By the time I was leaving Khartoum to the North-Eastern region where the pyramids of Meroe are found, I had a load of permits with me. My cameraman George joked that I needed a small printer and a photocopier for my trips.
After witnessing the good city dwellers, we decided to get into the interior Sudan and compare life there with that of the city and off we went to Meroe in the North. Well, we never managed to meet a lot of people but the ones we met were great.
Over 200 kilometres from the tripartite capital (Tripartite because it is made up of Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri or Khartoum North) of Sudan are the hidden treasures.
After cruising through the desert taking a ‘fool’ and bread breakfast (fool is a Sudanese dish of beans mixed with natural oil pepper and some other spices) along the way, we arrived at the Italian camp, the same company that made our trip possible. We had our lunch and afternoon siesta there as we waited for the sun to subside to allow us to enjoy our planned journey.
We enjoyed a camel ride to the pyramids of Meroe but not before meeting with something strange.
I have heard about desert weather and sandstorms but never experienced any. We were buried deep inside for about five minutes which made me panic but it never got fatal.
A strong wind full of sand and dust just came from behind the hills and covered the whole area leaving us wondering about the next move. All in the group went silent either for sand not to enter their mouths or for fear of the storm. Our tour guide said it was a small one.
The rest of the ride was smooth until when we approached the pyramids and things went bananas again. There was a strong storm and some showers too. We were worried for our camera and our lives as well. The camel is so high to jump off from but the pyramids are near.
Patience counts here, the animals were commanded to lie for alighting and so they did and we rushed to the leeward side of pyramids. Our guides and their camels vanished into thin air immediately after that and we were left with our tour guide from Khartoum – they couldn’t stop a storm anyway!
Another storm struck leaving us scampering for safety in a small space at the entrance but was gone after 10 minutes and we were left to enjoy our visit by the great places of the gods and kings of the Cushitic civilization.
Our tour guide Alshafea Hasabarasool explained to us how the pyramids were build facing the east and no pyramid could be built in front of the other for the respect of the other people. He also explained some drawing and symbols on the stones some depicting the powers of the kings through lions and swords. He was happy that we are telling the good stories about Sudan
Back to Khartoum, of the four gentlemen and one lady I met and have visited my Mother land Kenya in the past, none had a negative thing for this east Africa’s largest economy. ‘I like the Hilton hotel one gentleman who has also visited Lake Nakuru, Naivasha and Mombasa told me. Hakuna matata another one on the street shouted after discovering where we come from. The only lady is a theatre insider who is taking Swahili lessons guided by his Kenyan friend. Most of the Sudanese I met and engaged on interviews insisted on the fact that in Africa we are one and people should embrace and love each other.
In Sudan, people are generous, lovely, friendly and above all welcoming. We did interviews in several homes which came along with either breakfast or lunch depending with the interview time. No one passed by the gate drinking some water from the strategically placed natural cooling pots and met us eating or drinking and was not offered something. I liked this spirit especially in a town set up unlike in many other places in our other African cities.
We started with a high, a musical by Dafa Alla Ali and ended with a high another beautiful musical by Shaden Hussein.
When I decided to write parts of this blog during her performance, Shaden was not impressed. She thought I was so much on whatsup and requested me not to do the same when they come performing in Nairobi – The troubles you go through when you decide to write the lines you think are easily forgettable and the musician thinks you don’t like their songs. The concert was cool why lie.
Filming bridges here is forbidden and they are all manned by police my fixer tells me because of the country’s security.
As I board my plane, I will be a happy man. Happy because I achieved a good percentage in my filming but I will be a sad man because Sudanese are not as happy as they should be. Many of the people I talked to are not free and they would rather not talk about the government if they have negative opinions – which most have.
I wish Sudanese people a happy life going forward and I pray they continue being the good people I left them. Goodbye Sudan for now, I will pass by on my expedition on The Nile from Cairo to the eastern Africa.