Random thoughts about Egypt

In Egypt, you always hear a variation of this phrase: “Egypt is bigger than anything”, it doesn’t matter whether the context is as serious as regional politics or a mere football game. Egyptians truly believe and think that Egypt is bigger than anything. And this is the soul of what makes Egypt, Egypt.

Egypt – in my view – is a land of striking contrasts. Egypt, along with Ethiopia, are probably the only two countries in Africa that existed before the British and the French decided so. It is not just political borders drawn by colonialists as it is the case of most other countries. On the other hand, Egypt has not been ruled by an Egyptian for more than 3 millennium until Mohamed Naguib took power.

Egypt was the center of all political and social movement in the middle east in the past century. When Egypt embraced liberalism in the early century, the whole middle east went liberal. When it went anti-colonialist, the whole region followed. When it embraced pan-Arabism, the whole middle east was after Nassir. And when it went fundamentalist, the whole middle east went fundamentalist as well. Like it or not, it all starts in Egypt, for good or for worse. This is in contrast with an apparently very stagnant political life that – in recent history – has no mention of any revolutions, no coup d’etat and a huge number of divine leaders who ruled until death.
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Hierarchy of human needs: Food -> water -> Passport

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 …

Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs
Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs

Memoirs of a bloody foreigner (1)

Well, I arrived to England. New hopes, dreams and more importantly, new stories to be told.

Arriving at the airport, I was stopped by the Home Office dudes, courtesy of my Sudanese passport of course. They – as they put it – wanted to check if I was there for the right reasons. Being an expert with those fellows, I knew all the right answers. But thinking about the question, I thought about what would my true honest answer be, I figured out it could lie anywhere between “I have a great job waiting for me here” to “I am after a British passport that would spare me your bullying”, but none of those answers was even close to the truth.

At one of those rare revealing moments, it hit me. I was there because it really didn’t matter. As high as Theresa May and her dudes could think of their country, for me, it was just another step along … some road. I was always a foreigner and I will always continue to be. No passport, no job, no family will change that, because …..

(cheesy Steven Seagal movie theme song)

…. because I am the ultimate bloody foreigner!

I was a foreigner as long as I could remember. I am not talking about any victimized feelings here, rather about a feeling/state of mind that I always did my best to emphasize, it is the feeling that was (for me, someone who believes in almost nothing), it was the only driving force in most of my life. Being a foreigner gives me that adrenaline feeling that I thrive for but more importantly, it adds the tiny bit of spice that makes a good story great.

What changed in that revealing moment, is that I suddenly came to terms with “me being a bloody foreigner”. I might have been a victim of it once or twice, but I have a luxury that few foreigners have: I choose my terms. And even though I – admittedly – have all the doubts of the world in my head but I know enough to appreciate the rare gift of having a choice.

Thanks Mrs. May.

خواطر انفصال

من عنجهيتنا وغرورنا كسودانيين شماليين، أننا نتعامل مع انفصال الجنوب على أنه سينشئ دولة واحدة جديدة في الجنوب فقط، متناسين حقيقة بسيطة. الانفصال – وهو أمر صار حتميا بدليل كل الشواهد – الانفصال هو نهاية السودان الذي نعرفه. بعد 2011 ستكون هناك دولتان جديدتان لا علاقة لهما بالكيان السابق المسمى السودان. غرورنا – الذي أوهمنا أننا أسياد وغيرنا عبيد لقرون – هو نفسه الذي يوهمنا أننا السودان الأصلي بينما غيرنا سيكون السودان الفشنك. وأنا هنا لا أتحدث عن المسميات – فحتى إن احتفظ الشمال باسم السودان فهو بالقطع لا علاقة له بالسودان الذي نعنيه حتى كتابة هذا البوست.

قد يغضب البعض  ﻷن حديثي يستبق الأمور، ويتعامل مع الانفصال على أنه واقع، لكنها الحقيقة للأسف، فالحديث الآن ليس عن الانفصال من عدمه، بل عن الانفصال بأقل الأضرار الممكنة. الحرب هي بالتأكيد أسوأ الشرور، وكلنا لا نتمنى عودتها مهما ساءت الأمور. لكن هناك تداعيات أخرى لا تقل خطورة – أو على الأقل تعقيدا – عن الحرب. مثلا يخاف الكثير على مصير مئات الآلاف من الجنوبيين في الشمال وقد بدأ الكثير منهم بالفعل في الهروب من حيث نشؤوا وعاشوا لعشرات السنين.

لكن يبدو أن الكثيرين لا ينتبهون لجزء آخر من الصورة. فالكثيرون يراهنون على أن العديد من الجنوبيين – بالذات في الشمال – لن يرغبوا في العودة أو الانتماء لدولة الجنوب. لكن لا أحد يسأل السؤال العكسي، هل ترغب كشمالي في الانتماء لدولة السودان “الشمالي” التي ستنشأ بعد الانفصال؟

حقيقة أنني كنت دوما ما أواجه فكرة الانفصال بغصة في الحلق، لم أفهم لها سببا بداية حتى صدمت بهذه الفكرة: إن انفصل الجنوب فأنا لا أرغب أن أكون سودانيا “شماليا”. حقيقة أن نيفاشا لم تعطنا حق تقرير المصير، لكن المؤكد بالنسبة لي أنني – بالقطع – لا أرغب في الانتماء لهذه الدولة التي ستنشأ في الشمال.

