Monday, March 30, 2009

Mauritania-case study in Borderlands relations


Location: Northwest Africa, latitude 250 & 150, longitude 170 & 70. Bordered by Senegal to the south, Mali to the east, eastern Algeria to the north, West Sahara to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Main geographic features: The country occupies an area of 1,037,000 sq. km, of which 80 per cent is arid and 20 per cent semi-arid. It consists of a plateau, of which the highest point in 915m, and the Adrar Mountains in the north. Mauritania has 700km of Atlantic Coastline and 800 km of shoreline along the Senegal River.

Population: Estimated to be 2 million in 1988.

Ethnic division: Black Africans and Arab-Berbers.

National languages: Hassaniya (Arabic dialect). Pulaar (Fulani), Soninke, Wolof, Bambara and Imraguen.

Official language: Arabic, and as administrative language French.

Religion: 100 per cent Muslim of the Malekite Rite.

Date of Independence: November 28, 1960 from France.

Capital: Nouakchott.

Currency: Ouguia Mauritanie (UM)

Political System: At different times - one-party rule and military rule, plus contested multi-party system. Currently governed by a military junta.

Economy: Agriculture, livestock, fishing and iron-ore.

Literacy rate: 17 per cent.

Main problems: Racial division, slavery, political instability, serious environmental degradation caused by drought and desertification.

The geographical position of Mauritania makes the country a meeting point between Arab and African cultures. The interaction between these two cultures has bred tension within Mauritanian society and thereby generated a political tradition of intolerance and repression in the country.

Historically, Mauritania was inhabited by Black Africans (Diallo, G., 1989). Here was the setting for the most advanced West African civilizations: Ghana and Tekrur (Fulani) from around the 5th to 12th century A.D. Whereas the former evolved into the great empires of Mali and Songhay which survived up to the 17th century, the latter developed into the theocratic Kingdom of Fouta Toro under the leadership of Oumar Tall who led the Fulani struggle against French colonial encroachment during the last decade of the 19th century. The massive influx of Arabs from the north during the 13th – 15th centuries drove settled Black communities south toward the Senegal River, whilst the French colonial encroachment, beginning in the 1850s from the south, had the opposite effect (Gerteiny, 1981). The indigenous population was consequently hemmed in between the two invading forces from the south and north

Since its artificial creation by colonial France in 1960, Mauritania has been a playground for violent ethnic strife, the shameful practices of classical slavery, civilian/military authoritarian rule compounded by serious ecological degradation resulting from prolonged droughts and catastrophic desertification processes.

These four elements seem to have been mutually reinforcing to make Mauritania one of the least politically stable, most underdeveloped and heavily indebted countries among the least developed nations of the Third World. The arbitrary creation of Mauritania by the forcing together of two ethnically distinct and historically antagonistic communities makes any attempt to build a sense of nationhood and national identity a daunting task. This has been exacerbated by an obsessive determination on the part of the Arabs not to share political power with their Black co-citizens. The decolonization formula, as in Sudan, was that power was given to an Arabised minority to hold in check the Black majority. As in Sudan, such a prescription was a formula for tension and conflict. Mauritania and Sudan maintain close relations, based on mutual interests.

Mauritania is comparable with Sudan in that there have been bloody ethno-racial wars between the indigenous Black Africans on the one hand and the immigrating Arabs on the other. The Arabs began to arrive into both countries from the north following the emergence and triumph of Islam in the Middle East from the early 7th century onward. The immigrants have been pressuring the original populations towards the south since that time. This has resulted in chronic north-south ethnic conflicts for political power and economic control within both nations. The Arabs have false assumptions of the superiority of their culture over that of the local, believing that there exists a culture vacuum, waiting to be filled by Islam/Arabization. This has been manifested by the forced Islamisation and Arabisation campaigns orchestrated by successive Arab regimes. As in the case of South Africa and Zimbabwe, the colonial powers left authority firmly in the hands of settlers in both Mauritania and Sudan.

Mauritania and South Africa/Namibia are similar in that:-

  • The color divide between the Whites and Blacks is clear in both places.

The Arabs in Mauritania call themselves Beydane (Arabic for white) as

the Boers referred to themselves as Blanke.

