For the past few days, I’ve spent the majority of my in the village of Kunaina Albeer, located on the Sudan-Ethiopia border. A mere 10 km away, and one would be walking on Ethiopian soil and all that seperates the two nations is a mere seasonal gorge that is dry most of the year.
The 140km trip from the city of El Gadarif, the prominent thatched huts that are indigenous of this region come into full view. Although labelled as a village, Kunaina is more like a small town with over 8,000 inhabitants and a sizable local market. It’s an interesting village, one that surprisingly has high representation of various ethnic groups from across Sudan. Many came and settled for agricultural purposes. Others such as Huasa and Fulani (known as Falata in Sudan) groups with roots in West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana,etc) crossed the continent on route to Mecca and have since settled and became integrated into the melting pot of Sudanese society. These groups in addition to ethnic groups from Northern and Western Sudan along side numerous Ethiopians and Eritreans who also now El Gadarif home.
Most of the time was spent in the vicinity of the water station. Although not a watering hole, residents living on the outskirts of the village come into the water station to fill up. It’s mostly kids who were present collecting water. So by default it has become the local hangout spot. So with donkeys in tow children and teens line up and chat while filling up their water containers/ bags. Talks these days surrounded the exam timetable for some and the grueling load of memorization that awaits them. Others with their minds elsewhere, were discussing means of upgrading or buying bikes. A few had their heads in the clouds discussing, mobile phones they have seen some village elders carrying.