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Darfur: when History is a never ending story…

A few months ago, I posted an article on a French web site about the situation in Darfur. I thought it was time to write something about this conflict nobody would care about since no images from the disaster were available. It’s difficult to aware people about a conflict when we can’t show it, everybody knows chaos images are selling just like in everyday’s TV news about Iraq, we get plenty of bloody bodies laying on the ground after yet another car-bombing. When I first talked about Darfur with some friends, it was almost three years ago, the answer was: “It’s yet another conflict in Africa, we can’t do much about it“. Things were supposed to be that simple, “yet another conflict in Africa“.

Nobody really cared and since last January, things started to change -a bit- and I was thinking: “Now people know, the situation is going to change“. It’s like I already heard that somewhere, remembering my first play back in the late 1980s. It was about a couple who tried to understand what happened to their own lives and to the lives of their ancestors, who also suffered religious wars and Fascism. History was repeating again and again and they couldn’t do much about it. So my question is: didn’t history teach us anything? Can’t we learn from these past experiences? We know two big nations (Russia and China,, oil and arms…) are involved in the conflict so it’s not only ‘another African conflict’, we are concerned as far as we also are big nations, among the richest and the most powerful in the world.

A friend of mine who works in a non-governmental organization in Africa had hard words about our inaction, saying that by doing nothing ‘we let the [Darfur] situation deteriorate and that we are accomplices of the death of millions of people’. In my article about Darfur I pointed out that France has still a military presence in Chad, and the reminiscence of colonization in the region is still strong, French government is walking on eggshells. We have to remember about the genocide in Rwanda (if you haven’t already seen it, then watch the excellent movie Hotel Rwanda with Don Cheadle) almost two decades ago and so many others we already forgot, not only in Africa but also as close as in Europe.

So am I optimistic or pessimistic about the future in the region? Both. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown want (yes, want) to move on quickly on the subject, meanwhile last week the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported new population displacements in West Darfur. Researchers at Boston University recently announced that an underground lake the size of Lake Erie had been discovered beneath the barren soil of Darfur; Alex de Waal (‘A Short History of a Long War’) said: “Like all resources, water can be used for good or ill […] If the government acts true to form and tries to create some sort of oasis in the desert and control who settles there, that would simply be an extension of the crisis, not a solution“. Why does everything keep being so complicated?

A few days ago, The U.N. Security Council authorized up to 26,000 troops and police for Darfur. Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad said: “I am comfortable with the resolution” and the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi commented: “This is the result of concerted effort and should be fully recognised and encouraged“.

Told you, History is a never ending story, so will that ever change? In my play, the couple decided to alert people and fight against what seemed to be inevitable, unconsciously repeating; so should we. Silence kills, make some noise and keep your voice loud.

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