The Book of the Week is “The Black Nile” by Dan Morrison, published in 2010. The American author traveled along the Nile River for more than sixth months, “roughing it” just for fun. He spent time in Sudan, South Sudan, Egypt and Uganda.
Morrison spoke with people of all walks of life, including government officials. He visited farms, oilfields and night clubs. He was forced to deal with numerous delays of vehicles on water and land while traveling to his next destination. He wrote briefly of the recent history of tribal infighting, and the cultural, political and economic background of the region.
The economies of some villages, fueled by black markets, with high-priced accommodations, like Juba in Sudan, were frequented by aid workers and diplomats. In South Sudan alone, there are more than ninety different tribes and factions. The author visited just prior to the partitioning of Sudan. Most of the oil was in the south. The militias and corrupt local officials were forcing villagers to evacuate their land for the purpose of oil exploration. The oil companies used private security services and hired northerners. China, Malaysia and India were the major investors in the oil.
“Northern Sudan was almost entirely untouched by the civil war and, despite the combined effects of mismanagement and international sanctions, its main roads were paved, electricity reached the major towns and there was always a hotel to be found.”
The author summed up various American viewpoints, including: a) “No one in the United States cared about a months-old spell of terror and death in South Sudan. They barely cared about Darfur, and Darfur was the rage.” and b) Americans’ impression of the Middle East is one of veiled women and angry men.
Read the book to learn more about the author’s adventures.