International Dialogue on State-building and National Development in South Sudan
Convened by the African Research and Resources Forum (ARRF) and the Centre for Peace and Development Studies (CPDS) at the University of Juba, Juba, South Sudan
September 23- 23, 2011
September 23- 23, 2011
Foreign policy options for the Government of South Sudan post self-government.
There is a tendency in Sudan studies especially in the South, to see issues exclusively from the internal perspective, which is understandable, given the history of South Sudan and its geo-political location.
The paper finds it’s rational in the existence of the new state of Southern Sudan since 9 July 2011. Going back into the history, it was noted that the report of African Union (AU) High Level Panel for Darfur, set up in 2009, was the first report of the continentalist body to acknowledge the Sudan as an African issue, declaring Sudan a ‘bridge between north Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa’. Southern Sudan joins the global African community as a state entity.
Apparently Article 2.9 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement CPA) should explain the fact that to date the South under GoSS has yet to articulate a firm position as to where it fits in Africa and the global African community. This we note from the absence of policy pronouncements, as regards the past history of the area occupied by South Sudan and Sudan in north east Africa. The Kush Institution established in 2008 in Juba was to handle this lacuna.
For informed Africans located elsewhere than in north east Africa this lack of clarity creates a vacuum of expectations. Perceptions based on field studies and analysis would indicate that the centre of gravity in the unity movement of the Africans globally, is shifting away from continental to sub-Saharan considerations. The Founding Fathers of the OAU did not incorporate the fractious relations in the Afro-Arab borderlands in the Sahel in their calculations, in their composition of their African nation. Rather they based their calculations on geographic identity. This amounted to a denial of history, as the experience of South Sudan, Darfur , Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Nubia attest.
Apparently it will take time for Africans to come to terms with what happened in South Sudan. Silence on the issue will delay this process. It will not stop it. The consequent impact of the South Sudan experience on the unity movement will have profound implications/applications for Africans in general and this will be a two way process, affecting also the South. History to date has made it such that the majority of Africans are ignorant of the realities of events in north east Africa. The paper considers for how long such a policy can be sustained and the various ramifications.
The institution of slavery is a matter on which information is either suppressed or not available. Both Arabs and Africans are reluctant, unwilling or unable to bring the facts to the common knowledge of the two peoples, either by way of curriculum reform or academic research. The approach has been (Laya 2005) to not raise questions of legitimacy of the state, and in the name of ‘national unity’ reference to slavery is prohibited . Laya affirms that in the spirit of the African Renaissance it would be best to not ignore the unhappy period of slavery. In his view, historically, there was a close relationship between the trans-Atlantic and the trans-Saharan slave trades.
Ancient Kush, located in present day northern Sudan was strongly influenced by Egypt for some 1000 years beginning in 2700 BC. Subsequently Egypt’s power in Sudan waned. In the sixteenth century Muslim religious brotherhoods spread through northern Nubia. These plus the Ottoman Empire, ruled the area through military leaders for some three centuries. In 1820 Muhammad Ali, who ruled Egypt on behalf of the Ottomans, sent 4000 troops to Sudan. This invasion resulted in the Ottoman-Egyptian rule of Sudan from 1821 to 1885. Slavery in the Sudan took hold during this priod,when it was made state policy. Slavery became a cash commodity when the Europeans started making incursions into the continent to procure slaves. In the western reference and Sudanese context, mulatto means white, Jallaba, means of mixed race from the North of the Sudan. The Jallaba were the procurers of slaves who led raiding squads backed by formidable armies. As Egyptian rule faltered, the Jallaba hoped to inherit governance of the Sudan. The late Dr John Garang de Mabior (2008) refers to the Jallaba as Afrabians, a hybrid of different races and nationalities, including black Africans, immigrant Arabs, Turks, Greeks and Armenians, that first evolved during the 15th century and have since always chosen to identify themselves as Arabs, even though many are black. Hashim states that the political Right, descendants of the Jallaba, has ruled the Sudan since self-government in 1955. While the Sudan might have been expected to join Africa, it chose to join Arabia as a second-class member. When the northern elite was installed in power in Khartoum by the departing Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, they considered the Sudan as consisting of their fellow noble Arabs of the centre North area; the Muslim Africans of the periphery (with possible Arab blood) undergoing rapid Arabisation; and the slaves, being blacks with no authority to rule.
