FOOTPRINTS
       Mohamed Babikir  

     I am a descendant of a widely respected man. His reputation was built on his contribution to achieving Sudan's independence from England in 1956. He had not raised a gun nor a sword in his long struggle against the occupier; instead, he made use of his pen. He graduated from Gardoon College (University of Khartoum), which provided him with the knowledge needed to overcome the dim shadow of the occupation. My grandfather had set the road for thousands of Sudanese, including my father, when he called for justice, equality, and honesty toward all, regardless of race or religion. Therefore, his teaching and principles are still remembered more than ten years after his death.

     My father was a politician by birth. He grew up under grandfather's eyes and learned from his advice. He graduated from the same college grandfather had attended. Encouraged by his father, he succeeded in attracting people to his ideology; for example, one of his favorite sayings was, "Worshiping is for God but the land is for all of us." My father's path was similar to his father's except that he called for unity with Egypt in order to form one country. He went even further by picking the name "Wadi El-neel" (The Nile Valley) as the name for the country. This shocking proposal divided the Sudanese nation. My father's idea of such a union raised the issues of national and ethnic identity. For example, most of the southern Sudanese related to the African culture, whereas most of the northern Sudanese identified with the Arabian culture. Although neither my father nor his father called for separation from the nation, the government assumed they had. The implications of my father's thoughts did introduce him to the "Ghost House," where the government usually keeps its detractors. One night lit by a full moon, police officers came to our house and took my father away. I was almost 10 years old at the time, and since then my family has received no word of him. This daunting disappearance left my mother with a broken heart and ten kids to raise. She stood strong for us and managed to guide my brother and me through the dark nights of despair until we realized what we had to do. Education made us understand our reality and strengthened our souls so that we could exorcise the demons of the past. Armed with words and love, I will continue from where my father left off, hoping that I will achieve what he could not accomplish.

     If all people had a decent education that opened minds, then every person could realize justice, equality, and soul justification. Soul justification is a pure shining feeling; I felt it when I was able to stand color blind and repeat Nelson Mandela's words, "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we can reach the mountain top of our desires."