Why I haven’t written for a while. (Not to be confused with an actual writing but more of an informal information)

1- some of the people I know in real life either follow or know of this blog.

there is something impersonal and liberating about sharing your thoughts on the internet, similar to screaming into the void. But if you’re a private person, no matter how badly you wanted to scream, you wouldn’t do it if a bunch of people were sitting a bit far from you. They might hear you.

2- my inner critic (who i like to refer to as the Bane of my Gotham), has grown stronger and louder.

Before, it used to be that I would think of something, contemplate writing about it, get past that and actually write about it, then contemplate publishing. Some pieces (the ones that sit proudly on my blog) are winners (or really good runners), because they have somehow escaped the discard judgement which my inner critic sentences my writings with, a lot. The rest, well, your time will come one day. Totally.

3-  so much is happening at every second.

good and bad movies are out every two days, TV series come and go, the human world is a mess, people rise and fall every five seconds. And here I am, playing a game on my mobile, thinking about what makes a good thing a good thing and why hasn’t planet Earth chewed us all in yet. It’s overwhelming.

4- I can’t care enough for my opinion to spread it, but i am also fabulous

while i am very aware of how insignificant my opinion is (to the extend that worrying about saying it is pointless), i am also vain enough to wonder if I should entertain the world with my precious ideas. After all, better and more informed people are out there, doing the good deed, but also worse and less informed people are out there, doing what they think is a good deed. I can’t figure out where would I belong if I did the deed.

5- I keep saying I will

While I am amazingly deep and philosophical, I am also lazy and a class A procrastinator. Case closed.

That being said, I am working on dealing with all of these reasons, because I love writing. Aren’t I a piece of work.

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You should read this because I am a very important person.

If I could name one unfavorable trait about my personality, I would say that I take myself too seriously.

It’s true: I am my worst judge, critique, and guardian. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “Don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive anyways.” I’ve always thought it was absurd. Precisely because no one gets out alive anyways is why one should take life quite seriously. Work hard, change for the best, never settle, or am I thinking of my horoscope sign traits? Anyways, there is no way to be sure every Capricon thinks this way, but I definitely am not one of these people who can just brush things off and laugh at themselves.

Here’s thing though: I want to be one of these people who can just brush things off and laugh at themselves.

None of us is unique. Just log into Tumblr and check the notes showing how many people re-blogged a photo quote saying “I overthink” or “I am drowning in my own thoughts” or that “My problem is that I care too much about people” or my absolute favorite Eminem quote “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.”

Ah, how amiable.

You see, we are most subjective when it comes to the way we see ourselves. We fancy our thoughts to be deep and meaningful. We like to believe our feelings are significant and special. We are the superheroes of this comic book that is our lives. I roll my eyes at us.

But back to my very important pressing problem

 I take myself too seriously. If I mess up, it’s a whole day –if I’m luck- of self-agonizing analysis of how could I do that, why did I do that, will I do that again, can I ever avoid doing that again, what if I can never change? Don’t forget of course, my telepathic mind reading of everyone involved in my messing up. “She must think I’m a failure, they must’ve laughed about it, he must really feel sad for me- who wouldn’t, they must feel I’m not worthy, they were only nice because they were trying to be sweet, gosh why did I say that they didn’t deserve it.” And so on and so forth.

Again, I am acutely aware of how common this belittling of self is among the general public, but I am the protagonist in this story and you shall cater to my every thought.

For me, everything has to have meaning. Everything has to be deep, Meta. I live my life like a movie: there’s a script (it has to be witty and smart and calculatingly representative of my awesomeness), there are many different tangled plots that should eventually mean something, there’s a bunch of challenges that I either win instantly win or may lose for the moment so I can win later on, there are losses that teach me lessons, and there is of course change.

Change is the tricky part, because I both want and fear it simultaneously.

This is no place to end a piece of writing I suppose, but I am special and also I want to sleep so let’s continue this tomorrow shall we? I will be most obliged.

A Sudanese Revolution? No thanks: Been there done that.

