Technology. Haboba is moving.


I have this love hate relationship with technology.

The more technology advances, the more I see how hard it is for people to have every day interactions.

Interactions like speaking to the person beside you on the city bus

Or asking a stranger a question without being asked to ‘google’ it

Human interactions where you meet and connect with people in line at the grocery store and find out how an inspiring life story of a stranger can change your life.

Or simply, introduce yourself to your neighbour on your first day of post secondary and having that person become your life long friend.

Technology in ways has shifted the way in which we feel safe to interact

We have become so comfortable hiding behind our devices that those awkward moments where you choose between looking out the window or speaking to the person standing so close to you on the bus, to the point where you feel their breath on your shoulder is saved by…instagram stories.

But as much as the way in which we socially interact has changed

I have acknowledged the strength of social media and technology in it’s way of bringing people together…in a different way.

I’ve written before

I am a South Sudanese, Born in Egypt, Raised in Canada

Part of my reality is that I have not had the privilege of meeting many members of my extended family.

I scroll through my instagram timeline and smile at the clips of my friends sharing the memories of them with their grandparents.

Those snapchat stories where you can’t tell whether your friend and their cousin are twins or not because they look and act totally the same when their together.

These are all experiences that I’ve always admired.

What would it feel like if I could just drive over to my haboba’s (grandma’s) place?

How awesome would it be to surprise my cousin on her birthday with her favourite desert?

Those human interactions.

A couple hours ago, my mom called my brother Tamurie and I over and said “hay, we’re going to have a Facebook video chat with your grandma; they finally have access to a smart phone”.

In my mind I’m thinking, video chat that sounds normal…haboba, uncle Elia…Sudan..

No way

Something is going to prevent us…if our phone conversations are already in and out, what makes you think their data is going to work.

I was in denial.

But five minutes later…guess who I was seeing through the screen of my moms phone?


Ya rab…de haboba.

The first thing I could utter out of my mouth was “omg, she’s moving…”

My mom glanced over at me like…what?

All I have ever known of my grandmother was her voice and the still photos we have of her.

But now she’s moving, and her voice is matching her movement’s…. “mom…omg”…


I just smiled, smiled, smiled

I could see how much my mother really resembled haboba

Where she gets her dimples

And where I get the gab in my bottom teeth

Where we get our humor from because haboba was cracking up at my attempts to speak Arabic

And comparing her braided hair to my brothers twisted hair

She even showed us the wooden cross Tamurie sent to her in 2007 that she still wears around her neck

Haboba kept saying she wishes she was with us

Uncle Elia saw that I cut my hair and called me a “tom boy”

We just observed each other

Transferred our love to one another—from one screen to another

From one continent to another

Across the world

Those short seven minutes before the signal cut out

….we were together

I got my first visit with haboba and uncle Elia

I have the first ever moving memory of my grandmother

Her photos came to life, thanks to technology.

So now when I see those lovely family stories on my instagram or snap chat

Though I’m not physically together with haboba ou unlce Elia

At least I now kind of know what it feels like.

Inshallah in the near future, not only will I get to see haboba move

Maybe I’ll get to touch her too.


Dobijoki Ema


haboba uncle


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