Dead presidents count

Those that ventured into downtown Khartoum this afternoon may just have noticed the appauling levels of traffic that criss-crossed through the streets – even worse than usual. I had never seen such total grid-lock before.

This grid-lock, I am informed, was all because of one former Sudanese President, who died yesterday. Al-Mirghani. A name that many non-Sudanese, even those that follow events in Sudan, will be unfamiliar with. Most will have heard of the Prime Minister with whom he served – Sidiq al-Mahdi – but not with al-Mirghani, despite the latter’s valiant efforts at making peace with the rebels (which may have not been so noticeable had Sidiq been left to his own devices) and his noble lineage. He came from the prestigious Khatim Sufi Sect, which claims descendency, probably with some degree of accuracy, back to Prophet Mohammed himself.

This explains why I now have blisters on my feet from walking so much. It was faster than taking the bus.

Of course, this blog entry might have been slightly more informative had I given my take on a President who is very much living rather than one recently deceased. I speak of course of the election of Barrack Obama – an outcome that, inevitably, almost every Sudanese I have spoken to is ecstatic about. But I don’t really have the energy to write about this. Blame it on the walking.

As I was trudging back through the dusty streets of Khartoum, I was accosted by three young Sudanese lads who called out to me, playfully, “Obama!” For a moment, I thought of pausing and setting them right – that I was British, in fact, and not American as they clearly thought. But then I checked myself. The Obamamania that has gripped Sudan, and indeed the wider Muslim world, seems, for now, to have given rise to a much more positive view of America and their voting nationals. So there really was no need to set things straight.

That’s about as insightful as my commentary gets today.

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One Response to “Dead presidents count”

  1. America, the ICC and the problem of image « Blake Evans-Pritchard’s Weblog Says:

    […] As I have written elsewhere in this journal, one of the significant problems with the Bush administration (okay – there were a whole slew of others, too) is that he had a big image problem in the Arab world. See the problem that my students had with him. And then see the euphoria that gripped Sudan upon news of Obama’s election. […]

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