In this dusty market town in northern Darfur, a lucky few with satellite dishes can get news of the war surrounding them from CNN or the BBC. Others rely on a tree.
For the past 10 years, Awatif Ahmed Isshag has handwritten monthly dispatches and commentary about life in El Fasher and hung them on a short, wiry tree that scatters shade along the yellow-sand lane by her house.
For the past four years, the dispatches have included items about the conflict in Darfur that appear to represent the only independent local reporting about the fighting in a region where most media hew to the official government line.
Along with advice on how to be a lady, Isshag, a slight 24-year-old with an undergraduate degree in economics, has satirized the local governor and described the suffering of displaced families and gun battles in the markets of El Fasher. She recently wished the town a happy New Year, and compared the security conditions here to the situation in Lebanon. (more…)