Sleepless Nights Chasing Dreams
When I envisaged this journey, Sudan was just a country en-route to Kenya, a step between Egypt and Ethiopia, albeit an intriguing one. Following two months in the country, with much of it still to explore, its status was changing somewhat. I was—and still am—learning more about the culture, the people, the politics, and I am fascinated. This was a unique time to be in Africa’s largest country, which is on the cusp of dividing itself to produce the World’s newest nation, all whilst having a President who is the only serving head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court for such serious charges, accused of crimes against humanity.
It was a time of investing myself in the country. I had applied for a couple of jobs, and had been offered one with an NGO, but which was scuppered by mon ami, the visa. On reflection, this is a good thing. I would have taken it as a means to stay in the country, rather than doing something I was passionate about. As is often the way in my life, I can’t help but feel I’m “falling into” things. Do I ever make conscious decisions? Things just seem to happen to me. The chain of events that has brought me to this moment has relied so much on chance. But then, I suppose, also an openness to embrace those chances that do come along.
In these early days of June, I was hunched over my laptop for hours upon end, illuminated by the soft light of the screen as dawn creeped through the window, preparing a portfolio, producing a CV, and writing application letters. I was meeting with journalists here, some of which in a professional capacity but mostly on a personal level, I felt inspired. I remembered the initial incentive I had had; when doubts clouded my mind, my thoughts wandered back to Patrick Chauvel’s autobiographical Rapporteur de guerre, Ryszard Kapuściński’s notes on the his travels & coups d’états in Ebène, or Aiden Hartley’s memoirs “of love and war” in The Zanzibar Chest, all of whose pages had helped mould the motivation to come away.
The biggest bags under my eyes came in the days before the application deadline for an assignment with the UNDP in Southern Sudan. I was up all night for several days, finalising my portfolio and writing the letter. In the end, this led to nothing—total silence even—and I felt deflated, but consoled myself that the effort had not been in vain.
And so here I am, contemplating la suite. To stay in Sudan, and to do something. I just need the means.
And some sleep.