  • As the Boers claimed historical anteriority in South Africa/Namibia, so the

Arabs claim that they were the first inhabitants and the only true citizens

of Mauritania.

  • In both places the settlers used ruthless methods to gain territorial control through the forced displacement of the natives. Native territories are welcome as integral parts of the nations but the inhabitants of these territories are labeled foreigners.

  • The Bantu Education Act of 1953 in South Africa and Arabisation Acts Nos. 65-025 & 65-026 of 1966 were introduced in order to secure cultural hegemony through the education of docile Black servants.

  • Land Act No. 27 of 1953 in South Africa and Land Act No. 83.127 of 1983 in Mauritania were adopted to give settlers access to and control over the most productive parts of the native lands.

  • Banning and confining Blacks to remote villages is a method used by both regimes, and

  • Divide and rule policies are central in the maintenance of settler hegemony. South Africa/Namibia formed and armed Black vigilante militia whereas Mauritania constituted a Haratin (slave) militia group in 1990 (Africa Confidential, 1989; Amnesty International, 1990, numbering 6,000-8,000; Diallo, 1991b).

Mauritania consists of about two million inhabitants; 32 per cent free Black Africans of

Fulani, Soninke and Wolof ethnic origins, 28 per cent white Moors of Arab-Berber origin and 40 percent Black slaves known as Abid or Haratan, which apporoximates some 800.000 persons. The power nexus in Sudan and Mauritania has many similarities, being held by an Arabised minority. The slaves belong to the White Moors, who have monopolized the government in the country since the French colonial regime transferred political power to them in 1960. The White Moors have no intention or interest in abolishing slavery, because this may incite the slaves into challenging Moorish supremacy. Because of the massive sexual exploitation of female slaves by White male masters, the slave population has increased to become the largest single ethnic group in the country. Even though slavery was officially abolished on paper in 1960, 1966 and in 1980, slavery and the slave trade are still a living reality in Mauritania.

In the cultural clashes between the Moorish regime and free Black Africans, slaves have been used by the regime as a buffer and as death squads against Africans. Slaves have been organized into militia groups, which the authorities in Mauritania have used to massacre and deport Blacks to Senegal and Mali. As in South Africa in the Apartheid days, Black on Black violence is orchestrated. Slaves were recruited as soldiers to fight in the West Sahara War from 1976 to 1979.

Enlightened slaves organized themselves and established an emancipation movement called

‘El Hor’, meaning freedom. El Hor’s aim is the total abolition of slavery and the adoption of effective and concrete measures to assist slaves to become economically independent. El Hor was able to sensitize international opinion as to the existence of slavery in the country. In order to prevent a slave rebellion in the country, on the 5th July 1980 slavery was abolished and Islamic Sharia law imposed. By virtue of Sharia law masters have a right to compensation for setting their slaves free. However nothing was done to free the slaves in any meaningful sense of the word. The slave masters are the same white Moors who control the state machinery. Emancipation was aborted. In the Mauritanian slave system masters own slave families through generations, as chattels. The Master’s right comes from God and he has the right to sleep with any of the female members of the slave families he owns. The slave cannot go to the Mosque if the master needs him. If the slave tries to escape he will be tortured. If the master takes his slave to, say, Dakar, Senegal or Bamako, Mali, the slave relationship subsists in Dakar or in Bamako. The author recalls, in his youth, in Banjul, Gambia going to shops owned by Mauritanians, the equivalent of Portuguese shops in Namibia, and seeing Black Mauritanians doing the lifting and carrying, overseen by their White Moorish slave owning masters.

The question is asked, why is the international community largely silent about slavery in Mauritania ? According to the Mauritanian, Garba Diallo, this is due to :-

  • ‘ There is little inter-African communication on cultural or political issues. Otherwise, Africans would have realized that the slaveholders consider all Blacks to be either tamed or potential slaves. African complicity/silence in the OAU/AU has been purchased by Arabs, at the expense of those Africans living in the Afro-Arab Borderlands.

