NOTE: If this is your first time here, it is very important to keep in mind that many of the ideas expressed in this blog represent older versions of myself, and not necessarily my current self. After all, we evolve, and sometimes change our minds. In the meantime, enjoy lurking around, and watch the video trailer for my upcoming book here.

Home, After Five Years

by Drima on March 13, 2010

Two months ago, and after nearly five continuous years of being abroad, I returned to Khartoum for a short and much-needed visit that turned out to be rather rejuvenating. As soon as I was out of the airport cruising in my uncle’s pick up truck, the change was instantly noticeable.

It was already night time, and yet, it didn’t feel gloomy. Unlike before, most main streets were bright with lamps that stretched as far as the roads they lit. Most cars weren’t ancient moving chimneys anymore. The majority seemed to be Korean-made and manufactured within the last couple of years probably.

Everywhere I looked, there were new restaurants full of people. The few old ones I hung out in five years earlier like Amwaj and Steers were still in business and seemed overwhelmed by the demand of the endless hungry crowd.

Street advertisements launched by the new cellphone network provider Sudani One against Zain were hard to avoid. Anywhere you drove, there they were – again and again, in your face. Oh, and I also saw an Addidas store, and when I asked a friend about it later, he told me it’s genuine.

And it made sense. Addidas, after all, is a German brand. Hence, American sanctions have no effect on it.

It was a little hard to absorb everything all at once. My uncle was right. “It’s been five years since the last you came here. What did you expect,” he said.

Not everything was rainbows and butterflies though. Different things left me with different reactions. So without anymore further delays, yours truly will now begin sharing some of the many observations he’s made during his recent trip to the convergence of the White and Blue Niles.

Elections? What Elections?

Given that the elections are just around the corner, I was expecting to sense some excitement in the city. Posters everywhere for candidates, preparations, conversations centered around this historic event, something, anything, but soon, I found out that I had arrived with excessively high expectations.

“Here, in this part of Khartoum, hardly anyone cares really. People here just want to eat, dress nicely, talk for hours on their cellphones, drive nice cars, and live in comfortable homes,” my uncle began explaining the next day. “The ones who care about the elections are the people in Omdurman. You’ll notice the activism there,” he continued.

Ah, Those Pesky Turkish Soap Operas. Where’s a Fatwa When You Need One?

Arabic-dubbed Turkish operas spreading their “bullshit secular Turkish values” are the craze right now. Young and old, male and female, many just seem to enjoy watching them in Khartoum these days.

Where Did All the Southerners Go?

This one took me a while to notice. Five years ago, it was always so easy to spot crowds of Southern Sudanese walking around together in big groups in different parts of the city. Now, their numbers have dramatically gone down.

Drima: Where did they disappear to?

Friend: They were gradually pushed out of the city and forced to head to the South back to where they came from.

Drima: Interesting, I thought so. Well, there’s another reason to add to the list of reasons for why the South is going to separate into its own country soon.

Friend: Good, because I’m tired of this shit. Let them have their country.

The Jihad Lectures

So one day I got into a little amjaad van, and told the driver to take me to Solitaire to meet sommmmmebody. On the way there, the amjaad driver listened to some seriously horrifying shit preached by some seriously horrifying lunatic who probably escaped from a zoo.

“The infidels are the enemies of Islam. Everywhere, they are the enemies of Islam. If they respect the law of God and the rule of Islam in a country, they may go around minding their own business peacefully. However, if they transgress our ways and attempt to affirm their disbelief in the face of our creed, then we must fight them.”

Sigh. I thought this garbage lost its popularity within Khartoum after Turabi’s fall from power. Looks like I was wrong.

“Girls Who Smoke Shisha Are Sluts!”

There was this other time when another amjaad driver was listening to a lecture on some Sudanese radio channel. The whole thing focused on the “shisha-smoking trend amongst Sudanese university girls” and how it’s “a disturbing phenomenon that is spreading quickly within society.”

