A Trip to Sudan for a National Day

In the end of the previous entry we were asking whether the time has come to plan a new trip to Sudan, and here we are today traveling from Bergen to Khartoum mentally, imagining the venue of the first of three Greek National Days in the academic/school year: the OXI (pronounced “okhi” and meaning “no”) day of the refusal of fascist Greece under Metaxas to accept the ultimatum of fascist Italy of Mussolini and the subsequent involvement of Greece in the Second World War, the occupation by the Germans, the camps, the hunger, the pain of inhumanity and barbarism…

Irrespectively of the connotations of resemblance to present-day realities for Greece, in both its international and internal life and politics, the OXI day this year saw two major innovations: on the one hand, the suggestion for the first time by a political party represented in the Parliament to ban the anachronistic custom of parading and on the other hand the absence of politicians in Thessaloniki from the official parade; obviously not for reasons of support of this suggestion, but out of fear for the reactions of the people attending the venue, angry for the austere measures to save the country from the crisis! And it proved so: neither students parading nor people attending had any wish to show respect to the “authorities”

In any case, this National Day is normally celebrated in Greece first by military parades and then by parades of students, who have the day before lit up the “national spirit” in their schools by commemorating the resistance of their forefathers to the foreign fascist forces of the Second World War. These school festivities have always been a grande occasion for a gathering of the Greeks of the Diaspora in their communities and around the schools that their children attended; the same has been happening in Khartoum and we had the chance to be present in such celebrations.

But this year, the commemoration of the OXI day in Khartoum should take a supplementary dimension: that of refusal of being subdued to the plans by the government of Athens to freeze the program of support to the Greek schools of the Diaspora, due to the financial crisis that Greece is going through… Such plans threaten the existence of Greek education abroad in general. And the threat against Greek education in Sudan in particular echoes as such an irony to our ears! For three weeks ago, opening the exhibition of photos at the Benaki Museum, we were approached by many guests who were applauding our own approach to the Greek presence in the Middle Nile Valley focusing on precisely the role of the Greek language and its teaching in the Greek Communities’ schools in Juba, Waw, El Obeid, Gedaref, Medani, Atbara, Port Sudan, and Khartoum, in the old days (that is before the Nimeiry revolution); nowadays only in Khartoum; and in the future???

We believe that it is high time that the Greek Community in Khartoum takes with responsibility and seriousness the fate of the Trampeios and Kontomichaleios Schools in their hands and first of all continue offering a Greek curriculum for the children of Greek families that are still there. Moreover, since they should obviously find new means for administering the educational institutions under their authority, they should also finally expand their functions and introduce research in the higher education level, related to the Greek presence in both the country and its capital city. This would inevitably make in the long run the place attractive again for investment and support from back home in Greece, when the fatherland awakes from the crisis and is again ready for investments and thirsty for satisfying the job demands of the new generation, most of whom possess university degrees and quite many in the severely affected sector of humanistic and social studies.

We have already expressed such ideas both in private, while still resident in Khartoum, and in a recent interview that took place in connection with the opening of our exhibition at the Benaki Museum. And it seems to us that this year the OXI day should be on the one hand a day of refusal to let go, and on the other a day to express positiveness for the future of one of the most important centers of learning of Greek in the African continent.

This last point could by itself be a reason good enough to include the present entry in the Medieval Sai Project Internet space: for it is the Greek language that constitutes the most diachronic trace of the presence of Greeks and Hellenism in Sudan; and it is the Medieval period the era when this language was most used in the Middle Nile Valley, in which the island of Sai has always been an important center for the Nubian civilization; a civilization that consciously selected to express its language in writing by using the Greek script…

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7 Responses to A Trip to Sudan for a National Day

  1. chirine nour says:

    Αχ, δεν ξέρω πια για τι να πρωτολυπηθώ…!

  2. Teresa Tsakou says:

    Σε ποιο τευχος ΔΙΑΣΠΟΡΑ ειναι αυτη η συνεντευξη σου; τοχεις παρει; εντυπωσιακο!

  3. ergamenis says:

    Η συνέντευξη είναι μόνο στο Διαδίκτυο…απ’όσο ξέρω!
    Ευχαριστούμε για τα καλά σχόλια :-)
    Κι αν κάποια πράγματα μας στενοχωρούν,
    είναι για να γινόμαστε πιο δυνατοί τε και δυναμικοί ;-)
    Καλή Κυριακή από το Μπέργκεν!

  4. ergamenis says:

    Με ευχές για μια καλή εβδομάδα,
    θυμάμαι τις μέρες στο σχολείο του Χαρτούμ,
    που μαθαίναμε Ερωτόκριτο με τα παιδιά,
    τραγουδώντας τους υπέροχους στίχους του…
    Ο σύνδεσμος για να μην έχουμε μόνο να λυπόμαστε για τα της Ελλάδας:

  5. Φλώρα says:

    Τώρα είναι που πρέπει να διαχύσουμε τον Ελληνικό Πολιτισμό έξω από τα όρια της Ελλάδας, για να διατηρήσουμε την ιστορική μας συνέχεια και να μην συνθλιβούμε…
    Για να μη λένε στο μέλλον “από την Ελλάδα στο … Grecostan”, όπως λέμε σήμερα “από τη Νουβία στο Σουδάν”!

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