Today in Brazil, over 50,000 people streamed into Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development. Practical Action even has a team there, determined to ensure that total energy access for people in the developing world is high on the agenda.
Meanwhile, here in Sudan, hundreds of ordinary people participated in demonstrations campaigning against political oppression and economic austerity. I’m sure these protests failed to make the headlines in the UK, but in Africa they were big news. The demonstrators were greeted by police who used batons and tear gas to suppress them.
There is little personal freedom, and I have never experienced anything like it. Someone told me “it is like a prison here”.
There are sand storms today, the “Habob”, and the sand is everywhere – in my hair, my ears, my eyes, my nose, my mouth. Khartoum is a desert city – and the desert does not let you forget it.
Before I came to Sudan, three lovely colleagues in the UK gave me a poetry book – some soul food for my travels. Tonight, as I sit in my hotel room reflecting on my day, I find Maya Angelou’s poem “I know why the caged bird sings”. It’s a poem I have always loved, but tonight the last verse moves me more than usual:
“the caged bird sings
With a fearful trill
Of things unknown
But longed for still
And his time is heard
On the distant hill
For the caged bird
Sings of freedom”