Looking at the socio-cultural structure of Sudanese society, Hashim (unpublished paper) refers to the development of a new ideological consciousness of race labelled ‘Arabised Sudanese’. Skin colour came to distinguish racial differentiation. So that in the Sudanese context a light-brown person was an Arab and a black African was seen as a slave. The stigma of slavery and blackness meant marginalisation and the prestigma represented the non-blacks, the Arabs who were at the centre. This type of alienation has been in place in the Sudan for over five centuries and continues until today. In the Middle-East the Sudanese Arab is considered too dark and is treated as a second class Arab. The blacks of the Sudan, who have completely assimilated Islamo–Arab culture and religion (such as the Darfuri) are discriminated against by the Arabised mulattos of the centre of the Sudan, and are seen as slaves, too African and thus worthy of being dehumanised by genocide.
In a paper on the impasse of post-colonial relations, Simone (2005) refers to the legacy of Afro-Arab slavery as having distorted the relations between two major nationalities in our world, the African and the Arab. This, he explains, is because the descendants of the slavers have never publicly condemned or even admitted the abuses of the past to the descendants of those who were abducted and whose lands were raided. This is a major factor in explaining why slavery continues today. Despite the adoption of the Arab Charter on Human Rights by the Arab League in September 1994, slavery abides. In December 2005, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) adopted a Ten-Year Program of Action, promoting issues such as tolerance, moderation and human rights. This has not affected the lives of the people living in Islamic states such as the Sudan and Mauritania. The issue of slavery cannot be divorced from that of reparations and restitution, as stated in the Declaration of the Conference on Arab-Led slavery of Africans, held Johannesburg on 22 February 2003 (CASAS Book Series No. 35, Cape Town).
Arabisation and Islamisation
Gregory.A.Pirio in his book ‘The African Jihad –Bin Laden’s quest for the Horn of Africa’, provides some background information on what your author describes as the ‘Arab Project in Africa’, by defining some basic terms in Islam. The term ‘Islamist’ is used to describe those groups, such as the National Congress Party (NCP) ruling in Khartoum, that seek the establishment of an Islamic state, which theologically promote a Wahabist or Salafist version of Islam. ’Islamisation’ is a set of political ideologies that hold that Islam is not only a religion, but also a political system that governs the legal, economic and social imperatives of the state according to it’s interpretation of Islamic law. Islamists, such as those ruling Sudan, advocate that Sharia, a legal system based on the Koran and the Islamic tradition of jurisprudence, should determine public and some aspects of private life.
Pirio explains the term Jihadist as describing those Islamists who espouse violent action, whether military action or terrorism, to achieve their aims. Jihadists see themselves as waging war against ‘Kafirun’ or unbelievers. They see their struggle as a just war legitimised by religious, political and military interpretations of the Islamic concept of Jihad. Jihadists often see their actions as part of a local and global struggle to decentre the West in world affairs, in order to establish ‘Hakimiyyat Alklah’ or ‘God’s rule’ on a global scale.
In Islam Jihad refers to peaceful inner spiritual striving, which is a widely respected Islamic ideal. Jihadi have misappropriated the word Jihad to sanction the use of violent struggle against non-believers and Muslims, who disagree with their version of Islam. Terrorism is the antithesis of the real meaning of Jihad. Sudan under the leadership of the radical Pan-Arabist Omar Al Bashir’s National Islamic Front (NIF)/NCP government gave rights of residence to Bin Laden the Al Queda leader and promotes Islamic fundamentalism both within and outside its borders. Nial Bol in his piece of the 15 April 1998 entitled ‘Religion- Africa: Countries of the Horn urged to apply Sharia’, states :-
‘An ideology of expansionist Islamic fundamentalism, which sought to ’Arabise’ all of Sudan and the Horn, underpinned Sudan’s regional aggression’.