  • This problem is a part of the Afro-Arab cultural divide, which ranges from the Sudan on the Red Sea to Mauritania on the Atlantic Coast. This conflict zone has racial origins which have been evident for more than a thousand years. Both African and Arab leaders prefer not to talk about this humiliating and deadly north-south conflict within the south, because this would suggest a lack of solidarity within the Third World. The traditional ‘imperialist North versus exploited poor South’ attitude in international relations could not be sustained.

  • The legacy of trans-Atlantic slavery has left a collective and eternal guilt in the European mind, which makes it difficult for European nations to take a moral stand on condemning Arab slavery in Mauritania.

  • Most European writers who have been to Mauritania belong to the romantics who worship the magic of the desert and its rough and violent social order. This love for the desert and its feudal system helps to preserve the evil system in its racist form .

B.F.Bankie, former Researcher at the Kush Institution, Juba, South Sudan.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

N’COBRA: Open Letter to First Lady Michelle Obama

Dear Mrs. Obama:

It is with highest homage and admiration to you that I write this letter. I am the Northeast Regional Representative, and Board Member, for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. The Reparations Movement, of which N’COBRA is a member, implores you to start a national dialogue on a reparations accord for Blacks in America. This national dialog must be firmly rooted in the historical context of the “trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the “holocaust” of African enslavement in the United States which is anchored in the destruction of life, culture, and human possibilities.

Our ancestors were terrorized by injustices codified in the Constitution of the United States by America’s founding fathers and carried out by religious organizations, corporations, and units of government. Left unchanged, This collaborative will continue in perpetuity impacting African-Americans’ capacity to develop all of their human possibilities if reparations are not paid for the damage done.

Chattel enslavement, and the de facto and de jure racism that have grown from it, was not that long ago as opponents of truth and justice would lead the voting public to believe. As a distinct people in America, African-Americans, with a pre-determined social, economic and political status, have been “free” for only 144 years (1865-2009). This also means that 100 years of our so-called freedom (1865-1965) were spent trying to repair ourselves and seeking recognition as humans.

Our ancestors were “freed” dead broke, without brick, bread, or thread, despite, the promises made, while the enslavers were compensated for the lost of their chattel. Still, today, 44 years later, even with the election of your husband as the President of the United States of America, African-Americans are still not fully recognized.

Therefore, a true national dialogue on a reparations accord for Blacks in America is appropriate within this founding context of America. Reparations are the cross-road solution to these historical injustices and our current undeveloped human capital. This past due debt, left unpaid, will forever contradict the U.S. Constitution you know so well, as well as the Holy Bible you held and where your husband placed his hand to take the Presidential Oath of Office.

Congress passed, and President Obama signed, a stimulus bill to save large financial institutions and corporate America, of which significant amounts were used to pay bonuses to the very corporate executives under whose watch the current economic crisis has deteriorated. Now is the time for Congress and the President to come up with a stimulus check to pay for the damage done to Blacks in America.

There is no statute of limitations for this moral and economic debt owed. This is why America should participate in the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Durban Review being held in Geneva Switzerland next month.

I ask that you remind the President, in the ways only you can, that he has the wherewithal to make real the God-given words of our beloved servant-leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, spoken boldly in 1963, on the steps of our nation’s Capitol, in his “I Have a Dream” speech,

“So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Dr. King’s 1963 speech is indelible as truth is,

“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.”

So I write this letter openly to remind the First Family that a reparations accord would stimulate America’s economy and give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. And I close this letter with the reminder of the “fierce urgency of now.” Dr. King said it this way,

“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism...Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.”

Thank you for your fidelity. It is with my fervent faith that I trust you will realize that God brought you to the White House, as First Lady, for such a time as this, to help with, amongst other things, the dialogue on a reparations accord and support for House Bill H.R. 40, sponsored by the Honorable Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

For our ancestors and our descendents,

Minister Ari S. Merretazon, M.S.CED
Northeast Regional Representative
Board Member, N’COBRA

Monday, March 23, 2009

UNDERSTANDING THE SUDAN - Understanding Museveni, An Unusual African

Dear Kwasi


Trusting this finds you in good spirits.

Few Africans, outside of east Africa have much understanding of the Sudan
issues. I met last week the Special Advisor to the Namibia Foreign
Minister/President, to discuss Sudan. I noted that his was the standard
OAU/AU view, which is determined by the geo-political considerations
of east Africa. He knew little, nor cared much in my view, about the situation
of Darfurians, yet he partook in the Abuja Talks on peace for Darfur.

