Sudan Uprising: Poems of Protest
All I have is my life
I wrote these poems to address the current political uprising occurring in my homeland, Sudan. “wound called blue” was inspired by the #BlueforSudanMovement, which has steadily garnered attention on social media in an urgent call to end violence against peaceful protesters. It was written in the aftermath of the June 3rd Massacre in Khartoum at the hands of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by warlord Lt-General Hamdan, commonly known as Hemedti.
Before writing “wound called blue” I felt swollen. I could not put to words the horrors I was watching unfolding in social media feeds. I was shocked that there was almost no coverage apart from these eyewitness videos posted online. The second poem “bukra,” the Arabic word for “tomorrow,” introduces a narrator in diaspora, echoing my own emotional turbulence from hope to despair to fear every hour as more information emerges. The apathy of media outlets, especially in neighboring regions like the Middle East, inspired the last poem “freedom.” It boldly criticizes this indifference, and the verses drip with fury and sarcasm as I attempt to contextualize the dismal reality of an “internet blackout” while also pleading for some kind of humanity.
I hope that these poems will encourage and sustain the brave people who are peacefully demanding a more just future for Sudan. I know these verses cannot soothe the wounds of those who have lost loved ones, but I want readers to know that their memory will never be forgotten. To quote one of Sudan’s finest writers Jamal Mahjoub, from his novel Wings of Dust (1994): “Those who can remember are dangerous, for they might recall that there is an alternative to this madness. I have no choice but to speak out, all I have is my life.”
To Sudan, with Love and Solidarity
wound called blue
Half of my country is missing
I can’t find it anywhere.
All there is is sky
dangling legs in jeans and clouds
and blood, yes blood, in our drinking water.
Half of my country is missing in the evening news in every land and language
wait you haven’t heard about it yet?
how much longer until we can be remembered?
Half of my country is missing on foot
we are marching in every voice and cloud
and vein you chase.
Go find your camels
nowhere is safe.
I watch them returning to Allah
headlines of hope and despair
and I burn toast, burn rice, burn my hands
I cannot look away because I am away.
Some nights I press unlock
in some dreamed-up parking lot
and different cars are waiting to take me
but I’ve buried street names and exits, all the shortcuts I knew
in a wallet I quit using ten years ago.
I have forgotten the weight of carrying four names
all this time here, lost, I’ve been surviving with two
and hopes of returning to honor
every martyr who left too soon.
This poem is open as in open fire
as in one hundred and eighteen lives lost
peacefully protesting on june third 2019
and the world hardly blinked.
How do I say sorry in your language?
Sorry not like for your loss but that we walk the same earth,
even breathe the same air
sorry that our bodies are dragged to rivers today
and remain uncounted tomorrow?
My heart goes...out
to the café, or a bar or some mall downtown...
How far outside yourself
have you ever really gone for a stranger?
How do I say internet blackout
in a way that makes you visualize
people disappearing, now, like during your lunch break
lives changing from is to was
faster than you do before you hit the gym.
Where does your peace live brother
Can mine visit soon?
Can’t we all want the same things
even if we look different...
I am ready for the future he tells me
when our hearts will soar
like three birds
with six songs of liberty.
For those of you in a position to donate, please see the links below. If you cannot donate, please share these links widely.
Food & Medicine for Sudan: The goal of this fundraising campaign is to provide food, water, and medical care for the people of Sudan during this critical time in the country’s history. The University of Khartoum Alumni Association in North America is working with a wide network of community organizations and volunteers inside Sudan to reach families and individuals across the country who are impacted by shortages in food supplies and who have no access to proper medical care. Your support is the only lifeline for many in desperate need and it’s much appreciated by all the people of Sudan.
Emergency Medical Aid for Sudan: Funds will be used to support the victims by purchasing emergency medical supplies and supporting hospitals caring for the injured. Many have already lost their lives in the violence, and countless more injured. It is our hope that by supporting medical services in this difficult time, we can stand in solidarity with the people of Sudan. Based in Manchester, UK, a committee of local Sudanese has been created to coordinate the fundraising, and we are grateful for all your help.
Support the Sudan Uprising Exhibition: The #SudanUprising Exhibition took place in Montreal in a show of solidarity with the people of Sudan. Forty artworks by Sudanese artists were displayed along with movie screenings, music, and discussions centered around the revolution. Money received in this fundraiser will be used to repeat the exhibition in other cities and continue raising awareness and building solidarity with the Sudanese revolution.
K. Eltinaé is a Sudanese poet of Nubian descent. His work has been translated into Arabic, Greek, Farsi, French, and Spanish, and has appeared in World Literature Today, The African American Review, About Place Journal, and Muftah, among others. His work was recently shortlisted for the 2019 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. He currently resides in Granada, Spain.