Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A House is not always a home

In late 2001, I was waiting right outside Khartoum International airport with at least 50 family members for a man who was forced to leave Sudan 11 years earlier because he had opinions and he refused to conform. I was waiting for my father.

He is your typical educated ,intellectual and politically-involved Sudanese nationalist who is also one of my favorite authors. At the age of 30, the government decided that he must retire. He went with my mother to England. He wanted to live there temporarily but my mother wanted to stay there and raise her daughters away from political problems and African dictatorships.

He was like Anwar from Leila Aboulela's novel, Minaret. A young figure in the opposition who would've never even considered living in the West but found himself there.

Many of his friends were already there, doing their PHD's and applying for political asylum.
Not long after moving to London, they returned home.
The transitional-government took over and my father was optimistic once again. He went back to work.

Years passed and the national salvation government took over.
New government,New problems.

In Sudan, people always hope this new government is better than the one before it. This government was suppose to end the war with the South , they made it worse. Since the beginning, their "we eat what we grow" ideology caused more poverty and more hunger. They wanted to cripple the civil society but they couldn't get rid of all the opposition groups.
This man spoke up only to lose his job.
Two daughters and an unemployed husband, my mother was even more eager to leave the country. We stayed there for a while and finally, we left.
It was hard but there was no other way out. This man couldn't find a job anywhere but then one of his good friends offered him a job. He travelled there only to be told to leave immediately. They were looking for him and his friend. There is nothing worse than feeling unwanted in your own country.
We started our journey abroad and my father was lucky when it came to jobs. He did well and I was always pivileged.
Most of his friends who left with him did well too. Professors in the United States. Doctors in England and Saudi Arabia. Writers.Scientists.
Although most if not all the Sudanese in the diaspora contribute to the economy
through remittances sent to families or friends, Doesn't Sudan really need their skills more than their money?

I was thinking about the skilled diaspora a few days ago. My father. His friends. The educated individuals who were forced to leave.
Do you think that the university of Khartoum deserves better Sudanese professors?
If professors in the US,Europe or the Gulf came back and taught at U of K, it would be better.
Since the government of Sudan doesn't appreciate any skills, talents or intelligence, people are tempted to leave. Many musicians,painters and writers work abroad because the government doesn't appreciate any form of art.

Why was my father forced to live nearly 20 years of his life abroad? He would've contributed allot to his country.
Why is Rasha, a very talented Sudanese singer forced to live in Spain?

5 comments:

Amjad said...

very great Kizzie. I like!

all the things you've said are true. My father himself was a professor in the University of Khartoum prior to 1989. The other day he was talking to me about this issue and how the current government despised them and the other Sudanese intellectuals & scientists. And then when this government took over, just like your father and some other Sudanese, he was forced to move where we are living now.

Dalu said...

That's what's so disheartening. When a country dispels whatever hope it has in creating an advanced and open society...what do you do?

My dad left in 1986 and later on came back and took us away. So I spend my entire life away from home. Well I visited briefly three times in the summer...but I barely ever left our compound. I was too young to remember anyway....

But I've never been up South. I was born in Wau. It's crazy when you live your entire life, never meeting your extended family and just hearing about so and so passing away. You get angry and then you just get numb and stop giving a shit after a while. *shrugs*

My only hope is to see my grandparents before they pass away.

I don't know. I have an undying love for Sudan and love my identity, however, I find myself filled with some much anger and disconnection sometimes...

And out of my father's anger and bitterness towards the "north" he managed to raise us to distrust and hate arabs/northerners.

This is where the problem lies...parent's continue to spread their poison. And although I've managed to not let the seeds take root and flourish, you will find people out there who carry their parent's ideology.

We all need one giant therapy, before any real actions towards improvement can happen.

It reminds me of the same talks, in the U.S. to allow African Americans to heal before any change can take place. Because four hundred years later? They are still suffering.

Sorry I went off on a little rant...

it's just so infuriating.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I can't imagine what it must feel like to be unwanted in your own country in that way: it must be absolutely heartbreaking. And of course, if all the skilled professionals are forced to leave, what hope is there? Sadly history has seen this happen over and over again. Thank you for opening my eyes, Kizzie.

Kizzie said...

dalu,
"I don't know. I have an undying love for Sudan and love my identity, however, I find myself filled with some much anger and disconnection sometimes..."
I feel the same way. There's too much suffering for all of us to bare. It usually depressing but I always ask myself this question :- if u didnt change it, who will?
hopefully, we will be able to do something...even if it's a slight thing:)

"And out of my father's anger and bitterness towards the "north" he managed to raise us to distrust and hate arabs/northerners."
well I know how he feels. Its hard even though the war is over, its hard to recover from a war. this might go on for generations but the blogosphere is giving us all a chance to communicate. We are all sudanese after all and we have to work together for a better sudan.

" you will find people out there who carry their parent's ideology."
when u r a kid,it's this way. Your parents n ur enviroment shape your ideas but now, you read, you saw, you listened and you met people. so u've developed your own views rights?

"We all need one giant therapy, before any real actions towards improvement can happen. "
oh, let's start raisising money.

welschcakes,
"if all the skilled professionals are forced to leave, what hope is there?"
I know. people started going back but money are still abroad. In australia, the sudanese r the 2nd largest immigrant population.There are refugees there and immigrants. It's sad because the diapsora r really needed in the country but some of them said they will never come back. I know many will not even consider comming back.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thoughtful and painful reflection on the condition of your father's generation that was forced to leave their own home. Some of us, your father's generation, were unlucky. They were laid off their jobs and put in the Ghost Houses....Some of us lost their lives in these horrific places and many came out maimed, bodily and mentally... As much as the picture looks sad, when we see young people like you carrying the tourch of social justice and freedom; we know that we did not lose.... keep the great work of inspiring more of your generation...

mohamed elgadi
Amherst, MA
USA