Goes without saying but just to make sure: Everything I write reflects my own personal viewpoint. Disagreement is not a problem, as long as it’s accompanied with respect.

Just like most countries in the Middle East, a revolution in Sudan is needed. But if by revolution we mean following the steps of Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt, then a Sudanese revolution will never happen.

It is not as if Sudanese people haven’t revolted before. In fact, Sudan has the richest history of political unrest in the region. Back in 1985 a widespread popular unrest lead to the overthrow of President Jafaar Numayri, and a Transitional Military Council was set up to rule the country. Shortly afterwards, Al Sadiq al Mahadi was elected as prime minister, but he was overthrown by military coup in 1989  and Omar Al-Bashir was appointed  president in 1993 to this day. Evidently, Sudan has experienced constant political unrest since its independence in 1956.

Revolutions aiming at toppling political regimes have been done before, and many Sudanese think it should happen again now with the Bashir regime. In the twenty years Bashir has been ruling, the country has fallen into a draining unpopular and very expensive war in the Darfur, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and the Nuba Mountains, which resulted in a warrant issued for his arrest by the International Criminal Court (ICC). As stated in the Hague Justice Portal, Bashir was charged for crimes against humanity, accounting for the genocide against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the Western region of Sudan.

Undoubtedly, Sudan is a political mess, and economically it is not better off either. Recently, Bashir announced the gradual removal of fuel subsidies as part of the extreme austerity measures to be implemented throughout the country. Since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, Sudan has suffered from a $2.4 billion budget deficit caused by the loss of oil revenue. As a result, prices of food, petrol and commodities have gone up, leaving most Sudanese people living in poor and frustrating conditions.

A spark of protests

It is apparent that Sudanese people do not lack incentive for a revolution; the majority is quite dissatisfied with their current status of living. Aided by social media and raising frustration, students and members of the government’s opposition organized small groups of protestors who gathered up in the streets and called for the fall of the regime. One article in The Guardian, reported that students gathered at the gates of Khartoum’s Sudan University chanting “No to price hikes”, before the police dispersed them using “excessive violence”. They also protested against the hike in public transportation fees and called for the “liberation” of the campus from the presence of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS).  Slowly, Khartoum and other cities began to witness daily protests by different groups, who are driven by a various political agenda. In a similar move to the protests that fueled the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria, the protesters chanted “the people want the fall of the regime,” and “we will not be ruled by a dictator,” and “revolution, revolution until victory.” But President Omar al-Bashir downplayed the increasing unrest, dismissing the protesters as a bunch of “aliens and bubbles”. The article published in Sudan Tribune website reports him threatening the protestors with deploying a group of “Muhajhdeen” to crackdown on them.

But dismissing protestors is not a unique strategy; it has also been used by the presidents of Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt when their protestors first took to the street. Egyptians for one, continued to protest in 2011 even after Mubarak tried to make light of their revolution. But while their numbers continued to pile up at the Tahrir square, in Sudan, the number of protesters gradually died down, leading many to question the possibility of a Sudanese revolution to ever happen.

Girifna

Members of Girifna– a Sudanese nonviolent resistance movement- are still hopeful. They believe that the country’s current distressing economic conditions will be a breaking point for the majority of Sudanese, who “will not willingly continue subsidizing a regime that has plundered 60 billion US dollars in oil revenue during the current self-inflicted fiscal crisis”. Girifna group are right in one sense: Sudanese people indeed have a “strong social fabric” that equips them to absorb more than most countries, having suffered “continuous hardships and difficult experiences”. But perhaps that is exactly why a Sudanese revolution in the known sense cannot happen.

Lack of hope

Other than fearing for their lives, young Sudanese protestors suffer from the lack of encouragement by the rest of the population and the void of a well deserving and trustworthy political alternative to risk their lives for.

Indeed, Sudanese people are exhausted. Most of them feel helpless and hopeless.

With no proper oppositional leader to root for and thousands of protesters detained and tortured by the regime, it is hard to blame the public for the gradually decreasing number of protestors in the streets.

