From Khartoum’s chaos to Al Gadarif’s calm, one Sudanese journalist’s search for peace leads them through a country divided by war. In every refuge found, from Shendi’s hospitality to Port Sudan’s vibrant culture, the journey weaves a narrative of resilience and hope for a return to a peaceful homeland.

Sat on the balcony, blank paper and pencil at my side, memories flood back of the homeland I had to leave behind due to the devastation of wars that fractured our once united nation. Many now find themselves queuing for passports or awaiting visas, hoping for a fresh start elsewhere.

Allow me to share my tale. A tale I narrate in the hope of alleviating the weight I’ve shouldered since that sombre Saturday when dawn refused to break over my homeland.

It was the fifth of May 2023, just twenty days after the violent conflict erupted in the capital, Khartoum. I departed my home in Omdurman, holding onto memories and dreams tightly, nurturing the hope of returning one day.

The journey’s unpredictability is not the focus here. What’s paramount is the interplay of facts and feelings and the ever-present urgency of avoiding becoming another casualty of this conflict.

Tough Decisions

Northern Sudan’s Shendi was my initial refuge in the River Nile State. I sought a sanctuary away from the echoing gunshots and billowing smoke. Yet, even here, it felt like a different world.

My wanderings led me to the warmth and hospitality of Shendi’s residents. Even as an outsider, their embrace made me feel at home. So profound was this connection that when, after a month, I had to move on to Port Sudan in the northeast, the departure was bittersweet.

ميناء بورتسودان عند الغروب

Port Sudan’s Harbor at Sunset. (Photo: Mazza Saleh)

Port Sudan brought its own set of surprises. With a Mediterranean climate characterised by scorching summers and chilly winters, it wasn’t the easiest of adaptations.

Yet, the cultural melting pot, buzzing with artists, photographers, and musicians, painted a vibrant hue over the city’s challenges.

Nevertheless, the pressing need for employment soon nudged me onwards after a fortnight. I reached out to friends and relatives across the states, but answers remained elusive.

A Step Towards Change

My journey then took me to eastern Sudan’s Al Gadarif. Initial hopes were not high. However, upon arrival, the autumnal rain showers brought a calm, a serenity that fostered creativity and inspiration. This newfound peace allowed me to unwind, revitalise, and once again view life through a positive lens.

During my two-month sojourn in Al Gadarif, I initiated a small venture, crafting tree ornaments from crochet threads. This humble endeavour not only brought a modest income but also rekindled a sense of achievement and pride in my artisanal skills.

This phase was transformative. It taught me to perceive life’s challenges as opportunities, waiting to unveil hidden talents and skills. As the saying goes, “and that man can have nothing but what he strives for”.

كوخ مضيء بولاية القضارف

Night falls in Al Gadarif. (Photo: Mazza Saleh)

My domestic journey culminated in Al Gadarif. From there, I transitioned to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and later to Nairobi in Kenya. This latest move marks yet another chapter in my quest for stability.

Even now, as I pen these words beyond Sudan’s borders, I yearn for the tranquillity of my homeland. I dream of the day I can return, rebuild, and rekindle those cherished memories and unique Sudanese evening gatherings with loved ones.


This story was produced by Media in Cooperation and Transition (MiCT) and the North Africa Media Academy (NAMA), in collaboration with the Al Adwaa Media and Journalism Services Centre, and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The views expressed in this publication do not represent the opinions of MiCT, NAMA, Al Adwaa, or BMZ.