It is due to this type of remote concern for Africans on the ground which
lead to the failure of the Abuja Talks and all succeeding attempts to
bring peace to Darfur. Whereas the concerns of the Darfurians should, for
Africans, determine if talks are on or off. This Ambassador was a
member of Kofi Annan’s kitcken cabinet.

I will continue to send you insightful material on Sudan. Be aware
that Ben Larden is being shifted out of Pakistan to Somalia. He
was in Sudan before he went to Afghanistan. Bashir is reverting to
Islamic fundamentalism, which was his policy when he seized power,
but he later became more moderate, when he kicked Turabi out
as his principal advisor.

Please place the attachment on Museveni, as a special feature

Best regards

B.F.Bankie, former Researcher, Kush Institution, Juba, South Sudan.
He now resides in Windhoek, Namibia

Ugandan Yuweri Museveni, not the Usual Black African

By Steve Paterno

May 8, 2008 — President Yuweri Museveni of Uganda is arguably among the very few from the African leaders who are able to deal squarely with the Arabs, especially those Arabs in Khartoum (Sudan).

Museveni places the Arab manufactured war in Sudan into its proper context. He seems to understand the potential consequences of that war to the entire region better than most regional leaders.

In addressing the issue of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group which is long been supported from Sudan, Museveni explains in a clear tone of voice that for the last two decades since the Uganda government is fighting with the rebel, it is in fact “fighting with the Khartoum government.” He goes on to warn the Arab regime in Khartoum that the regime has just recently “discovered that we were not the usual Black Africans. If you create problems for us we create more problems for you.”

The Arabs’ march from Arabian Peninsular with the intention of conquering not just Africa but the entire world started in the 7th century. Matter of fact, the conquering Arabs did not just march but sprinted fast through the desert and in the process, plundering, killing, converting, enslaving, conquering and eventually ruling whoever is on the way. All the areas under their sphere of control including the Sudan are placed under Arab Islamic rule.

Strategically enough, the Sudan has become springboard for the Arabs to spread their project of Arabization and Islamization south of equator and proceed all the way deep into Southern Africa. However, for centuries, the people of South Sudan put a hold on their advancement by strongly resisting against it. For centuries, the people of South Sudan keeps reminding the African south of equator that the people of South Sudan are fighting the war of all those Africans south of equator, and for centuries, the people of South Sudan are soliciting the support of the African south of equator to help in the resistance against the advancement of Arabs southward.

In their part, the Arabs use all available options at their disposal to press with their agendas of Arabization and Islamization and forcefully move south across the equator. One of such options is that the Arabs use the Africans to do the work for them. They install and sponsor puppet African leaders to speak or act on behalf of the Arabs. They create several armed groups. In South Sudan those armed groups are infamously referred to as militias. Some of the groups, the foreign ones, become rebels or terrorists, causing havoc throughout the region. Among the foreign groups at disposal of the Arabs of Khartoum’s is the brutal LRA of Uganda.

The case of LRA is just among the most interesting ones, given the twist it has recently taken. For some obvious reasons, the officials at the government of South Sudan (GOSS), inherited and adopted the LRA and all its problems. Just at a critical moment at LRA’s history when the LRA is pushed outside Uganda; its sanctuaries in the South Sudan were denied; its logistic from Khartoum was cut off; and the whole international community was about to pound on its members with all means possible including legal; then the misguided officials of the newly created GOSS, invited the LRA to stay. A poorly contemplated peace talks was proposed and organized. The LRA, are then supplied with cash money, food, and other necessary logistics just as Khartoum used to do. Specially designated areas are demarcated to the LRA combatants as their newly found sanctuaries. In short, the GOSS, which is representing the people of SouthSudan, becomes the host of the LRA just as Khartoum was the host of LRA. And the LRA takes advantage of the situation to inflict even more harms to the suffering population of South Sudan, spread beyond their area of control, and resurge in numbers and recruitments—posing more threats than ever before in its history.

