Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sudan's Idiocracy: The Best Thing to Ever Happened to Gillian Gibbons.

Sudan's idiocratic version of Islamic rule reminds me of the Stoning scene from Monty Python's "Life of Brian."

News from Sudan has fascinated me ever since I learned it would be a part of my route through Africa.

Some of the most memorable news stories I've read about Sudan are "Sudan man marries goat."

The recent Mohammad the Teddy Bear story, reminds me of a story from 2005 where a ridiculous death threat and court process took place against the editor of an Islamist newspaper. His article was defending the Islamic religion from an attacking essay. For merely referring to the sacreligous essay, a group of Sudanese people called for his death.

When I travelled through Sudan, I found it a tolerant place. Sudanese people impressed me with their hospitality, more than once paying for my tea when I sat in a street cafe. When inconvenienced, such as being stopped at one of the countless roadblocks, I was usually offered ice cold Pepsi's to help me cope with the intense forty-plus degree heat.

While more bureaucratic than any other country I've ever visited, I found public servants always polite and helpful, some even apologetic for the abundance of red tape.

As for the unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate (depending on which way you look at it) teacher, Gillian Gibbons, getting kicked out of Sudan was probably the best thing that ever happened to her. I can't imagine much more rock bottom than having to teach in a hot, dry, (both alcohol and rain-wise) country. When I was there, Sudanese people seemed afraid to have fun. Khartoum completely closed down come nine or ten o'clock. Everything stopped and there was nothing to do.

Mrs. Gibbins also has a damn good story to tell now. She's hit the freak life twist jackpot. The British tabloids will be salivating, and bringing out their chequebooks for exclusive interviews when she returns to the UK.

The payoff will probably be well worth the fifteen days of jail she's had to deal with. As a writer, sometimes going through such a shitstorm, while scary and hellish at the time, ends up being worth the frustration since a fantastic story comes out. Two weeks in a Sudanese jail, Islamist nutcases calling for your head, all because some kids wanted to name their Teddy Bear Mohammad.

My earlier idiocracy description and Monty Python comparison sum up my feelings on the issue. No need to kick this thing to death any more than the thousands of news chat rooms have already.

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