Driving through this town, I often stumble upon refreshing scenes: a Wadi full of ebullient children playing soccer and volleyball, a truck of armed and savage-looking Chadian rebels whose intimidation melts away with my wave of greeting, a man sitting in the peace of a mango tree’s shade reading a Koran, a busy street market rushing through the day’s last sales in order to avoid the oncoming downpour that threatens in gusts from a darkened horizon. I have started bringing my camera wherever I go in the hopes of capturing another side of Darfur that has gone without mention in most of the popular media. Darfur is a very beautiful place, full of very kind people, and I wish writers would add some variety to their analysis of this world and stop advertising it as a place of only "hunger, violence, slaughter," and "chaos." Those words appear in almost every article I read of Sudan.
Two days ago it happened – something that has nothing to do with the crisis plopped down in front of me. On our return to the office we almost drove into a stunning Black Crowned Crane standing on the side of the dirt road. It remained calmly on its path and did not quail as a truck of soldiers drove by and as I approached with my camera. My colleague said that they are often seen here, slowly striding through the streets, and I noticed that people walked by as if the bird was simply part of the background. But for me it was of great interest - how often does one see a large exotic bird walking through these trash-strewn, eroded roads (something so beautifully natural in such an unnatural and human-dominated environment)?
The only reason some kids then stopped was to watch me take a picture of the bird and laugh at my interest in it.