We arrived in Khartoum an hour late and got to the guesthouse where we are staying at 5am. So Sunday was spent asleep until we were collected and taken to the Cathedral where I was preaching at the 6pm Communion service.
There were probably 40 people in the Cathedral. Over dinner with the Bishop of Khartoum later, he explained how, following the separation of Southern Sudan from Sudan in 2011, the expulsion of people of Southern Sudanese origin has impacted not only on the church, but also on the country as a whole. I was a little surprised to discover that even people in their fifties and sixties, born and bred in the north, have also been expelled because their parents or grandparents originally came from the South.
The decision to push southerners out seems to have arisen from pique that they voted for separation and declined unity with the North. “You have your own country now” might be an understandable emotional response, but it won't help an economy thrive. The displacement is huge and the longer-term consequences as yet unknown.
First impressions of Sudan are limited. It is hot – not a bad thing to get some sun a couple of days after my doctor told me my vitamin D count is very low – and the pace is slow. The only other African country I can claim any familiarity with is Zimbabwe – so, now I understand the superficial difference between African Africa and Arabic Africa.
Today we will be visiting a Christian training institute and having lunch with the Principal. The temperature is due to reach 31C today and 38C later in the week. And we are missing the snow in England!
And below is the view from where I am sitting. Yes, I should have sat somewhere else…