The Abducted Crown
a tribute to late Mohammed Mustafa Khogali, a 16 years old Sudanese student who got shot by government of Sudan police force on Wednesday 9th January 2019. He was killed shortly after among other fellow peaceful protesters.
By Osama Mahmoud
Taj: “Yes, yes I can barely hear you Yumma (mum in Sudanese Arabic); I am with Ahmed, we are trapped at the moment in the main roundabout in Sharie Algasr (Palace Street); Alkajar (police, pro gov. militias) are everywhere; we were mislead by a group of pro government students. All I wanted to say I left my w…..”
On the other side of the phone, Halima: “Hello, Hello can you hear me son? I know they tried to cut off all communications because of the demonstrations. Anyhow, I can’t hear you, my message to you and your colleagues is that what you are doing at the moment may seems little to you, however, it is the same actions done by your late uncle, Jumaa, one of the heroes of 1985 popular uprising against the May regime. I am proud of you and hope to see you later today”.
Taj phone was confiscated while his mother was delivering the speech. A lieutenant in the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) took the phone and responded to Halima: “you will never see him again, we shall cleanse the street from
vandals like him”.
That was the last she heard from or about her son. She went back down the memory lane remembering the night Taj was born; it was a cesarean as the embryrical cord got wrapped around the infant neck, however, Taj was a fighter; he survived with little supply of oxygen and food on the final 24 hours before he was born. That’s why his father always believed in him. He is one of four siblings.
At the age of five, his school got burned and he was transferred to a new school; three villages away from his village, Tululu, West Darfur. One day, on the way to school, he got a lift with one of the merchant of the village on the back of a pickup truck. The road was a bit hilly, the driver lost control and hit a tree on the side of the road. Taj flew over the bonnet of the truck and broke his collar bone, 4 ribs and he sustained a minor concussion. He was rushed to Zalingie Hospital for treatment. The road to recovery was tough yet he survived. 15 years later, he passed his exams with flying colours and got accepted to read English Literature in University of Khartoum. His father, Hussien, a farmer has been dead for the last 5 years. His land was taken by the Rabid Speed Force, government of Sudan militias, and decided to sue the perpetrators, only to be beaten by the very people he reached for justice. Hussien fell ill immediately after, high blood pressure, the silent killer, and died shortly after. His wife, Halima, took the role of the provider and worked on people farms to feed her kids. Taj sometimes helped her, however, she was keen for him to finish his education.
Taj said goodbye to his mother and before taking three buses to Nyala, South Darfur, he visited his father’s grave and vowed to continue his education.
From Nyala, a long train journey to Khartoum, his mother packed his suitcase with dry food, cloth, books, pens and all the money she kept on the side for her first born. In the capital, he got a minibus to his university dorm, Elbaracks, where he met his best friend Ahmed, a fellow first year student, who got enrolled to read Economy.
A year later, Taj passed his exams and he is already into year two. He got himself a part time job at a bookshop, in Abujinzeer station, central Khartoum. The money gained financed his day to day. News came from his village is that all the residents of the northern side of Tululu were force displaced into a new IDP camp called Khor Tibish. This was a result of new wave of demographic changes in West Darfur; a policy by the central government in Khartoum. Taj made the journey to his family’s new habitat and observed a look of despair on the faces of all IDP residents. His mother was strong as always and told him to focus on his studies as it is the only way forward for himself and the family. Halima said she is still able to earn from working in near by fields. The very fields that belonged one day to the IDPs.
Taj made his journey back to Khartoum to finish his second year, he became active in university, he joined Darfur Union in university of Khartoum and within months he became the poster person of the group, particularly after one incident where students from Darfur region where targeted after a heated debate with pro government students. As a result, the students from Darfur Union were attacked by NISS, police and the pro government students inside the university, 11 were injured, and one of them was in a critical condition – a knife stab. The attack did not stop there, it later on continued into the students dorm, Elbarracks, where the belongings of the students where removed from the dorms and thrown into the streets to be looted by the attackers. The stabbed student was pronounced dead on arrival to Khartoum Teaching Hospital. Taj and his friend Ahmed escalated this case to the media and also worked with many others to make sure the students were hosted around the capital and no one was left to sleep on the street.
The next day, a group of professors from the university teaching staff plus member of the student’s union plus Taj and Ahmed complained to the Chancellor of the University of Khartoum as well as the ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Also, the group organised a stand on the Main Street, inside the university. The police forces attacked the stand and targeted the group with tear gases. Taj was selectively targeted by one of the NISS personal by live ammunition; his dark complexion not to be missed in the middle of the group . The bullet brushed his shoulder and left a mark on the skin; he survived once again.
Six months later, the situation in the country became worse. multiple factors have lead the streets of the cities to erupt across Sudan. On Christmas Day, 2018, the masses rallied to the streets of Khartoum and other cities calling for the end of Bashir ruling, freedom and justice.
Taj took part in the demonstrations; he joined the masses in AbuJinzer square, central Khartoum, and from there they marched to Sharie Elgasr (Palace Street). The protesters were attacked by snipers located nearby rooftops and police forces on the ground. Taj, Ahmed plus twelves others decided to take a turn where they got trapped by NISS and rapid speed force militia. After the phone conversation with his mother was cut off short because his phone was taken by NISS lieutenant.
Two days later, Halima’s neighbours heard of Taj incident and came to console his mum although his whereabout and fate are yet to be determined. However, she responded to them by saying the following:-
A few days in a dark room, lies the fate of one young groom
Married to a beautiful bride called bravery
Only that her dowry was beyond the silence
He looked down at his fate…
and right in the face of the adversity
He cried “for how long?”
Shaking by that the dictator’s throne
Abduction, detention and torture did occur
While the socialites didn’t give enough care
Is it race? Is it background? Is it class?!!!
Either way, dead or alive…miss bravery salutes you
She hopes that you are safe and sound
A widower or a pride … you made her very proud
Taj means Crown in Arabic, and the fate of her crown even though he often survives, is not yet determined.
It is the responsibility of all to remove the perpetrators and to install justice and freedom for all.
The story is fictional yet it touches the reality on the ground in Sudan. It is also a tribute to young Mohammed Mustafa Khogali, 16 yours old student, who was shot dead by government of Sudan in a peaceful and civil protest organised by the people of Sudan on Wednesday 9th January 2019. May he Rest In Peace. The victims crime that day was their calling for freedom, peace and justice.
حرية سلام وعدالة والثورة خيار الشعب
قصة من نسج الخيال تلامس واقع مرير يمر به الشعب السوداني وهي في رثاء الشهيد محمد مصطفى خوجلي، الطالب، ١٦ عام، قُتِل بواسطة قوات البشير بعد إطلاق رصاصة على صدره في تظاهرة سلمية يوم الأربعاء ٩ يناير ٢٠١٩.