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5 days ago

Experience is a solid walking stick...

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.

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12 The Niles > Departure: Dar Karni, Central Darfur State, Sudan > Arrival: Nyala, South Darfur State, Sudan > Distance: 230km > Departure: Bor, South Sudan > Arrival: Nyumanzi refugee camp, Uganda > Distance: 250km 70-year-old Mustafa Ali Mustafa fled his hometown in Darfur when fighting broke out. “Losing my library is an obsession for me” “I don’t know where to start” Deng Akol now makes an income charging up mobile phones in Nyumanzi refugee camp. Pastor Deng Adut fled Bor to escape recent fighting. Herdswoman Abor Rebbeca wants to head back to South Sudan when the violence stops. 230 km > Name: Mustafa Ali Mustafa, 70 years old. > Previous occupation: I worked with a number ofcompanies in Darfur. After reaching retirement age, I did social work and became a senior member of theadministration in my town. > Current occupation: Retired. Where did you run from? Dar Karni, Nertiti Locality, Central Darfur State, to Nyala, North Darfur State. My town was attacked by rebels in 2003, so I had to flee. Where do you plan to go? I want to go back home. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? My library, which contains valuable books collected throughout my career in the different positions I held in private and public institutions. Losing my library is an obsession for me. I remember it every time I want to read a book in my spare time. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? There is nothing. > Name: Deng Akol. > Previous occupation: Student. > Current occupation: Public phone charging attendant. Where did you run from? Bor. Where do you plan to go? Wherever opportunity arises. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? My school books. I had all my academic lessons written in them. Even though there is free education at Nyumanzi primary school, I don’t know where to start. It is a new syllabus and I am not used to it. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? My job. I earn 15,000 Ugandan shillings (US$6) every day. I can now buy most basics like food, soap, clothes and other things. Interview by Esther Muwombi 250 km 250 km Interview by Abdelrahman Ibrahim 330 km > Departure: Bor, South Sudan > Arrival: Nyumanzi refugee camp, Uganda > Distance: 250km > Departure: Renk, Upper Nile State, South Sudan > Arrival: Khartoum, Sudan > Distance: 310km “I wish I could have run away with the people who died in Bor” “I needed a mosquito net and a blanket because the road was tough” > Name: Pastor Deng Adut. > Previous occupation: Pastor and employee with warrior security in Bor. > Current occupation: Pastor and employee at World Vision’s Children’s Early Development Centre. Where did you run from? Bor. Where do you plan to go? Back to my country. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? I wish I could have run away with the people who died in Bor – I watched them being shot. The crippled, children and women were shot mercilessly. It hurts me that I couldn’t do anything at that time. I don’t really care about material things like cows, money, clothes or food, because God can give me more. I am most concerned about my people’s lives and I wish I had taken those lives with me. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? My job. This job is in line with my dreams of serving God’s people. Each day I feel fulfilled when I see children smiling and regaining confidence after the gunfire trauma they experienced when the fighting broke out. > Name: Mary Dak. > Previous occupation: None, I am 80 years old. > Current occupation: None. Where did you run from? Renk, Upper Nile State, South Sudan. Where do you plan to go? I do not consider returning to the South since being in Khartoum is more convenient for me. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? A mosquito net and a blanket. The road was tough. I would have used them for protection against the cold and the mosquitoes, especially on the way here. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? Nothing. Interview by Michael Francis Interview by Esther Muwombi theniles_enar_20150327.indd 12 2015/3/31 1:50 PM

The Niles 13 > Departure: Adi Keyh, Eritrea > Arrival: Kassala, Sudan > Distance: 320km > Departure: Jonglei State, South Sudan > Arrival: Nyumanzi refugee camp, Uganda > Distance: 330km > Departure: Thar Jath, Unity State, South Sudan > Arrival: Kuajok, Warrap State, South Sudan > Distance: 335.5km 225km “Still waiting to hear from New Zealand” “My goats, cattle, and clothes were the only possessions I had” Run for > Name: Terhas Kibdi, 25 years old. > Previous occupation: Military service in Eritrea. > Current occupation: Coffee shop owner in Kassala. > Name: Abor Rebbeca. > Previous occupation: Herdswoman. > Current occupation: Jobless. your Where did you run from? Adi Keyh, Eritrea. Where do you plan to go? I completed the refugee card procedures and submitted an application for resettlement in New Zealand, but my request has been pending for more than two years, which prompted me to look for work in Sudan. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? The most important things I wanted to bring with me when I escaped were my clothes, accessories, and private belongings, but I escaped secretly, leaving all my things behind. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? Nothing. Interview by Hamid Ibrahim Where did you run from? Jonglei State. Where do you plan to go? Back to South Sudan when peace returns. What do you wish you could have taken with you? And why do you still dream of it? My goats, my cattle and my clothes. Because these were my only possessions. What is your favourite item now? And what makes this item very precious? The sack of sorghum flour and beans that I receive from the World Food Programme (WFP) every month. I hold on tightly to this because for me it is important to have something to eat so that I can stay alive until God decides my fate. Interview by Esther Muwombi life! More than a year of conflict in South Sudan forced hundreds of thousands to leave their homes in South Sudan. Majok Ajieth, originally from Bentiu, Unity State, worked as an engineer at the Thar Jath oil field in northern South Sudan. He describes how he narrowly avoided death and fled on foot and by plane. By Ayuel Santino Manut 275 On December 18 last year, the fighting started in the morning. Police and civilians from the Nuer tribe were killing people in the town. I was the first to be beaten by a stick until I was in a coma, but, by God’s grace, a few Nuers who had not turned wild protected me and took me to the house of the oil company’s manager. All our houses were ransacked, searched and looted – everything that was movable was taken away and our houses were burnt down. The owner of the house we stayed in said, “No Dinka is alive out there. I don’t know how long I can protect you here.” He told us to run into the bush in the dark. We fled until about three o’clock that day, then rested under a tree. At sunset we started our journey again but it became unbearable. We knew if we stayed in the bush we may get lost or killed by wild animals. We decided to go to the road heading to Bentiu but we were soon ambushed. We were caught and beaten, we were stripped naked and tied up like baggage but the person in charge of the force was not there. One of our captors suggested we should not be killed until the boss comes back. When he finally returned we were put in a vehicle and taken back to where we had run from. When we arrived everybody became wild. Our enemies thought we were long dead and begged to have us killed, but the police officer in charge refused. We were locked up in a room with five gunmen to guard us. We spent two long days and nights in that prison-like house. Then, on the second day, we were driven to Bentiu. The policeman did not want a foreign company’s staff killed and our company eventually airlifted us away. I lost everything. At present I am jobless but happy to be alive. 300 325 350 theniles_enar_20150327.indd 13 2015/3/31 1:50 PM

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The children of the land scatter like birds escaping a burning sky...
A fool will not even find water in the Nile!
If the evil is coming, shut the door...
Those who have no fence around their land...
When two elephants fight...
It is a fool...
A river that forgets its source will eventually dry up...