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Garang raised the South and the Sudan as a whole to heights previously never conceived.

Will those to whom he has passed the baton—Northerners and Southerners—

allow the nation to fall from those heights?



South Sudan in Sudan-Situation Analysis

 Briefing Document by B.F. Bankie

‘The linkage of Africa with its Diaspora on the basis of equality is the key to African unity’.



The name ‘Sudan’ has more or less been the same all through history. Aside from the toponyms relating to the south (such as Hent-Hen-Nefer and Wawat), it has been associated with the colour of blackness (such as Ta-Nehesu, Kush, Kerma, Æthiopia, Nubia, ana$al-Salt al-Zarqā’ and lastly al-Sūdān) (Sagheiroun, 1999), which was - and is still - the colour of its people, since the early times of the ancient civilizations of the Nile valley up to the present. The same name seems to have evolved by translation from one language to another in the course of time. This, regarding belonging and identity, puts Sudan in the heart of Africa , which is rightly called the Black Continent. What seem to be differences of colour among the Sudanese are nothing more than the shades of blackness.

The significance of the name ‘Sūdān’ is important, because it bears very strong identity implication. The Arabized people of middle Sudan, generally speaking, tend not to recognize themselves as black Africans. As the State for the last five centuries has belonged ideologically to this group, Sudan has ended up identifying itself more with the Arabs than with black Africa . This issue is central to the contemporary problem of the reality of the Sudan and national integration.

The State

In what roughly constitutes the geography of present day Sudan, the State has prevailed all through history. Archaeologically the State can be traced back seven thousand years at least (Welsby, 2000). Like in other parts of Africa, the State functioned in a kind of federal autonomy where the ethno-cultural entities were its political nucleuses. The vast geographical space necessitated that justice be the key for any ruler to reign for long. Seeking a better place to live in was handy and convenient for every ethnic group thus leaving any tyrant to rule either the desert or the jungle. Today’s demand for self-determination by different marginalized groups is the modern manifestation and formulation of the history-long practice, to pull out from any state that does not answer equally the longing of its different subject-groups for freedom, justice and peace.

At no time was there any kind of political vacuum in the Sudan. The traditional tribal federacy of ancient Sudan was maintained in the Christian era (650AD-1505AD), to also prevail later in the Funj Sultanate (1505AD-1821AD).

The People

All the people of present day Sudan contributed in making the ancient civilization of Sudan. The people who call themselves ‘Arab’ have their rightly recognizable share in building that civilization since they are a mixture of Arabs and indigenous people. In fact the weaving of the ethno-linguistic fabric in Sudan, which is taken for granted to be heterogeneous, reflects homogeneity as well. For instance, taking the Eastern Sudanic group, we may well be amazed to see people living on the Sudan-Uganda borders (e.g. the Baria) are related as cousins to people living on the Sudan-Egypt borders (Nubians) and both people are related to others living on the Sudan-Ethiopia borders in the Funj region (e.g. Ingassana) and all of them are related in the same way to other groups living on the Sudan-Chad borders (e.g. Daju). We must bear in mind that before the Arabization of middle Sudan those people were in a dynamic contact with each other. This is an ancient land with ancient people and an ancient civilization; the least to be expected is that they are interrelated ethno-linguistically.


In this regard two things have characterized Sudan all through history; it has always been multi-religious and religiously tolerant. Ancient polytheism accommodated other deities which have survived in today’s traditional religions. The Treasurer of the Candace of Meroe (800BC-450AD) was a Jew who converted to Christianity in its early days apparently without fearing the slightest persecution. Christianity did not invade the Sudan (Vantini, 1978; Werner et al, 2000); it was the Sudanese who asked for it. In Dongola, the capital of the Christian Kingdom of Nubia (650AD-1350AD), there was a Mosque for which the Christian State was responsible. In Soba (25km south of Khartoum on the Blue Nile), the capital of the Christian Kingdom of Alodia (650AD-1505AD) there were about 300 Churches, there was also a Mosque within a hamlet assigned for the Muslims.

In the 19th century Christianity would catch up again as a result of intensive missionary work. The biggest Christian communities are in the South and the Nuba Mountains and in the big urban centres. In the face of the rise of Islamization and Arabization as vehicles for facilitating the domination of the central state, Christianity would get involved and eventually it would become, along with Africanism, the ideological backbone in countering Islamo-Arabism.

Islam broke the encapsulation of Sudan and opened it to the outer world of that time. The transformation from Christianity to Islam was a gradual process thus giving way to a distinctive mix of Sudanese cosmology and culture of tolerance. A Sudanese Islam was in the making that finally took its shape in the Sufi sects that flourished in post-Christian Sudan, thus bringing about an effective acculturation of indigenous practices and Islamic teachings. The local people transformed from the traditional and Christian choirs to the Sufi chanting smoothly.

The conversion to Islam culminated in the Funj Sultanate (1505AD-1820AD), which retained many ancient features with regard to administration and cultural symbols (Spaulding, 1980). The traditional system of tribal federacy, with its inherent democratic practices, was maintained. Other ancient practices such as the ritual killing of the king (regicide) and the Christian headgear and regalia were also retained. In the beginning Sufi Islam assumed supremacy in reflecting the ideology of the State. A little later a rival came into the scene represented in scholastic Islam that could only be acquired through classroom teaching at such religious centres like al-Azhar in ya Ibrāhīm, 1980). Where Sufi Islam interacts with the local society, Cairo (Yah scholastic Islam challenges it in its persistent endeavours to reshape it according to its own norms. Where the former does not give heed to the penal code of the Sharī‛a as literally stated in the scriptures, the latter only pays attention to the scriptures without giving any heed to the realities of setting and context. At the beginning many scholastic shaykhs took to denouncing their jurisprudence by throwing away their symbolic scholastic graduation robes, to declare themselves as Sufi. In the end this would be reversed.

Sufi Islam could have won the rivalry if it were not for the Turco-Egyptian colonial rule (1820AD-1885AD) which introduced the culture of official Muslim clergymen who were appointed and paid by the state and who adhered to scholastic Islam as they were mostly graduates of al-Azhar Mosque-University in Cairo. That rule also introduced the modern educational system where the classrooms were also made available for this kind of Islam to flourish.

The Mahdia Islamic state (1885AD-1899AD) represents the ultimate victory of the scholastic Islam over the Sufi Islam. The Mahdi was a Sufi man who revolted against what he took to be leniency on behalf of the Sufi shaykhs towards the traditions of people which—according to his own views—did not follow the book of Sharī‛a. The Mahdia state understandably followed a strict scholastic Islam. Thenceforward the Sufi Islam would gradually identify with the scholastic Islam so as to catch up in the long run. By the late decades of the 20th century the two could hardly be distinguished from each other.

