of John Garang, where the vision of unity for many people died with him.

2- Anger — “Why do they(the South) want to separate from us (the North) they are traitors!” “Why do they think we treat them badly?” “They are destroying our country and being very unpatriotic and selfish.” “Let them go to their country, they were depleting our resources and taking our jobs anyway.”
I believe this stage actually lingered quite a bit for most Sudanese people, ultimately causing feelings of resentment towards the South, which only acted as a catalyst to the South seeing the necessity of indepenendnce, evident by the referendum vote for secession. Anger, bitterness, and feelings of betrayal caused many to look for ways to justify the impending division of Sudan. I have heard everything from African Union conspiracy theories to the usual and necessary ‘blame it on I-I-I-Israel!’

3- Bargaining — “Parliamentary seats? Here South, take these 40 extra seats”; “Power of veto over constitutional changes? You got it!” “Let’s not discuss Abyei right now, it’s going to be alright, we promise”
Some, namely Sudanese politicians, reached this stage months if not years before the referendum, when many were still in denial. They knew what was coming and began utilizing every propaganda tool to make unity appealing for all. Suddenly we began to see more South Sudanese representation on Sudan TV, billboards calling for a United Sudan popped up all over Khartoum, and many promises were made for the improvement of conditions of South Sudanese citizens. However, not all bargaining efforts were necessarily positive or advantageous for South Sudan, as there were some brinkmanship attempts and political pressure. Needless to say, all efforts proved ineffective.

4- Depression — “This is very disheartening, I’m losing my country, my people” “John Garang died and so did a united Sudan”; “I have always loved the South and I am so depressed over losing them”
The silence of many Sudanese might have been interpreted as apathy, but many of them were in fact simply dismayed and severely hurt not only because they are losing Sudan as they know it, but because they felt too helpless and powerless to do anything about it. Many Sudanese people completely disconnected themselves from the issue in order to cope with the grave reality of their beloved country falling apart. (I sincerely hope that no one felt this depression about the economic shock Sudan will endure as a result of $2-$3 billion annual oil revenue losses. Really guys, it’s no big deal. I’m fine without that money. Whatever, no biggie. No really…. who cares? *cries my capitalist self to sleep*)

5- Acceptance “The South deserves a shot an independence.” “I am happy for them and truly wish them the best” “Regardless of my stance on secession, I will support their decision”
This is the last stage of dealing with bereavement. At this point, nothing can be done, we can’t reverse the votes, we can’t change their minds, all we can do is respect their wishes and support them in the development of their new country.

Personally I think I went through the five stages a bit out of order. Whatever stage you’re on, please make sure you strive to reach acceptance by July 9th, 2011, at this stage, I think the best Sudan can do is wish South Sudan all the best and promise not to rain on their independence parade.

5 Ultimate Solutions That Could Have Saved Sudan

5 Jul

After much deliberation and game theory analysis of the political, cultural, and economic situation in Sudan, I have deemed the following five points to be the only possible (read: remaining) solutions to solve all Sudan’s problems and disputes. These five solutions, when used together, shall be regarded as the ultimate panacea for Sudan. Now these solutions might seem eccentric at first, but who are we kidding, was there ever a ‘realistic’ solution to problems in Sudan? Was it ever used? No? Okay then try this: (warning, severe logical fallacies and several made-up words ahead)

1- Borrowed President
Once upon a time the most powerful country in the world was headed (and eventually beheaded) by a ridiculously incompetent president by the name of George W. Bush. After 8 years of embarrassing foreign policies, two wars, and an economic meltdown, the US was fed up. As we all know, the United States is secretly run by a group of expert politicians with a sinister world domination agenda (i.e Illuminati, Jews, and/or Pinky & the Brain) This secret group realized that if citizens see one more president with any resemblance to George Bush, the population will migrate back to Europe and Africa and call it a day. Sensibly, the furthest thing from a George Bush was a black president. Oprah was busy eating, and Jay-Z had better things to do so long story short, the US borrowed a black guy from Africa, gave him a fake McLovin’ Hawaii birth certificate, et voila! Enter the most inspiring president in United States history. And the US lived happily ever after, or at least better than before.
Moral of the story: We should’ve borrowed Mandela.

2- Gentrification
You can’t say the term gentrification these days without starting an intellectual riot with ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Chicago’ being brought up a thousand times per minute. Whatever side you take in regards to the issue of gentrification, please consider that when dealing with North and South Sudan, nothing has worked at all for over twenty years. The root of the problem is, well, lots of roots, but at least one of those roots is the lack of contact and mixing between North and South Sudanese. Most North Sudanese, myself included, have never been to South Sudan. Most Sudanese can’t even name all states in Sudan. This is an enormous cultural problem that we don’t want to address and we want to jump right into the solution. It’s like insisting a 20 year that has never been educated should be in college and refusing to put him through elementary education first. Similarly, I think unity would not have been realistic had North and South Sudanese cohabitated in their own country. The least we, or our government, could have done was to promote tourism within our own country. Property prices are ever rising in Sudan, what if we could have promoted living in the South? What if the upper echelon of Sudanese society had summer homes in South Sudan and promoted tourism there?
Moral of the story: The country that lives together, stays together.

