Imagine a seaside paradise with azure-colored water, handmade and hand painted boats haphazardly strewn along the coastline, and the ruins of a forgotten kingdom hopelessly upholding the grandeur of a lost past. Now see a road lined with one-storey shacks constructed from scrap wood and corrugated tin, and a plethora of afros complete with stereotypical pick combs fastened to the dust-covered heads of various tribal folk –– all appearing as ancient as the dilapidated town.
Still, this otherworldly picture doesn't do Suakin enough justice. There are just no words to explain what eyes cannot understand.
These are not the faces of men who live in the world you and I come from. These are the faces of ghosts; from a time that stands alongside our modern one; of a people that have survived colonization, war, poverty, and the rise and fall of their very significance. Sun-beaten and wind swept, they cling to narrow slices of shade, draped in yellowing garments, between a community which has been reduced to rubble and a world that cares not.
I must accept that I can never understand what these people have lived through, but looking into their timeless eyes I hear whispers of a tale that tells a human story––a narrative that has traces of a universal plot line. Against all odds, man survives. Something of this enduring spirit is inscribed on their leathery faces, and despite our seeming differences, I know that this will to outlive hardship is alive somewhere deep within each one of us.