Friday, October 06, 2006
A warning about the 'Devil on a horse with a gun'
Wherever you go in Sudan, especially as a journalist, you have to have the right paperwork and credentials. Even if you leave the capital, Khartoum, you have to have a stamped piece of paper that says you can carry out your work in whichever town you end up in.

We were aware of this, and aware the authorities would be looking for any excuse to make doing our work as difficult as possible.

We took a helicopter flight to the dusty town of Kebkabiya, deep in northern Darfur, accompanied by the World Food Program representative. This is janjaweed terrority, the Arab militia that roams the countryside burning village after village and raping, looting, and terrorizing entire communities. Tens of thousands have been killed, millions more forced to flee as the janjaweed patrol the area on horse or camel.

Our interpreter warned us not to use the word "janjaweed" openly here because the locals don't like its negative connotations. "What does it mean?" I ask. "It means, 'Devil on a horse with a gun,'" explains Mohammed, our fixer.

Just as we'd loaded our vehicles and were getting ready to drive around, two plainclothes individuals approached us.

"Paperwork," they demanded.

We handed over the necessary accreditation. One of them looks at it, whispers something to the other and barks at us, "Not Good."

"What do you mean, 'Not good'?" I enquire.

"Paperwork not good," he yells. "You come with us."

We follow them for the 20-minute drive to what was supposed to be the national security office. The building is from a bygone era, badly in need of a touch up, security guard lounging around, AK-47 assault rifles propped up against the wall. We're brought to an old dilapidated office and told to wait.

A short while later, a stocky official stomps in, hardly acknowledges us, scans the paperwork, growls something to his inferiors who cower down like they're about to be flogged, then turns to us and without a greeting barks through a translator, "This doesn't say Kebkabiya. It's no good."

"But isn't Kebkabiya in Darfur State?" I ask. "Of course, but it only applies to El Fasher," he replies.

This is absurd since both towns are in the same state and barely 45 minutes by helicopter apart. "But El Fasher isn't written on the accreditation either," I go on. But at this point, I realize we're fighting a losing battle here.

We head back to the airport, escorted by three security officials. I've been deported from some African countries, but I never imagined I'd be deported from a state within a state.

One hand doesn't seem to know what the other hand is doing around here. Maybe that's why peace is so fleeting in Sudan.


Watch: Ill-equipped peacekeepers on the job -- 3:31
Watch: The fight for survival in North Darfur -- 3:08
Posted By Jeff Koinange, CNN Africa Correspondent: 10:30 AM ET
Hi Jeff,
As I've watched ac360 this week, I've come away with a vivid idea of what insanity can look like. You guys have seen more than we viewers can grasp. But I appreciate hearing the details, the facts on the ground, the bad and the ugly..It has motivated me more than ever to not give up on the people of this region, just because it seems to be so futile doesn't mean it can't be changed..Maybe not today, but soon..Thank you for your excellent work and keep it up, we need a shot of humility quite often..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 11:20 AM ET

I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for you. The authorities don't want the rest of the world to know the truth of what goes on. Thank you for the work you have done and will do for the victims of this tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous ginger, colby , kansas : 11:27 AM ET
Hey Jeff,

I saw your report last night. They really are "running the country" with the blessing of the government. They have no consequences to their actions.
It goes to show that the U.N. really needs to get in there.

You didn't talk about it in your blog but what really got to me is to see that there are millions of bags of grains destined to the refugees but only a few hundreds thousands are being delivered because the truck drivers are constantly attacked by them. It is frustrating to see that. It has to stop. The refugees are suffering enough as it is.

Take Care,stay away from the "devil" but keep on talking about them.

Stay safe
Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 11:37 AM ET
I've seen your video report on this incident just this morning here in Germany. After closely following news and reports on this crisis since it started more than 3 years ago this report was the point where I said to myself "I've seen enough. That's it!"

Watching you and that young field manager from the World Food Program fly over that destitute, waterless landscape along with the images of dozens of pillaged and burned villages and small towns passing beneath your aircraft was convincing enough for anyone with eyes in their head. It is time to send in combat troops to rescue and protect those people and forget about the diplomatic BS at the U.N.

The most shocking part of all in your video report was to see the 3 Chinese-made attack helicopters sitting on the runway at the Janjaweed militia base awaiting their next run on innocent civilians, women and children in North Darfur. Of course they turned you back, the GoS and the militias do NOT want the world to see the images from the final wave of genocide taking place there.