The British-Egyptian (‘the Condominium‘) colonial rule (1899AD-1956AD) resumed the same system of the Turco-Egyptian rule with regard to government-sponsored education and the culture of official Muslim clergymen. By the time the Sudan achieved independence the educated class was mostly orientated to scholastic Islam. This showed in the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalist movements among the students of higher educational institutions.

Al-Jallāba: the Slave Traders of Sudan

Slavery was practised in Sudan since ancient times. The Arabs in the Paqt Treaty demanded from the Christian Nubians slaves that were brought from hinterlands. However it was more or less African traditional slavery resulting from petty tribal feuds and wars. It kept on like that in the early time of the Funj Sultanate until the Europeans began making incursions into the continent to procure slaves. It was the Turco-Egyptian colonial rule that launched the era of mass slavery in the Sudan. They made it a state-policy loaded with the whole weight of Arab cultural stigmatization of the blacks. Locally, the Arabized people of the centre, which was growing fast, followed their lead. They played the role of the intermediary who organized the raids, captured the blacks and then sold them. The term al-Jallāba is a plural adjective in Sudanese colloquial Arabic literally meaning the procurers. The singular is jallābi. The term originated in reference to the intermediary slavers who were mostly Arabized Sudanese.

The culture of al-Jallāba had a big impact in consolidating the establishment of the centre. When the Turco-Egyptian colonial rule was compelled to abolish slavery, al-Jallāba defied that and boldly continued to practice it. By that time their raiding squads had developed into formidable armies. In the last decade of the Turco-Egyptian colonial rule, Al-Zubayr wad Rahama, their leading slaver, led his slaving army and conquered Dar Fur.

In fact they were just one step from becoming the rulers of the Sudan. The Turco-Egyptian rule not only recognized the de facto al-Zubayr’s governorship of Dar Fur, but further bestowed on him the prestigious title of ‘Pasha’. The Jallāba cherished the prospects of inheriting the faltering Turco-Egyptian rule. If it were not for the Mahdia revolution that took place, they would have assumed that power.

The Mahdia state, strictly following the scripture of Islam where there is no direct verse from either the Qur’an or the Prophet traditions abolishing slavery, indulged itself in reinstating the institution of slavery. However it strongly abolished tobacco and snuff although there is no direct verse either from the Qur’an or the Prophet traditions to that effect.

Understandably the pragmatic and Machiavellian Jallāba were among the first to declare their allegiance to the Mahdia. They put their huge military resources and expertise at the service of the Mahdia. That is one of the factors that made the Mahdia state to belong ideologically to the Arabized centre.

Backed with its colonialist pragmatism, the British-Egyptian rule that succeeded the Mahdia had very soon consolidated its alliance with the Arabized centre. Although officially declared abolished, slavery was tolerated as a practice and culture (Saikinga, 1996). In post-Independent Sudan , national rule clearly showed its stand in this regard by naming a street in Khartoum after al-Zubayr Pasha, the most notorious slaver in Sudan’s modern history.

In fact the culture of slavery is truly the catalyst behind the bad treatment of the black Africans of Sudan, who live in the periphery around the Arabized middle. Successive national governments have shown this malignity which takes place under the pretext of curbing the civil war. As elsewhere in the global African presence, for instance in Southern Africa and its contacts with Apartheid, the core problem in Sudan is one of Arab racism and the need to change the mindset of Arabs in general vis-a- vis Africans.

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The Arabization of the Sudan and the power-related conflicts of identity

The Demise of the Christian Kingdoms of the Sudan

With the weakening of the Christian kingdoms, between the 14th and 16th centuries, many Islamic and Arabized kinglets began appearing and eventually succeeded in replacing the old regime (Fadl, 1973; Shibeika, 1991). The first was the Kunūz (Bani al-Kanz) kingdom around Asuan area in present-day Egyptian Nubia, to be followed a little later by the Rabī‛a-Beja Islamic kinglet of Hajar (Eastern Sudan).  In the late 15th century the Islamic kinglet of Tegali (Togole) in the Nuba Mountain (West-Middle Sudan) came into existence.

A century later the Ottoman Sultan Selim the Second made a thrust deep into Nubia in the aftermath of which appeared the Northern Nubian Islamic kinglets of Argo (Northern Sudan). Two centuries later the Fur the Kushshāf, Mah kingdom of Kunjāra was established upon the fall of the Tunjur kinglet (Western Sudan). But the most important was the Funj Sultanate which came into existence in the early 16th century and which succeeded in spreading its influence over most of these kingdoms.

The Funj Sultanate came into existence with slavery looming in the background and with the colour black fully stigmatized by being synonymous with ‘slave’. By the turn of the 15th century, Soba, the capital of the last Christian kingdom of Alodia, fell at the hands of the Arabized people (known in middle Sudan as the Arabs). Having its founders being virtually blacks, it was understandably called ‘ana al-Zarqā’, al-Salt, i.e., the ‘Black Sultanate’. As it came in response to the growing influence of the Islamo-Arabized Sudanese it explicitly showed an Arab and Islamic orientation. The new formations of Arabized tribes began claiming Arab descent supported with mostly fabricated genealogies.

The small family units compensated for their vulnerability by claiming the noble ‘sharīf’ descent, i.e., descendants of Prophet Muhammad; eventually in the name of this descent they would appropriate both wealth and power, something the immediate descendants were not ordained to have while Prophet Muhammad was still alive. To be on an equal footing with these tribes in matters pertaining to power and authority, the Funj also claimed an Umayyad descent. Scholars in Arabic and Islamic sciences from other parts of the Islamic world were encouraged to settle in the Sudan .

Arabization and the Rise of Islam        

Thenceforward the Arabized Africans of middle Sudan would pose as non-black Arabs. Intermarriage with light-skinned people would be consciously sought as a process of cleansing blood from blackness. A long process of identity change began; in order to have access to power and to be at least accepted as free humans, African people tended to drop both their identities and languages and replace them with Arabic language and Arab identity. A new ideological awareness of race and colour came into being. The shades of the colour of blackness were perceived as authentic racial differentiations (Deng, 1995). A Sudanese-bound criterion for racial colour was formed by which the light black was seen as an Arab (wad ‛Arab and wad balad), i.e., white or at least non-black. The jet-black Sudanese was seen as an African, i.e., slave (‛abd). Then a host of derogatory terms were generated in the culture and colloquial Arabic of middle Sudan which dehumanize the black Africans.

Right there the seeds of Sudanese ideology of Arab-oriented dominance over the Africans were sown. It works through two mechanisms: 1) the stigma of slavery, blackness and people of African identity, who occupy the margin and surrounding periphery and 2) the prestigma of the free, non-black and Arab, who occupy the centre. This ideology, in its drive to achieve self-actualization, underlines a process of alienation and domination. While posing as whites, they do not hold white people proper in high esteem. They largely indulged themselves in stigmatizing the Africans and prestigmatizing the Arabs with whom they identify.

