I don’t know where to start. I wish I had taken my wife. Who am I without my school certificates? These three remarks by refugees, scribbled into notebooks by The Niles correspondents, support the Sudanese proverb that ‘experience is a solid walking stick’. War, hunger and poverty have repeatedly forced both Sudanese and South Sudanese to flee their homes. Right now more than 4.5 million people are on the road in the two countries, like these passengers on a bus from Khartoum to Shendi. The fifth edition of The Niles documents their journeys, following their routes to neighbouring villages, fast-expanding cities or the other side of the globe, revealing diverse experiences with a recurring theme: When you leave home, the familiar is lost but the essential remains.
10 The Niles > Departure: Juba, South Sudan > Arrival: Nyumanzi refugee camp, Uganda > Distance: 180km “I wish I had taken my wife” > Departure: Juba, South Sudan > Arrival: Nyumanzi camp, Uganda > Distance: 180km “The boda-boda is not mine but I like it” 180 km > Name: Taban Robert Occe. > Previous occupation: Boda-boda motorcyclist. > Current occupation: Boda-boda motorcyclist. > Name: Muhamed Swale. > Previous occupation: Security guard at Jebel Barracks. > Current occupation: Boda-boda motorcyclist. Where did you run from? Juba. Where do you plan to go? Stay in Uganda. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? My wife. She disappeared and I am afraid she could have died in the fighting. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? My motorcycle. It means I can earn my daily bread. Interview by Esther Muwombi Where did you run from? Juba. Where do you plan to go? Back to my country next month. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? My construction materials and motorcycle. Both those items are of great use and I need them in this camp right now. People are building every day and I would make money if I had those construction materials. Also, now I am riding someone else’s motorcycle to earn a living. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? This motorcycle. Although the motorcycle is not mine, it’s my job so it is precious to me. Interview by Esther Muwombi 180 km Muhamed Swale lives in Nyumanzi camp in Uganda but wants to return to South Sudan soon. Boda-boda motorcyclist Taban Robert Occe moved from Juba to Uganda. > Departure: route Al-Mazad-Khartoum, Sudan > Arrival: - > Distance: 200km per day “I’d like to picnic again” Although bus driver Kamal Osman Abdul Wahab is always on the road he seldom has time to take a break. By Mahir Abu Goukh I start work soon after dawn prayer and work about 12 hours until five in the evening. I drive the Al-Mazad - Khartoum route and complete about four or five rounds a day. The route passes a number of city landmarks such as Moulid Square, where annual events are organized to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. It also passes the passport police offices at Bahri, the Blue Nile Bridge, which links the two cities of Khartoum and Khartoum Bahri, and the central Khartoum University complex. Next comes the northern side of the Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Council of Ministers and the Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Agriculture ministries. I’ve been driving a bus for 25 years and now have my own bus and do not work for others. I do not work on Fridays or during Eid al-Fitr or the Eid al-Adha holidays. I work Saturdays, but earn less than on the other working days. Passengers these days prefer to remain silent whereas they used to chat about their experiences. These days people focus on asking me about a place they want to go to. In the past, my work was more enjoyable but now it has become tiresome, boring, and repetitive. My vehicle is an old model and its meter is not working. Therefore, I cannot estimate the distance I cover every day. Working as a driver is rewarding because I own the vehicle, unlike other hired drivers who pay an agreed sum to the owner. My job has a promising future. People can save enough money to start a family or even own a house. Passengers do not want to travel on the river or on bigger buses. They like small buses as they travel everywhere. But my work is hard. I have no time for fun and picnicking away from home. theniles_enar_20150327.indd 10 2015/3/31 1:50 PM
