I must say that my obsession with getting a different passport is hardly unique to me. I could argue that it is actually the one thing that unite the majority of young Sudanese (if not African) of today. It is bitterly funny (and unlikely to be a coincidence) that decades after independence, the new generation of Africans is eagerly trying to get rid of the identity that our fathers fought for.
My personal obsession started as a Sudanese boy in Egypt. The ultimate dream for most of us – as teenagers when you really start feeling the burden of your inherited identity – the ultimate dream was getting an Australian, Canadian or American passport (these were the main alternatives). We all had a story of a “Sudanese” who immigrated to one of those countries and when coming back to Egypt/Sudan/wherever, being harassed by a policeman, he “courageously” shows his Carte Blanche to misbehave in the third world: his newly acquired, hardly fought for, digitally signed, Holy Passport.
Being in Europe and having the possibility/mood for looking back at things and thoroughly analyzing them, I remembered my Economics teacher in school. He used to love to explain Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, he liked to emphasize how we – the lucky ones who made it that far at school – how we lie at the bottom of that pyramid (since we were even deprived of the basic need of sex). Regardless of the sexual dilemma in these countries, our teacher always emphasized the value of respect of others to go beyond the first level of the pyramid and how it is what makes fulfilling the rest of the needs a possibility. He couldn’t be more correct.
Lack of respect of others is at the heart of it. Whether it is the ugly policemen of Khartoum who give themselves a divine right to beat the hell out of a woman because of wearing trousers, or people thinking that they are higher than the rest because of tribe or religion, or simply a teacher at school beating kids to fulfill his own lack of respect to himself. Lack of respect – on a higher level – is what made Apartheid, it is what made genocide, it is the cause for the rise of the likes of Bush and Bin Laden, it is what made Hitler and what will make the next Hitler.
This lack of respect creates anger. And it only takes a businessman and/or a politician to transform that anger into something more devastating.
My teacher never proposed solutions to fight this lack of respect, he was not the solution-proposing type of dude. Others – being more idealistic – proposed revolution, the majority clung to Religion as the solution. I was not as courageous as the first group or as naive as the second one, my solution was more pragmatic, it goes somewhere within the line of “Get a fucking passport, climb that bloody pyramid and show your passport in the face of that ugly policeman”.
But regardless of the means, all of us share the same goal: it is absolutely vital for us to climb that pyramid and it is absolutely vital for us to gain the respect of others (and eventually self-respect). It is a need as crucial as food, water … and sex I assume.
to be continued …