This ideology of alienation has prevailed for the last five centuries up to the present moment. It has been consolidated by successive political regimes whether Turco-Egyptian or Egyptian-British or national rule. It finds its roots in the vice of slavery. No wonder slavery was once again in full swing by the late 20th century as a result of the intensifying grip of the state by Islamo-Arabism.

By sublimating the Arab as a model for them through this erroneously confused concept of race, the Arabized people of Sudan have made themselves second-class Arabs. The repercussions of this would not only affect them, but their whole country and would lead to a widening divide between Arabism and Africanism.

Sudan is a nation whose identity has been divisively distorted and is rediscovering itself, albeit in a tragically violent way. The silver lining is that a more constructive search for an identity framework around which Sudanese could unite may be within reach.

As with most, if not all African countries, the colonial power brought together into a state framework national groups that had been distinctive, separate and in some cases mutually hostile. The identities that are currently in conflict are the result of a historical legacy characterized by a form of slavery that classified groups into a superior race of masters and inferior enslaveable peoples. The North, two-thirds of the country’s land and population, is inhabited by ethnic groups, the more dominant of which intermarried with incoming Arab male migrants and traders and, over centuries, produced a mixed African-Arab racial group that resembles the African peoples south of the Sahara.

Indeed, the Arabic phrase, Bilad al-Sudan (‘land of the blacks’) refers to all of those sub-Saharan territories. Arab immigration and settlement in the South was blocked by distance, environmental barriers, the harsh tropical climate and resistance of the warrior Nilotic tribes. Those Arabs who ventured southwards were primarily slave raiders, driven by commerce, not interest in Arabising and Islamising the South.

As the dominant partner in the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, the British ended slavery and effectively governed the country as two separated colonies. They developed the North as an Arab-Muslim society and forged in the South an identity that was indigenously African, exposed to Western influences through Christian missionaries, but otherwise denied any political, economic, social or cultural development. Until colonial policy dramatically shifted in 1947, it appeared that the British intended to prepare the South for independence as a separate state.

The independence movement was pioneered and championed by the North, supported by Egypt. The cause was reluctantly supported by the South, which stipulated federalism and guarantees for the region as conditions for endorsing independence. The South opted for independence on the basis of Northern reassurances that their concerns would be given ‘serious consideration’. However, the North quickly reneged on promises to Southerners and stepped into the British colonial shoes. As internal colonizers, Northern governments sought to impose Arabisation/Islamisation as the basis of a unified homogeneous Sudan.

Southern opposition to impending Arab domination began in August 1955, six months before independence, when a battalion of Southern soldiers in the town of Torit mutinied and fled with their weapons. Their protest escalated into a rebellion which resulted in a civil war that was to rage intermittently for over half a century, starting as Anyanya I, which lead to another war, Anyanya II.

The initial conflict, secessionist in its objective, lasted until 1972 and ended in a compromise—the Addis Ababa Agreement—that granted the South limited regional autonomy and ushered in a precarious decade of peace. Its subsequent unilateral abrogation by the government led by Gaafer Nimeiri—the military strongman who ironically had made the peace agreement possible in the first place—led to the resumption of hostilities in 1983.

Southerners were incensed by Nimeiri’s embracing of Islamism, his redrawing of North-South borders to incorporate southern oilfields and plans to construct the mammoth Jonglei Canal to divert the waters of the Sudd (the White Nile ’s vast floodplain) and channel its waters northwards for irrigation.

Garang’s Vision

In 1983 Dr. John Garang de Mabior founded the Southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)’s stated objective was not the secession of the South but the creation of a restructured New Sudan, in which there would be no discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, culture, religion or gender.

Garang’s vision of the New Sudan was initially not understood, far less supported, in the North and the South and even within his movement. For Southerners, who overwhelmingly preferred separation, it was incongruent with their aspirations, and in any case was utopian. For the North, it was arrogant and, at best, naive. The fighting men and women in the South took it as a clever ploy to allay the fears of those opposed to separation within Sudan , the international community and the Organisation of African Unity (later the African Union).

Their attitude was reflected in the Dinka saying popular among fighters: ‘Ke tharku, angicku’, ‘What we are fighting for, we know’. While Garang was talking the language of a united Sudan , they were fighting for secession.

Central to Garang’s philosophy was the conviction that the dichotomy between the Arab-Islamic North and the African South is largely fictional. While the North has been labeled Arab, even those who can trace their genealogy to Arab origins are a hybrid of Arab and African races and their culture is an Afro-Arab mix.

Significant portions of the country in the Nuba and Ingassana or Funj areas bordering the South are as African as any further south in the continent. The Beja in the Eastern part of the country are also indigenously Sudanese. The Fur and several other ethnic groups in Darfur to the far West are black Africans. In the Darfur conflict black African muslim pastoralists are being ‘ethnically cleansed’ and pushed off their lands to make way for Arab muslim nomads, thus continuing the age-old march southwards by Arabs, pushing Africans further southwards, which takes place with the tacit approval of the Arab League.

In most cases, non-Arab pockets in the North, though predominantly adherents of Africanised Islam, have been almost as maginalised as the people of the South. The vision of the New Sudan therefore promised to liberate all these people and to create a country of genuine pluralism and equality, with a greater influence for the previously maginalised African groups.

Over time Garang’s constructive approach neutralized those opposed to secession in the North, Africa and the world, and rallied support for justice in a reconstructed united Sudan. Garang incrementally challenged the whole country with the prospects of a nation enriched, rather than ravished, by its racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. His dream began to appeal to those non-Arab groups that had been subsumed under the Arab-Islamic umbrella and eventually, even to northern liberals as many began to question their assumed ‘Arab’ identity.

This national identity ‘renaissance’ began to challenge the dominant Arab-Islamic establishment. The reaction of the establishment throughout the 1990s was to adopt a radical offensive posture that fuelled Islamic fundamentalism and led to a sharp deterioration in Sudan’s relations with the international community. Islam, rather than Arab race or culture, was their only weapon for mobilizing the Northern majority.

Addis Ababa and CPA

The Addis Ababa Agreement gave Southerners a corner of the country within which to exercise a limited degree of autonomy while major national and international issues were left to be determined by the centre. The agreement didn’t provide the South with a financial base and Southern ministers remained dependent on the goodwill of central government and President Nimeiri for revenues.

However, the agreement was significant in that it gave interim recognition to Sudan’s ethnic, cultural and religious diversity while opening channels of interaction and mutual influence that would, over time, allow for the evolution of an integrative national unity. That identity would no longer emphasis the divisive elements but would instead highlight that which, though unrecognized, is in common, as the basis for mutual self- identification as Sudanese.

In many ways, the Addis Abba Agreement was a major achievement but also a phase of a work in progress. Its main shortcoming was the asymmetrical relationship between the North and the South which would have facilitated gradual assimilation for the South by the North rather than equitable integration that would make diversity a source of enrichment.