3- Arab Rehab
Slowly but surely, I can sense the Sudanese population weaning itself off the addiction to ‘Arabness.’ Not only has the Arab vs. African become tiresome and trite, but it has also become irrelevant. I am hearing more and more people denounce such identity definition in lieu of focusing on defining and epitomizing a ‘Sudanese’ identity. This is especially relevant post-secession as we will at least have a more unified intra-Northern culture (this is relative to the vast differences of the larger Sudan of yesteryear.) The further we move away from the confusion of whether or not we are Arab, the closer we become with ourselves simply as…Sudanese. This rehab, had it been done 20-some years ago, might have been an anchoring point in support of unity. Too little too late now!
Moral of the story: Our inferiority complex inferiorized ourselves.

4-Inter-Inter-Marriage
I truly believe that Sudan had no shot at staying united so long as the segregation in marriage of North and South citizens remained socially acceptable by both sides. I am not sure how it is for Southern Sudanese, but as a Northern, I was told from a young age that marriage between Northern and Southern Sudanese is a social taboo. The mere mention of such a thing is near blasphemous. Forget marrying a full-blooded Southern Sudanese, marrying a Northern Sudanese with any Southern roots or Southern ‘blood’ is even considered unfathomable, especially amongst ‘big families’ in Sudan. I can’t continue discussing this point, it makes me sick to my stomach, onto the next one…
Moral of the story: Love em or leave em (literally)

5- Cuisine Change
There is no way Sudan can move forward (or move at all) given the current intake of Sudanese cuisine which consists of pure carbohydrates. I’ve never heard someone say after devouring a plate of kesra bilmula7: “now I feel fully energized to make positive changes.” The only change you can think of after eating Sudanese food is to change from a vertical to a horizontal position immediately. I am convinced that our cuisine, a product of a conspiracy theory by the Brits to put us through reverse evolution, is what is holding us back, and ultimately caused us to lose the South. Alternatively, I recommend that we inject our food with nootropics, and mandate daily Red Bull drips for all citizens of working and voting age.
Moral of the story: I just finished a plate of foul biljibna and lost the ability to conclude this post…

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Sudan: You’ve Been Intellectually Served

26 Jun

I have recently stumbled upon a quote by Saul Alinsky, and read it way too many times until I finally decided I should probably share it. I find this quote incredibly succinct for the profoundly complex issues it addresses–

“Not at any time. I’ve never joined any organization—not even the ones I’ve organized myself. I prize my own independence too much. And philosophically, I could never accept any rigid dogma or ideology, whether it’s Christianity or Marxism. One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as ‘that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you’re right.’ If you don’t have that, if you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide.”

This quote describes a major aspect of my political, social, and philosophical beliefs. I fully support each individual who embarks on an infinite quest to seek whatever knowledge he/she has the capacity to seek, however, I would stop just shy of seeking an ‘absolute truth’ because such a thing is not accessible to non-deity. I believe those who seek out the ‘absolute truth’ are a) wasting their time and everyone else’s b) pursuing an ultimate truth for reasons and motives that cannot possibly be altruistic. As Alinsky states, if you fully believe you are undoubtedly right, you are therefore a subscriber of dogma or ideology and most definitely susceptible to the crimes of the fundamentalist mind.

In matters of faith, I refuse to label my beliefs beyond saying I am a Muslim. Labeling your ‘faith’ or ‘spirituality’ is in and of itself contradictory. Similarly, I reject any political affiliation or aligning my thoughts fully with an organized political agenda. As a Sudanese, I can feel first-hand the effects of political dogma, tribalism and religious sectarianism tearing apart my country, and I want no part of it.

I truly believe the way for Sudanese youth to move forward is for each of us to insist on being independent intellectuals who have aligned goals and visions for our countries, instead of political agendas that define how you should think, yet lack focus on goals and visions. This is especially relevant with our ever expanding diaspora–our educational backgrounds and upbringings are becoming increasingly varied. Our sub-cultures are even further more different. There are felt cultural differences between Sudanese who have been brought up in Sudan, US, England, GCC, or other regions. Instead of succumbing to more divisiveness, I hope that we would agree to rid ourselves of labels, whether tribal or political, and instead divert our attention to our country as a whole, or whatever is left of it, to ensure it remains whole.

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