There is also a more subtle reason. Since the beginning of his rule twenty years ago, President Omar Al Bashir had promised to implement the Sharia law in Sudan; a country where the vast majority of the citizens are Muslims. Unsurprisingly, after twenty years of Islamic propaganda presented in the media and campaigned by the regime, the undereducated mass have been brainwashed and sensitized into associating the regime with Islam. Despite the obvious flawed implementation of Islamic teachings in Sudan, many Sudanese still feel that revolting against the regime would amount to an outright objection to an Islamic rule.

A true change

Toppling regimes is something the Sudanese have done before, but had never worked out to their benefit simply because changing regimes is not the answer. Revolutions can easily be hijacked from the people and eventually end up replacing one failed political party with another. If the current conditions remain the same, it is hard to see a revolution sparking, and any protests on the streets would not be able to change Sudan fundamentally.

Say however, efforts were made to spread awareness among the public about the how a true implementation of Islam would look like, in contrast to how it had been exploited and misrepresented by the regime. And say that, an organized, educated and politically able opposition group emerged, giving Sudanese an alternative they are willing to trust and fight for. When and if that happens, the Sudanese spring would finally have the right ground to grow on, and only then would a true revolution take place.

 

Our Lives is one big Reality Show, but Who’s Adjusting the Lenses?

Just a quick heads up: The title is completely misleading and I’m not sure I even talk about reality shows in here.

Continue.

Blog’s theme for this week: Write about something opposite to what you usually write about. Challenge yourself. Think outside the box and bring about a piece. Or better yet, forget that there was a box in the first place, and write about that.

I don’t know how to write something that is opposite to what I usually am. Why? Because I don’t know what I usually am, and I don’t know how everybody else thinks they do.

I believe in masks and filters. I believe that none of us is really who we are when we are in public. Note being, public is a loose term that can range from society to only one other human being sitting next to you.

My mother used to always say that to know a person you must travel somewhere with them, or experience an accident along their side.

To know people you have to see them when they’ve run out of time to wear their masks, or keep up their pretense of whoever they “are”.

But even that is not enough in my opinion. One cannot truly ever know another, because good luck to us in truly knowing ourselves, better yet another human being.

I think that’s why believers believe in a God: A being so omniscient and omnipresent and all-knowing, that only HE can fully know us- and therefore judge us. We take comfort in that, because then we can project our own past and reality to those other less capable creatures- humans.

You can know nothing about my past except for what I choose to tell you. This version of my past will become your truth, which is completely different from the ‘actual truth’, because my story has crossed through your mind, and crawled through all the locks and the shades and the filters in there.

To be very honest, I have no idea where I’m going with this. It just hit me that truth is a relative term, and if I’m pragmatic enough, I shall dare to say that everything is a lie even when it’s not.

But because I’m not pragmatic enough, I’m sticking with my mom’s theory. So let’s pack our things and go to Morocco, because I’ve always wanted to go there. Like, really.

Being Black is Bad..Even in a Black Country

When I was in fifth grade, our Jordanian professor asked all students to search for the origins of their home countries’ names. The assignment was interesting; it had never occurred to me before that, that the word “Sudan” could have an inherent meaning other than referring to Sudan, my North African homeland. Intrigued and excited, I went back home and told my mother about our teacher’s request, but she was not nearly as excited about the question as I was. In fact, for some reason, my mom was offended. “Is your teacher trying to say that Sudan is from “Soud” meaning black? Is she trying to tell you that your country is named after your color?” She asked defensively. I hurriedly assured her that the question was not personal at all, and everyone in the class had to answer it too.

No matter how my mother felt about that assignment, the fact is the word Sudan indeed comes from “Soud” the Arabic word for black. Years later when we returned to Sudan, I realized that my mother’s defensiveness is a common reaction. The mere hint of any topic including skin color would bring out the defensive side of most Sudanese people, no matter what the context is.