Sadly, the trend isn’t seen as a bad thing due to public health concerns, something which would be absolutely legitimate. Instead, it’s seen as a disturbing trend because ” a girl who smokes shisha, isn’t a worthy future wife or mother” because “she cheapens herself by engaging in such immoral behavior which is against our values” and “no wise young man would want to marry such girls.”

Meanwhile, the boys can smoke all the want. Yes, having a penis makes you exempt from criticism apparently. Not a single thing was mentioned during the radio lecture concerning shisha-smoking amongst young male Sudanese adults in universities.

Double sigh.

The Other Side of the “Indecent for Wearing Trousers” Story

Drima: What a bunch of assholes. How can they do this to her just because she was wearing trousers?

Friend: Man, that woman is an opportunist. You don’t have all the facts. They bothered her and arrested her because she writes shit against the government in newspapers.

Drima: Oh, how nice, so now everyone who writes against the government should get harassed?

Friend: No, no, cut the crap, that’s not what I meant. The woman is an opportunist. She used her arrest to get media attention, and now she’s milking her fame for all its worth promoting her book in France. Man, she freaking met the former French president.

Drima: She’s sharing her story, what’s the problem with that?

Friend: Well, obviously you don’t know that she was married to a wealthy man who was over 80 years old, do you?

Drima: Eh, really? No effing way!

Friend: I’m telling you, it’s true, just ask around.

Dear Sudanese readers out there, can any of you confirm this?

The Day I Almost Cried Tears of Joy:
My First Visit to Burj Al Fatih

I’ve seen it in pictures and on video, but never in real life. The first time I entered the building’s compound, I was in disbelief. Finally, after all these years, a well-constructed large modern building worthy of admiration rose up from the sands of Khartoum. It actually happened. And days later, I saw more buildings rising up as I dined at the top of Burj Al-Fatih in the sky view restaurant and inspected Alsunut project.

For all of you dear non-Sudanese reading this blog (and especially you dear uninformed ones who think Sudan is all just about genocide, genocide, and more genocide), here’s a video featuring the plan for the ambitious project known as Alsunut.

While there is progress, it’s not going as well as expected at all. Insiders tell me Osama Dawud had a fallout with corrupt government officials who wanted to grab a piece of the action. Some of his companies also got caught up and paralyzed by American sanction restrictions. Although now, with the monumental Darfur peace agreement signed at Qatar, thanks to the efforts of the Qatari government and other beebull, I predict we’ll gradually begin to see positive changes in Sudanese American relations.

My Visit to Maygoma

This one is going to require a whole separate post. But I gotta tell you though, visiting shelters for abandoned children left to die by “mothers” who gave birth to them out of wedlock, is no fun experience. It was tragic.

Anyways, as a conclusion, and simply put, Sudan, (erm, actually Khartoum to be specific) has made some very real progress in terms of infrastructure, living standards, and a bunch of other stuff impacted by the oil boom. However, all of this has also created distinct differences in lifestyle. On the surface, Sudanese in Khartoum love to portray the impression that they’re conforming to long-accepted social “guidelines” if I can call them that. However, once you dig a little deeper, you begin to discover lots of contradictions.

Meh, I’m gonna need a whole separate post for this one as well.

More later ya 7ilween.

Yalla, salam.

- Drima



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{ 3 trackbacks }

What’s the opposite of Opportunist? « The Sudanese Optimist
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03.28.10 at 10:47 am

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Don Cox 03.13.10 at 3:45 pm

Very interesting post.

How about the serious infrastructure – water, sewage, roads. Is that being updated? Does everything work?

These are the boring things that governments tend to neglect, and where contacts involve heavy corruption.

2 Leila 03.13.10 at 6:12 pm

I am not Sudanese, but would like to say that i like Turkish soaps. For some women, the romantic storylines provide escapism but generally the acting, directing and storylines are of a better quality than the Egyptian and Syrian soaps.

