Egyptian-Sudanese-American novelist and poet Kola Boof has been an agent for Sudan’s SPLA and was the National Chairwoman of the U.S. Branch of the Sudanese Sensitization Peace Project. She has written for television and her many books include, “Flesh and the Devil,” “Long Train to the Redeeming Sin,” “Nile River Woman” and “Virgins In the Beehive.” She blogs at Kola Boof. com
We have grown used to seeing the African mother as a maid to be ordered about, or as Zora Neale Hurston so aptly put it—a mule. This image is so imbedded within our global psyche, that the other day, during my introduction to the forum that is “Womanist-Musings,” several people became outraged that the Prime Minister of Israel had complimented me for being a warrior in the protection of—my children; Sudanese children. They scolded me quite viciously; denied that there is genocide in Sudan and suggested that all who believe in freedom have a moral obligation to support and defend the cause of Palestine and reject any connection whatsoever to Israel. In other words, I was being told once again to “put my Black babies down”…and go pick up, nurse and protect “a silken-haired Palestinian baby.”
In the midst of their claim that there is no genocide or Arab Imperial oppression of Black Sudanese, not a single compassionate word was uttered to acknowledge the mass murdering of millions of Chollo (Black African) children at the hands of Arab funded militias. Darfur, now a media catch phrase with I-Pod and microwave owners was thrown out, but no one mentioned the larger story in South Sudan, the one specific to me (war and secession in 2011), and not a single female stood up and said that they could understand how an African Womanist, even a Half-Arab one like myself, would be concerned first, not with saving Palestinian children, but with saving—Chollo children.
These people are devoted activists fighting a wonderful cause. They are steadfast and justified in their rage against the racist oppression, apartheid and degradation of Palestinians at the hands of Israel. They talk of bombs being dropped on the heads of Palestinian children; they raise heaven and earth profiling every nook and cranny of the dehumanization of the Palestinian people. But unfortunately, they are still Westerners quick to order the maid. Apparently, they have never seen “gasoline fire dropped from the sky” on Dinka villages in South Sudan or been a Black-Skinned African mother with bare feet situated on Arab occupied Muslim-governed sand; the oar in her stomach turning as a son or daughter has not returned home before dusk; the instinct of her gut knowing that the “murhaleen” (slave raiders) abducted her child and are selling that child for the back stoop of an Arab household, maybe in Sudan; maybe in Jordan; maybe in Egypt; maybe in Saudi Arabia.
Million-selling books by actual Dinka slaves, such as my close friend, Francis Bok, author of “Escape from Slavery” are ignored or denied no matter how much evidence there is. Even the history of the first Black Woman to be ordained a Saint by the Catholic Church, Saint Josephine Bakhita, a Dinka girl enslaved by Arabs and sold to Italians almost a hundred years ago—even this is ignored.
The perception of these “Western Activists” is wholly one in which only the White Arab and Jewish states exist. And in which White Israel is the “all-evil” and Tanned Palestine is the “all-good.” Anxious and gung-ho to gain justice for those who get media coverage—the Palestinians—these “morally superior” activists detect no African history; no African presence; no African value.
Years ago, while writing my autobiography, I suffered terrible depression recalling an Uncle who had been murdered when I was a child in Sudan. Palestinian dock workers at the ship yard in Port Sudan became outraged when my Black-skinned Uncle was promoted “Foreman” over them. A White American had given my Uncle the position and the Palestinians protested that they would now have to report to this Abeed (slave/nigger)—“abd” (correct spelling) being a term that all Arabs, including the darkest of Palestinians, use on a daily basis to describe anyone who is Black. These Palestinian dock workers never thought about all the Black Sudanese who by rights of majority should occupy those jobs at Port Sudan in the first place—what they cared about was that an “abd” would be telling Humans what to and what not to do.
These “brown brothers,” as Black Americans have famously dubbed them, kicked holes in my Uncle’s stomach. He died the same day he got that position as foreman. Neither his wife; his two children or myself got the chance to say goodbye to him or convey what he meant to us. He was dead.
Nobody reported it on the television news. Arab Corporations, most of them in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, own all the local newspapers, radio and television stations in Sudan—a Black Nation—and along with owning all media in this Black nation; it is illegal for Blacks to have weapons; therefore no one from the “abd tulat” (nigger village) could riot or defend my Uncle’s murder. But, of course, the Palestinians and other Arab civilians had arms.