On 9 January, 2005, the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), by virtue of which President Omar Hassan Bashir’s National Party would have 52 per cent of all executive and legislative posts, while the SPLM would have 28 per cent. The remaining 20 per cent will be split among other political parties in Sudan, with those in the North getting 14 per cent and those in the South 6 per cent.

The CPA commits the Sudanese Government to confining Shari’a Law to the North. It also grants South Sudan a six year period of administrative autonomy after which the population can decide in a referendum whether to stay in a united Sudan or secede. The CPA has brought peace between the North and the South and the neighboring regions of the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile.

The CPA gives the South the right to secede through a referendum to be exercised after a six-year interim period and stipulates that unity be made an attractive option during the interim period. It also offers the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile significant regional autonomy. To a significant extent, the CPA ensured a more symmetrical or equitable relation between the North and the South than was available under the Addis Ababa Agreement.

The South now has its own government. The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is fully independent of northern interference, has its own army, its own resource base, access to oil revenues and control of its own branch of the National Bank, which, unlike its northern counterpart, will adhere to conventional—rather than Islamic—banking principles. Sudan is to have a national foreign policy which will allow the South to develop bilateral relations with international trade and development partners.

In the Government of National Unity announced in September 2005, the SPLM and other southern representatives have ministerial power within an arrangement set out in the CPA, which gives the ruling National Congress Party 52% of the places, the SPLM 28%, other northern parties 14% and other southern parties 6%. In order to maintain agreed quotas and reflect Sudan’s ethnic and political balance, several ministries will be represented by a minister and a state minister

Garang’s death

This complex framework, being an agreement between only two parties, the SPLM and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and which continues to lack broader support throughout the country, particularly in the North, has been threatened by Garang’s sudden death in a helicopter crash on 30th July 2005. He had led the SPLM/A for 22 years and, together with First Vice-President of Sudan, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, had been pivotal in the negotiations that led to the CPA. He had been sworn in as First Vice-President of Sudan and President of South Sudan previously. His death sent shock waves throughout the Sudan and devastated the millions of southerners who saw him as a redeemer.

The SPLM/A acted promptly by electing Garang’s deputy, Salva Kiir Mayardit, (formerly Deputy Army Commander) to succeed him as Chairman of the SPLM, Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA and President of Southern Sudan. In the sprit of the CPA, President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir endorsed Salva Kiir as the First Vice-President of the Republic. While leaders in the North and South committed themselves to pursuing Garang’s vision of a New Sudan, many fear that Garang’s death has left a vacuum. Sudan has been deprived of a man poised to address the country’s myriad crises, to bring to the East and Darfur the skills to facilitate peace and reconciliation he had displayed in the  South.

Under the CPA the ruling Congress Party has the capacity to implement the Agreement but lacks the political will, whereas the SPLM has the commitment but is weak and disorganized. There is a real risk of future conflict unless the Congress Party implements the CPA in good faith and the SPLM becomes a stronger and more effective implementing partner. Late off the starting blocks and with a weak organizational structure, the SPLM has been overwhelmed and ineffectual in ensuring the Congress Parties’ CPA compliance, due to what some analysts have called its incomplete metamorphosis from a liberation movement to a Government. This makes uncertain future projections as to peace.

Given the fact that this is a peace accord between opposite poles of an acutely divided country, it remains to be seen whether this much-needed peace will be sustainable. Several other regions of the country—foremost among them Darfur in the West—are challenging the Arab centre. Though Muslim and Arabised in varying degrees, they now see themselves as non-Arab, marginalized and discriminated against on racial grounds. While maginalised groups in Kordofan, including those who have been generally labeled as ‘Arab’ though reflecting strong African features and cultural characteristics, still identify with the Arab centre, dissident voices are complaining about their marginalization. Even the Nubians of the North, in recent generations close to Egypt and the Arab world, are reviving their pride in their ancient Nubian civilization and disavowing the Arab label.

Sudan poised at critical juncture

The forces favouring unity within the Sudan, and in the region and the international community, hope that unity will be made attractive to the South during the interim period. As the non-Arab peripheries challenge the status quo, the country is called upon to transform itself and start constructing an inclusive framework of national identity in which all Sudanese would find a sense of belonging as equal citizens. The choice for the Arab centre is to play a positive role in the equitable reconstruction of the country. Given the genocidal nature of identity conflicts, the international community will continue to be needed not only to fill the vacuum of national responsibility and to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the civilian population but also to promote the cause of a just and comprehensive peace, the only credible and viable means of preventing war.

The millions of people who acclaimed Garang on his triumphant return to Khartoum to be sworn in as First Vice-President were not only Southerners but people from around the country. Garang’s vision had captured the imagination of the nation and had become a spectacular success. Even opponents grudgingly went along with the waves of change. If there had been a free and fair election at that moment, Garang would have been elected President of Sudan. This lesson was not lost by the ruling Congress Party

Garang raised the South and the Sudan as a whole to heights previously never conceived. Will those to whom he has passed the baton—Northerners and Southerners—allow the nation to fall from those heights? Or will they come together and join with those who opposed Garang to pursue this vision that will give all stakeholders their rights, whether their preference be partition or the unity of the nation? In six years time Southerners have the right to decide to secede or remain in a united Sudan. The North and Sudan’s international friends have been presented with an historic opportunity to make unity attractive to the South

*   *   *   *   *

Will the Comprehensive Peace Agreement also be dishonoured by Khartoum?

A closer look at the CPA and its ramifications

The State of Sudan was arbitrarily created by colonialists without regard to the views of the concerned communities, particularly the people of Southern Sudan. The way the Northern ruling elite rushed Sudan to independence via a unilateral declaration not based on national consensus explains the fragility of nation building in Sudan.

Since independence in 1957, Sudan has been at war with itself. Major conflicts (1955-1972 and 1982-2005) have led to the deaths of over two million people and massive displacement. Lack of consensus about root causes of the recurrent internal wars is largely why many peace agreements have been dishonoured or not sustained. While Northern Sudanese, particularly the ruling elite, perceive civil war as a southern problem caused by sinister international interference, most Southerners see the causes as rooted in ethnicity and religion.

Urban bias and highly centralized regimes favouring populations living around the capital city and central Sudan are a legacy of colonialism. While the British sought to modernize the economy and build infrastructures in the North, they entrusted Christian missionaries to provide moral guidance in the South, an attribute judged to be needed more than economic development. The socio-economic disparity created by lack of rural development during colonial rule widened after independence. Profound socio-economic disparity generated the sense of frustration and injustice that eventually led people in the South to resort to armed struggle.

Popular perceptions about the CPA are positive. A series of focus group interviews conducted towards the end of 2004 by the National Democratic Institute and the New Sudan Centre for Statistics and Evaluation indicated overwhelming support for the CPA and confidence that the SPLM has negotiated a fair deal.