Sudan literally means “the land of the Soud”, so for Sudanese people, skin color is both an identity and a nationality.  Sadly, though, somewhere along the lines of slavery, racism, and imperialism, the color black has become a stigma.

As in any African country, the “blackness” of Sudanese people’s skin color varies; and it is so highly emphasized that each tone has its own description. Starting from the darkest skin color to the lightest, people are labeled in colors: Bluish, greenish, dark brownish, brownish, yellowish, and then, the purest of all- whitish. Statistically speaking, light skinned Sudanese are a minority in quantity, but far from being a minority in quality. Quite the opposite, the lighter the skin the more prestigious and beautiful the person is considered to be.

But how is it that in a black country, being black is a shame? Why are girls constantly looking for the new hit product, the one that promises a cleaner, “whiter” skin tone? Why are comments such as “your skin color is lighter now!” or “You’re face is cleaner!” considered the highest form of compliments?

Unintentionally, society has decided that clean and white are synonyms. And while using products in attempts to have a lighter skin is a widespread trend amongst females generally, it is frightening to note that in a country where the majority has dark skin color, black is considered ugly and dirty.

Naturally, these beliefs about skin color and self-worth did not stem from nowhere; they all date back to the time of colonialism. Ever since the British, “the white people” colonized Sudan, feelings of inferiority were successfully passed down one generation after another. In the eyes of the powerless, dominated black man, the white man had privilege, status, and power. Those few Sudanese who were lucky enough to work with the British were considered powerful too, just by associating with the white man, because the British would often put them in positions of authority. Now, more than half a century later, the British are gone, but these beliefs remained. Dark skinned people are still unfairly denied well deserved job offers, and mothers continue to urge their sons to choose a light skinned bride so the grandchildren will turn out “beautiful”.

Why is this still happening? It’s simple: ignorance. Society is so unaware of how powerful these beliefs have nested in the minds of individuals, from the simple and uneducated to the high profile and sophisticated. Unconsciously, through our everyday language, we are breeding racism among our generation and the ones to come.

Blaming imperialism and Western media gets us nowhere. We need to make a conscious group effort to slowly eliminate these concepts from our society. Some Sudanese would say it is impossible; that these beliefs have hung around for far too long that they have come to define us. That’s not true, it is possible. However difficult it may be, if we improve our language we can improve our culture. The future generations shape their perceptions on what they grow up observing and absorbing, and that’s why we have to at least try.

Start. Tell your dark skinned daughter that she and her light skinned cousin are both beautiful, because beauty is not confined to a color. Explain to your son that girls with all skin colors are worthy of love. And most importantly, make a conscious decision to stop using derogatory racial judgments yourself. This way, slowly but surely, all Sudanese people will start to see themselves as they truly are: Beautiful.

When in Doubt, Watch a Movie.

Does anyone remember the first movie they’ve ever watched? I mean the very very first, the one that after you’ve seen whether you hated or loved it, made you decide that storytelling through images is cool, and you want more where that came from.

I don’t remember my very first movie, as hard as I’ve tried to. That is very sad, because movies played such a big role in my life, that I feel somehow indebted to the one that started it all for me. Of course, had I known movies would end up affecting the course of my life this much, I would have watched that first movie with great care and utmost attention.

How did movies affect me? I think in some parallel cosmo, had I never started watching movies at all, I would have become a complete different person. An idea as frightening to me as it is stunning.

Dreams are one aspect where movies impacted my life. I started watching movies when I was in third grade. I lived in an Arab country, so I spoke and understood only Arabic at that age, and did not even have adequate knowledge to follow an English speaking movie from beginning to end without translation.

Even the Arabic translation was a struggle; often it would move too fast on the screen, or I’d focus too much on getting every word that I would miss chunks of the movie.

But I loved it.

I often wondered about it, this art of translation. It sounded more exotic and exciting in my head at that age, but it was just that- art. I would imagine this person- who in my mind was nothing less than a knight, worthy of our awe and respect- as a connector of cultures, a messenger between civilizations.

