The air of depression was so pungent in Khartoum it almost masked the residue of the passing "kataha" (sandstorm) that filled the skies as much as it found its way into your nasal passage.
It's been two years. Not only two years since my last blog entry but also since I last visited Sudan.
Much has changed over the past couple of years - globally and within my birth country. And as I prepared for my visit "home" just 2-weeks after the official inauguration of South Sudan, I could not help but wonder how SO much of nothing has probably changed. A country's split, redrawing of the borders, a tear across the land - is not something I feel a regular citizen walking across the street notices or outwardly feels. I did not anticipate any difference, regardless of all the despair splashed across my peers' social networking platforms. I just didn't buy it.
I wasn't incredibly wrong, either. Generally speaking, what I came across was not the feelings of loss at a redrawn border, rather an increased level of depression and discontentment among, primarily, the youth. It was a heightened level of what I had seen a couple of years earlier. The regular citizen was just - fed up. Even friends who were working decent jobs, were well traveled, educated etc, were shadowed by a certain gloom that surpassed all walks of life.
It baffled me. Nothing drastic has happened within the past 2 years (aside from the obvious split into 2 countries, and I could tell that this somber mood had been brewing since before the South’s secession). Was it the soaring food prices? The fact that our neighbors and nations across the way were fighting (and semi-achieving) their rights and we were benched during the big game? Rising unemployment? Was it internal politics? Or was it just the damn heat?
It could be none of the above or it could be a blend of all. What I can probably say with confidence is: protests are ignited by overarching feelings of misery at the state of your country. Calm down, overly-zealous news stations, I doubt there’s going to be a need for headlining "Sudan uprising " anytime soon, there are entirely too many pieces missing in the puzzle (which I will get into in a later blog – hey, I’m back why not?!).
However, you can’t start a fire without a spark.