Please make this important video report available online ASAP at the CNN International website.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Berlin Germany : 11:41 AM ET
Lack of communication and abuse of power, that's what happens when you give guns to the wrong people.How does one cut out a festering wound without being inhumane?
Posted By Anonymous EAD, Atlanta, GA : 11:51 AM ET
You and the others from 360 have shown viewers a gov't not of the people, but of an oppressive tyranny. The UN has no problem criticizing the U.S., but why isn't the UN removing dictators and dysfunctional governments in African countries?
Posted By Anonymous xtina - chicago IL : 11:55 AM ET
"A stocky official...growls something to his inferiors who cower down like they're about to be flogged." There is never power so weak as those that rule by intimidation. No wonder this society is in such a state of disarray. The authorities are cowards afraid of their own actions.

Please know that we appreciate your efforts to get the whole story. Even though the original report was not accomplished, tales of the journey there speaks volumes.

Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Lynn, Chicago, IL : 12:08 PM ET
Watching 360 this week has been a startling eye opener. There is so much work to do. Many have suffered through the years in this region and each and every life should not have died in vain. There are so many great charities to help these people that I was not aware of. How do I choose just one? Maybe I will donate a little to all of them. Thank you Jeff, Anderson, Dr. Gupta and all the 360 team for bringing the plight of these people to international attention. Please don't let us ever forget.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 12:36 PM ET
Jeff, It would appear they change the rules as their mood changes. You've had your share of disapproval this time. Ah, yes, we forget, a man has no honor in his own country. This week has brought so much more to the front than is usually seen. Very effective.

I have a much higher regard for these people and their tenacity to survive. I also have a higher awareness for the safety of the CNN teams. The "devil" on the horse has no qualms about taking life, by whatever means, and he doesn't care if you're with the media or not, you're just another impediment which can be removed easily. Sadly we now live in a world where this is the rule.

I have learned so much. One can only handle a certain amount of politics, and at least you are believable.

Have you ever seen such big, beautiful eyes as those children have? And when they do smile the transformation is incredible!


Posted By Anonymous Maggie, Grain Valley, MO : 12:59 PM ET
Maybe you should respect the Country of Sudan and let them handle their own internal matters. Next time get the right stamp and written state.
Posted By Anonymous Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 1:12 PM ET
To Bill in Berlin, Germany:

It was so good to read your comment on the blog. I keep telling myself this is a global concern and I am glad we have a blogger from Germany concerned and outraged.

Where is everyone abroad? Why aren't the world leaders putting pressure on the U.N.? These little NGO's can't carry on without world support.

Tommorrow my 6 1/2 year old son will have a drink stand at our community-wide garage sale. All of his funds will go to Doctors without Borders. He decided this 2 weeks ago when he traveled from FL to NYC to see the refugee camps. The ladies at the refugee camp gave him maps and literature to pass out at his stand. Going to the refugee camp in NYC was one of the best exhibits I have ever been to in my life. My son is so excited to be helping people. He is donating his allowance $6 per week for the next 6 weeks to Doctors without Borders.

If you do not know about the Doctors without Borders refugee camps in the city, go to the web site There will be refugee camps set up in Atlanta and Nashville, TN later this year.

Unfortunately, most of the CNN programming is too graphic for small children. I only wish CNN could produce programming for children. However, Moms and Dads on the blog, I would highly encourage you to education your children about Africa and this issue in your own way.

Meanwhile, we continue to pray for the people of Africa especially Darfur.

We thank the people at CNN for their hard work and pray for their safe return in this uncertain world.
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 1:23 PM ET
This is one of the most interesting articles done on Africa. Coming from Kenya, myself, I am not surprised but my heart is burdened.Being a journalist is hard and I am glad, you have opened my eyes to what I as a journalist have to look forward to.
Keep doing a good job and stay safe.
Mungu aku bariki!(God Bless you! in Swahili)
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Dallas, TX : 1:50 PM ET

The images from the show this week have been soul stirring. From Anderson's encounter with the endangered gorillas to the lost boys and girls refugee camps it's all grabbed my emotions.
When you referred to peace as "Fleeting" there in Sudan it hit me that everything there seems to be fleeting. Innocence, childhood, health, hope, dreams even life itself seems to be fleeting.
I've realized this week while taking in the sights and sounds of the situations you all have brought into our living rooms that one of the most important things missing from their lives is dreams. Not only do they not have a dream to work toward most of the people there probably don't even know what it is to dream. On the other hand they all seem to know suffering way to well.
Continue to share the world's humanitarian sufferings with us and we will all do the dreaming. May all of us well blessed Americans be found dreaming of a better life and future for those in the Congo and Sudan. Not only let us dream it but let's all be encouraged to reach out and do something to make a positive difference.