The international scenario
President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, President of the Sudan, in his address to the Organisation for Islamic Unity (OIC) in Abuja, Nigeria (November 1989) declared that the destiny of Islam in Africa is to win. This statement represents a direct challenge to African sovereignty and was a calculated threat of interference in the internal affairs of all the states of Africa. In 1998 Bashir introduced an Islamic Constitution in the Sudan, making the Sudan a de jure Islamic Republic. Sharia Islamic codes became applicable to non-Muslims. Islam was used to Arabise all the people of the Sudan. Al Bashir stands indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, in western Sudan, a region of some seven million people. The conflict in Darfur has left some 200 000–450 000 black Africans dead and over 2.5 million displaced. The resolution of the Darfur conflict, like that in South Sudan which preceded it, and upon which it was modelled, represents a challenge not only to Africans, but to humanity.
The ascension, career and fate of persons such as Musa Hilal and Haruna, Sudanese government officials indicted by the ICC, provide a graphic illustration of the nature of northern/Khartoum society and its distorted and racist manipulations of Islam. Similar societal problems are manifest across the borderlands from Port Sudan on the Red Sea, between the Beja and Khartoum, through Tchad, Niger and Mali, to Mauritania. Indeed Mauritania has a caste system that dates back centuries, which successive governments since self-government have been unable to uproot with families inherited as slaves from one generation to another.
A classic example of the volatility of the borderlands is found in the northern areas of Mali and Niger, a region inhabited across borders by the Touareg, a black Negroid people who were Arabised and who enslaved their neighbours. In the scramble to decolonise and balkanise, they had been given reason to hope that they would be accorded their own state. Instead the Touareg were divided between the new states that were created. As a result, they found themselves administered by African political leaders, some of whom were the descendants of their former slaves. Libya funded several armed Touareg groups dedicated to fighting the governments of the new states. Together, in the 1960s, they called themselves the Azawad United Front (Diakite 2006). The Touareg have been found in recent years settled in the burnt villages abandoned by the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa in Darfur. Their rebellion, mediated by Algeria, continues to this day. The Arab League has not been able to end this long-running borderland conflict, which receives little to no coverage in the western media.
Outsiders who have researched firsthand what is in fact going on in the Afro–Arab borderlands have concluded that events there are not a product of chance. They are the calculated result of forces from within and without the region that see it as an area that is off-limits to public scrutiny. There are few attendant risks of exposure which allow the borderlands to be utilised for human trafficking and smuggling, the testing of new weapons systems (including nuclear) and other inhumane practices in complete disregard of the welfare of the inhabitants. Of late, the place has become an area for international hostage-taking by groups, one of which goes by the name of Al-Qaeda, a product of the Salifista armed rebellion from Algeria.
At the 7th Pan-African Congress (PAC) held in Kampala, Uganda in 1994, without doubt the heavy northern Sudanese attendance (including the Sudan’s former Ambassador at the United Nations, Abdulmahmuud Abdulhalim) was not explained by any affection for Pan-Africanism/African nationalism – as northern Sudanese owe their loyalty first to their Arab identity and the Arab League. Rather, they were there because the Congress offered the unique opportunity to update their own understandings of the trends and concerns of the Africanist movement (Bankie 1995). This conclusion and the need for Africanists to come to terms with the ulterior motives of northern Sudanese in matters effecting African unity, supports the thesis of Afrocentric social and human sciences, seeking to redefine and to reposition African people in the new world, ‘to reclaim African heritage that had long been denied, stolen and plundered’(Nabudere 2007, 8). Dani Nabudere goes on to spell out that in the past the production of knowledge in the African context was done for purposes of control, which had been the overall historic aim of European scholarship in Africa. Colonial scholarship needs to be archived and replaced by knowledge based on sound research done by Africans in the context of African realities.
