My Memories of Zalingei the Capital of the Western District of the former Darfur Province
I am writing about Zalingei from a very different perspective than the disastrous events and atrocities continued plaguing the people of Sudan in Darfur who have endured genocide, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities for over a decade and related to the issue/crisis of the region that I wrote about in my previous articles and books.
The City of Zalingei occupies a strategic geographical position at the adjunction of the two giant Valley beds of Wadi Aribo and Wadi Azoom displaying inherently beautiful scenery and beautiful weather and a nice refreshing atmosphere that renews activity. Zalingei a beautiful city has the most beautiful entrance. The visitor to the city becomes stun viewing the mango trees all along the right and the left sides of the road to give beautiful painting and covering the blue sky and greenness covering the ground where it makes it impossible to describe!The nature of the land in the city of Zalingei is mountainous.
The Naming Zalingei is said to be derived from the phrase , which was used by the local people whenever one of the British Colonial inspectors, who was sullen frown face and strict as passed by the area, the residents say the phrase i : ( Zaalan Jay ), in their Arabic vernacular accent the meaning (that angry came)! From that, the town’s name became Zalingei!
Zalingei is renowned for its richness in soil fertility. The community bases farming as the main source of income. The local community starts cultivation in the rainy season taking advantage of the natural irrigation. The rainy season in Zalingei starts in mid-June and ends by October. The main income generating crops in the area for the community is Millet, Sorghum and Ground Nuts.
One of the citizens of Zalingei described people of the region,some nostalgic saying:It is the memories of the good days of the good times in the beautiful city of Zalingei inhabited by good people. They have the beauty of the soul and the morals. The smiling faces, purehearts like milk. They do not know hatred nor hate anyone. It is the time when the neighbour does not go to his place of work only after inspecting the conditions of all the neighbours and the duty of congratulations and condolences and supportive in difficult situations.
The landmarks of ZalingeiCity include the Palace of Amir (Prince) Mohammed Sultan Bahraddin, evergreen trees for fencing referred to as Angell, Haraz trees, Dabker trees, the mud pond, the football field, West Darfur socio-cultural Club, sports club, Nasser cultural Club and Drumming of the Farangabiah Dance. Furthermore, theHygiene workers in the market, workers of Zalingei hospital, the grand market traders, the neighborhoods of Zongo, Meeri-Aaba, Jaborouna, Hassahissa neighbourhood in the western district of the city considered one of the largest ever, Hamediya, Jebel Kunjo Miya, Hayal- Wadthe city ‘s oldest neighborhood, Hayal- Souq, Hayal -Muhafizeen, and much more other Neighbourhoods and neighboring districts.Currently, the town of Zalingei is home for the University of Zalingei.
The Jebel Marra Rural Development project and the Western Savannah Development projectsSudan (1957 – 1995) were two important and promising development projects the headquarters of which in the city of Zalingei but stopped as part of the systematic unwillingness of the central governments in Khartoum, to provide development for Darfur. Zalingei, the main town and project headquarters, is 1,600 km west of Khartoum and the River Nile. a 210 km paved road, links Zalingei with Nyala, the largest town in Darfur by a journey of two to three hours. The Jebel Marra Rural Development Project was mainly funded by the central government and the European Union. It was intended as an integrated programme of agricultural development concentrating on rain-fed crop production with some attention to small-scale irrigation. There had been previously little emphasis on livestock production and the nomadic and semi-nomadic communities that use the project area and share it with the settled Fur farmers.
The following areas: Wadi Saleh, Mukjar, Umdukhun, Nertiti, Rokoro, Bindisi, Garsila, Golo, Juldoo, Shattaya, Arwalla, Tonoku, Umbala, and Kass were part of the District of West Darfur in Zalingei administratively in the former Province of Darfur.
My memories of the City of Zalingei go back to the years 1971 and 1972 when I worked in its 80 – bedded general District Hospital as a single-handed Medical Doctor. I have documented that era in my book titled: The Autobiography I Wrote Begins at a Zaghawa Village in Darfur, published by the UK based AuthorHouse UK Ltd ISBN: 978 – 1 – 4520 – 2587 – 2 (5C)
At the time, I had the pleasure to work with number of dedicated sincere people like Medical Assistant El-Nur Ibrahim, Assistant Surgical Nurse late Adam Abdelwahab and many others. I also met notable persons including Shartay Arbab Ahmed Shatta, a tribal chief of dar Tarbila, in the village of Girey. Ustaz Ibrahim Abulkheirat, Headmaster of Zalingei Intermediate School,knowledgeable individual and a comic one of the dignitaries of the city of Zalingei and Sayed Ahmed Ibreh,Commander of the unit for the protection of the wildlife and hunting.
Gone by the good old days; my cherished memories remained through the decades!
Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is https://thussudan.wordpress.com/