3 Mahid (sudanese guardian) 03.13.10 at 8:12 pm

Drima, I have been reading your blog for a while now and i am enjoying it, keep up the good work my friend. i would like to comment about the journalist sub menu part, in the last point the person has said to you that she is married to an 80 year old man, even if she is married to a 80 year old person or not dose that change anything. We Sudanese people sometimes tend to always find uncommon thing or things that are not in the norms of our society in a person to criticize him or her. About the last point, if she is married to even a 100 year old man dose that change anything. Is love to be measured by how old are you or where you are from. That just ridicules, my friend told me about this too, that she is married to an 80 year old person but what is funny is that people tend to make a big fuss about it. I have talked to a friend about the same topic and his reply was she is married to an 80 year old person, as if that reply would make me think that she is an opportunist, ill-mannered, uneducated person who just goes around writing articles that are also out of the norms. Well it is in our shoulders, the youth of Sudan to change what we have now to a better future for us all. I enjoy the post and thanks for sharing your thought and experience with us. Looking forward to reading more

Mahid (Sudanese Guardian)

http://sudaneseguardian.blogspot.com/

4 Amjad 03.13.10 at 11:08 pm

Don Cox:

“How about the serious infrastructure – water, sewage, roads. Is that being updated? Does everything work?”

Nop.. they don’t work, at all. I was in Sudan last summer and my house happens to be in the most expensive area in Sudan (in summer 2009, 1 square meter was selling for 800 USD, I kid you not). Come fall season, with some light rains, and that “most expensive area in Sudan” is flooded with water, thanks to the very poor drainage system. If the “most expensive area in Sudan” doesn’t have a decent drainage system, which part of Sudan would?

5 Drima 03.14.10 at 5:01 pm

Don Cox and Amjad,

The drainage system is indeed still a disaster, but there HAVE been some improvements, especially in the design of new roads. Nothing noticeable though. What’s very noticeable and obvious is that the electricity hardly gets cut off now. I was there for two weeks, and it was only cut off once for around 3 hours.

Also, around 8 years ago, finding a bottle of mineral water to buy was like going on mission impossible. Now, it’s a piece of cake. There are modern shops everywhere and a few big supermarkets. Long story short, if we use the PAST as a starting point to draw a comparison, then there’s no doubt that Khartoum has indeed moved forward.

Leila,

I know, I actually liked watching them, but there are lots of folks out there who think they’re part of a conspiracy or something.

Mahid,

Thanks for the kind words. You’re right about the whole marriage thing. Thing is, there’s no way for me to know what her intentions are allegedly marrying an 80 year old. Inherit the ka-ching after he’s kaput? True love? Can’t tell, but it is a point worth noting. Either way, the crap she had to put up with was uncalled for and the government got the negative media coverage it deserved.

6 Muhammad Osman 03.14.10 at 5:48 pm

Finally, I’ve been waiting for you to post this for a long time, Thanks Drima. At a first glance, it looks just as comprehensive in scope and depth as I imagined it would be. I’ll be back to comment in details.

MO

7 Muhammad Osman 03.14.10 at 6:01 pm

And yes before I forget. I can confirm the fact that Lubna had married her late boss Abd-al-Rahman Mukhtar, a 83-year-old editor-in-chief of Al-Sahafah newspaper. The man died few weeks after the marriage, leaving her a patrimony of few houses in central Khartoum. This however does not make her an “opportunist” in my view. We never know.

MO

8 Rihab 03.14.10 at 6:25 pm

I enjoyed reading your post but just a few comments.

Having come back to the UK from Sudan about 6mths ago after living there for the past 3yrs, I do agree with your final comment that although there has been a considerable improvement in infrastructure there are “contradictions” in the way society function – or to put it plainly there is a lot of hypocrisy in the way society functions in Khartoum and I think the worry actually lies in the type of individuals such a society is producing. This brings me to your Maygoma experience, I noticed how you put the emphasis on “mothers” who leave their children, but at the end of the day giving the fact that the society isn’t exactly forgiving of women who have children out of wedlock, then there’s little that any woman in such a situation can do other than give up her child since it would probably be the lesser of two evils for both herself and her child. As for the journalist, I didn’t hear about her marrying an 80yr old man, my comment on that (as a young woman) there is no young woman on earth who would even contemplate going for a man in his 80′s unless she had smthg to benefit from it, if he was 40 maybe even 50, you can say perhaps she loves him, but 80??? No way in hell.

