Is Timbuktu even a real place?

It’s the day before I’m supposed to leave and I’m horrendously sick – as my seventh grade history teacher put it, kneeling before or sitting on the porcelain throne. I’m not exactly sure what did it, but it hasn’t been pleasant and it makes me wonder whether or not I should actually go. I could postpone the trip, but I’ve been looking forward to this for so long that such a thing would be devastating. The tickets are in hand, …  ( continue reading

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Black salad

Most people now think of Sudan as a byword for misery, like Ethiopia was 25 years ago. I am on my way there to find out how much of this is true – and how much of this is for aid agencies and atrocity campaigns to collect their donations. I first learned about Sudan by listening to the music, which was broadcast on Radio Hargaysa in the 1980s and we could buy on cassettes in the market. If you were …  ( continue reading

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Pelourinho, Bahia, soccer & carnival

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More than just a game

by Sylva Nze Ifedigbo Growing up, football and the Super Eagles in particular was the only sense of nationality we had. We excited ourselves with talks of The Super Eagles being the best team in the world. We repeated to the point of becoming stale, tales of how Bebeto the Brazilian wept after we won them in the Semi Finals of the Atlanta Olympics. We decorated our walls with large coloured posters of Nigerian footballers and preferred note books that …  ( continue reading

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Low Country

My sister lives in Holland, and has done so for fifteen years. She arrived there as a refugee, married another refugee (from Sudan) and they have four children that describe themselves as “half Sudanese, half Somali and half Dutch.” Last week when Holland played Brazil, my nephew Nasir supported Brazil while the rest of his family rooted for Holland. Nasir is seven and is probably not the only Dutch-born child having second thoughts about his loyalties. Watching the morning news …  ( continue reading

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Elections in Hargeisa

There are swathes of colour everywhere, from the hotel lobby to the streets to the market place to the campaign trail. The dirac dress flows and sways, boasting its kaleidoscopic colours. I have seen about two ugly Somali women. Only. No wonder they have to hide their beauty under the hijab. The party flags waving and walls painted yellow and green do their best to camouflage the greyish beige sandy dust. Everyone I’ve talked to is excited about the vote. …  ( continue reading

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Of Prejudice

I watched them storm onto the plane in a riot of colours and sounds. There was a powerful physicality about their presence, not only in the size of their bodies but in the piercings, the wild colourful clothing, and the hair. One head had a cheek with a blond braid attached to the ebony skin, another had a waist length jumble of dreadlocks piled high of the crown of a head right at the edge of his bald patch. They …  ( continue reading

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For Chris Akunda

The light is brittle from the floodlights, the night colder than any African night should be, the Vuvuzelas are blaring at full volume, and Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg is a riot of color as the fans arrive giving the stands the look of a bedazzled sweater. The game is the US versus Slovenia and the South African fans are torn between supporting the USA, who they love and Slovenia who are the underdogs in the game. Seated in the …  ( continue reading

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The Ugly game

Because of a lack of atmosphere I have not been following the games here in America, but of course I heard that Ghana (aka “Africa”) won over the U.S., in the context of, “isn’t it incredible that an African team beat a superpower?” As if the superpower were using its weapons of mass destruction to win the game. I have been reading news articles about the game, and who’s in and who’s out. I was surprised to read how the …  ( continue reading

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First impressions: Lamu’s Big Sister

Hargeisa should be called the City of Light. The sun…off bright yellow sand is blinding. A stiff wind blows the women’s black abayas. I too wear a long skirt, headscarf and a demure expression. If Lamu had wide streets crowded with four-wheel-drives and fruit stands…with mini-mountains of watermelon, it would be Hargeisa’s little sister. I have never eaten [goat] meat as succulent… I can’t wait for the camel meat.  ( continue reading

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