Africa Needs You
Last month I visited Sudan for the first time in six years. Sudan is the birthplace of my mother and father, as well as the rest of my family. In fact, I am the only one of my siblings who was born here in the UK. Sudan is often thought of as one of the poorest and most dangerous countries in the world, yet upon arrival I was met with warm Sudanese hospitality. Sudanese people are some of the most hospitable people I have ever come across and they are famous for it too. It was beautiful to be back with my people again. People were happy to see me, everyone was catching jokes and I caught up on all the latest gossip with my loved ones.
“Alcohol has been strictly prohibited in Sudan since 1983. In some instances, people purchase alcohol from local dealers.”
I was there for my brother’s wedding. The celebrations and parties were never ending. For a country under strict Sharia law, you’d be surprised at the amount of alcohol people drink, how much they party and how many mandem smoke weed over there! Albeit, not the chemically enhanced skunk that we’re used to in the UK but the natural, brown, bark-like textured stuff, full of seeds that gives you a completely different high. Alcohol has been strictly prohibited in Sudan since 1983. In some instances, people purchase alcohol from local dealers. They buy homemade moonshine-like alcohol, disguised in 7up bottles in order to avoid trouble from the police. Basically, man are trapping alcohol. It’s all mad, I know, but it was astonishing to see the contrast with how easily you can get alcohol in the UK. It was also interesting to see the similarities and differences between the party cultures.
I travelled to Sudan in the winter time but the weather was banging. It was very hot in the day and there was a nice cool breeze at night; just enough to justify wearing a hoodie. All of the positive energy that was around me definitely had something to do with the beautiful sun (us darker people NEED THAT SHIT). I was confident that the sun had a huge impact on my mental health. It felt like any problems or anxieties that I had on my mind were taken away by the heat of the sun. The whole trip was phenomenal. I spent time talking with the elders about the current state of affairs and why Sudan is still so poor in spite of all the potential it has as a country (gold, oil, agriculture, the Nile etc). The common answer to that was ‘corruption’ – and attitude to that corruption.
“The large majority of people in power were once hungry so when they get into power they eat until they pop, forgetting all the people that they once starved with.”
There is no money because there are no jobs. It’s a common occurrence that a person will have a degree in subjects like medicine and engineering but will opt to drive taxis instead, as being a doctor simply doesn’t pay the bills. And I can’t blame them, I hurt for them. The government is very corrupt as I’m sure a simple Google search will tell you. Our president, Omar al-Bashir, is a piece of shit in my humble opinion. He is corrupt, money hungry and feeds his friends while keeping the rest of his people starving. Like many other corrupt countries in the world, the rich get richer. The large majority of people in power were once hungry so when they get into power they eat until they pop, forgetting all the people that they once starved with. Consequently, they contribute to the majority of people’s downfall through maintaining the ever-growing wealth gap. The cycle continues. In Sudan you’re either pretty rich or pretty damn poor. There is no middle class. The closest thing to a middle class is those who have family living outside of the country that can send back some foreign currency to help the people get by.
There are few opportunities over in Sudan. However, me and you happily take advantage of what we’re given here in the UK. We have free healthcare, student finance, job opportunities, trade unions, ambulances, running water, electricity, universities and even a welfare system. When I see the state of my people over there, I don’t look down on them. They have too much self-respect and honour and it’s hard to feel sorry for someone when they don’t feel sorry for themselves. If anything, I look down on myself. The fact that I have all of this opportunity available to me but don’t make the most of it makes me feel like shit. It’s embarrassing for me to know that some families skip meals to send their kids to school while I’m over here skipping lectures. The trip gave me a new perspective.
“With our university degrees and our GBP, we can change proceedings for our struggling people back home.”
When consulting my people, elders and youngers alike, they don’t see many solutions. There is little opposition to the government. The only way I can see change on the horizon is through the country’s expats and through people like myself. The African diaspora has a huge part to play in the re-stabilisation of our home nations. The opportunities, infrastructure and resources that have been stolen from our people and given to the West must now be harnessed and utilised by us. We can be the solution. With our university degrees and our GBP, we can change proceedings for our struggling people back home. I am encouraging us to make the most of what we have here so that we can go and give something back. This is an attainable solution that could truly help the reconstruction of Africa.
Make the most of what you have been granted, my people, and remember where you came from. As members of the diaspora, we should shoulder the responsibility to rebuild and give back to our motherland by seizing the opportunities that we take for granted. We can be the difference.