Such a twist of events will leave many to wonder. Nevertheless, it is becoming more obvious that President Museveni is the only lone voice and fighter against the Arabs of Khartoum and those who act on their behalf. The GOSS, which Museveni came to its rescue, seems to have abandoned him already in this fight. However, there is still hope for the suffering people of South Sudan that Museveni still stands with them. Museveni made that point clear when he sympathetically states, “nevertheless, the government of Uganda and her people are standing firm with the people of Southern Sudan who suffered so much from LRA atrocities and we the government of Uganda have the means to solve some of these problems posed by the LRA.” One will guess, it will not be too much for the suffering people of South Sudan to ask for the help of their neighbor, Uganda, “to solve some of these problems posed by the LRA” and partly cause by their government, the GOSS. Since their government, the GOSS or is it the Ghost, fails them, Museveni should hear the request of the suffering people of South Sudan for you are “not the usual Black African!”

Steve Paterno is the author of The Rev. Fr. Saturnino Lohure, A Romain Catholic Priest Turned Rebel. He can be reached at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


South Sudan Cross-Road: UNITY OR SEPARATION?

BY: An authentic SPLM/government bureaucrat

FEB: 17/2009, SSN;

1. Introduction

By 2011, the people of South Sudan (SS) will go to the ballot box to vote between unity and separation. The time frame will be worked out by the National Elections Commission.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has listed four principles that give the SS people options to make choice between Unity or Separation. One of these principles states that:

“The people of South Sudan have the right to Self-determination, inter alia, through a referendum to determine their future status.” (Part A. Agreed Principles, 1.3, p2. CPA, 2005)

Self-determination (SD) is a political Human Right for the oppressed people in the world. East Timor, Georgia and Eritrea, to mention few countries, are among the recent countries that benefited from this right. They stood always for one thing – Separation, right from day one to the end. In the case of South Sudan, it is different as we will see below. We are on the cross-road situation created by our leadership. That is why in SS we are divided and seriously debating over Unity or Separation (to cont…below).

The second important principle gives the SS people the time frame stating that:

“At the end of the six (6) years Interim period there shall be an internationally monitored referendum organized jointly by the GOS and the SPLM/A, for the people of South Sudan to: confirm the unity of the Sudan by voting to adopt the system of Government established under the Peace Agreement; or to vote for secession.”. (Sec. 2.5, p8. CPA, 2005).”

The people of SS, no doubt, are eagerly looking forward to that day to cast their ballot papers into one of the two boxes labeled: Unity or Separation. It is assumed that the conduct of voting will be free, fair and transparent.

If the majority of the SS people voted for Separation, then the South would be declared independent as from that day onward. However, if the majority of the SS people voted for Unity, then the SS will remain part of the Greater Sudan.

What happens when SS people voted for Unity?

In the case SS people voted for Unity, the CPA has provided the third and fourth principles to protect the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) and all its Political Institutions from being affected. The third principle states that:

“The unity of the Sudan, based on the free will of its people, democratic governance, accountability, equality, respect, and justice for all the citizens of the Sudan, is and shall be the priority of the parties and that it is possible to redress the grievances of the people of the South Sudan and to meet their aspirations within such a framework.” (Part A: Agreed principles 1.1 p2. CPA, 2005)

This principle lays a solid foundation for Unity if implemented properly. It makes Unity attractive to the people of SS and all the other marginalized Sudanese people. As a matter of fact this principle should be extended to cover all the marginalized regions of Sudan including Darfur, Southern Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains, and Eastern Region (Kasala), to (cont…below).

The fourth principle seems to be even more attractive to Unity and can serve as the pivotal for Unity which states that:

“The people of South Sudan have the right to control and govern affairs in their region and participate equitably in the National Government.” (Part A. Agreed Principles. Sec 1.2. P2. CPA, 2005)

This principle confirms the present set up of the Government status of the SS within the Greater Sudan. Under Unity, Juba continues to enjoy its Parliament, Government, Security, judiciary and the Government Ministries. At the same time the SS people continue to elect members of National Assembly and ministers appointed to GoNU Government in Khartoum. The oil revenue continues to be shared.

Having read several articles in the internet written by SS intellectuals for and against Unity, I decided to write this article with the hope that it provokes more thinking and fruitful discussions. In particular, the Observer intends to challenge the SS intellectuals, even Northerners, to discuss this topic without emotions. This is absolutely necessary for the enlightenment of our people at the grassroots so that they vote wisely in 2011.