However, those who took part are concerned about the future of the peace as the SPLM has not decisively won the war. All Southern Sudanese are aware of how previous peace agreements (Addis Ababa, 1972 and Khartoum 1992) were unilaterally abrogated by the central government in Khartoum. The precarious state of peace was summarized by a war widow who noted during a discussion that: ‘This peace of ours is like a sick man in the hospital. You don’t want to say for sure that he is going to be coming home because, as long as he is in the hospital and sick, he still might die.’

The sustainability of peace will significantly hinge on stability in the transitional areas of Abyei, Nuba mountains, Blue Nile, Eastern Sudan and Darfur, areas inhabited by the most marginalized rural Sudanese. Implementation of the protocols for Nuba mountains and Blue Nile will be a litmus test for the overall implementation of the CPA in the other war affected areas of the Sudan such as Darfur and Eastern Sudan.

The most likely spoilers of the CPA are extremists frustrated that the CPA limits their agenda to expand Islamic and Arab influence into southern Sudan and beyond. After the arrival of the SPLM advance team in Khartoum for the first time in mid-2005, a group calling themselves the Legal Association of Muslims Scholars issued a fatwa labeling the SPLM and its supporters as infidels and called for jihad against their ideology of secularism.

CPA strengths

It took almost ten years to conclude the CPA, making it one of the longest and most meticulously negotiated peace agreements. Unlike previous peace agreements in the Sudan it was signed only after war-weary protagonists were convinced that military victory was not achievable. As such, the parties to the conflict concluded the CPA on a basis of parity, each recognizing the political and military strength of the other side. Despite the unpopularity of the National Congress Party it was bold enough—unlike other northern political parties—to take the courageous political decision to accept Southern Sudan’s right to self-determination. The parity nature of the CPA is one of the inherent mechanisms that will undoubtedly contribute to the CPA’s full implementation.

The CPA is also different from previous agreements as it:-

-provides for devolution of government functions and powers – and fiscal revenue decentralization – to allow people at appropriate levels to manage and direct their own affairs.

-makes provision for a Bill of Rights, now enshrined in the new Interim National Constitution, which obliges all levels of government to respect, uphold and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

-gives the people of southern Sudan their first opportunity to exercise the right of self-determination – a framework for ensuring that  the unity of the Sudan is based on the free will of its people.

-has detailed implementation modalities (the ‘Global Matrix’) with measurable and scheduled mechanisms for effective monitoring.

-allows for the development of solid constitutional institutions.

-contains an agreement to create a new National Armed Forces consisting of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) as a separate, regular and non-partisan armed force with a mission to defend constitutional order.

- has detailed arrangements for revenue transfers, the lack of which was a key reason behind the collapse of the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement. The fact that the Government of Southern Sudan has been allocated 50% of net oil revenues generated from oil fields in Southern Sudan provides the key economic guarantee for effective implementation of the CPA.

-has a large body of institutional and national witnesses and defenders - the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the UN, Kenya , Uganda , Italy , the Netherlands , the UK and the USA have formally committed themselves to playing a part in making peace a reality.

- has provided the international community with a major role within the Independent Assessment and Evaluation Commission: the Commission’s main function will be to carry out a mid-term evaluation of how the CPA is being implemented.

International commitment to rebuilding Sudan was confirmed by donor generosity during the Oslo Conference in April 2005. The $4.53bn they pledged actually exceeds the external humanitarian, recovery and development needs assessed by the Sudan Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) – but is slightly less if non-JAM programmes such as Demobilsation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) and UN peace-keeping operations are taken into account. If realized, these pledges will undoubtedly contribute to sustaining peace, development, eradication of extreme poverty and hunger and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Likely repercussions of the death of John Garang

For many rural marginalized Sudanese, Dr. John Garang, the SPLM founder and leader, was seen as their saviour and liberator, a beacon of their struggle and aspirations. Descriptions recorded during focus group interviews included: ‘He is like Jesus Christ’, ‘We consider Garang to be like Moses, who took his people away from Egypt ’, ‘If John Garang could be cloned 100 times, things would be great.’ Dr. John Garang was undoubtedly the only person who could articulate and reconcile the overwhelming desire for the South to peacefully secede, with his vision of giving unity a chance during the six-year Interim Period. If his tragic death encourages anti-New Sudan elements within the SPLM to speak out in favour of secession, the process of self-determination could be endangered. The new leaders of the SPLM may find it difficult to make the vision of the New Sudan appealing to the people of Southern Sudan.

The CPA should be acknowledged as a major achievement both for Sudan and for Africa . It offers a mechanism to resolve complex issues of diversity and identity and to set a new basis for consensual national unity based on the free will of the people. Those who worked so hard to achieve the CPA have attempted to meet most expectations and have given the people of rural Sudan a chance to be active participants in public affairs and decision making.

Because of its organic and external mechanisms, the CPA stands a better chance than any other previous peace agreement. Any dishonouring of its provisions would be tantamount to constitutional disorder and might force the people of Southern Sudan to unilaterally declare their independence. It is to be hoped that the CPA will survive the untimely death of the SPLM leader.

Will war return to South Sudan ?

The First Vice President and the President of the government of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit has warned of a possibility of war returning to the South and links this to the ongoing Darfur crisis. The matter is not only Darfur, but is the root cause of the Sudan conflict being honestly addressed? When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed on 9th January 2005, Sudanese hope for peace was restored. Celebrations broke out all over the Sudan .

When the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior arrived in Khartoum on 8th July 2005 there was a hero’s welcome. But peace is not a condition that can be achieved by signing agreements at conference tables but rather peace is a process that has to involve the entire society. The root causes of the conflict need to be analysed in order to prescribe a solution that is acceptable to all.

The Sudanese believe that the CPA was the first step towards the momentous task of building a sustainable peace in Sudan , it sets out the framework for a just and lasting peace by bringing in a new political dispensation based upon the values of justice, democracy and human rights for all Sudanese. But the following root causes of the conflict are yet to be removed, if peace is to prevail :-.

Northern Elite domination:

The Sudanese speak of a colonial legacy that entrenched Northerners in the State apparatus while Southerners had no voice in the running of the country. Now Southerners have a say in the government and participate.

The following facts need to be taken seriously, addressed and challenged if peace is to come to Sudan :-

Umma Party:

1. Sayed Sadiq El Mahdi, the Umma Party leader, had as early as 1966 stated that the failure of Islam in Southern Sudan would be the failure of Sudanese Muslims to be actors in international Islamic history. Islam has a holy mission in Africa and Southern Sudan is the beginning of that mission.

National Islamic Front( NIF):

2. The National Islamic Charter in its objectives for the whole of Sudan affirms that Muslims are the majority in Sudan. It does not tolerate secularism neither does it accept it politically.

National Congress Party (NCP):

3. The National Congress Party (NCP), a partner to the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A} and signatory to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), is intent on establishing a theocratic state in Sudan – creating a nation that is Arab and Islamic in identity and culture which contradicts Chapter one, Item one of the Interim National Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan. ‘It is a democratic decentralized, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country’.

