The Awoodah neighborhood in the town of Medani, some 200 km south of the capital Khartoum, demonstrates many examples of southern and northern families living peacefully side by side in the quarter of the town they came to live in some 30 years ago. George, a small southern child, innocently expressed to me his love for the place and that he would never ever leave it even if South Sudan is declared an independent state.
Adults also have their own expression of these brotherly ties as they exchange visits to those hospitalized and to each others' homes, never thinking for a second of what geographical or ethnic background the other party has. They simply sit, chat and drink tea or coffee – men and women alike.
The Awoodah primary school teaches children whose parents hail from the many different regions of Sudan. The school’s administration is said to play an important role in creating association and healthy ties among the children and between the school community and the larger society surrounding the school. ‘Children sing together during breaks’, said a teacher.
George says ‘I don’t feel a difference between myself and the northern kids. I love my neighbours more than anything else in my life’. He says he loves the neighbourhood and will never leave even if the expected secession takes place. ‘I don’t know the south … I have never seen it in my life’, he said, adding that Medani means a lot to him.
Victoria Atwil, a southerner who has lived in the place for more than 30 years, says ‘I came here when I was only 15. Mom did not come with me. But, when I had my first baby, I found many mothers here’. She mentioned that Hajah Amna, a neighbor who is originally of the Agal-liyeen in the Wad Rawah area, cared for her and her baby. Victoria says ‘ever since, I decided to stay and repay the favour’– helping others the same way she was helped.
Hajah Amna in turn sees no difference between a northerner and a southerner. She says Awoodah sees people from the different regions of the country are no strangers.
Sultan Joseph Makwaj deems the neighbourhood a good model of a spirit of brotherhood and peaceful coexistence. He says ‘I get along well with neighbours, visit them, checking if they are well and partake into all social gatherings: weddings and funerals alike’.