NILE KHARTOUM BAHRI 175km TUTI ISLAND 7 OMDURMAN 10 18 23 27 24 9 13 WHITE NILE BLUE NILE KHARTOUM 26 2 km 2 km 1 : 49 000 1 : 52 500 Khartoum fact file Over the past 193 years, Khartoum has morphed from an Egyptian military outpost into a bustling three-part metropolis, connected by a series of bridges. Lured by better infrastructure than elsewhere in Sudan, people are flocking to the fast-growing capital. By Leila Bendra-Lehnert & Richan Oshi 1 Khartoum is located at the confluence of the White Nile, which flows north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, which flows west from Ethiopia. 2 The origin of its name is unknown but there are two main theories. First, the name may come from the Arabic word for “trunk”, perhaps inspired by a small strip of land, where the two Niles meet, which resembles an elephant’s trunk. Second, the city’s name might be derived from the Arabic word for the safflower, Qurtum. 3 Khartoum is a tripartite metropolis, made up of Khartoum, Khartoum North (called Khartoum Bahri), and Omdurman. 4 Khartoum is the political and administrative capital, while Omdurman is the cultural capital, and Khartoum North is the industrial capital. 5 Khartoum is the second largest city in Sudan, Omdurman being the largest. 6 All three parts of the metropolis are linked by bridges, of which there are eight. 7 The first of these, the Blue Nile Railway Bridge, was constructed during the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and opened in 1909. 8 A ninth bridge is under construction. The Dabassin Bridge is set to be the longest in Africa, spanning 1,670 metres, though work has been halted because of a conflict over land. 9 The “Battle of the Bridge” is the name given to the 2008 attack of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a rebel movement in Darfur. The JEM used Al-Ingaz, meaning Salvation Bridge, which connects Omdurman and Khartoum, in a bid to overthrow the Al-Ingaz regime, which gave its name to the bridge. 10 The Tuti Bridge in Khartoum is considered to be the first suspension bridge constructed in Sudan and one of the first constructed in Africa. It links Khartoum to Tuti Island. 11 The total length of roads in Khartoum is 3,000 kilometres, according to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. 12 On high traffic density roads, the average is 170 cars per kilometre, according to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. 13 The National Telecommunication Corporation’s building is the tallest in Khartoum, at 140 metres. 14 Before 1821, Khartoum was a small village called Al-Jirayf, on the south shore of the Blue Nile. 15 Khartoum was “founded” in 1821 by Ibrahim Pasha, son of then ruler of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, as an Egyptian military outpost. Khartoum celebrated its 193rd birthday in 2014. 16 A telegraph line linked Khartoum to Egypt in 1874. 17 On January 26, 1885, the Mahdiyya forces took over Khartoum, after a siege that lasted nine months. British General Charles Gordon died at the end of the siege, which the British Empire used to justify the presence of British troops in Egypt. 18 The spot where Gordon died became the Republican Palace, the official residence of the head of state in Sudan until recently. 19 The population of Khartoum city more than trebled from 30,000 in 1930 to 96,000 at the time of independence in 1956. 20 The Khartoum Resolution of September 1, 1967 was held in Khartoum and was attended by eight Arab heads of state after the Six-Day War. It became famous for its three “no’s”: “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” 21 The first oil pipeline between Khartoum and Port Sudan was completed in 1977. 22 Khartoum has the best infrastructure in Sudan, including its schools, hospitals and roads. 23 The first mosque in modern Khartoum was built around 1961 and is now called the Farouq Mosque. 24 The National Museum of Sudan, founded in 1971, is located in Khartoum. 25 The International Fair of Khartoum was established in1976 and is considered one of largest general trade fairs in the region. In 2014, 14 countries and about 600 firms participated. 26 Osama bin Laden lived in the al-Riyadh neighbourhood of Khartoum from 1991 until 1996. 27 The University of Khartoum is the oldest and largest university in Sudan. It was established in 1902 as the Gordon Memorial College. 28 Khartoum has been the central stage for many protests throughout its history, such as the September 2013 protests which, according to Amnesty International, led to the death of at least 201 people. 29 Khartoum, specifically Khartoum University, was the starting point of the October Revolution in 1964, which overthrew the military government of President Abboud. 30 Khartoum is the smallest state in Sudan by area, but the most populated, with over seven million people, according to projections by the Sudan Central Bureau of Statistics for 2015. 31 There are approximately three million foreigners living in Khartoum, accounting for almost 40 percent of the population in the state. 32 Khartoum ranked 210th and 217th on the infrastructure and quality of living surveys carried out by Mercer, out of 221 cities surveyed in 2012. 33 A haboob is an intense dust storm that occurs in arid regions across the world. The name was given to it in Sudan. The city of Khartoum experiences an average of about 24 haboobs every year. 34 Khartoum has a three-month rainy season (from July to September), while the hottest months are May and June, when average highs are 41°C and temperatures can reach 48°C. 35 Low temperatures in Khartoum average 15°C in January and have dropped as low as 6°C. 225 theniles_enar_20150327.indd 11 2015/3/31 1:50 PM