The Sudanese political situation resembles apartheid in South Africa and Namibia, and qualifies as a case of ‘internal colonialism’. As South Africa had, so the Sudan has its ‘black spots’. The Nubians are a case in point. The situation of the Nubian Sudanese, living near the Egyptian border of the Sudan, is a matter of concern due to Khartoum’s implementation of policies aimed at marginalising the Nubians. First, by impoverishing their region and driving them from their historical homelands (Hashim 2007); second, by resettling Arab groups in the lands left behind; third, by pushing the Nubians into Arabisation through biased educational curricula, at the expense of their own languages and cultures; and fourth, by nursing a culture of complicity among Nubian intellectuals to help facilitate these policies. Based on statements by Khartoum officials, the scale of demographic engineering in Sudanese Nubia is programmed to re-settle hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in the area.
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the African Union (AU)
The OAU came about at the end of a long historical process which saw the realisation of Pan-Africanism/African Nationalism. This historical process began with the abduction of African slaves from Africa to the Western hemisphere, where the incubation of Africans in the ‘new world’ was built on the elimination of the indigenous people of America and the harnessing of black labour for development. This led to a conscientisation around common experiences of enslavement, racism and exploitation (Sibanda 2008), culminating in the Garveyist ‘back to Africa movement’ and the Pan-African Congress series organised by African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois. In some measure the trans-Atlantic slave trade replicated the experience of Africans – especially women and children – who were victims of the trans-Saharan slave trade and those taken into Arab bondage. The fundamental difference was that the Europeans, apart from attempting conversion to Christianity, did not succeed in denationalising Africans taken to the western Diaspora (Caribbean, North/South America or Europe). In contrast, as seen in the Sudan today and graphically illustrated in Darfur (where the conscientisation around African identity is recent and its future uncertain), Africans in the eastern Diaspora ceased to be Africans and became Arabs. It is the loss of identity under the Arab system, which renders reconnection with the African Eastern Diaspora in the Gulf, Arabia, etc, a major cultural challenge with deep psychological implications.
Within Pan-Africanism, it is Esedebe who noted that after the 1945 5th Pan-African Congress there was a shift.
Up till then, the Pan African movement concerned itself with the problems of Africans and their descendants in different parts of the globe. But despite the adjective Pan-African, the movement driving this period was not truly Pan-African in membership. For every practical purpose Arab north Africa remained outside the pale of Pan-Africanism. (Esedebe 1994, 229)
This shift was largely due to the influence of Nkrumah who served as Secretary General of the 5th Congress. Under his leadership the Pan-African movement became ‘continentalist’ and geographic by definition. North Africa was admitted into the movement, without a quid pro quo of sub-Saharan black Africa being admitted into the Arab League. Nkrumah’s emissaries attended the Roundtable Conference in Khartoum in March 1965, on peace in South Sudan. At Sirte, in Libya, at the 4th Extraordinary Summit of the OAU in September 1999, Ghadafi, Head of State of Libya, presented a draft charter proposing the establishment of the United States of Africa, with one government, one leader, a single army, one currency, one central bank and one Parliament making the laws for the entire continent, to be in place by 2000. What was adopted was a compromise outside the Libyan leader’s hopes.
One of the major problems of the OAU/AU has been the non-payment of dues by member states. In order to keep the organisation afloat, some members have paid more than others. There are many reasons for the arrears. One possibility is a lack of commitment to African nationalism/Pan-Africanism, to which the organisation owed its creation. The OAU/AU has generally failed to invigorate Pan-Africanism/African Nationalism. This may be due to the perception of the organization as a neo-colonial institution peopled by neo-colonialsts. In any event, it is clear that OAU/AU has failed to meet the aspirations of Africans at the grass-root level both at home and abroad, for strong unity, international status, respect and auto-development. Too often it was a side show with the real decisions being made elsewhere.
