Published: June 6th 2011June 6th 2011
The result of the January 2011 referendum ensures Sudan will confront a period of momentous and irrevocable change. An overwhelming majority of the population in South Sudan voted for independence from the North, barely ten years after the cessation of hostilities in what was the longest running civil war on the African continent. As a result, North and South Sudan will be going their separate ways. The official date for the proclamation of the newly created South Sudan will be 9 July 2011, so this blog entry may well be the last from the unified country of Sudan. Khartoum is the engine room and traditional capital of the united Sudan, and will remain the capital of the newly created North Sudan. The long running dispute at the heart of the civil war involved access to the vast riches from the oil fields in the middle of the country, and the borders in Sudan will change permanently as a result of the people expressing their democratic right at the ballot box. However, the dream of a united Africa remains, as the peoples of this great continent have a shared interest in it's peaceful and sustainable development.
The journal left off, constant
A must see attraction in the centre of Khartoum.
, in Somaliland at the conclusion of an intriguing visit to this small territory. As the great African adventure draws to a close, I boarded a Daallo airlines plane to get back to Addis. The Daallo flight was a unique experience, and I'm convinced the big propellor plane was a former cargo plane with seats recently bolted in. The passengers put their luggage anywhere, as there was heaps of space and certainly no overhead lockers. The seats collapsed forward, there was no safety demonstration, and nobody seemed fussed, so neither was I as we landed safely at the transit country. You beauty, I'm in Djibouti! Sure it was only for a few hours, but a visit to this French speaking country provided a fascinating little insight into what's on offer. There was lots of military hardware around, and it was hot hot hot! From Djibouti I boarded a super modern Kenya Airways flight, for the final leg of my flight into Addis. I seem to have all the Australian characteristics of a boomerang just now, and always seem to end up back in Addis. The last night at my hotel was quite emotional, and I will genuinely miss my
A wonderful and very modern piece of architecture
new friends. One of the waitresses burnt a copy of famous Ethiopian tunes so I can listen to the music back home, as a way to remember this visit to my home away from home.
I boarded a final Ethiopian flight from Addis to Khartoum, and it was great to be in another fascinating country on the African continent. The first thing one notices when alighting a plane in Sudan is that, like Djibouti, it's hot as a furnace. The kind of punishing heat that slams into your face the moment you step outside. But thank goodness it's a dry heat, otherwise the daily 40 plus temperatures would be completely unbearable. The process of obtaining a visa for Sudan was the most difficult of the trip as an onward visa for Egypt is required, as well as a letter of introduction from your respective embassy. But as I was heading back to Egypt for the flight home I figured it was a real opportunity to go somewhere different, and get a taste of life in this rarely visited country. Transit visas for a period of up to two weeks can be obtained in Addis, and at 1:30am I was
A taste of Nubian culture
Sudan boasts a proud and ancient tradition to rival Egypt.
enthralled to land in Khartoum to commence my visit.
I quickly went through immigration formalities and headed out of the airport, where a taxi driver approached with a smile on his face. I told him I was after a centrally located hotel that wasn't expensive, and he drove me to the good Shahrazad hotel at a reasonable price to bunk down for the night. I liked the guy, and asked him if he could drive me around the capital to see the sights the following day. The fan was blasting away in my room on a stinking hot night, but I still managed to get a reasonable night's sleep. In the morning I rose for breakfast, and prepared to meet Tag for a day trip exploring the capital. Our first stop was the mighty Nile river, which is the lifeblood of several countries in the region. Then he dropped me off at the excellent National Museum where I soaked up as much information as possible on the ancient Nubian empire, which predated the Egyptian kingdoms. The Black Pharaohs ruled a mighty empire that stretched along the Nile river 2,500 years ago.
We then pushed on to Omdurman after
crossing the White Nile bridge, where the Blue and White Niles meet. Omdurman fort is a famous tourist attraction in the city, where Kitchener's army defeated the Mahdist Sudan army during a fierce encounter in 1898. We continued to push on, and finished our day with a fascinating tour of North Sudan. Tag assured me the temperature was not bad during the day, so I guess our timing was fortunate, despite the heat almost knocking me off my feet. Sudanese people are famed for their hospitality, and sometimes it's difficult to part with any money at all while visiting the country. Although I had just a stopover in the capital, it was great to get a little insight into life in Sudan, which proved the polar opposite of the notorious reputation that's pushed relentlessly in the western press.
I boarded an Air Egypt flight to Cairo for the final destination on this unforgettable trip, the city where my African adventures began three months ago. I arrived at Cairo international airport and headed straight for the taxi stand, but the guy didn't have a clue about the location of my hotel. I had a business card from the previous visit
so fished around in my bag for it. "I've got this" I said while accidentally producing a packet of condoms instead. "Very nice!" he replies without missing a beat. It just so happens the packet was designed with a thin top and felt like the business card, but regardless my airport incident was mighty embarrassing. Ah Cairo ... with the mad traffic and even madder drivers! Yep, it's a great feeling to be back at one of my favourite hostels, the Wake Up Cairo. A further three months has passed since the revolution, and tourists are just beginning to return to Egypt. I found it great to see the hostel packed with interesting travellers; in fact I was up till 2:00am chatting in an animated fashion with new friends on the final night of my African adventures.
And so an unforgettable three month odyssey through Africa has finally drawn to a close. I've had experiences on the mighty continent I'll always treaure and never forget, in one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I'm delighted that I also had the opportunity to pay a visit to Sudan, prior to the upcoming independence for the south. This rarely
visited country is worth a detour, in order to experience the wonderful culture of the country and it's generous people. In fact my experience in Khartoum leads me to believe, basically all of you should be here now!
I dream of the realisation of the unity of Africa, whereby it's leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses." Nelson Mandela
It's home time so until next time, I'm signing off for now
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