بداية، السودان – كما كل بلدان افريقيا – ما هو إلا صنيعة بريطانيا وفرنسا وغيرهم. أعرف أن الكثيرين ربما ارتابوا وتساءلوا عما تعنيه تلك الحدود المسماة السودان، لكننا كجيل ولد بعد الاستقلال بعقود، تقبلنا الفكرة كما فعل غيرنا، تقبلنا واقتنعنا أن هذا السودان – الذي رسم حدوده الانجليز – هو سوداننا. الآن عندما تنشأ دولة السودان الجديدة في الشمال؟ هل سنتقبلها كما تقبل آباؤنا السودان “الأصلي” ؟ أشك.

دولة شمال السودان المرتقبة هي صنيعة الإنقاذ، عن جهل أو قصد، هي نتاج ربع قرن من تجهيلنا وتخويفنا وتهميشنا. هي دولة ينظر لها أمثال الطيب مصطفى ودستورها هو الانتباهة! هي دولة عنصرية بنيت على اضطهاد الآخر وتهميشه وإذلاله. الفرق كبير بين اللحظة التي نشأ فيها السودان الأصلي، حيث اجتمع آباؤنا على تحدي المستعمر والإيمان بذاتهم، وبين هذه اللحظة، التي أعمتنا فيها عصبة الإنقاذ عن عدونا الحقيقي واستخدمت كل عقدنا وعيوبنا لقيادتنا لهذه اللحظة. يحاول بعض الجبهجية تجميل هذه الصورة القبيحة بتصوير السودان الشمالي الجديد بأنه السودان العربي المسلم الحر، ويلعبون في الخفاء على هذا الوتر العنصري. لكن ربع قرن من الإنقاذ علمتنا أن لا دين ولا عرق ولا انتماء لهم سوى للسلطة والدولار.

فمن الذي يرغب في الانتماء لمثل هذه الدولة الوليدة؟ في رأيي هو إما جاهل متحامق أو شخص لا يملك بديلا،  والأخيرة هي حال معظمنا.

حقيقة، أود أن أهنئ اخوتي الجنوبيين بدولتهم التي ستنشأ قريبا، حتما ستواجهم مشاكل جمة لكن على الأقل سينتمون لكيان يعني لهم شيئا. أما نحن، فهنيئا لنا دولة المؤتمر الوطني.

Mes cheveux

Je ne sais pas quand mes cheveux sont devenus une affaire nationale !

Des peuples qui se sont mis d’accord pour ne jamais être d’accord, ils se disputent sur les points plus décisifs de leurs affaires … Ils se sont tous joints dans ce but sacré…

Nayala doit couper ses cheveux !

Je m’appelle Nayala … et l’histoire est que le jour de ma naissance, ma mère a décide de me nommer d’une manière folle et insensée … comme si elle prévoyait ce que son fils serait …

Ma mère a obtenu une carte géographique et elle a demandé à une petite fille “damnée” de passer son doigt sur la carte et … je porterai le nom du pays où elle s’arrêtera …

Je remercie Dieu que la fille ne s’est pas arrêtée en Afghanistan …. Mais elle a jugé que je resterai à jamais attaché à un nom que je déteste parfois, je ne le connais pas très bien peut-être, j’essaie de le fuir quelques fois … mais il restera mon nom pour toujours …

Elle a jugé que je serai “Nayala” …

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Vraiment, je ne sais pas quand mes cheveux sont transformés d’une simple caprice à une affaire décisive.

Ce que je sais c’est que maintenant, je prends un grand plaisir en les provoquant. Je sens la joie de la victoire chaque fois que j’entends leurs opinions et leurs analyses éminentes.
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iEducate: Europe is Apple, America is Microsoft

Recently, I was looking for higher education opportunities around Europe when I was hit by this fact: If you’re not European, you have no chance.

Don’t get this wrong, I am not complaining about that. I wouldn’t expect a foreign country to give me what my own country didn’t. Like it or not, everything today is Money.

What hit me is that I always keep this thought at the back of my head, the thought that Europe is somehow different. I would expect to pay 20,000$ a year in the US but never in Europe. Why?

It’s about the  “Image” that Europe markets for itself. In computers’ terms, Europe is like Apple while USA is Microsoft.
Continue reading “iEducate: Europe is Apple, America is Microsoft”

Stop cheering for ICC …

STOP cheering for ICC because:

1. Because the whole issue shows how useless of a nation we are. ICC is not Al ta7aluf, ICC is not one of the “revolutionary” parties, ICC is not our dreams and hopes that we grew up with.

ICC is ICC, bad or good, we – Sudanese – have nothing to do with it.

2. This might be a day of glory for Ocampo, or for the victims “the REAL vicitms” .. They have every right to celebrate … But for the rest of us, this is the day that – officially – announced our FAILURE

3. Because we grew up with bullshit of a fucking revolution – for fucking 20 years – and now we look for our savior in a country as far as Argentina. It is fine to be weak (if we admit it) but let’s NOT be pathetic.

4. Because if anyone of you thinks that Europe, America or the West will shed a point of blood trying to save an African, then he’s an ignorant who should read some history (hint: google Rwanda)

5. Because all of us cheering, we ARE not the people in camps, we ARe not the darfurians who will be tortured by security forces, we barely had some relative who was killed or RAPED .. so, let’s start by admitting how weak we are – unable to say NO to our brothers being killed for years – and then let’s have the decency to shut up and let the REAL players decide

6. Because Albasheer never spent a day in a refugee camp, all these War lords never spent a day in a refugee camp, Ocampo merely knows what a Refugee camp is .. and you and me, we don’t have a clue .. so let’s NOT act as we KNOW,

We “might” care but we DON’T know.

Even this fucking post doesn’t know.