While casually looking through the visitors and locations of the people who visit my blog, it came as something of a surprise to discover that I seem to have an ardent fans and supporters living in Sudan? As some of you may know, Sudan is currently in the grips of a political, moral, civil and religious war, with hundreds of thousands of its citizens having been killed from either direct combat or starvation and disease inflicted by the conflict in the Darfur region.
Undeterred by this seemingly hostile environment, I decided to travel to the Sudan and thank my fans in person. Was it dangerous and stupid? Yes, absolutely. But I grew up on the mean streets of the South Wales Valleys, a place where militant coal miners regularly form unlicensed Welsh Male Voice choirs and where you have to travel nearly 20 miles to get a Burger King. So don’t talk to me about poverty and putting my life on the line cause I’ve walked through the fires of Hell to get some curly fries I’m sure a few pissed off Arabs with machine guns and attack helicopters are nothing compared to the one way system on the Porth by-pass.
|Porth By-Pass: 8:30am on any given weekday|
Chartering a flight to the Sudan proved somewhat difficult owing to the whole UN embargo thing. But some perseverance coupled with several pound coins (which equates to a year’s wage for those people), managed to get me a single propped jalopy that flew me in from Egypt.
Landing in a dusty and barren landing strip, I surveyed the Sudan environment around me.
|"Thats some quality work"|
Large holes pitted the runway and scorched the earth. Destruction of runways is pretty much the first point of business in any war as it cuts off supplies for the opposing army. Without food, provisions and weapons, the enemy is there for the taking! Admiring their gutsy and well executed bombing runs I was unaware of the rustling coming from behind me.
I turned round and found myself staring at a thin, dirty looking man called Mubingto. He wrongly assumed that I was some kind of relief worker and was there to help him for some reason.
I explained the situation the best I could to him using my (admittedly) rudimentary understanding of the Sudanese language.
I showed them print outs of Batdad and Animals That Deserve to Die in the hope that they may have some kind of knowledge as to who my mysterious fans were. I thought I saw a flicker of recognition in his eyes as he scanned over a badly drawn caricature of Rebecca Black with a bowl of cereal. He instinctively knew that I wanted to explore and find people who had an internet connection. Were there people in this part of the world who were even online? The answer when it came was understandable in any language. “One”.
This “One” must be the people I’m looking for. It would be a 3 day hike through hostile jungle...
Searing hot desert
And deep, dry valleys.
He had heard about this town, the town of the “spiders-web signal” and “magic glass box”. Up until I had arrived he had assumed that it was just a fairy tale, something that was impossible, achievable only in the most cheese fever induced dreams.
But now that I was with him, he started to see it as a sign from the mighty Goat God, Guhindi that he should lead me to the Promised Land and that he would be rewarded with life eternal and a Facebook account.
The trip was arduous and difficult. We dodged bullets and bombs, drank Pepsi Max at room temperature and suffered through patchy 3G reception. Just when I thought poor little Mubingto could carry me no further, we came to a clearing in the forest. A path lay before us at our feet, leading towards a place.. A special place, a place that I had travelling half the world to find....
I approached the town slowly. It was so unlike anything I had seen in Sudan that I was convinced that I was having another of my cheese hallucinations. I reached out and touched the sign that bore my name. I was real.
I slowly started to walk into the town. Pristine houses lined the spotless streets. I could sense eyes on me as I slowly advanced towards the town centre. They remained hidden as I turned the corner and moved towards the figurehead of the town to find....
|A giant, solid gold statue of me!|
I gazed up at this majestic figure of wonderment. What did it all mean? A town elder exited the Church of Winning-ication behind him and slowly advanced towards me.
They say you should never meet your hero’s. What they don’t say is that you should never meet your God’s either, as it will only result in mass disappointment and running for your life with a village of pissed off Sudaniesians chasing after you. Managing to escape and barter my way out of the Sudan, I returned to Wales with one less set of fans and a harsh lesson learnt. In the future I will stick to posting links from the safety of the virtual world and never again make the mistake of actually interacting with other humans.