This person, who had the privilege or luck of knowing two languages, was doing more than translating a badly montaged Hollywood movie so I and the less fortunate can understand the plot. To me, this translator built a bridge between the two worlds, two continents, and two opposites: the East and the West. He or she is responsible for my traveling into this new world, and broadening of perspective of society.

Of course at that time I believed the movies I watched actually represented the Western culture, but that’s another discussion.

So, as my love for movies grew, so did my love for translators. I became an expert too. I started recognizing the different translations one English word can yield in Arabic. I could predict the ending of the spoken sentence said just by reading the whole Arabic sentence written on screen. I started understanding new English vocabulary that kids my age did not know. These little victories for an elementary student meant a lot, and that was about the time I decided I wanted to become a translator.

I wanted to study languages to become that knight; that person whose skills would bring different people closer and help the world to become a friendlier place. Fast forward to after I finished my last year in high school: it was time to apply for universities. I was 16 then, and my dream was still intact.

I was going to learn languages. As many as I can.

I felt so comfortable that day, seeing everyone around me confused, conflicted, and worried about what to study, while I’ve got it all figured out.

But something happened along the way that I forgot to mention; I had watched a show that planted an idea in my head: What would I be, if I studied media?

A simple idea, yet it conquered my mind and began to grow slowly, all the while shadowing my long decided dream. I felt like Mal in the last scene of Inception (warning: spoiler) when Cobb admits he’d performed inception on his wife in the past with a little idea. But that harmless small seed grew in Mal’s head day by day until it became the thorny forest of doubts that eventually destroyed her.

Ok it was not that dramatic, but you get it.

Suddenly I was no better than these around me, lost, confused, and worried about the future. A choice had to be made: languages or media? I was certain of one thing: each one would transform me completely, turning me into a new person.

I just had to somehow predict which would get me closer to my envisioned future self: being translator or a media person?

Eventually I did what I always do when I’m confused: I prayed istikhara, and two years later I’m studying Journalism in the American University in Dubai. Had the dice played a different number, maybe I would have been somewhere else in the world, growing into a different person maybe better, maybe worse.

Homesick, but fine thank you.

If you ask me “how are you” whether it’s out of common courtesy and politeness or on the rare occasion that you actually want to know, I’d probably answer with a “fine alhamdulilah” or maybe drop a few complaints about something insignificant like exams or the weather. But if I were to be honest, I’d answer every how are you question I get daily with one word every time- homesick.
Now, whenever I tweet or post a status about being homesick, most of my Sudanese friends readily jump to reply with the same answer I’ve been getting since I came to the UAE: “You miss Sudanese people, not Sudan.”
False.
People are often surprised when they know I plan to go back to Sudan after graduating. They tell me that I’m just being sentimental, that it is not realistic or smart. They remind me of how lucky I am to have gotten out in the first place.
I don’t understand that. Am I only to love my country from afar, until it somehow decides to become “developed”? Is it so farfetched and unlikely that I love my country right now, just as it is?
Well, I do.
I love my country with its uncountable downs and few ups. I love it with –not despite- the unconstructed streets, the electricity cuts, the water running out, the people’s bluntness, the rakshas noise, and the crowded buses…till the end of the very long list. I love it with all that, and if I don’t love it, I can’t help change it.
I love the people, yes, but I also love the land, the air, and the Nile, and I would never trade any of it to live anywhere else in the future.
So yes, I live in a constant homesickness because I am here in the UAE studying for my Bachelor’s degree. The UAE is definitely a “step up” from Sudan, and it’s a comfortable, entertaining and beautiful place to be. But for me, it is no home.
When things get tough, I remind myself that I am here because I’m trying to become a better person through education and solitude. I try to remember that by endurance and hard work, I can become someone who would eventually do something for their country instead of just tweeting about it. And that gets me by for the next day, to when someone asks my how are you, and I say great, alhamdulilah.

What Should the UAE Do for the Rajaa Children?

Fifteen young Sudanese children were raped by their school driver at the Rajaa rehabilitation center in Khartoum where they live.

