People keep asking me why on earth I came back to Sudan. And by people, I mean every single person who comes across this piece of information. People who don’t even know me (which is never a deterrent for Sudanese people). I find it tiresome, trying to convince them that this was a choice I made with a sane mind and not on a whim, and that I have no regrets about it. Everyone is so up into this idea that Sudan is not a place that anyone would voluntarily stay in, let alone leave a stable life and job in the Gulf to come back to it, especially with everyone flying in the opposite direction. But like it or not, Sudan is the only place in the world we actually belong to. You could change your nationality, your hometown, your colour, but you’ll still have extended family with the name of 7aja Bakheeta and 7aj Alnijoumi, people you would rather forget you’re related to but people who will show up in weddings and funerals and run the show. Your ancestry will not be traced back to George Washington or King Fahad no matter how hard you try to attach yourself to those people and call them your family. Your parents will still have childhood memories of riding a donkey to school or swimming in the Nile. And you will always feel a pang of irritation and shame every time you see Omar Albashir giving a ridiculous speech followed by the never ending chicken dance, because, like it or not, he’s still YOUR president.
So please, let’s get over this whole ‘I don’t belong to this country and I want nothing to do with it’ act. Sudan has always been the way it is, and it’s not changing anytime soon. Driving is still like a destruction derby, the heat is always the closest one can imagine Hell to be like and the dust and dirt everywhere is what gives the country its authentic look. Any procedure that involves a governmental facility will always take 3 days longer than you think, and you will be charged 5 times what it should. Any event that involves the healthcare system will always end up as a story that should be broadcasted in ‘Infamous criminals of all time’. People cut in line even if there are only 2 of you standing. Everything costs a hundred times more than anywhere else in the world, and you can expect the price to double tomorrow morning.
So once you understand that these things are normal, and therefore expected, you can then proceed to look at the good things, and actually consider this country as a place to spend a part of, or all, your life. This is the one place where you will not be banned from education or employment because you’re ‘an expatriate’. You could be banned because you’re not a koz, because you don’t have friends and family in high places, because you don’t fit the look. But not because nas albalad are the only ones allowed. You don’t need permission to travel, buy a car or go to Hajj. No one can ever attempt to walk all over you because they’re a ‘citizen’ and you’re not. You could have 1, 2 or 10 jobs simultaneously without someone telling you that they technically own you and therefore you can only work for them. You stand in line at the airport with the citizens, not pushed to the side with all the ‘trash’ because of the colour of your passport. There are weddings to go to, all the family gossip reaches you fresh from the oven, and you run into old classmates wherever you go. The things that you read in the newspapers actually concern you. Come Ramadan, or any time of the year, you see hundreds of opportunities to give to people who will really appreciate it, and it feels so different because these people are a part of you. The food and Pepsi taste better, the fruits are sweeter and you don’t have to spend a single evening at home if you don’t want to. And best of all: everyone looks just like you, so no one will look you up and down and call you ‘ya zol’, and people will actually sit next to you on the bus without looking like they’re sitting next to a ticking bomb. And for entertainment, there's something for everyone: arts and photography exhibitions, music and dancing classes (samba, zulu and ragees 3aroos!), museums and parks, restaurants for all tastes and pockets, aerobics and karate, swimming and Nile cruises, horse riding, writing groups and concerts.
I came back home because this country is my country, and no one can convince me otherwise. I will not spend my youth a slave to someone else, unable to enjoy or relax, and not even saving money to make it worth the trouble. I admit that I have many more advantages than hundreds of people my age: a stable and beautiful house that we own so no rent to worry about; a healthy family who are financially secure and therefore no one dependent; stable means of transport, and a job even if it doesn’t pay me as much as I would like. Sudan isn’t going anywhere, so you might as well get used to that fact and try and divert the effort you make running away from it to making it a more enjoyable experience. When I announced my decision to move back home, a friend told me that Sudan is what you make of it, and that is so true. It’s been only 5 months since I moved back, and I have never been happier. In fact, I sometimes wish I had made this decision sooner, although maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated this place as much if I had. This major efflux of young men and women, especially doctors, is unavoidable, and I can’t say I blame them because almost everyone has a financial gain, especially men. But if money is not you’re one and only priority, then I think people should step back for a while, and actually consider living in Sudan, if only temporarily. Get to know the place and get to know your family. Get a job, no matter how meagre the pay. Try and give back and help pull this place out of the dirt, because no one else is going to. This is where our families built their lives and where they will eventually come back to rest, so we owe them and the country that much. And if everyone keeps on running away, then who will be left to fix what’s broken and build this place into what it should be? It’s not just about the money, and it’s not just about me, me, me.
Alsudan warak warak, 7at6eer mino wein ya3ni!