Government Killed the Sudanese Refugees and My Grandma Did Not
The Sudanese refugees have been living under severe health conditions in this polluted heavy traffic area with their children for three months. Many children were said to be born at this tiny circle in one of the areas in Giza that is considered to be for the relatively rich middle class. This place used to be a small park before the Sudanese refugees took as a shelter. The place has no access to potable water or electricity. Three months have passed and not a single finger for the Egyptians authorities has been lifted to ease the lives of more than 3000 refugees who lived under the worst conditions humans can live under. Their miserable stay ended with tragic loss about humiliating stay in a country that claims to have fraternal ties with its neighboring countries. Not to mention that I have studied at school that Egypt and Sudan have been always historically one region and we share the same precious Nile Valley, only words but no deeds. Yesterday, the Egyptian police officers gave the new young generation a new history moral lesson on how to kill your neighbours.
My sadness and frustration over yesterday’s brutal attack on a group of unprivileged Sudanese people is because how it was easy to shatter the values of the lives of the Egyptians and how that was reflected on my personal life and memories. It shatters and defeats my childhood memories. I feel my world is defeated and small after yesterday. It brings back also childhood memories with a woman whom I cherish every moment. This woman is my grandmother who died few years ago. I spent most of my childhood years at her house due to the fact that my mom was a working mom. My grandma did work but she was a landlady, she owned a building in one of Cairo’s districts and used to rent low-rate apartments and guess to who? To the Sudanese people. I remember when I was a small kid in the late 70’s and 80’s, the Sudanese people took Egypt as a second home. Sometimes we were joking saying that their numbers are getting bigger than the Egyptians. I have to admit that they were poor and always postponing paying the rent to my grandma. And my grandma with her great heart did not mind and they loved her so much despite her temper sometimes. Life was tough with my grandma and she was there one day so she felt for them. Tenants who left her apartments used to come and visit for a cup of Egyptian tea for her kindness and her motherly feelings that encompassed many with her warmth. My uncles and aunts were jealous for the number of Sudanese brothers and sisters they got because of my grandma. She always had candies and no one was allowed to leave without having some. She was a very special woman. So I kind of collected memories about the Sudanese people from my childhood. They are very social joyful people; a Sudanese apartment is a hub for other Sudanese fellows. They are avid readers and open-minded people with very hot temper. They love and respect Egyptians. And they love to drink. They are socially open unlike Egyptians in some instances. I saw Sudanese girlfriends visiting their Sudanese boyfriends with no insinuations for any disrespect. By the way, my grandma was very strict about the straightness of her tenants as an Egyptian woman of some origins from Upper Egypt who also had daughters that she needs to keep an eye on them. As a kid around the legs of my grandma everywhere she went, they used to compliment her by playing with her granddaughter. I naturally established this grudge-free relationship with others that does not judge people according to their color or their financial status which until this day do not impress me at all.
Their country politically deteriorated late 80’s and the 90’s was the worst. Egypt did not help and many Sudanese were deported and the number of the Sudanese people living in Egypt declined tremendously. It was very normal that any Egyptian citizen would report the presence of a Sudanese person and the Egyptian authorities to come to collect the Sudanese person or family for deportation. And because they are poor, in the eyes of the Egyptian authorities they had no price. They are cheap human beings. A wealthy Gulf man with no respect to the Egyptian people but who has dollars in his pockets coming to fish for whores because he cannot have them in his country is very welcomed because of his money. And this is still Egypt until this day, a state with no values towards humans.
Three months have passed and neither the people nor the government moved to help those Sudanese people to find a proper shelter until they move to their country or another country. One of these months was the benevolent Ramadan where 70% of the government TV broadcasting and press is dedicated to polishing some fake religious figures who have nothing in their mind except women and whether it is appropriate to enter the bathroom with the right or the left feet and no one of them mentioned those poor Sudanese people who are living next door at the very heart of Cairo in one single article or TV/radio show. They did not advise people that instead of spending L.E. 40,000-50,000 (less than $ 10,000) to visit the holy lands in Saudi Arabia at the end of Ramadan, that it would have been tenderer to look into the misery of those poor Sudanese refugees whom their only demand is to live a decent life like any human being. Those parents who spent thousands could have taught their children how to be kind to people in need that live next door. But also because most of them are not considered Arab Muslims, they do not deserve attention. Most of them were displaced by the Darfur conflict.
I feel so sorry for what has happened to the 3500 Sudanese refugees and it actually breaks my heart to write any further about it. I am aware that my sorry feelings do not mean anything to the magnitude of yesterday’s massacre. The damage that happened to those Sudanese families and to me is bigger than losing a beloved family member or a child. For me it is Egypt, that every day I see its parts are deformed or lost at the hands of the military ruling. God bless your soul, grandma.