May 17, 2019
After hours of driving, we arrived at sunset to a dusty border town, nestled between Sudan and Chad. Smiles and smoke filled the streets, and the call of the mosque went out across thatched rooftops. With joyful anticipation we arrived at two huts encircled by a low wall and went in. It had been a long time since we had last been home.
We are of the Masalit tribe, one of the largest and poorest tribes in Darfur, one of the most unreached regions of the world. Darfur is home to eight million people and dozens of Muslim tribes. But war has ravaged the land, and the Masalit are now a scattered people: some becoming refugees in the West, others braving the Mediterranean Sea with small boats and big dreams; some go north into the Sahara looking for gold, and others migrate to the slums of Africa’s megacities. But we do not forget who we are: we take with us our homeland and our heritage, always hoping to return.
‘Kinde!’ We greeted the group gathered beneath the shade of the tree. Surprise, and then celebration filled the crowd! Twelve years ago, as boys, we left home. Now, as men, we have returned. Neighbours gathered, sheep were slaughtered, the drums were assembled, and that night we celebrated like the good old days: drinking Kirimta and jumping as high as the stars until they faded into the sunrise.
In those precious moments we forgot our sorrows, but we cannot forget for long. The Masalit need your prayers.
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