9 lynne 03.14.10 at 6:35 pm

Fascinating report from your visit!! It does seem that there is reason to feel optimistic about the future there. There is progress even if everything is not working perfectly yet. I am looking forward to reading more! Glad that you enjoyed your visit!

10 Drima 03.14.10 at 6:43 pm

Muhammad Osman,

Thanks for confirming the info ya zool! :)

Hello Rihab, it’s been a while!

Regarding the hypocrisy, totally with you. Too much of it, especially now with all the drastic lifestyle changes.

Regarding the Maygoma experience, it’s not as simple as that. The thing is, at first I was extremely angry at society itself, but having met the director of the place and watched his Powerpoint presentation, my opinion changed quite significantly.

Sure, there are many women who do indeed face lots of pressure thanks to society’s unforgiving stance towards them and hence end up discarding their newborns, but with as much “care” as possible.

What you may not know is that there are some “mothers” … monsters in fact, who discard their newborns so carelessly as if with the sole intention of wanting them to die. At times, the intention is absolutely clear, like the horrendous one in which a newborn was found stabbed a few times with a knife and with the throat slit.

11 lirun 03.14.10 at 9:51 pm

i need to show that video to my grandma.. shell flip

12 xxxxx 03.15.10 at 11:53 am

“Friend: Well, obviously you don’t know that she was married to a wealthy man who was over 80 years old, do you?” Dear Sudanese readers out there, can any of you confirm this?, very true can send names and more facts about her i am very close to her passed a way huspend unfourtnatly all what ur friends say about her is very true

13 SudanseIslamist 03.15.10 at 2:44 pm

“It was already night time, and yet, it didn’t feel gloomy…” Circuitously you are admitting that the current regime despite its ideology has evidently contributed to the development of Sudan.
“Everywhere I looked, there were new restaurants full of people” means the rate of poverty decrease because 10 or 20 years back only few people could afford to eat in that restaurant except one living in Al Emaraat or Ryiaad!!
“American sanctions have no effect on it.” Btw, they could not stop them drilling the crude oil and Natural gas.
More than 60 parties including Communist and Socialist parties are participating in elections, and 12 presidential candidates. Btw, US doesn’t allow Communist to contribute in any form of political activities (Hypocrisy of the democracy) aren’t we more democratic?
“The Jihad Lectures” you can’t draw a conclusion based on some interest!!! And the realism of Jihad is not a garbage thing. Don’t judge the man by some outrageous hearsay ()
During my last visit to Sudan 1/5 years, Southern Sudanese were everywhere but they can’t afford to live where you live (so you can’t see them) and a selfish Northerner who never welcomed a southerner as a brother but as a cheap worker to clean your house while you hang with your friends in Amwag . I believe the greatest accomplishment of this regime is that it gives the Referendum right for Southern Sudanese.
But the shameful image of this regime is the financial corruption, it’s too much.

14 Drima 03.16.10 at 8:36 am

Salam ya SudaneseIslamist,

“you are admitting that the current regime despite its ideology has evidently contributed to the development of Sudan.”

Sure, I am. I gladly affirm that, and I don’t think I’ve ever said otherwise. Although this development is mostly economic.

“they could not stop them drilling the crude oil and Natural gas.”

Sure, they couldn’t. You’re right.

“Btw, US doesn’t allow Communist to contribute in any form of political activities (Hypocrisy of the democracy) aren’t we more democratic?”

Erm, okay. You might want to see this: http://www.cpusa.org/

And this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_USA#From_glasnost_to_the_21st_century_.281989.E2.80.932000s.29

From the Wikipedia article: The CPUSA still runs candidates for local office, although almost exclusively under the Democratic banner.

“And the realism of Jihad is not a garbage thing. Don’t judge the man by some outrageous hearsay ()”

If what the man was listening to is not garbage, I don’t know what is. Are you actually defending this kind of religious preaching?

