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
I don’t know of any Americans who’ve ever spent most of their day bent down on the ground trying to catch mice to eat. I’ve certainly never had to do it. But in North Korea, some five hundred thousand people live in Concentration Camps. They are families imprisoned for nothing more than questioning the government or failing to properly worship the official “God” of that nation—President Kim Jong-Il.
And yes, in North Korea, it is required that the people worship their leader as a religious God. He is also President for life and within the network of the North Korean government’s concentration camps overrun with children these families wither to bones, are worked to death and literally hunt for mice and insects to eat on the floors and grounds. The death rate is very high. Another three million North Korean citizens are dying or have died due to a severe famine that has crippled that nation because of their God-Dictator leader and his refusal to spend foreign aid on the citizens. Another three hundred thousand North Koreans have committed the nation’s second highest crime—they have escaped across the border to China; a crime punishable by death. And to my shock, the Chinese government captures most of these “illegal aliens” and refuses them “political asylum” knowing full well that by returning them to Korea—they are handing them over to be executed. These runaways are often whole families or women and children. Without a second thought, they murder thousands of innocent children each year in North Korea simply because their parent tried to escape the horrible conditions of the country.
These hellish realities exist in many countries, including my own birth country, Sudan, where we have genocide, slavery and unbelievable religious and sexual persecution. In the Congo, Somalia, Mauritania…government sponsored evil and corruption never ends. And it’s for these reasons that I often feel “guilty” when American citizens and fellow political activists sit around talking about the evils that America commits.
“America is the White Devil!” you will often hear Black activists say. But coming from a country like Sudan where my birth parents were murdered in front of me; a country where my lesbian Aunt was imprisoned for “witch craft” (a term they use in place of saying homosexuality); a country where women can be arrested for wearing pants; a country where I witnessed husbands setting wives on fire for failing to produce sons; women stoned to death; a country mangled by Religious-run government, Sharia Courts and mired in poverty…it’s very hard for me to say that American government is the worst evil on earth. To the contrary, I feel America is the best place to live.
Many activists who insist America is the world’s great Satan criticize me for admitting that I relate more to the American government on certain issues such as terrorism and the Middle East (like most Black-skinned North Africans, I support Israel). In lieu of my complaints about the F.B.I. and the NSA’s surveillance over me (I wrote yesterday of their harassment due to me being a controversial and suspicious person), my fellow activists expect me to all-out curse this nation. But I can’t.
What I would like to do is ask you to see it from the perspective of an immigrant person for just a few minutes.
In America, when you have sex with a man—he cares whether or not you experience orgasm. In fact, among American men, it’s a requirement for their egos that they make females orgasm during sex. Nowhere else in the world have ever seen people so committed to the idea of women “enjoying” sex and receiving pleasure from it. It’s a very American concept and it came in to being because of the Feminist movement here at the end of the 1960’s. A sexual revolution emerged and women in America demanded to be “eaten.”
In America, I also have the right to report a rape. My attacker may never be prosecuted, but in this country, I can report that I’ve been raped without fear of police beating or being jailed for making the accusation. In America, the laws protect women in millions of ways unheard of in other countries. As a female, I can own property in America! I can start my own business!
Then they have sewage systems over here. You don’t have to smell urine and stench all day. The cities are clean and every child has shoes! Sure, the planet has been raped so that America could have this kind of wealthy infrastructure—but tell me what other nation of men are not also attempting to rape the planet in order to gain such comforts? It seems to me that war, destruction and rape are just things that men do. America is no more guilty than the rest of them—America is just hated for being the most successful at it. Think of this hideous country China. Look at the great billions and billions of dollars they have—yet their people live under horrific human rights abuses. So how can we say that America is the devil?
Then there is the social freedom. If a woman wants to work and study in America, there is no stigma. She is not a “man-hating lesbian” or a “subversive” just for studying to be an air pilot or a nurse.
Several years ago, my husband, a Belizian-born Black man, left me because I refused to give up my career. My Black American friend Anthony (Ant) said that he found it hard to believe that a man would leave a good woman just because she got “a job.” But therein shows the dramatic difference between Americans and people who live in societies where wives are basically servants, mules and property. Not that my Belizian husband wasn’t a good man. He was the best man; a wonderful husband and father. But still, he and his entire family found it disrespectful and an attack on his manhood that I had a career. He now lives with the secretary I hired for him—but he made her give up her job in order to be his girlfriend!
These are the reasons that I so love America and feel very loyal and sympathetic to this government. I’m not saying that I agree with or support all of the government’s positions. But I still find myself constantly amazed at how much “say-so” the people have; how we are allowed to publicly yell at politicians—how there is always an investigation into the government’s actions! You just don’t see that in other countries.
I often wish that other Americans would be forced to live for several years in a foreign country like Sudan, Mexico, Jordan or India. I think then they would know why it’s so hard for me to claim that America is the devil.
To read more than 30 of Kola Boof’s more controversial essays, check out the collection, “Unplugged & Uncut: The Essential Kola Boof Anthology” (Atlantic Library), which is now available on Kindle.