A dream (or an election) deferred

Following a chat this morning with a British couple who are staying in Khartoum for a month, I started thinking that a good way to describe this city would be to borrow the words of Langston Hughes, who gained a place in history with his poetic synopsis of racial riots in America in the 1960s.

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

The couple, who last visited Khartoum in 2005, told me that they couldn’t believe how much the city had changed over the past few years. Now everywhere you look, there is new building development, they told me; it really feels like a developed country now, not like other African nations.

That was when I thought of the words of Hughes – because it seems to me that casual visitors to Khartoum see, like me when I first arrived, just the superficial glitz of this ‘new and vibrant’ oil hub – but, scratch a little deeper, and there are some very real grievances festering just beneath the surface.

The words came back to me in the afternoon, when I met Mahmoud Salih Osman, a prominent human rights lawyer in Khartoum who has just been awarded the EU’s prestigious Sarkhrov Prize for his work in the country. A paid-up member of the Communist Party, he complained about the way that the ruling party is frustrating the democratic process, and it is looking almost certain that elections will not be held in 2009 as promised.

“What will happen if they are not?” I asked. Under the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which the government signed with the African Union, elections must be held no later than 2009.

“There will be protests in the streets,” said Osman.

“Riots?”

He shrugged. Then nodded. “Probably,” he said.

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One Response to “A dream (or an election) deferred”

  1. kizzie Says:

    I’m happy about the development in Sudan. I was there in 2005 and yes ..huge difference fromm 2003. We are getting alot of money from oil exports. Also, the oil prices increased at an alarming rate in 2007. The main question here is can we manage all this money and allocated our oil wealth well?
    Sudan’s economy is one of the fastest-growing in the world ,however, if we did not solve our internal problems and “elect” (really elect!) a competent government, the country will be ranked a failed state AGAIN!

    good blog.
    Are you by any chance Evans- Pritchard’s son?

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