Never once did I think I’d ever come to live in Sudan despite being of Sudanese descent. Rather I saw myself continuing to be what I grew up as…. a citizen of the world. As a child I often heard tales of almost mythical proportions about my father’s homeland. From our people’s warrior past to their world renown, and at times extreme, generosity and hospitality, Sudan was something out of a story book; something amazing.
Fast forward to adulthood and to a time when a sequence of events would lead me to making the decision to move to my Father’s land along with my family. By this time, I had visited a few times and found Sudan to be not as “rosy” as the tales I heard in my youth, however there was still some romance. There was something about this place – the simplicity, the warmth from the people and all of this despite the apparent uphill struggle most Sudanese face. Somehow it all resonated with me and I found myself very much at home, yet strangely alienated. Much of this was due to a disparity between the culture that I knew and grew up with and that of the strong and very much homogeneous Sudanese culture that I found in my new country of residence. However, these differences and the constant reminder that I was somehow different did not deter my will to make Sudan my new home.
The rest of my family on the other hand did not take to the transition very well. Between the abundance of dust to the language barrier and all of the other differences that we encountered, our decision to move had begun to be a questionable one. There was one incident in particular that stood out. My eldest daughter, who was asthmatic and suffered on and off with eczema before coming to Sudan, broke out with a funny rash all over her arms. It wasn’t eczema but some kind of reaction to the environment or weather I would assume and it did not look pretty, rather scary actually. Needless to say, my daughter was freaking out. I, being more a natural remedy man, decided that we should be patient and ride out this freakish occurrence at least for a few days before rushing to the doctor. In hindsight, it defies logic that I would have moved anyone in my family who had known reactions to dust and weather but then again, I have never been known to have an orthodox sense of logic!
“Indeed, patience is a virtue best learned in Sudan”
About a week passed and lo and behold my daughter’s skin reaction cleared up or shed or something and was surprisingly replaced by a beautiful fresh layer even stronger than the last!
As we continued rebuilding our lives in Sudan, we faced some adversity which is normal when settling in to a new country. But no matter how difficult the obstacle and no matter how trying the test, we seemed to get through each one, eventually, and come out of the whole experience resilient and more determined than we started.
Indeed, patience is a virtue best learned in Sudan, some would say. My family, compared to many, all possess doctorates in this particular field and, at least I, am thankful to have had the opportunity to have returned to the land of my ancestors together with my family and learn to appreciate the finer things in life. I cannot say it was easy overall, but it became easier once we grew our Sudan skin.
Al Jazar: A Minimalist Approach
On Al Jazar Street in al Riyadh Khartoum, under a large white sign spelling out the word “Al Jazar” in big bold black-lined red letters, is a great little take out for a delicious kufta sandwich. As the namesake explicates, the enterprise is a byproduct…