Who Makes Them Appreciate What They Have?
By Ethar Hamid
I wish I knew more about the wars and poverty that have gone on in Sudan. I don’t like to admit it, but one of the few things I know about the subject is that Sudan is infamous for both problems. But I do know that the wars, like the civil wars and the war in Darfur, have displaced a large number of people and have led to sexual violence against many women, among other humanitarian issues. I also know that the poverty in the country has resulted in the death of many people. Regardless of knowing these (few) facts, though, I don’t know the extent of suffering that the victims of these tragedies have experienced. Nor can I ever really know, as is becoming more evident to me.
Despite my lack of knowledge on some of the critical issues facing the country, I am a proud Sudanese (“proud” meaning “not ashamed,” really…I don’t actually think someone can be proud of something like demographic characteristics. But being unashamed and content is fitting). I like Sudanese culture. I like the warmth of the local people. I like being both African and Arab (I like my coily hair and dark skin…I like speaking Arabic…and I like having both ‘aseedah and falafel during the same meal. I think I actually did a good job, here, of highlighting perks of being Afro-Arab). But that’s all I know about Sudan, and the Sudanese experience—the fun stuff. I don’t know anything about not having enough food to eat. I don’t know about being driven out of my home. And I certainly know nothing of losing someone to war, or having my own life threatened.
I have a mental illness. Whenever I have a particularly bad day or week (or month or year) with it, I always say “it could have been worse. Alhamdulillah (meaning “praise be to God” in my native Arabic)—it could have been a lot worse. I could have been the victim of war, or I could have been living in poverty. But I wonder what the people I compare myself with (like the victims in Sudan) say to themselves to boost their morale. Who do they compare themselves to?
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