One sees the discomfort of the African states, unable to show solidarity with kith and kin in place such as Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan and during the recent anti-Black African zenophobia in Libya. These represents the continuation of the past practice of the African states of turning a blind eye to the goings-on in the Afro-Arab borderlands. Another strategy used by Arabia to determine events in Africa has been the division of Africa from it’s Diasporas. It was the Diaspora that originated Pan-Africanism. An Africa severed from it’s Diaspora would be weakened. This is tantamount to dividing the African Nation, constituted by Sub-Saharan Africa and its Diasporas. Arabia never wanted the African Diaspora in the OAU/AU and still resists the integration of the Diaspora as the ‘Sixth Region’ of the AU. The western Diaspora in the Americas etc is well known. However there is an eastern Diaspora in Arabia and the Middle-East.
Cultural unity and the Arab model
Cultural solidarity within the Arab League stressed the concept of a single Arab nation. This nation looked back to the ancient Arab empires of the Umayyads and the Abbasids, noting that Arabs had ‘civilised’ Europe in the Middle Ages. A federated cultural collective for sub-Saharian Africa was promoted by Cheik Anta Diop in his work on the cultural unity of black Africa. Indeed, it is astonishing that little serious effort has been made to research the establishment of a culturally based African League/Nation, given the respect accorded Diop and his conclusions, the basic premises of which had been advanced by 1885, if not earlier, by the Haitian, Antenor Firmin in his book published in 1885, entitled ‘The equality of the human races’.
The premise in this article for the creation of an African League is axed on the inability of either the Arab League or the OAU/AU to resolve issues affecting those of African descent within its membership in North Africa. Given this reality, the logical progression is towards the creation of an African League. This League would be a culturally based organisation, first and foremost, acting in tandem, where necessary, with the Arab League, to realise the unity of the Arab and African nations, on a basis of mutual respect. It is proposed that the AU subsist as a forum for the Afro-Arab civilisation dialogue. At present, Africans in their millions are exposed to brutal Arab racism in the form of genocide, without remedy by way of official solutions from the OAU/AU, to the age-old problems of marginalisation, slavery and their consequences, which have persisted for over a millennium, which constitutes the ‘Arab Project’ in Africa.
Presently, the AU finds itself unable to guarantee the safety and security of its African constituency in north Africa, as distinct from its Arab constituency in north Africa. Arab north Africans do not depend on the AU for protection and instead turn to the Arab League. The Sudan is an illustration of a situation which is glaringly inequitable for its marginalised African population that is dependent on the largesse of Khartoum. There has been little fresh thinking on how best to achieve the unity of all Africans, both within and without Africa in these times. What reflections there have been, tend to critique the existing situation and seek to innovate the same. What is required now is new ‘thinking outside the box’, not grasping for old straws and soft options. For the first time, the issues of the borderlands must be addressed from the African point of view. The realities on the ground, such as the war in South Sudan which began in 1955, were not addressed by the Founding Fathers of the OAU. In rethinking that situation, new dynamisms should come into play. Too many lives have been lost to permit the area to ‘go back to sleep’. Some wish to impose the old approach, that the area should be ‘off limits’ and not be discussed.
There is much information available in situ about what has happened in South Sudan. Darfur developments can be tracked daily, as can those in other parts of the Sudan, such as Nubia. News availability is a recent development. Because of the distortions and silencing of history, Africans have, in the past, chosen to not interest themselves in the problems of this part of Africa. Indeed it was only in February 2009 that the AU appointed its High-Level Panel on Darfur, which concluded that ‘Africa has no choice but to assume a leadership role with respect to the Sudan, it being “a bridge between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa”’. The High-Level Panel declared that the Sudan ‘is Africa’s crisis and, as such, Africa has a duty to help the people of Sudan to achieve a lasting solution’. It took the body dedicated to continentalism, some 35 years to arrive at a conclusion southern Sudanese nationalists, such as Aggrey Jardan, had reached, through blood, before the OAU was born ( The Sudan Mirror, 10th September 2007, 21 ).
African research by Africans
The African presence in north Africa and the borderlands was a blind area, especially in Western scholarship. This does not explain why today the area continues to be the subject of conspiracy theories, on-going rumours of slavery, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. This void in information leaves Africans ignorant about a part of their patrimony, to such an extent as to seriously weaken their ability to make informed decisions as regards their own destiny.
