Storytelling, story story, just a story
Some weeks ago I met with Amma (not her real name of course) – a Sudanese lady who told me her story; one of many horrible and sad stories around here, though hers is not the worst or toughest of the stories I’ve heard…
The proud, fertile, bombed and starved Nuba Mountains
Amma used to live in the Nuba Mountains just North of the border between Sudan and South Sudan; a very fertile and reportedly very beautiful area. The story of the area is long and absolutely gruesome as it has been a place of a war tending to genocide for decades now, and yet unknown to the wider international community. For years the Government of Sudan has supported militias to kill, rape, burn and bomb people, who during the war of the 80s and 90s were regarded as primitive, uneducated, second-class citizens.
The proud Nubans are a mix of Muslim, Christian and traditional believers, but not even the Muslim Nubans were seen to fit into the Islamist Northern regime that attempted to assimilate the people of the mountains and eradicate their identity. Furthermore most Nubans were at default thought to support the rebel forces (supposedly still supported by the South Sudanese government although they of course refuse this) and thus all licit targets for execution.
Today, the militias mostly consisting of Arab-pastoralist groups, have realised that they were just being used by the Sudanese government and that they have seen about as little development as the people, who used to be a target of their violence. But then the government just put in their own soldiers to fight the battle…
There’s a long long story to be told, but a lot of people told this before me – so this was just a brief background to the story of Amma!
The so-called second war, 2011-now:
After a short period of relative peace in the mountains a new war broke out in Nuba in June 2011. On the day where this hell broke loose Amma and her family fled their home never to return just like many of their fellow tribesmen and ladies. As the military swarmed the streets they took only the basics from the house – a couple of blankets and their registration cards (ID) as the most important, then fled through the bush for 5 hours to reach their safe place. However, a lot of people had arrived before them and thus they were rejected at the door and told to stay in the camp outside. Meanwhile the military killed many a young man for – well basically for being a young man who could potentially be recruited by the rebel forces! When Amma saw her husbands best friend killed in the camp right in front of their eyes, she decided to “smuggle” her husband and brothers into the ‘safe place’, so she went in and borrowed ID cards from some young men she knew and who worked there and by that saved her family. Herself, her sisters and mother remained outside the camp for 3 days before they found means of fleeing the area.
Since that day the family of Amma have been split; her husband went to Juba and she and her sisters + mother followed after 7 months. Her brothers live respectively in Khartoum and the Nuba Mountains. Amma struggles everyday to find a way to gather the family again, but coming from Nuba this is not an easy task, since the government of Sudan believes that all Nubans travelling to South Sudan are gathering to come back as a rebel group. So if you come from Nuba and try to fly to Juba from Khartoum … well you don’t because you won’t be allowed to…! Of all places in the world Amma is dreaming of bringing her whole family together in Cairo – which is kind of ironic as the day of my interview reported several deaths from the unrest in Egypt. Since fleeing her home Amma has never been back, but she’s been told that a soldier from the government army lives in her house and holds the deed to her land. Like many other Nubans, who have fled and left everything behind she wants to go back – but not until peace comes, because now at least “we are living and our lives are more important”, said with a smile on her lips 🙂 !
Well apparently not everyone thinks lives are important, as bombing continues in the Nuba mountains – with civilians, fields, houses and markets as the particular popular targets. The story of the people, who are still in Nuba (and Blue Nile, Abyei and Darfur) I will safe for another day, another time. While Amma’s whole family survived (so far) many more people have lost their lives to bombs, hunger and diseases and continue to do so. Not only in the Nuba mountains, but in many areas of both Sudan and South Sudan conflict continues to rage and kill for various reasons. Imagine that you lived in a place where wars and conflict had been raging for more than half a Century and continues to do so, and that your greatest effort in life will always be ‘just to be alive’… I can’t even imagine how that feels in spite of living in the midst of it!
A bit about me
I’m fine, thank you, how are you?! I say that a lot, because that’s usually the reply when people say ‘hello’ and they often do! And I mean to know – how are you? Please bring me news dear readers!
Not many news from here – office life, doing many interviews, bored in the office, busy in the office. Had someone declare his love for me yesterday; apparently love never dies (5 years without seeing me, then one hour of dinner, and bam! (sorry if you’re reading this)) – naaah not then not now!
Are now driving by myself in this crazy traffic and all the mudholes of the rainy season. Have met old friends from Yei (where I volunteered in 2009) – and am going to Yei this weekend – YAY – to visit more old friends and not least my family. I eat well, do my yoga, showers are still cold, power and internet unreliable. Happy days 🙂
XoXo – stay blessed – peace out! (inappropriate as that is)
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