In 1964 We Left Sudan
This is an extract from an interview with Eliaho. Eliaho is my grandfather, so I am a little bit biased, but he's great!
I left in 1964 because there was problems for the Jews. I was the first of the businessmen who owned a business to leave the Sudan. Others working in companies and things like that left before me, but the business owners stayed longer. But in 1964 we left because of this thing that happened at the airport: I and Juju my wife, had been in Japan travelling for work and we arrived back home to the airport in Khartoum at three o’clock in the morning. I think it was in October or September…but definitely in the early morning. When I arrived in Khartoum, there was man working in the airport who knew me very well.
‘Why did you come back? Why? Why?’
I asked him,
‘Why? What happened?’
‘Nothing, nothing happened’.
And then the people working there, they took our passport and they kept it.
The plane was Ethiopian Airlines from Greece to Addis Ababa with a stop-over in Khartoum, because in those times you could not travel direct from Japan. So those of us going to Khartoum came off the plane and the others stayed on it to continue to Addis. All the other people who got down from the plane were checked in the airport and then went home. Only we were kept there when they took our passports. Then the airport officials started asking questions,
‘What are you doing? Where are you going?’
I had my hand luggage, my briefcase, with all the documents of my business in Japan and they took it. They kept me from three o’clock in the morning when we landed until ten o’clock in the morning asking me questions like that and all this because we are Jewish. I think they thought that I was smuggling or that I was hiding money outside the country, I don’t know. Anyway, when he let me go I told the man questioning me,
‘I think this is the last time you are going to check me’.
He didn’t understand. He told me,
‘What do you mean? Why do you say this?’
I decided to leave then and there but I couldn’t say so, so I told him,
‘After this I am not going to leave the country at all. After this I am staying in Sudan and so you will never be able to check me in such a way again’.
So at about ten o’clock we left the airport and I told Juju as we are leaving,
‘This is it. This is the last time such a thing will happen. I am leaving this country’.
The other Jewish people told me that I am stupid. They said that I am making money, travelling with my wife all over the world, why should I go? Stay and maybe it will get better.
But I told them,
‘You stay, make your money. I don’t want to stay’
and after forty-eight days we left. We left and everything was in Sudan.