I am describing but one of an avalanche of Black experiences in Arab run countries like Sudan. Countries infested with “Police Racial Profiling,” the mass wholesale rape of Black women and Black children at the hands of institutionalized Arab privilege; Shariah Courts that hand down the law and will of Allah (chopping off of hands)—the majority of those with hands chopped off or tongues cut out of their head coincidentally being Black African, of course. Go to any jail in Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya or Morocco—and you will see that the majority of prisoners are that nation’s Blackest people.
Just as the activists and Womanists in America feel the utmost angst and passion for how they must save the poor downtrodden-oppressed-degraded Palestinians from the cruelties of Israeli injustice—I, a woman born in Omdurman, Sudan to a Charcoal coloured woman who was purchased by her husband, my White Arab father, when she was only fourteen—I feel even greater responsibility and passion for what I know, personally, and for what I have lived personally, which in my estimation is much greater than many of the people criticizing me.
I came to the United States, not as an adult immigrant, but as an orphan adopted by sympathetic Black Americans. My birth parents had been executed in my presence when I was eight years old by the Murhaleen, because my White Arab father (renowned archeologist Harith Bin Farouk) had dared speak in public against Arab enslavement of Dinka-Nuer tribes people and had campaigned against the building of Lake Nuba.
Not two weeks after my parents were slain in front of my eight year old eyes—my Arab Egyptian grandmother, Najet Kolbookek, decided that my skin was “too dark” to for inclusion in my birth father’s family and sought permission from the Mullahs to let me for adoption (as adoption is illegal in Egypt). In no time, I was handed over to UNICEF and sent packing—a narrow wisp of a child who spoke no English and was expected to survive on its own at the mercy of Western adult males simply because—I was dark skinned.
So in light of this perspective, please find it somewhere in your intelligence if not your common sense to accept the fact that I and quite a few North African freedom fighters, particularly Black African mothers, feel that we owe absolutely nothing to the Palestinians; their suffering at the hands of Israel or to the Arab Muslim Imperialists in general, as supporting Palestine is in fact supporting the entire web of Arab nations—nations that have enslaved East and North Africans for the last one thousand years.
I am here to write as a Womanist; to empower other women with my heart and mind—but believe you me, it will attest my heart and mind as created by my unique experiences and my place in the world. And I cannot lie to you. I do not support Palestine; I do not honestly care what happens to the Palestinians. When I was a model and actress in Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Morocco in the 1990’s, I lived as a guest of Swedish Activist friends for ten weeks in the Palestinian territory.
Not a single Palestinian that I talked to cared anything about the children in Sudan being bombed, raped, enslaved. The racial climate of the middle-east caused these Arabic people respond with a hissing denial or indifference whenever I brought up the suffering of Black African people. Of course, because American Blacks have money and influence over politicians in America, the Palestinians feigned interest in the oppression of Black American activists visiting Palestine. But overall, because I actually speak Arabic and Black American visitors do not, I witnessed verbose and mass indifference to the plight of all “abd.” And in particular, my plight was taboo—slavery and genocide in Sudan—it was not to be acknowledged, because of course, the fat Black Women cooking meals in so many of those Palestinian platoons had the tongues cut out of their heads and were marked and purchased for fourteen dollars.
And that is the real Arab world that I am born from. I have never seen in my lifetime any Arab person anywhere on earth march or protest on behalf of Black people or Black liberation. All that I have ever witnessed is hatred and contempt for Blacks on the part of Arabs. In America, for speaking my truth in public, I am met on the radio with death threats and vows written in Arabic to slit the throats of my eleven and ten year old son’s. Yet I, the African mother, am expected to drop everything and go on a sojourn for these people.
Yes, I went to Israel and met with Benjamin Netanyahu.
We were both impressed with the presence of the other and he was quite a flirt. I do not agree with or share most of his political views. I think he is very heavy handed and quite unfeeling towards anyone who is not his kind. But in recognizing Israel and South Sudan’s common enemy—the Arab Muslim Imperialists—Netanyahu helped me to save untold Black lives.
Guns, ammunition, clothing, medicine and food for the Dinka-Nuer and Shilluk tribal people of South Sudan were provided to my Commanders in the SPLA, Yaka and Athor. We were given the means to fight back against our oppressors, Bashir’s Arab regime in Khartoum, their Oil Company investors and their tentacles throughout the world Arab governments. No armies or activists from the United States, Black America; Canada or Feminists or Womanists—none of them lifted a finger to give African mothers of Sudan what we needed—the means to protect our children’s lives. But Israel did.
I am proud for what I have done. My allegiance as a woman being first to my womb; I feel that in the name of our Mother, the Goddess Sudan—I have not let down the children of Africa. And I never will.
Tima usrah (through fire comes the family).