Ben Oostdam story # 652


I do not know why this title came to my mind on this day which is so rainy that I could hardly hear these two relevant news items on the radio this morning because of the frequent silences or background noises for which the announcer apologized.

First, there was the story about the ongoing Haj and the construction boom in Saudi Arabia, then the interviews in southern Sudan with people registering for the January 2011 vote on the referendum about possible secession from northern Sudan.

I was in Jeddah in 1978 on my first stop returning to the USA after an 18 month job in Kuwait.
I had an introduction and stayed with a cousin of Ata, my US-Palestinian friend and colleague at KISR, who also used to live in Lancaster, PA and had been recruited by Hamid the then Acting Director of KISR and former Dean at Millersville University.
The cousin was most hospitable and asked me to take along a package of letters written by Ata to his prospective wife in the 1950s. I am glad to report I managed to do so after my last visit to Ata, in 2010, but that's another story.

What I want to stress now is illustrated in this photo of a dhow caught up in the 1970's construction boom in Jeddah, the entrance port for the Haj in nearby Mecca.

Compare this with:

the 2010 construction boom in Mecca...
".... is the largest expansion project to the Grand Mosque in history. It will increase the circumference of the Masjid to 500,000 meters squared. It is the equivalent of two times the size of the current Mosque,"
Dr. Usama Al-Bar, the head of Mecca municipality told us.
"The projects, the future ones and the ones currently being undertaking, we're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars. We've already spent more then 10 billion dollars."

From Jeddah - 1978 - I flew across the Red Sea to Port of Sudan.
To my surprise, I was greeted at the airport by a man who asked me
if I was "the marine geologist?".
Thinking that someone at KISR had arranged this pickup, I acknowledged
that I was, indeed, a marine geologist.
We went along in his car to the hotel where he told me I was to stay.
On the way, we talked about the Red Sea mud deposits and Ocean Mining A.G.
which was to explore the deeps where the metalliferous muds had been discovered.
It became only apparent the next day that 'they' were awaiting a German marine geologist,
but what with my Dutch accent I did understand their error.
In my defense, I did at some time work for Ocean Science and Engineering,
the parent company of Ocean Mining.A.G.
In addition, one of the WHOI scientists who had co-authored "the" book
about Red Sea muds was my fellow student Dave Ross at Scripps....

but I am losing my train of thought what with frequent network and familial interruptions....
I am now supposed to be on my way to Juba, further in the south of the Sudan,
(for) where another friend at KISR had given me a letter of introduction
to the Dean of Juba University ....(and alsoto the actor playing the head-role in the movie "Zein"...)
remember Hemingway's concide shortest known (decent) short story in six words:
"For sale: baby shoes - never worn"
- pray, proceed to Juba 1978 -
wonder if they still have roadsigns to the "Belgian Congo" ???

I was most cordially received by Dr. Samani,
the Chancellor of 8 months old Juba University,
who installed us (including my fellow McGill
graduate Dr. Abu Zayd, the new Registrar)
under a shady tree.
(indubitably the same one as mentioned in the
radio interview this morning, Nov.16, 2010)

Dr.Semani (1978) was ebullient and
very excited about the elections (right)
and prospects (= promises) of
great improvements in the
Sudanese North-South cooperation....

To-day is more than thirty years
and some two million victims later !

And I think of the peaceful places
I visited and their associated genocides:
Germany, Bali, Rwanda, South Africa,
Russia, and maybe even Holland.

please have a look at:

Pres.Obama re Sudan Referendum 2011
Wikipedia's background on the Sudan Jan. 2011 Referendum

BLO fecit 20101126 - stories