This is changing. Few people from the borderlands who are of African descent, have spoken out or written about Arab racism. Presumably this is due to the effects of denationalisation and because Africans believed that the situation there was preordained and irrevocable. There are notable exceptions, such as Garba Diallo, Jibril Abdelbagi, Jalal Muhammed Hashim, Adwok Nyaba and Kwesi Prah. They have opened up their world to African field researchers. Southern Sudanese have borne the brunt of Arab expansion southwards into east Africa and the Horn. Few have taken their experience to the global African community. Article 2.9 of the CPA put the articulation of foreign policy both for Khartoum and Juba in the hands of the Government of National Unity (GoNU) in Khartoum. This left the International Liaison Offices of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) around the world inaudible and inactive. They were silent about the realities of South Sudan and the other marginalised areas in the Sudan. Southern scepticism about African solidarity is well known and justified, and the question is whether it will accept responsibility for the international articulation of the problems of the borderlands after the July 9 2011 ‘Independence’. To those outside the area, these peculiar reservations of the borderland experience are difficult to understand. In part they are explained by what is well known in Western post-slavery societies as ‘post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome’.
The Sudan’s relations with its neighbours
From the Khartoum government’s side, Al Turabi, the spiritual mentor of Omar Bashir in the early years of Bashir’s administration, is often quoted as saying: ‘We want to Islamise America and Arabise Africa’ (Nyaba 2002). The Sudan has been active in destabilising its neighbours, such that its sincerity about the pursuit of peace must be questioned. Nyaba states ‘ … that the Arab “threat” to Black Africa is real. It’s potential increases as you move up the African map from the south’ (2002, 47).
The extent of Khartoum’s duplicity is exposed in Mareike Schomerus’ (2007) study of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which was recruited by Khartoum to become one of the Sudan’s pro-government armed groups. It was the SPLM/A-United, a splinter faction from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), lead by the Late John Garang, that facilitated the first contacts between the LRA and Khartoum. The LRA obtained supplies and assistance from Khartoum in return for the overthrow of the Government in Kampala lead by Y.Museveni, attacking the Ugandan Army and the SPLA, as well as destabilising the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, as a prelude to the Arabisation and Islamisation of these two countries. From 1994, LRA Commander Kony and his then deputy Otti were regular visitors to Khartoum and had an official residence in Juba. During attacks, LRA fighters were seen leading the way, followed by a second wave of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). During the long years of war many factions and groups were fighting in the South Sudan bush, many led by warlords supported by Khartoum.
From the records available on the establishment of the OAU in 1963/1964, it appears that the Founding Fathers did not understand the realities of the borderlands and the war which started in South Sudan in 1955. Although the inviolability of sovereignty was a hallowed tenet in the early days of the OAU, it was only after the Darfur conflict escalated in 2003 with massive loss of life, that the AU put boots on the ground in Darfur. The Arab League had never shown such an inclination. Because of history, racism and prejudice, conflicts in the borderlands never earned the military intervention of the Arab world.
New initiatives, such as Renaissance theory and Afrocentric social and human science (Nabudere 2007) are aimed at repositioning the African people in the world, to reclaim their African heritage that has been denied, stolen and plundered in order to arrive at an African reawakening. Seen from such perspective, a thorough exposure of the various strands which constitute the Sudan picture needs to be analysed, to find out what lessons can be learnt. Van Sertima, in explaining the rejection of Diop’s doctoral thesis (Nabudere 2007, 10) stated that this was because it ran ‘… counter to all that had been taught in Europe for two centuries about the origin of civilisation’. Where previous African understandings had been based on borrowings from European scholarship, new approaches and challenges need to be vigorously pursued by Africans.
