Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Mingled conversations intersected in the mouths of the people in the long cue, until a voice clearly distinguished itself. "Today, 4 August, is a historic day for Sudan: the constitutional agreement is being signed by the two contending government leader forces, the military and the civilians", said a noble and secure voice. [In the picture: student demonstration in El-Obeid, North Kordofan]
Someone took, spontaneously and instinctively, those words left in the air and added: It's about time, we are over 30 years behind because of the one who adulated himself through his own name and treated the Sudanese without honor or human dignity. This man – El Bachir, (in Arabic means happy news) – does not deserve such a beautiful, expressive and meaningful name. It is because of him that we are here now lining up for hours to get a miserable portion of bread for so many mouths I have to feed at home…
This was the tone of the conversation while we waited lining up at the bakery that occupied (and in fact troubled!) much of the space of the street. I know it's useless to look at the watch but the habit was stronger than me. And then, I heard a friendly voice that whispered to me: ‘khauaja (foreigner), you live in this country of ours like us, so you have to be patient!'.
Meanwhile, the cell phone rang: ‘… abuna (father), we are lucky, you and us, because the Mass here is only in the evening; otherwise you would not arrive here in time; otherwise, I had to preside the Celebration of the Word of God while you would had to line up there'. On the other side of the line was the catechist of the town where I was expected to go to celebrate the Eucharist.
Unexpectedly, our long cue for fetching the bread was overrun and somewhat unraveled by a numerous upcoming group of people. They danced for joy, singing well-known slogans of the revolution, highlighting proudly, above all, a chorus for the first time: “We won, hail to democracy! We won, hail to democracy”! They were humming and pacing with the pots, pans, and other new utensils they found for sale in the open street shops as they passed by the market.
An elderly gentleman to whom, earlier, a young man offered a place up in the cue sighed: “The waiting was long. Sweat, blood, and tears mingled on endless days. I cannot erase from my memories the barbaric massacres where so many of our martyrs fell. But from what we are hearing today, it was worth it.” On the other hand, in the women's cue, the echo replied: “So much suffering to finally see today the happy result, the signing of the agreement of the constitution of the government. At least on the paper. It is just a beginning of other sacrifices we will be asked of us, the Sudanese. But it is very important that from the beginning, as today, the future is pathed by walking together.”
Not far from us, the happy voices were raising up. In the midst of that din, a voice stood out among the humming rhythm of tin and aluminum utensils: "el hamdu lillah, thanks to God, the ceremony of constitutional agreement is now taking place in Khartoum." There were some people, in fact, who were following the important event on their mobile phones. And the same voice went on: “alf mabruk, congratulations, dear fellow countrymen! Courage, we have a future!
Distracted by the march of the people full of joy, I saw at last that the cue of women was over and the cue of men had shortened a lot. If all goes well and the flour is not finished, I will soon be out, I thought to myself in my smiling soul. And we will have bread at home for today and tomorrow.
Returning home, I passed by the petrol station. Although invisible to my eyes, I knew that in the long and endless cue of cars there is also Fr Luigi with the old Toyota mission van. It would be a bad omen for me if the well-known saying "who waits despairs" would be fulfilled for him. Certainly, my fellow missionary, in addition to the water and the rosary he always carries with him around, today he will have included some books/magazines and a sandwich. Because experience is a teacher in life. But beyond all that, Fr. Luigi also knows – and most importantly – that 'patience achieves everything'.
Feliz da Costa Martins
El Obeid, Sudan