“selfish Northerner who never welcomed a southerner as a brother but as a cheap worker to clean your house while you hang with your friends in Amwag”

So now I am a selfish Northerner who somehow hates Southerners, even though you’ve never met me and clearly haven’t actually read what I publish here.

Dear SudaneseIslamist, if you’re such a religious person, why do you assume things about others and resort to personal attacks instead of engaging in civil debate?

Anyways, I appreciate that you read the post.

Thanks for visiting.

15 SudaneseIslamist 03.16.10 at 10:23 am

Dear I am sorry if I have not read your blog for a year. I am not pointing a finger only on you but you are an example of the vast majority among the northerners who never treaded southerners equally and with respect.
The man I meant is Dr. Trubi . 3 of the top 5 personals in his party are from the south and his presidential candidate is a southerner.
” civil debate?” am I using a gun or I have to check Oxford Dictionary!!!

Take care

16 abdurrahman 03.16.10 at 12:31 pm

Salam Drima,
I was also back in Sudan, the same feeling happened to me the instant I arrived there;
‘As soon as I was out of the airport cruising in my uncle’s pick up truck, the change was instantly noticeable’
On the surface there is a dramatic change, new buildings popping up everywhere, newer cars, restaurants etc. Before there used to be like an upper class, a tiny elite who were out of touch but in control and the masses who just got by somehow. Now there are more divisions, a middle-class has arisen.

I noticed that the people who had money in the past, are able to make a whole load more these days, hence the rich are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy richer. The poorest are now – so obviously poor.

Also the changes are mainly in Khartoum….scratch that…actually only a few areas of Khartoum…but im not expecting miracles. I hope the balance can be readdressed.

Have you noticed the house and land prices?? its not justifiable. Im more likely to get a decent house in London than Khartoum.

On another note….I have never seen a people so advanced with the use of mobile phones though. Its quite astonishing how young kids can reprogram a phone in seconds, they know the ins and outs of Zain, Sudani etc. Quite surprised me that.

17 Mohamed Yahya 03.17.10 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for passing this through dear friend JR. I have read Sudanese thinkers observations. It is interesting what he said a bout Southern Sudanese and the life in Khartoum. I understand and agree with some of his observations. Specially the boom of the infrastructures and the Morgan City buildings. This shows how there’s a gap between those Elites, rich people in Sudan who almost linked to the Sudanese government and have all the access to wealth and the good life. Sudanese thinker is probably one of those fortunate to visit to see and enjoy dining on top of these towers a round the river Nile…when so many of Darfuris and other Sudanese are living in the margin of these beautiful places. They just see them by their eyes if they get a chance to walk by or riding any transportation’s.

I listened to many of those talking with deep frustrations a bout booming buildings and houses that owned by a few rich people within Sudan government who concentrated their business only within Khartoum. There’s nothing done in the rest the capitol itself such as Omdurman city Suburb and Khartoum North’s as well as the twin cities of the main Capitol Khartoum. So forget a bout the rest of Sudan specially Darfur, Beja at East and South of course.

In the meantime, Mr. Sudanese thinker does not mentioned the poorest places a round the Capitol Khartoum, Witch’s inhabited by Darfur refugees and those escaped their areas from all around Sudan looking for safety and little fortunes in the Capitol…Unfortunately, they are living in such shelters just a few miles outskirt of Khartoum…where Sudanese thinker seems to be ignored visiting these very well known areas packed by Sudanese citizens whom born and lived for many generations without remarkable change in their life…just because they are related to Darfur or South or Beja and Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan.They considered a 3rd class in their Country’s Capitol. Also there’s thousands of the displaced refugees mainly from Darfur and others who sought refuge a round the Capitol in which cold by Arabs ” a black belt” that often attacked by the government and punished, detained, jailed and even killed for no clear reasons, and others forced to return back to Darfur….I just mention for example a few places where those resides:
Mayo area south and west Khartoum, Salaam district, Jabel owlia, Almarkhiyat, Ombaddat areas, Cartoon Haj yousif, and dozens of other places witch’s never even have electricity,clean water , clinics and paved roads. I wished if the Sudanese thinker did visit such areas and give as the holistic and honest video observations instead of focusing only in one block of Al-sunot Morgan Buildings that becomes known all over the world as one of most a controversial elements in the currents Sudan’s history according to some analysts…who made a comparisons with the reality of the war and the continues sufferings of the majority of the Sudanese people….However, I’m sure if Sudanese thinker himself wasn’t from the same ruling party clan” Arabs” he would have a different perspective.

