Orange days, a haze of dust and heat. The fumes of a thousand cars packed around the potholes and shattered sidewalks, buses tilted sideways by the sheer number their passengers, the sense of frustration and exhaustion palpable in the expressions of men at the end of long days, poorly paid.
Father and son swelter in the brutal Khartoum heat, the cars engine humming quietly, the sounds of Fairuz, tinny and proud on the newly installed tape player and a story is told. The story of a generation, of dreams shattered and hopes dashed. The story of “67 and 73, of wars won and lost, of promise and its betrayal.
A story of giants, of Che & Nkrumah of Nyrere and Nasser, of a Europe defeated and in retreat and an America far away and unknown. Of revolution and a new world born, free from the shackles of yesterday and wise to the ways of the enemy, clear as to its destiny and as to its means of arrival.
A story of travel and idealism, of a generation who returned home to build their countries, fired by visions of grandeur and hope and of the lie that it turned out to be. A story of the humiliation of proud men and the sadness that it brings.
All told with the understanding that age and pain can sometimes bring. The clarity is real, but the realisation incomplete, for it is told as if the storm has passed when the truth is that it has yet to come. The fall is incomplete.
Out of the chaos and corruption a new kind of politics will rise, crueller still and oblivious to the old codes. No longer ordained by history but by God himself. The journey is not yet over, its lessons will remain untold by the men who suffered its sorrows and felt its joys — bequeathed instead to sons and daughters, children to whom time and distance will yield its wisdom.