It's been riveting!
Posted By Anonymous Zann Vickers Easterwood Martin, TN : 2:00 PM ET
sir jeff thank you for all the efforts that you've done for this people i think there are reasons why this things happen to you maybe for the safety of your company.
Posted By Anonymous Jemillex Bacerdo, Chicago,IL : 2:13 PM ET
Jeff and the rest of the AC 360 crew,
Stay safe. You are in a very unfriendly place and the monsters could turn on you very quickly and without thought.
They obviously do not want this story out there for the world to see and with hope act upon. Not one person is "safe".
Thank you all for taking this risk to unvail the truth.
Posted By Anonymous Diane, Ocala, Fl. : 2:43 PM ET
Stay safe and keep trying. You obviously know the work you're doing is important.
We should pull the troops out of Iraq and go there, and maybe since China is helping fund this thing apparently like other countries always accuse the U.S. of doing, they should help too!
Posted By Anonymous Kerri , Corinth TX : 3:32 PM ET
"Maybe you should respect the Country of Sudan and let them handle their own internal matters. Next time get the right stamp and written state.
Posted By Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 1:12 PM ET"

I have been reading this blog for quite a while, and I hope that everyone does not judge Wisconsinites on Brant's entries.

A paraphrased quote about WWII -
When they came for the Jews, I did not care; When they came for the Polish, I did not care; When they came for the Checz, I did not care; When they came for ME no-one was left to care.

Think about it. . .
Posted By Anonymous Renae, Appleton, WI : 3:49 PM ET

Frustrating, heartbreaking, infuriating. A question comes to mind about all the rapes in Darfur. Will the children who are products of such rapes be shunned by all or taken in by the refugee families?

Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy George, Santa Barbara CA : 3:57 PM ET
I think corrupt governments in Africa have their roots in the colonial power structure.Colonial governments had absolute power and this just sipped through and poisoned the African governments. Its good you mentioned in the news a little of the history of Congo. Maybe we need to discuss what role colonialism played in bringing Africa to the stage it is in today.Their are some goverments in the world that need to take responsibility.
Posted By Anonymous Valerie, Hesston KS : 3:57 PM ET
Seems the janjeweed has figured out the power of the press, as well as the power of CNN. They are caught between trying to limit your access against international powers. I have long found your reporting Jeff, powerful. I am glad that CNN has given you more air time, involving AC and Sanjay.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 5:21 PM ET
".... Maybe we need to discuss what role colonialism played in bringing Africa to the stage it is in today. Their are some goverments in the world that need to take responsibility.
Posted By Valerie, Hesston KS"

Posted By Anonymous Tina, Bladensburg, MD : 5:28 PM ET
I couldn't agree more with Valerie from KS and Tina from MD, the countries of Africa should begin to take responsibility for their actions. If they neglect their people, their people will suffer and overthrow them. So long as we don't bolster the government with "aid" or help the people with "aid".
Posted By Anonymous Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 8:37 PM ET
Well, Valerie and Tina seem to be saying that Europe is the (potential) cause of problems in Africa, due to Colonialism. One could also ask whether tribalism isn't just as much of a problem. Get a greedy leader in power and everyone falls in line.

Of course, there are some similarities in Iraq, including two competing/clashing religions (moslems/christians vs shi'ites/sunnis).
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Vernal, UT : 1:31 AM ET
Posted By Valerie, Hesston KS : 3:57 PM ET

How do governments take responsibility? How do governments today, people that were not involved with what was done yesterday, take responsibility? How do you take responsibility without somehow making more mistakes that will effect tomorrow?
Posted By Anonymous Michelle, Washington DC : 10:21 AM ET
If Africa needs to heal Africa needs to forgive.No government has ever made a formal apology for the crimes of the colonial era. That would be a good start.Kingdoms, tribes and families were split between the great imperialists and forced to redefine themselves as one people. They didnt speak the same language and their traditional cultures were different. Paul from UT gave a good example. Try forcing the muslims and christians to live together there will be alot of tension that may lead to violence. Or what if some government came and divided north america horizontally making it east and west america for their own economical and political gain?
Posted By Anonymous Valerie, Hesston KS : 11:18 PM ET

it reminds me of the things that shouldn't be. You shouldn't have to "wait" for authority to document human suffering, just as those who are suffering in Darfur shouldn't have to wait for the U.N. to pass a consensus on acting towards this human crisis... they suffer, and all these men can do is pass paperwork...
Posted By Anonymous Raul, Paterson,New Jersey : 6:35 PM ET
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