I don’t think this gives the genocidal regime of Sudan a credit..Still most of Sudanese people are starving to death inside the capitol when those a few enjoying everything..in one of the most corrupted countries in earth. I do strongly believe that the developed countries and good Nations would be judged by their equality, dignity, Integrity and respect within their solid social justice. Share their wealth, power and resources fairly without any kind of discrimination’s or unjustified classifications….Not only judged by their Infrastructures and surfaced phenomenons.

Thank you.

18 Howie 03.18.10 at 4:28 am

Walla Mohamed kif chalek…ana chawaja markutu gerutendi!!!

Good to hear from you habibi!!! :)

I think you might be too harsh on Drima who tends to be a pretty strong critic of the Sudanese government…I have noted him to try to be pretty objective. I don’t think his comments about Khartoum were political statements or compliments…but more his observations…

But he is a big boy and can speak for himself…

But nice to “hear” from you my friend.

19 Hipster 03.18.10 at 8:27 am

Hello Drima, welcome back! Don’t be shocked that I am finally posting a comment:P It is not your fault, it is rather mine for being on hiatus deliberately.
I have enjoyed reading your post. I, too, made a few similar observations in writing when I had last visited Sudan in Dec 2009.
An excerpt:

Bridal fashion show,
The first of its kind that I witness
Beauty at its finest
Creativity, talent and colors galore
I imbibe the
Alluringly made-up amateur models
DJ’s dexterity on the turntable
Red carpet
Amazed faces
Chichi chicks in skinny jeans and the sadly clichéd kuffiyahs
I am impressed
But then I go out in the streets…….
The gap between the rich and the poor has grown considerably and conspicuously than that of the last time I have been here

His face,
Forever impressed upon my memory
Mutilated eye, tongue sticking out,
Frozen in mocked irony
Ostensibly inane yet rebellious
His abode is but a cardboard mat and the shade of an unaffordable building,
I approach
I speak
He neither flinches nor looks towards me
Expressionless eyes focused on, what? I wonder,
The magnificence of escapism in to his spun Utopia,
Or is it the fruits of true lunacy?
Anything to make him obliterate the ruthlessness of his reality….

I reflect upon,
My brother’s words, “Home is where the hatred is”
I have sensed it in
The frustration, passiveness & helplessness of the youth
Perpetual reminiscences & bitterness of the elderly
Defeated auras of the fathers
Resigned states of the mothers
Only the elite are reveling in Khartoum’s white washed façade…..

In light of my last line, I concur that this govt. has made some improvements, infrastructure-wise. My indulgent self has to confess that it had tremendously enjoyed dining in the new restaurants and being driven in lit, clean streets. But, nonetheless, poverty is still undeniably ubiquitous, if not alarmingly escalating.
Oh well, I am sick and tired of repeating cliches, so back to your post:

Turkey soaps: Guilty as charged – Although, 5 months ago, I decided to boycott them simply because I got too addicted that it affected my work! As a rehabilitated junkie would say, I have been clean since then:)

Divorce of North and South: Sadly, I am pro-segregation, if it will put an end to the constant bickering.

Shisha girls: Indeed, a big no-no! Even here in the relatively somewhat liberal UAE, Sudanese girls who smoke hookah are frowned upon. I personally wouldn’t engage in it but I would never base my judgement on a fellow Sudanese sister solely on Shisha!!!

Lubna’s Story: Sigh, evokes memories of university days when we were compelled to hide and run from Nizam Al’amm troops because we wore trousers. Regardless of the speculations and accusations surrounding Lubna’s sensation, I admire her spunk!

