• Ayah Osman

Powerless

I don’t fall asleep anymore.

I fall in and out of nightmares that don’t come close to what I see when I’m awake.

I don’t speak anymore.

I yell, I beg, I plead, I pray.

I don’t breathe anymore.

Instead, I hold my breath when the names of the martyrs are called.

I don’t live anymore.

I only mourn the dead.


I don’t feel powerful anymore.

Because my people are being shot in the streets like rabid animals by rabid animals.

Because my power does not coexist with that of the TMC.

Because a six-year-old girl was raped by ten men in a house of worship.

Because the UN has refused to get involved in Sudan like that isn’t their damn job.

Because my cousin’s house was burned to the ground with no regard.

Because a relative of my mother’s was dragged to the local precinct, dehumanized, and pinched with a wrench until his skin peeled.

Because when my grandmother’s sister died during the internet blackout we couldn’t even call and cry with her.

We couldn’t go back to hold her.

Because the sound of bullets being fired is far too familiar.

Because El Neel al Ezreq and El Neel al Abyed have become El Neel al Ehmer

Because my baby cousin coughs up tear gas and my mom’s asthmatic sister-in-law choked on it for so long we had to bury her.

Because I’m too scared to feel powerful.

Scared that this poem will prevent me from ever visiting my country again.

Scared that if I return I won’t recognize it.

I don’t feel powerful because my cousin was at the qiyada the night they set the tents on fire.

Raped the Kandakas.

Beat the children.

Killed the men.

Buried the evidence in the Nile.

Because you can’t roam the streets of Sudan without being shoved into a police car.

But Omar al Bashir got into a cruiser in his white jalabiya as if he doesn’t have Darfur's blood on his hands.

Because the Janjaweed can’t be reasoned with.

Because my mom’s pregnant cousin was beaten and her elderly aunt kicked inside their own homes.

Because my cousin found a man scorched by fire on the streets.

Because in the month of Ramadan, the day before eid, the militiamen walked into a mosque and beat the worshippers as if God wasn’t watching,

as if being above the law of the land meant they were above the law of the Creator.

Because when a group of women fleeing from the militiamen hid in the house of my grandmother’s neighbor, the Janjaweed shot him dead in front of the women.

In front of his children.

In front of his wife.

Because Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia are profiting off of my lack of power.

Because the rest of the world doesn’t care about Africans.

Doesn’t care about Muslims.

Doesn’t care about humanity.

Because the Sudanese Meal Project exploited the suffering of my people.

Because compared to the youth that now live in the qiyada.

The ones that can’t count on their fingers how many of their brothers have died.

The ones who have laid their life down for democracy.

The ones who have looked down the barrel of a gun and said “Tesgut Bes” without shaking.

Without apology.

The ones that don’t have weapons.

Don’t have guarantees.

Because compared to them I have no power.

Compared to them I am a coward.

Compared to them the Janjaweed are weak.

That.

That is the only feeling of powerlessness that brings me comfort.


* TMC - Transitional Military Council

* El Neel al Ezreq- The Blue Nile (one of the two major tributaries of the Nile.)

*El Neel al Abyed- The White Nile (one of the two major tributaries of the Nile.)

*El Neel al Ehmer- The Red Nile

*Qiyada- Military headquarters

*Kandaka- A title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan, now used to refer to female protesters and empowered Sudanese women.

*Jalabiya- A traditional cloak worn by Sudanese men.

*Janjaweed- The word which literally translates to “Devils on Horseback” refers to the militiamen that have terrorized the Sudanese people, particularly Darfurians, for decades.

*Tesgut Bes- A common protest chant meaning “Just fall down.”




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