Riding home from Alshimaliya a couple of days ago we observed the aftermath of the floods around 100+km outside the capital. The road we had taken just 2 days earlier was almost unrecognizable in some areas, with electricity poles pulled clear out of the ground, trash and trees and mud everywhere, and dead animals strewn on both sides of the highway. In one area there was a sudden appearance of hundreds of camels and their riders: Arabic nomads uprooted by the water and looking for dry ground. I shudder to think what would have happen to anyone who had been on that road during the night and caught in the middle. Probably halfway to Libya (or heaven/hell) by now. The strange thing is that these areas haven’t seen so much water in years, and oases and vegetation has sprung up overnight. Wild donkeys are seen drinking from pools of water. Nomads are seen carrying simple hoes and seeds to make use of the sudden rainfall to grow what they can. It’s such a strange sight to see all that sand and dirt extending to distant mountains, with out-of-place lakes of water from flash floods scattered here and there. Makes you rethink how one being’s curse is another’s blessing, and how God takes care of ALL His beings in ways we can’t really imagine until we see.
A guy from our village who has a transport company brought all sorts of news: of an entire small village wiped out with 8 members missing, corpses from distant places appearing in front peoples’ homes drifting in the water, entire herds disappearing overnight, washed away by the floods. He told us about one farmer who owned a piece of land who had just bought 3000 SDG worth of seeds for the upcoming season, and who had heard of the possibility of floods so had driven over to the farm in the evening, told his guard to pack his small family into the car and drove them off. In the morning, there wasn’t a single brick, animal or plant left on the farm. The guard and his family would’ve been washed away as well if that farmer hadn’t had the sense and compassion to get them out in time. All that talk about the millennium floods brought back stories about ’88. One of the women said an Arab had showed up in our hometown with news of distant villages hit by torrential rains, with huge black clouds splitting in 2 and pouring out water that was like nothing anyone had seen before. He went from house to house and market to market telling the people it was coming their way and for everyone to get to higher ground while they could. Of course, our area being desert for miles except directly adjacent to the Nile where the date gardens are, no one listened to him. And when the floods came later, not a single house or family was left untouched. Walls and ceilings crashed down, valuable documents and possessions washed away, students both boys and girls in dormitories far from their families caught in the dark of the night with water pouring in from every direction were stranded. 1988 left a scar in the nation’s memory no one wanted to experience again, but 2013 makes it look like a pool party in comparison.
My homepage is full of shared updates about the worsening situation and the calls for help for the flood victims. The whole past 10 days have been about nothing else, actually. The destruction, the incompetence, the anger, and that small but solid ray of sunshine called #Nafeer, with a hashtag. The difference now is that, instead of just 2 people sharing and resharing pictures and updates, now it’s about 200+. And the content is changing as well, with news of foreign aid finally drifting in. The media seems to have woken up from its coma as well: the day before Eid I was telling my uncle about the damage and was (kind of) surprised that he didn’t have the slightest clue about what was going on. Despite the fact that he reads 3 newspapers every single day. No joke. There wasn’t a word about the floods in the Sudanese newspapers. The news on TV has changed as well, as the headlines have gone from absolutely nothing about anything, to 90% of airtime dedicated to reports of committees formed, meetings held, ministers being updated, aid being delivered, and footage of grateful citizens who talk about how everything is ‘God’s will’ and what a favour the authorities are doing them by gracing their destroyed neighbourhoods with their presence.
Anyway, its better late than never. Showing up 10 days after everything is better than not showing up at all, and anyway the worst is yet to come. All that water brings nothing but promises of disease and death, so yes, please donate whatever it is your donating because God knows those people need it, and there’s news of more raining coming. And for all those people sticking their foot in trying to take credit for a job they didn’t do, know this: the world will remember how a bunch of 7anakeesh kids rolled up their sleeves, pooled their pocket money, put their hands together and got down to business saving lives while the rest of you people pretended nothing was going on, until the embarrassment was too much to pretend any longer.
I vote #Nafeer for president.