Hope to catch you soon and please do fulfill your promise of adding me to your friend’s list on facebook:P

20 Muhammad Osman 03.18.10 at 2:07 pm

Here are my comments Drima,

On southerners disappearing:

Maybe not in the areas that you went to but they are still around. Most of southerners are concentrated in the outskirts and faraway areas such as Haj Yuisf and Mayo.

On the elections:

It is true that campaigning was slow to kick off, mainly because the elections was in doubt, but it is now gradually gaining momentum. Now the streets of Khartoum are inundated with posters of candidates. Even local media has begun to ramp up coverage ahead of the polls. Preachers in mosques’ pulpits (I only go there to enjoy the propaganda ) are keen to urge worshippers to vote for President Al-Bashir “because he is the only one who will keep Shari’ah in force” and not to vote for Yasir Arman “who seeks to promote licentiousness.”

Your uncle is right to some extent. There is a general apathy in some urban areas, not only Khartoum. In my view, this could be attributed to the fact that most people have lost faith in the possibility of change and believe that this government, despite all of its shortcomings and crimes, has at least managed to stabilize the economy in Khartoum and other urban areas. So they prefer the devil they know.

Take care my friend, I’ll soon shoot you an e-mail to discuss some proposals.

MO

21 Sudanese Optimist 03.21.10 at 1:32 pm

My blog kicks your blog’s A.

22 Drima 03.22.10 at 6:54 am

abdurrahman,

You’re right. land and home prices either for sale or rent ARE ridiculous, but if you’re a landlord renting out your property, these are good times. Still, it really is ridiculous.

Muhammad Yahya,

What Howie said. This isn’t a political post voicing specific support or opposition. These are just my observations of what happened during my visit to Khartoum.

Hipster,

I was a big believer in the New Sudan vision painted by John Garang, but frankly after his death, it’s not gonna hold together. Hence, like you, I am now pro-separation. Let Southerners have their own country. It’s about time this arranged marriage set up by the British with the borders they drew ended. It’s time for a healthy divorce.

Muhammad Osman,

Thanks for those key observations. And yes, I actually haven’t gone as far out as Haj Yousif during my visit. The furthest I went out of main Khartoum is Omdurman.

Sudanese Optimist,

While your blog, ehm, supposedly kicks my blog’s ass, my blog gladly remains “wooly” even in the face of your violent behavior.

Relax the mango ya zareefa, or else, wallahi I will dive your stone like nothing happened! ;)

23 Solanasaurus 03.22.10 at 1:42 pm

Thanks for the post. Really looking forward to hearing more of your observations on this upcoming election and whether it will match or mismatch what we are able to read in mainstream media abroad.

24 Howie 03.22.10 at 4:40 pm

Drima…

“I was a big believer in the New Sudan vision painted by John Garang, but frankly after his death, it’s not gonna hold together. Hence, like you, I am now pro-separation. Let Southerners have their own country. It’s about time this arranged marriage set up by the British with the borders they drew ended. It’s time for a healthy divorce.”

I have been thinking about that concepts in a whole lot of ways lately. I don’t think we humans were really put together to be nations…hell…we can’t even get along with our next door neighbor…and yet we are supposed to be patriotic and identify with a country…

I don’t know what a “natural” state is…certainly Iraq is a figment of the Brits. imagination…Jordan as well, and I don’t know HOW many other places…

I guess the USA is a pretty good model; Fed. State, County, City…it ain’t perfect…but speaks a bit more to how folks really operate. In fact…I think we should go back to the Mason-Dixon line…I would not miss Alabama or Mississippi…let them join Southern Sudan and have their own country…

25 Kammo 03.22.10 at 6:42 pm

” In fact…I think we should go back to the Mason-Dixon line…I would not miss Alabama or Mississippi…let them join Southern Sudan and have their own country…”

Sheeesh. Intense!

26 Howie 03.23.10 at 6:51 pm

Kammo…

Yes…I have plans to totally re-align the world so everybody will become bubbly and completely happy…

I have spent a lot of time in Israel and plan to use the Middle East as my model.

