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Aiming for Australia

Samia Ibrahim
In 2005, Samir Bol packed his bags and moved from Sudan to Egypt, which he intended as a transit stop en route to Australia. As it turned out, his experience fell far short of his expectations.
30.11.2016  |  Nairobi, Kenya
Samir Bol during The Niles workshop in Nairobi. (photo: The Niles | Dominik Lehnert)
Samir Bol during The Niles workshop in Nairobi. (photo: The Niles | Dominik Lehnert)

TN: Why did you decide to leave?

SB: I was a journalist in Khartoum but I couldn’t fulfil my ambitions so I left Sudan, seeking to study and earn more. I dreamt of studying medicine, but I lacked the money to realise my dream.

I migrated to Egypt in December 2005, travelling by train from Khartoum to Wadi Halfa then taking a boat down the Nile to Aswan. My big dream was to travel to Australia where my aunt lives but my visa application was denied so I couldn’t go.

On my way to Wadi Halfa, I saw many areas in northern Sudan that reminded me of my history and geography classes and inspired me to produce documentaries. As soon as I entered the Egyptian territories, the difference in colour and facial characteristics caught my attention. At the start, I found it difficult to deal with Egyptians because of ethnic and cultural differences.

TN: How could you afford the trip?

SB: I worked for a newspaper in Khartoum and my mother gave me some money even though she was against me travelling because I was too young.

TN: Why did you decide to go to Egypt in 2005, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement?

SB: My ambitions were larger than the peace agreement. I was intending to just pass through Egypt on my way elsewhere.

TN: When your visa application to Australia was denied, how did you make ends meet in Egypt?

SB: In the first six months, I worked as a cleaner and in a clothing factory. After that, I worked as an art and calligraphy teacher in a refugee school. I also worked as a reporter for Sudan’s Civilisation magazine and then I became a reporter for a Nairobi-based radio station, Sudan Radio Service.

My luck improved when the government of Southern Sudan decided to open liaison offices in foreign countries in 2007 and I worked as a media official in Cairo for two years until austerity measures in Southern Sudan cost me my job. I continued working for Sudan Radio Service until I went back to Juba to celebrate Independence Day.

TN: Why did you go back?

SB: I still clung to the idea of migrating to Australia but I returned because of the referendum (on whether South Sudan should become a separate country). I wanted to provide my services to my home, South Sudan, and witness the historic moment of raising the new state’s flag.

TN: How do you look back on your decision to migrate?

SB: I do not regret migrating because I met many people, experienced new cultures and nationalities and gained experience. I was introduced to new ways of thinking and working but I did not achieve my dreams or benefit financially.

TN: What did you encounter when you returned home?

SB: South Sudan has hardly any infrastructure and very few services, but I am happy and glad that I returned. I am optimistic about South Sudan’s future despite the current problems. I believe there is a better future for the people of South Sudan.

TN: How did your career develop in South Sudan after you returned?

SB: I started looking for a job in institutions where I could use my expertise. I recently established a media and journalism production company. My success at home is better than my success abroad.

TN: Did you expect South Sudanese independence?

SB: That was my dream and I worked hard towards it. In my opinion, however, the reasons for the separation of South Sudan are still present in Sudan and South Sudan: Both countries still suffer from the scourge of war.

TN: Would you migrate again?

SB: No. Instead I dream of peace in my country and of harmony among the feuding politicians.

This article is part of:
Migration: The children of the land scatter...
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