LIFE IN DARFUR BEFORE 2003
Life pre-war was the best time that we have ever lived. It was peaceful, simple, beautiful, and quiet.
People knew each other and collaborated in both easy and harsh times. Your neighbour was your brother; his child was your child.
Men went to work in the morning and came back in the evening. Women looked after the house and the children, and some women worked in the farm to help their husbands.
Children went to school and some of them went to the farm and looked after cattle.
The way of life was easy because life demands were very simple. There was no difference in the way people lived. People were at similar levels, and who ever needed help got help from the others.
Social life was excellent. Everyone checked on his neighbour, his relatives, and helped each other in the different events and activities throughout the village.
The best moments were in the evenings when everyone came back from their daily activities. Each family brought their dinner outside and gathered in front of their huts under the moonlight and shared their stories of the day; girls danced, kids played games, women prepared vegetables for the next day while chatting, men exchanged light-hearted teasing about their daily experiences on the farm and with livestock.
In events like weddings most people brought gifts to the bride and the groom and shared food. The wedding would continue for days with everyone contributing what they could – one litre of cooking oil from one household, one kilo of rice from another. Gifts for the bride were also shared by the community and women spent days making special perfume which is essential for the bride!
In the harvest seasons we would take turns harvesting each other’s farms. For example this week was for my neighbour and next week for my cousin. Harvest season was one of the best seasons! Women prepared food for everyone. Men harvested sorghum, children fetched water from the lake, and women harvested vegetables. Work was very hard, but it was fun when we worked together. At the end of the harvest we saw who was in need and we brought them crops. No one went hungry. At the end of the harvest season we had a big BIG party celebrating the hard work. Dancing, eating, and singing went on all night.
In terms of safety, life was very peaceful and safe. No one was afraid of anything. You could leave your door open overnight and not even a robber would enter the homes. Unfortunately, now, everything has changed.
LIFE AFTER 2003
Deep breath (I wish the past would come back)
We are at the point where we don’t feel safe from everything around us, which is very sad.
War started and took everything nice with it, from peace, quiet, comfort, simplicity, to happiness and joy.
We became strangers to each other. Everything changed, even people’s behaviour and attitudes and there is nothing but fear and sadness.
Villages have been destroyed, innocent people killed, farms and cattle burned.
Every beautiful image has gone. Overnight in a short time people ended up without houses, without family.
Men and women became widows, and children are orphaned.
When the attack happened to us, our day started and ended with gunshots, smoke from the burning villages, and the screams of women and children.
People are still in camps waiting for food from aid organisations. In the past they were self-sufficient and had stable lives.
Social life is destroyed, no collaboration, no unity, no checking on each other, and no gathering and helping in activities.
Simply happiness has gone.
Peaceful life? That is a dream dear daughter. Now if you travel to the local area you might not come back. You may be robbed, injured.
At night don’t even think to go out, all the movement should be in the daytime so you can see people. In the darkness of night there is much danger.
Children have become labourers to help their families instead of going to school or having a normal life.
Old people reflect on their past life and compare it with the situation now, then end up crying.
The day we don’t hear gunshots at night, will be a strange day for us.
This is the situation now in Darfur and it’s been the same for the last 20 years.
How much longer will this continue?