27 Abu Sa'ar 03.23.10 at 9:47 pm

Howie -

Human self-identification as part of a group is malleable, changing with the vicissitudes of memes. The nation-meme, this relatively new hybrid of Tribal and Imperial memes, has been struggling for dominance against its antecedents. In Europe, for instance, its heyday was the 20th century; 21st brought us the EU and the resurgence of a mutated Imperial meme.

I am looking forward to the next evolution of supra-familial group memes. In the meanwhile, the struggle between the three big ones (Tribal, Imperial and National) continues, with all the blood and violence it entails.

28 Howie 03.24.10 at 5:06 am

Abu…

Just kind of makes you want to be a raccoon…hiding in the woods and occasionally raiding trash bins.

Supra-familial…that’s a new one…sounds like a clan or something…

Do you think I can stop being connected to the Jews? Can I join a new tribe…kind of like switching country clubs? They started getting on my nerves 59 years ago…

And I am 58 years old.

29 Abu Sa'ar 03.24.10 at 2:59 pm

Howie – anything larger than a family is supra-familial. Familial identification is limited to something like up to a 100 people tops, IIRC.

And well, Jews are an ethnicity. You cannot currently escape your genome, so you cannot really escape your ethnicity. Leaving the Jewish nation is, however, very possible – we usually call it “assimilation” :)

It’s very much like switching country clubs.

30 Andrew Brehm 03.24.10 at 4:39 pm

Isn’t a nation simply made up of several tribes whereas an empire is a regime that rules over several nations?

31 Abu Sa'ar 03.24.10 at 5:50 pm

Not necessarily. Empires from before Westphalia Treaty ruled over many tribes since nations as we know them were not yet invented, for instance.

The common denominator in a family is personal familiarity.

The common denominator in a tribe is shared ancestry/progeny.

The common denominator in a nation is a sense of shared destiny as a group.

The common denominator in an empire is the relegation of authority to the same external body.

32 Andrew Brehm 03.25.10 at 12:02 am

I define a nation as a group of tribes that share a common language and/or religion and/or sense of purpose.

33 Howie 03.25.10 at 2:06 am

Abu..

Nah…Jews are not an ethnicity…the best I can come up is that we are a “people” Am Israel and that kind of thing…

No assimilation will never work…not for me…Jewness sticks to me like sweat on an August afternoon in Petach Tikvah…I can shower in Coors Lite, revival meetings, and marry Obama’s daughter…and yet…I will slowly reach for tefillin in my sleep or cry out for lox in a fevered delirium..

I grew up assimilated as you can get…I knew the Hail Mary long before I knew even the Sh’mah…yet every morning I wake up and there is this JEW looking right at me in the mirror…laughing, mocking, and singing tunes from Fiddler on the Roof.

It is hopeless

34 Abu Sa'ar 03.25.10 at 10:33 am

You’re doomed, then, ya Howie… Well, at least be grateful for gefilte fish & chrain :)

35 Andrew Brehm 03.25.10 at 11:09 am

Until a few years ago an old Sephardi visited our synagogue every now and then.

I didn’t know him well and never knew his name but we often talked.

And he said one thing I’ll always remember. He said that in his long life he has learned one thing: “Wherever we are are, whether we are Ashkenazi or Sephardi or other, and whatever we do, we are always Yids.”

Let’s face it: If Jews don’t define themselves, others will. The world needs Jews.

36 evision 03.30.10 at 11:37 am
37 Jamma 02.16.13 at 12:34 pm

This is my first time to open this Blog by chance and I am very amazed and impressed by the sudanese Thinkers , and every one who participated in the discussion of Mr.Drima, I wish and Pray ,and actually would advise my Littel Brothers and Sisters to understand the value of clean thinking , Conversation to help develop there country Sudan is Beautiful , and Sudan is Not ONLY (KHARTOUM) …
Very Interesting ObServation I have enjoyed reading all the Posts ..
Regards
Jamma

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