Now, why should we care? It’s Sudan after all. Raped women, assaulted villages, and destroyed homes are simply natural occurrences in the war ridden country that have been undergoing bombarding and shelling for as long as anyone can remember.

Yes, Sudan is a political and social mess, but does that give us the excuse to disregard the Rajaa children case? Absolutely not.

Ten years ago, there would have been no chance for the world of knowing that Motaz, a driver at the Rajaa center sexually assaulted and raped not one, or two, or three, but fifteen street kids hailing from Northern, Southern and Western Sudan. These kids, who regarded their stay at the center as their last hope to stay off of the streets, would have had to endure this inhumane abuse helplessly simply because no one would have known about it to help them.

But now, thanks to Twitter and BlogSpot, knowing is not the issue. Wherever we are we can know, but it is not enough to just know, we must act.

UAE has the means and the opportunity to help Sudan. Not through official donations though, since it became apparent that sending charitable funds to the Sudanese government have done nothing to prevent civil wars, let alone the Rajaa Children case.

What should be done however is sending financial support to non-governmental organizations that organize charity projects independent of the government.

Organizations such as “To Sudan with Love” and “Sudanese Red Crescent Society” aim to support homeless children, widows, orphans and other misfortunate minorities. They also encourage the society to become an active part of the social change, by urging the people –especially the youth- to volunteer with their time, effort, or money to help out their follow citizens.

These organizations put considerable effort into making Sudan a better place. They do not lack enthusiasm, motive, or good intention. They only lack the proper funding, and that’s where the UAE can lend hand.   

 

Song Review: Hall of Fame

I first heard about “The Script” back in 2009, when I came across their song “Talk You Down” on YouTube. I was ecstatic; the song was unique, melodic, and lyrical. Quickly I became a fan and vowed for eternal loyalty to the Irish rock band. But just like all fans who fall in love with a relatively unknown band, I struggled with a bundle of mixed emotions towards them. On one hand, I wanted the world to know about the remarkably talented trio who sang meaningful lyrics to pulsating music. On the other, I selfishly wished they would not become worldwide famous so they would stay “mine”.
Starting out small in Dublin then signing to Sony Label Group in London, The Script became bigger and bigger. They released their first album “The Script” which became number one in London and Dublin charts. Hit songs like “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” and “Breakeven” air played in many radio stations in USA, UK and Ireland and moved to the rest of the world.
By 2010, The Script were everywhere. Danny O’Donoghue the band’s lead singer appeared as a coach in the popular UK reality show “The Voice”, and their songs featured in several popular TV shows such as Vampire Diaries and The Ghost Whisperer.
I was both alarmed and happy for the band. Their success was not a surprise; they were talented, hardworking, and innovative. That is, until Hall of Fame came out. The song is the first track of their album “#3”, featuring rapper Will.i.am. It came out last September and received immediate attention, becoming the 21st best-selling single of the year in the UK with 529,000 copies sold.
The anthem like song begins with “Yeah, you can be the greatest, you can be the best” and continues to the chorus which chants “And the world’s gonna know your name. And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame.” It is optimistic, positive, and inspiring- in short, radio ready.
Hall of Fame was disappointingly predictable. It seemed to be written especially for the purpose of enticing the public, which is different from the bands’ previous songs. The song did not cause people to awe; it was begging for “awwwhs!” Unlike with their previous hit songs when the case was a not so popular band delivering music which the world just can’t ignore, Hall of Fame burst out arrogant and ready to be overexposed. What else explains the unusual and unnecessary pairing with will.i.am who coaches alongside Danny in UK’s The Voice? A move similar to Adam Levine’s pair up with judge Christina Aguilera at US’s The Voice to bring out the overplayed “Moves Like Jagger”.
Was the song a massive hit? Yes. But it left the loyal fans worried about whether the band is tumbling to its regrettable -yet foreseen- fall into the claws of mainstream music. In which case, it’s time to look for yet another new undiscovered favorite alternative rock band.

So Very Strange..

“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn’t they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?”

Don DeLillo