Thursday, February 18, 2016

Journal Entry for May 19, 2004: An Evening with Another El Madhi

Attended a speech by Sadiq El Mahdi this evening. It was part of a regular Wednesday evening gathering of the Umma Party faithful at the party HQ in Omdurman. It was really hot and I hunkered down for two hours of Arabic. Desert cooling once again put to the test. Crowd numbered maybe two thousand on the veranda and lawn of the building. Some guy kept popping up from the side singing praise. At one point he seemed to get very agitated and appeared to be pointing to me, the only gringo on the scene. He may have been singing my praise or calling down the wrath of God or neither.

Until Sadiq showed up, Mr. Kalifa sat next to me and we chatted in English. Kalifa is the grandson of the Kalifa, the follower of The Mahdi who took over at his death and ruled Sudan until the British defeated him. Kalifa the Younger is now #3 in the Umma Party.

Sadiq -- the former Prime Minister overthrown in 1989 -- arrived to great ovation and sat next to me. He asked me how much of the speeches I was following. I said "none at all" although I think I did hear an occasional salaam (peace) and Ameriki. He got his niece to translate for me during his speech. (He spoke about Darfur and peace.) When he was done, and after two hours of sweating steadily but gently and watching little tiny moths land on my white shirt, I took my leave. Another wonderful night in Sudan.

Note:  Previous El Mahdi encounter here.

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