“The nights are sleepless and full of exotic dreams,” I told my cousins when only one week remained of my stay in Africa.
After a long absence from my people — 23 years since I left Sudan in the storm of war — I recently returned to this mystical place. During my exile, I have missed my people, dreamed of them, and occasionally cried for them. When I finally stood among them, the feeling was spiritual, although I barely recognized them.
My cousin Thiong Mayen — who also fled years ago — and I found ourselves among relatives who did not know us. The family members who did remember us shed many tears. The tears continued as they learned of the tribulations we endured during our exile, which took us to many foreign countries, and ultimately the United States. My uncle explained to the family’s younger generation that many other relatives left the country to escape the violence, while many who remained are among the 2 million victims killed during Sudan’s civil war that spanned 22 years…
Read the rest of Peter Thiong’s thoughtful essay about what it means to be a Sudanese-American on the Leo Online.
(Originally appeared in the LEO on September 8, 2010.)