The late John Garang de Mabior (2008) opted for a ‘new Sudan’ with its place in Africa and the world, coming out strongly for a unity of Africans south of the Sahara. His African nation concept was to be an ideological weapon to arm the African youth. He asked :-
The late John Garang de Mabior (2008) opted for a ‘new Sudan’ with its place in Africa and the world, coming out strongly for a unity of Africans south of the Sahara. His African nation concept was to be an ideological weapon to arm the African youth. He asked :-
‘Are all parts of continental Africa parts of this African Nation? Arabia has its own Nation incorporated in the Arab League. Do we want in our African Nation people belonging to another Nation? The time has come for the African youth to determine who will lead the national movement’. (Bankie and Mchombu eds 2007, 214)
Prah (2006, 230), in his discursive reflection on nationalism in a substantial work about what he terms ‘The African Nation’, defines this as follows: ‘I speak of and mean nationalism, based on the unity of Africans as a whole – Pan Africanism.’ Prah is of the view that the states in Africa are stillborn and will never be viable. He refers to the work of the Egyptian, Samir Amin, towards the achievement of the Arab nation, which organisational framework is represented by the Arab League. Prah opts for a unity of Africans based on the African Diaspora, plus sub-Saharan Africa. This paper promotes the African Nation based on the black cultural foundation of Africa south of the Sahara, plus the African Diaspora in the east (Gulf States, Arabia, etc) and the African Diaspora in the west (America, Caribbean, Europe, etc).
Having attended the South Sudan Referendum in January 2011 with its large turnout and its 98,83% vote for secession, Independence Day on the 9 July was more of a formality. Neither of these events, in the opinion of the author, changed the overall intent of Khartoum to ‘call the shots’ throughout the old Sudan. Nothing has changed in Khartoum’s tactic to rule by the sword, when unable to manipulate by peace agreement. To think otherwise would be an exercise in self-deception and a break with historical precedent.
In Southern Africa and Africa in general, as well as it’s Diaspora, such is the level of collective amnesia about the borderlands in general that many believed the Independence of South Sudan marked the end of violence in Sudan. State secession is a sort of taboo. It required hard work to explain the Sudan realities. Some persons in the area, who know better, did nothing to dispel expectations of peace and a negotiated settlement in Sudan. Nothing could be further from reality. Indeed informed opinion is that within the coming year war will become more generalised in Sudan than in living memory.
What we have seen since the flag went up in Juba is Khartoum actively assisting the installation of the Transitional Government in Libya; its attempt, with United States assistance, to escape the isolation of sanctions by negotiating it’s removal from the lists of states sponsoring terrorism; attempts to ingratiate itself with the African community so that the ICC warrant is waived and desperate attempts to conclude any peace agreement on Darfur, even by way of internal consultation within the captive community in the Darfur camps.
From the Republic of South Sudan we witnessed the visit of the Isreali Likud Parliamentarian, Danny Danon to Juba and were informed that South Sudan would position it’s Israel embassy in Jerusalem. The South announced the establishment of embassies around the world commensurate with its status as a sovereign nation.
Continuous observation of Western actions on Sudan indicates that although the country enjoys pariah status, none are ready for regime change in Khartoum. US Sudan envoys have waivered on Sudan secession but in the end respected the will of the South to be ‘free’. On security co-operation it appears that the US is working well with Khartoum these days.
In the Sudan theatre all actors, be they from the North, South, East or West, are locked into a struggle without end in sight. There are no illusions. The paper sort to develop the long term implications for Africans at home and abroad, of the ongoing events in Sudan. It is not possible to discern any changing attitudes amongst the African governments vis-à-vis Sudan. Traditionally the policy had been to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. Many came to Juba to pledge their alliance with the new state on 9 July 2011. It may be too early to draw conclusions. The fatigue induced expectations of peace after 9 July 2011 were expectations devoid of foundation and indicate that many have yet to come to terms with Sudanese realities. Seen from the vantage point of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan the course of action might well be to ‘let sleeping dogs continue to sleep whilst we finish the unfinished business’.
Ultimately the majority of the Sudanese will determine their destiny. However in the absence of the input of their experience, the rest of Africa will be much poorer in it’s policy formation. The experience from the Afro-Arab borderlands represents the ‘missing link’ in the logical framework for unity.
Sudan Sensitisation Project (SSP)
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