Khalda El JackWriter
Khalda El Jack, born in the UK, grown up in KSA, studied and worked in the UAE, and currently living in Belgium, is a research associate with a career background in architecture. Her passion in writing encouraged the Dear Azza project, bringing into light the strength in the words we use to express and tell stories. Currently based in Belgium, her research interests lie in the deeper understanding of the socio-spatial manifestation of multi-ethnic living in Sudan. Having lived all her life in the diaspora has grown her interest in understanding her homeland and identity through different lenses.

Illustration by Randa Jafar

Introduction

Refresh. Add to story. Goosebumps.
Refresh. Retweet. Tears.
Refresh. Repost. Laugh.

I filled the emptiness of my room with the sounds of the revolution and Dear Azza was born.

‘Azza’ is used in Sudanese love songs in reference to both woman and motherland, and these letters are to her. Dear Azza was created during the 2018/2019 Sudanese Uprising to offer a platform to document our his[her]story in all our languages, not only through a recorded timeline of events, but as a timeline of emotions. A timeline of words felt but not spoken. A platform that allows Sudanese people in the diaspora and in the country to voice their love, frustrations, hopes and dreams to our beloved, freezing in time this moment for generations to come.

The four letters here were selected to offer an understanding of the impacts of time, place, space and emotions on the way we read our surroundings. They offer time-specific words to our beloved, full of love, in its multiple forms, resonating differently with the readers who come across them. From diaspora feelings of hopelessness during the uprising, to gunshot fears from those who were in it, to hope for a better future and what it actually feels like to leave, these letters, alongside all others, are equally important in offering a multitude of ways of recording our his[her]story.

And who better to do it than us. The people.

-Khalda El Jack

09.04.19

DEAR AZZA

Tonight, I yearn for the spirit of Sudan.

A yearning for the dusty yellow haze of the streets; the wide, bumpy roads stretched out as far as eye can see; bright smiles, vibrant fabrics, fragrant spices, the smell of diesel, deep brown, caramel brown, chestnut brown glistening skin.

A yearning for the unwavering ferocity of a nation with limitless pride and determination. A people who have created the highest standard of generosity and justice, kindness and empathy. A people I measure myself up against every day.

I watch our country make history from a blue toned screen in the dark, on the other side of Atlantic. In the room filled with English books and foreign souvenirs, the chants and cheers reverberate. I have never felt so connected.

This was Jidu’s hope.
This was Haboba’s dream.
This is Mama’s awe.
This is Baba’s pride.
This is my story to tell.

Sincerely-
Bint al Sudan, US raised

14.06.19

عزيزتي عزة.

غدا ستغدين حرة

و نلتف حولك لنحكي قصصنا
لنمر بكل طرف من اطرافك لتقصي علينا حكاياك

مهما طال الزمان
و مهما صعب المنال
سنكون في انتظارك و تكونين في انتظارنا

دمتي بخير عزيزتي دمتي لنا

راغدة | ما خلف الأفق

02.07.19

DEAR AZZA

Did I tell you I can’t sleep?

That my eyes just weep.
That I am just scrolling through feeds
Looking for inspiration.
Looking for motivation.

You can’t understand my aggravation.
You can’t comprehend the desperation.

I’m scared to close my eyes.
So I’m just reading all these lies.
If I sleep I’ll wake up something worse,
or is that just a verse.

Maybe if I stay up till sunrise, I’ll see clearer skies.
Or at least avoid hearing those cries.
Oh look, everyone’s profile is blue.
Just like my feelings, who knew?

I’m following the SPA,
who are part of the FFC,
that are negotiating with the TMC,
who’s being pressured by the RSF.
because of influence from KSA and MBS,
not to mention the UAE and President CC.

That probably got you dizzy.

We lost our leverage, our blood flowing in the Nile like a beverage.
Damn them for trying to tarnish our legacy,
Damn them for bringing fear to our streets,
Damn them for shedding our blood in vain.

By our faith, our peacefulness and our smile, we will succeed.
Didn’t they know they were burying seeds?

How dare they think they could defeat us?
How dare they think they could rule us?
How dare they think they could comprehend us?
Let them move aside and watch us Rise
.
They can’t block our tide.

Yours truly,

Osman Salih | Sleepless in Sudan

31.12.19

DEAR AZZA

I saw you from above.

Your ochre ripples and folds.
Your Niles, both White and Blue.

I heard you sing in the voice of my loves,
lost in the years I was away.
Calling me down from below.
mourning my leaving before I arrived,
knowing my return is never true.
My heart lost in a body, lost in a land not mine.

Azza,
I saw you from above.

Your ochre folds rippling in the wind.
Like my grandmother’s tobe.
the breeze carrying her perfume,
a scent lost to me in the years I was away.
And my eyes,
like Khalifa’s Pearl Necklace, like the Niles both White and Blue,
left trails on my face, like the marks on my grandfather’s cheeks,
Cheeks lost to me in the years I was away.

Azza,
I saw you from above.

And I mourned my leaving before I arrived.

Yours truly,
Leena Kheir | Auckland, New Zealand