For the World to Learn

The writing below shared by Anila Goldie, who lived and taught for two years at the Khartoum American School in Sudan, is an inspiring tribute to what’s possible in reorganizing people and politics.

After 30 years of a dictatorship, 3 million Sudanese courageously gathered in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to peacefully protest that regime.

The following inspirational thoughts are written by these caring protesters.

For the World to Learn

Thank you, Abubakr Sidahmed. Shabab.  This post is by Opheera McDoom, the principal of Legacy School in Khartoum and former Reuters reporter describing the revolution in Sudan.

Just to give those of you outside the country an idea of the atmosphere on the ground, Sudan now is governing without a government.  As you walk into the area of Khartoum now completely controlled by the young ‘revolutionaries’ downtown, you see the difference.

The street outside is full of rubbish with plastic bags strewn across the roads.  The street inside is clean of rubbish – bags to put your garbage in placed strategically around and young men with long hair and skinny jeans roaming around, pickup up trash and encouraging others to help.  Overnight as the crowds thin out, they wash the roads in teams.

People are arranging prayer areas and ensuring privacy to do so.  Volunteers are organizing checkpoints every few meters to ensure no one gets through with weapons.  Women search women and men search men. “We apologize for the search brothers and sisters – this is for your own safety and your brother’s safety” is the refrain repeated to anyone moving through.

There is a pharmacy run by young volunteer pharmacists to dispense medication to those who need it.  Medicine is provided by companies and individuals for free.  Two blood donation trucks ensure that those injured in the protests obtain the blood they need.  Shifts are organized – the ‘day revolutionaries’ go home at night after the ‘night revolutionaries’ arrive to take over.  Tents are set up and run by volunteers to arrange cash, water and food donations. 

Traditional Sudanese hospitality is not forgotten, anyone visiting must dink tea or water.  No cars are allowed in unless bringing donations in – water, drinks, food – no exceptions or ‘mujamala’ even for foreign diplomats.  Street children are being fed and looked after in this new society.  Group parties are on every corner singing nationalist Sudanese songs and performing traditional dances.

Security?  Taken care of.  Makeshift blockades of bricks and borrowed razor wire block the roads to stop any attacks at night after a few violent but failed attempts to forcibly disperse the peaceful sit-in.

Missing football?  Supporters sent a huge screen to watch the last big Barcelona match.  The roads in Sudan are normally chaotic and, during a black out, the traffic police (if they appear), can hinder more than they help, but the roads leading to the army HQ have been taken over by the people who are happily directing huge volumes of traffic and hundreds of parked cars.  Children are given flags and biscuits, carried on shoulders so they can see above the throngs of people.  Birthday parties, weddings – you name it, are happening right there in the street.  Sudanese Coptic Christians are holding fabric shades over the heads of their Muslim brothers while they pray under the hot sun.

Without any leaders whatsoever, these young Sudaness managed to effectively run this sit-in, this mini ‘state’ within the capital, and do so politely, without infighting, ego or provocation.  Instead humor, cooperation, unity and solidarity are the order of the day.  The Sudanese people have a long and proud history of peaceful change.  Stay proud.

Post Script:  For further information on the peaceful Sudanese, from the perspective of a Westerner who taught and lived in Khartoum, you can read a book of true experiences called The Problem Is Not Available and peruse the following website: http://www.theproblemisnotavailable.com/

For paintings and photographs of Sudan you can go to the website of Ashraf El Sharif: http://ashrafelsharif.com/