Any short comings in addressing the above and the Sudan might return to war again.

CPA = One Sudan, two systems

Secularism as the basis for maintaining the unity of the country should have been the best choice for the Sudanese political leaders. But taking into consideration the fear of Islamic fundamentalist parties in the North, the CPA provided a 6 year trial period for two systems; one country governance arrangement. This was to give a chance to the Khartoum government to rescue the Islamic parties (UMMA, NCP, NIF, etc.) from abandoning their Islamic agenda for the Muslims in the Northern Sudan and to make unity attractive between Arabs and Africans in Sudan, if they were serious about the unity of Sudan.

This would be an achievement for the Arab Islamic leaders and parties who prefer to be ruled by Shari’a (Islamic Law) in the North and maintain a secular system for non-Muslims in the national capital Khartoum. That means that the Government of National Unity (GoNU) becomes an Islamic and non-Islamic government. Omer Al Bashir, being the President of Sudan becomes the father of Sudanese people. Playing his role as a father to non-Muslims and Muslims. Omer Al Bashir decided to be only the father of the Arab groups in Sudan and his party is pursuing an Arab Islamic agenda. It is difficult for them to discard Islamic Shari’a; likewise it is difficult for Christians to discard Christianity and the non-religious to discard secularism.

The international relations of the Sudan state

The Islamist parties in government, previously the NIF of Dr Hassan Abdalla El Turabi and today the NCP of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, have adopted a political survival strategy by fomenting conflict and instability in neighbouring countries, actively supporting Islamic and dissident groups fighting the governments of neighbouring countries, such as Tchad and the Central African Republic . The objective of this strategy is first and foremost to destabalise and then, where possible, assist in the overthrow of the regimes in order to pave the way for the take over of the state by Islamic groups in those countries.

The expansionist and political survival strategies, mediated by the export of a brand of Islamic fundamentalism utilizes subtle means including terrorism, drug trafficking and corruption and aims to create a halo of satellite regimes around Khartoum as the centre of fresh Arab conquest and colonization in Africa. It was Turabi who said in February 1999 ‘we want to islamise America and Arabise Africa’. Sudan is to be a springboard into the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes Region, etc.

The tactics of this expansion reveal a remarkable resemblance to those of the seventh century. These include inter alia, scorched earth policy and ethnic cleansing against the African people, formerly in South Sudan, today in the Darfur Region of Sudan. This war is characterized by pillage, plunder, and the enslavement of the conquered African peoples, with their conversion to Islam, bringing to mind the seventh  century Arab wars of conquest in North Africa and other parts of the world.

The current petroleum revenues coming mainly from oil extraction in South Sudan are used to finance the internal and external wars of the NCP. Sudan under the NCP acts in concert with its partners in the Arab League and in time of stress is able to count on Arab support. Without doubt Sudan’s domestic and international policies are harmonious with general Arab League strategies in the Middle East (Sudan in December 2006 provided a large cash gift to the Palestinian Hamas organization, by way of solidarity, in the face of Israel’s refusal to allow money into the Palestinian economy), Africa and elsewhere. Sudan sets itself up as a front for a fresh wave of Arab conquest and the Arabisation of Black Africa.

Arabs in general look down with contempt on African people as an inferior race, deserving enslavement. This is also seen in Mauritania. Thus being a Muslim is not a sufficient criteria to save an African from scorn and contempt, as the Black Muslims of Darfur have found out. This is exacerbated by the conviction among many Arab thinkers and writers that Africans do not have a culture of their own, leaving a vacuum after decolonization which must be filled by Islamic and Arab culture. Consequently many Arabs believe that Africans do not have rights to self-determination.

The conflict in Sudan receives wide and close hearing in Arab forums, such as the Arab League. Whereas the South Sudan situation was never raised or placed on the agenda of the OAU, the Arabs, led by Egypt, tenaciously resisted the inclusion of the conflict in the various OAU summits and Ministerial meetings, on the basis that South Sudan was an internal affair of the Arab League.

Even so Africa has, since the time of Nasser’s Egypt, supported the Palestinians versus Israel. This has not been reciprocated by the Arab North African states. Worse still, Africa in general is either ignorant of the Sudan situation, or does not wish to support fellow Africans in Sudan, due to a wish not to offend Arabia, because of an inadequate sense of African national solidarity. Pan-Africanism requires that the African Diaspora engage the Sudan issue, even if Black Africa does not.

If the Islamic parties in the North were to be real believers and nationalists, or strugglers for mankind’s freedom and happiness, self-determination for the African Sudanese ought to be the easiest option for the Arab Islamic parties and NCP in the north. They could have been the parties, which allow the Africans to secede from the Arab Islamic north, so that the south, east and west could enjoy its African culture without hindrance of the Arab Islamic north.

Happily the Arab Islamic parties and regime in Sudan are co-operating with the implementation of the CPA. The fact is that the Egyptian government has spent all its post-colonial history suppressing and marginalizing Sudanese people, especially African tribes in Sudan. The Egyptian government is emotionally attached to maintaining Sudan’s unity at the expense of Sudan’s peace and development. The Egyptian government would not wish to be known as the one, which is the source of Sudanese conflict and would not allow the South to exercise its free choice as to its future.

The idea of ‘two systems, one government’ is to test the Arab Islamic parties and Government on whether they can end a historical era in Sudan filled with religious conflicts, racism, wars, and to build the ‘New Sudan’ aiming at coexistence and prosperity between Christianity, Islam and traditional groups in Sudan, and without which there can be no united Sudan nor united Africa.  

The Arab Islamic parties know that after a transitional period of six years before self determination is exercised, their will is to be tested in the Government of National Unity (GoNU) operating the arrangement ‘two systems, one country’ which is currently running. Two years have gone and the time is approaching for the South to decide whether to unite with the Arabs or separate. If the Arabs make unity attractive and Arab Islamic leaders, parties and government want to build a nation called the ‘New Sudan ‘, where people are united by love and goodwill, the African Sudanese will decide to vote to remain in the union. At which time the system of government in the interim agreed upon in the CPA would become the accepted system for the whole of Sudan.

If the African South chooses to secede, then the Arab Islamic North could adopt any political system that it chooses. The South accepted in the CPA to allow the option of unity within a ‘two systems one country’ mandate as a test for Arab Islamic leaders and parties to show their willingness to survive in love and as equals with African Sudanese in the South, East and West of Sudan.

William Deng Nhial was assassinated for developing the idea that the ‘majority African Sudanese’ in Sudan are being oppressed and marginalized by the minority Arab tribes in Khartoum. The majority African Sudanese are able to rule in a united democratic Sudan, but this should be done through a democratic system which the Islamic fundamentalist are afraid of.

They thus introduced Islamic Shari’a law with the hope of dividing African Muslims from African Christians in Sudan and thus obtain a religious majority. This policy was practiced during the Ottoman Empire, by Mohamed Ali in 1820 and the Madhya including the present Islamic parties in Northern Sudan. As a divide and rule system, it worked in marginalizing African tribes in Sudan and to develop the Arab tribes both educationally and economically thus creating the current wars. It succeeded in preventing African Sudanese from educating themselves, promoting literacy and eliminating poverty and dependency in the South, East and West of Sudan.

In 1966 William Deng Nhial came to Sudan and volunteered to work for peace under the slogan of ‘Sudan for Sudanese’ and recommended ‘two systems, one Sudan’. But the ‘Pan Arabism’ promoted by Gamal Abdel Nasir then worked to ensure that William Deng Nhial was eliminated, because William Deng’s idea of ‘Sudan’s African national unity’ was against the Egyptian government policy of making Africa united under Arabism and Islam. To them, William Deng Nhial was a dangerous African raising awareness in the Sudan for the liberation, justice, and holistic progress of Africans. To the Egyptian government at that time William Deng Nhial and his party the ‘Sudan African National Union’ (SANU) would undermine the ‘Arab Nationalist’ movement which stood for the Arabisation and Islamisation of the whole African continent and beyond.

To achieve this goal Egypt initiated various activities in Sudan, one of which was to eliminate African leaders like William Deng Nhial, and even weaken the UMMA party at that time, which was cooperating with the SANU under the slogan ‘Sudan for Sudanese’. The Egyptian government decided to keep African people fighting themselves, so African Sudanese would have no chance to educate themselves and develop economically to compete with the Arab groups. Instead Africans would remain beggars in their own continent Africa and also in the Arab world, by keeping African Sudanese controlled by poverty, hunger, disease, and ignorance.

Pan-Arabism in Sudan was convinced that the Arab ethnic groups in the North are Arabs and Muslims and therefore they are their brothers. The Arab policy was that Arab groups in Sudan should not give African ethnic groups in Sudan the chance for stability and uniting, which is the source of power and that African ethnic groups must be kept far away from power, kept ignorant, and poor.

This was one of the main reasons for the start of the war in the Southern Sudan at Torit in 1955 when the Number II Company of the Sudan army mutinied. The commander who started the shoot-out was said to be an Egyptian military officer called Salah planted in the Sudanese army. Egyptian’s intentions are very clear; the Egyptian government wants to keep the South blinded and prevented from seeing freedom and happiness by force and the use of the Arab-Islamic government in Khartoum.

Egypt used Pan Arabism and its party in Sudan which was than headed by Ismail Al Azhari, supported by some members of the ‘Southern Front’ at that time. They created obstacles for the African ethnic groups in Sudan to achieving their right to self-determination. They also played a part in the assassination of William Deng Nhial. All these Egyptian activities in Sudan cannot be easily forgotten, but the South may forgive Egypt if Egypt and its friends in the Arab world accept to pay reparations for the slavery they introduced  into Sudan and the loss of lives in the war and retarded development since 1955.

Egyptian fear of Arab-Islamic fundamentalism is a deception. Arab-Islamic fundamentalism started in Egypt because of its policies and lack of democracy. Egypt points fingers at Arab-Islamic fundamentalism now because of its connection with terrorism in order to hoodwink governments, which are committed to eliminating terrorism, and finding a peaceful solution to the conflicts in Palestine and Israel.

Egypt is opposed to peace in the ‘Middle East’ and is opposed to peace in Sudan because the Egyptian government keeps nations fighting, weak and poor. Sudan must be kept fighting itself and suffering so that Egypt is protected by the death of the African ethnic groups and the margnalised people in Sudan. To the Egyptian government; Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya, who are sharing the sweet water of the White and Blue Niles should be kept fighting themselves and under developed.

Development in these neighbouring states means less water for Egypt’s survival. The Egyptian government’s fear of Israel coming to an independent African State in Sudan to assist in its development, is an unfounded fear that the African ethnic groups might be helped to become powerful, happy and enjoy progress in Africa, yet the Egyptian government and Israel are enjoying a cordial relationship and are peacefully coexisting.

What well intentioned bystanders should do is to :-

-Encourage African and Arab ethnic groups in Sudan to abandon racial and ethnic conflicts and instead deal with the common issues of all marginalized African groups in Sudan and in Africa including, natural resources, the environment, security, the establishment of better welfare programs and the like.

-Encourage cooperation between the Sudanese political parties and religious groups to work for liberation, justice and peace in Sudan regardless of race, colour, religion or political affiliation.

-Encourage the development of a true relationship based on ‘friendship and brotherhood’ between Christianity and Islam in Sudan, because the two are important for the guarantee of ’freedom, harmony, justice, peace and holistic progress’ in Sudan .

-There should be no fear for any Sudanese political parties, including the Islamic government in Khartoum to fully accept and cooperate with the United Nations, OAU, IGAD, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for the realization of not only ‘Sudan Peace’ and true ‘Happiness’, but also to help Sudan and Africa achieve stability, which is necessary for fighting poverty, hunger, disease, ignorance and even greed; assisting NCP’s government to eliminate its concept of racialism based on selfishness and greed which is becoming a new disease in Sudan.

-Encourage international and local non-governmental organizations to help Sudan and Africa organize projects that will help liberate the people of Africa , that have been kept backward and ignorant for so long, to liberate themselves from disease, sickness and pain.

Apparently the Founding Fathers of the OAU, or at least some of them, did not know the real nature of Afro-Arab interaction in the Afro-Arab Borderlands, and were ignorant of the grassroots conflictual relations which exploded into violence in Nouakchott, Mauritania for the first time in 1966 ( Diallo,1993). As the movement, which was largely driven by Libya, gained momentum towards the revision of the OAU structures, some observers monitored closely the formulation of the Charter of the emerging African Union (AU). This was not easy, given that the elaboration took place, at least in the early stages, away from public scrutiny and knowledge. From the ‘Report of the meeting of Legal Experts and Parliamentarians on the establishment of the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament’ dated 17-20 April 2000, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Ref Cab/Leg/23.15/6/Vol IV, paragraph 48, under the rubric ‘Consideration Protocol relating to the Pan-African Parliament’ at the section referring to article 4 ‘Objectives’, it is stated :-

‘On the issue of composition it was proposed that the prospective members should represent not only the people of Africa and those who have naturalized, but peoples of African descent as well. However, other delegations were of the view that only African people should be represented in the Parliament…..’

At paragraph 55 appearing under the same rubric as paragraph 48 (i.e., Consideration Protocol relating to the Pan-African Parliament ) in the section referring to Articles 2 and 3 ‘ Establishment and relationship with the OAU’, it is reported…

‘After effecting certain amendments to paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 3, the reference to   members of Parliament representing all people of ‘African descent’ was deleted’

It is no secret that Arabia in the OAU never saw a place for the African Diaspora in its deliberations, whereas Africans in general embrace their ‘kith and kin’ taken out of Africa through slavery. Mohamed Fayek, Director-General, Dar Al-Mustaqbal Al-Arabi, Cairo, Egypt in his contribution to the Amman Seminar on Afro-Arab relations points out that prior to the Nasserite Revolution of July 23, 1952 Egypt had no organic relationship with the rest of Africa and there existed no linkage movements. He goes on to state that:-

‘…The African movement itself, which was initiated by black Americans in reaction to  discrimination against them, adopted the theme of the black man’s dignity and freedom and his  returning to his roots – while the black Americans had neither knowledge nor concrete links with the African continent, other than the colour of their skin. Hence the birth of what is called ‘Africanism’ based on their African descent – but only with black Africa in mind. African  unity was to them as much a way of reviving the ancient African empires of Ghana, Songhai, Mali and others, as it was the unity of black Africa. With this, Africanism, before reaching the African continent itself, took a separate path from Arab Africa. Egypt , therefore, as well as the rest of North Africa, had no connection with this particular African movement’.


The war has become circular (i.e., it can best  be described in terms of the margin vs. the centre). If there is any peace to be brokered, it should be inclusive in respect of all marginalized groups fighting alongside the SPLM/SPLA. However, the Naivasha peace initiative, which was brokered mainly by America and Britain, is concerned only with the civil war in the South. Like the rest of the West, America and Britain have persistently decided to deal with the civil war in Sudan as between the African and Christian South against the Muslim Arab North.

It does not make sense in deciding to put an end to the war in the South and leave it to flare up in the Ingassana, Darfur, Nuba Mountains or Beja, especially when the causes of the war are the same and the fighting groups have achieved a kind of unifying body. What is the wisdom behind telling the other parties to wait until the fight in the South comes to an end? It is like telling them to keep on fighting until you reach a deal with the biggest fighting group. Whereas the war is a circular one, the Naivasha peace initiative and its CPA is unfortunately a linear solution.

Two areas in Africa where the issue of racism has been addressed are South(ern) Africa and South Sudan . How the issue was managed in both instances provides some lessons for the marginalized people of the Borderlands. In South Africa Western finance capital brought about, with minimum loss of life, the timely end of apartheid, which was no longer internationally socially sustainable as an intensive system of capital accumulation. In South Sudan there were no such financial interests of the international community, nor of Arabia, to end Arab oppression of Southern Sudanese Africans, who consequently had to fight Khartoum for 25-50 years in a bloody war in which over two million lost their lives. In Darfur there will be no end to the genocide of Africans, except if the end of the killings is brought about by Africans. Problems such as Mauritania and Darfur, with long historical antecedents, will not be resolved by the Americans, the Europeans, the Chinese or by the United Nations, because they have no interest in resolving core African weaknesses.


People of the margins should come together. On the civilian political level they should have an alliance that represents their thinking. Before coordinating or uniting their military organs they need to have their civilian organizations united in a big alliance. The battle against the centre has had two fronts: military and civilian. So far the people of the margins have been faring very well on the military front, but not on the civilian side. The two bodies (civilian and military) are not necessarily conditioned by each other; although driving at one aim, the civilian battle, however, is virtually different from the military battle. The alliance of the forces of the margins is fundamental for peace or war. If it is war, then war should be fought properly; if it is peace, then peace should be holistic and well-guarded.

It is no longer advisable to postpone, at least reflection, on the creation of an organization to house the African Nation, defined as Africa south of the Sahara, plus the Western (Americas, Europe, Caribbean, etc.) and Eastern ( Arabia, North Africa, Gulf States and points eastwards etc ) Diasporas. To fail to address this challenge now would be self-defeating. As peace progresses in the Great Lakes region, the Afro-Arab Borderlands (otherwise called ‘the Borderlands‘) remain a conflict zone in Africa, as Darfur illustrates. Lessons need to be drawn and conclusions arrived at.

As Chinweizu has told us over the years, Arabia has been in an undeclared war with Africa (Arab nationalism v. African nationalism) since the advent of Indo-Europeans on continental Africa. Africans, including Kwame Nkrumah, chose to look the other way and refused to factor this war into the architecture of the African unity movement, opting instead for continentalism, that is continental unity.

Whatever our current weaknesses, we are shamed and humiliated at African inability to effectively defend African nationals, against Arab encroachment, in Darfur. The question is – for how long will Africans at home and abroad persist, ostrich-like, in denying the structural inadequacies of the AU in defending our interests within our African space, whilst at the same time continental Africans are divided from kith and kin in the African Diaspora, not by chance, but due to the designs of others. Action is required. It is suggested that new structures be established and that the AU be conserved as a forum for Afro-Arab dialogue and co-operation.

March, 2007


Haashim,M.J. 2006 ‘ Islamisation and Arabisation of Africans as a means to political power in the Sudan: contradictions of discrimination based on the blackness of skin and stigma of slavery and their contributions to the civil wars’.In Bankie.B.F and Mchombu.K (Eds) 2006. ‘ Pan-Africanism Strengthening the unity of Africa and its Diaspora’, Windhoek , Namibia : Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers

Deng,M.D.2005 ‘ African Rennaisance: towards a New Sudan ’. In Forced Migration Review No 24 of November 2005, entitled ‘ Sudan : prospects for peace ‘, Oxford , UK : Refugees Studies Centre

Deng, L.B. 2005 ‘ The Comprehensive Peace Agreement : will it also be dishonoured ?’ In Forced Migration Review No 24 of November 2005, entitled ‘ Sudan propects for peace ‘, Oxford , UK : Refugee Studies Centre.

Nyaba, P.A. 2002 ‘ Afro-Arab conflict in the 21st century ‘. In Tinabantu – Journal of African National Affairs Vol 1, No 1, Cape Town, South Africa ; Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS)

Kenyi, I. 2006 ‘ Shall war return to South Sudan ‘. In Khartoum Monitor of 17th November 2006, Khatoum , Sudan .

Lagoye,L.D. 2006 ‘ CPA : Provided one Sudan , two systems ‘. In Khartoum Monitor of 10th October 2006, Khartoum , Sudan .

Bankie, B.F.2005 ‘ Pan-Africa or African Union ?’. In African Renaissance of May/June 2005, London, UK Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd.

Bankie Forster Bankie -- Born Warwick, UK in January 1946, of Esi Forster, first woman Ghanaian lawyer, and Bobani Forster, Gambian psychiatrist, B.F. Bankie has a brother, Ekow and a sister Estelle. He is married to Adzo. His son is Kojo Hlalele. Bankie is an international human rights lawyer and a Pan-Afrikan nationalist, who has lived and worked in various parts of Afrika and its Diaspora. At this time he lives and works in Juba, South Sudan. His particular interest is Arab-led slavery of Afrikans.

photo top left: B.F. Bankie

posted 11 October 2007 /

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 25 February 2012




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