This article covers the following sections: section one is the introduction of the four CPA principles in relation to Unity; section two is the brief history of how the SS people wrestled with Khartoum on the question of Federal System for the Sudan; section three addresses the Vision of our leader Dr. John Garang- the New Sudan as opposed to old Sudan; section four attempts to provide some answers to the questions: “Why Separation? Why Unity? Section five is the way forward and section six is the conclusion.

2. Brief History of Sudan

Historically, South Sudan has been requesting for Federal system with Khartoum instead of Separation. In 1958, one of the Southern members of Parliament, provoked by a Northern colleague in the Parliament said, “if South Sudan had indeed wanted to break away from the North, no human being on earth would have stopped it.” He had to say this when his colleague accused the Southerners of trying to break away from the North, as the Southerners insisted on Federal system in Sudan.

Before that incident and after, chances for SS to separate or at least to request for separation from Khartoum had come and gone. There was the popular Juba Conference June 1947 when the SS people could have told the British in no uncertain terms to separate from Khartoum. They did not. Instead they asked for Federal system which was played down later on by Khartoum. The Southern representatives were manipulated by Khartoum representatives who told them to suspend their demand until the Sudan had obtained independence from the British. Khartoum later on rejected the Federal idea even before the Independence Day. However, this was followed by the revolt of the Torit Peace Corps in August 1955. The Torit revolt sent a signal to Khartoum to the possible delay of the Independence which Khartoum would not stomach. So Khartoum once again accepted the Federal idea for the Sudan. In December 1955, in the Parliament in Khartoum, the Southerners agreed to sign a document for Federal Sudan just before the Independence (January 1956). Of course it was never implemented. When the Southerners pressed hard for the implementation of the Federal Sudan, in 1958, Khartoum, at night, handed over the Government to the Army.

Even as late as the 1965 Round Table Conference in Khartoum, the Southerners settled for Federation with Khartoum instead of going straight for Separation. This decision was painfully taken after the massacre of thousands of Southerners in Juba and Wau in August 1965 by Khartoum Government. In 1972 the Southerners willingly settled for Local Autonomy Government without even attempting to mention the word Separation to Nimeri. The point I am making here is that the Southerners, at any time in history, were never shown to be separatists. Khartoum promises were always empty and as a result the SS people were left with no option except to resort to armed struggle. Thus the offer of Government of Local Autonomy of 1972 and the offer of the self-determination of 2005 resulted from two bitter civil wars between Khartoum and the South. It has been the political game played by Khartoum Government for fifty years.

Today our stand is as polarized as ever. We are divided right from the top leadership of the GoSS Government down to the messengers. Dr. John Garang, our wise leader, was the first to strongly oppose Separation. As a result Mr. Gai Tut and Mr. Abdalla Chol had to loose their lives because of their insistence to fight for Separation. Today we are on the cross-road situation because we are not sure and the leadership is not sure of what we want. Why are we not sure? (see below).

3. The Vision of Dr. John Garang

During the period of SPLM/A armed struggle (1983-2005) until the abortive coup of 1991 the word Separation was a crime, punishable by death as stated above. Since that time onward nobody else talked openly about the word separation. Of course, with time, the sense of humor later on developed among the SPLM leadership which resulted in the creation of the terms: Unionist and Separatist. Dr. John Garang was labeled as a Unionist together with those who agreed with him. Others were labeled as Separatists.

What was the Vision of Dr. John Garang in the Movement?

The Vision of Dr. Garang can be summarized in the following words:

The struggle was against the old Sudan that was run by traditional Sectarian leaders of Khartoum, who used to marginalize other parts of the country such as South Sudan, Western Sudan, South Blue Nile, Eastern Kassala and Nuba Mountains. The old Sudan had to be destroyed and replaced by New Democratic Sudan where all the citizens are equal, enjoy freedom of worship, equal opportunity, equal development, respect for Human Rights and justice for all.

This is the vision of Dr. John Garang, the leader of SPLM/A supported by most of his commanders but opposed by others. Because of this powerful Vision of New Sudan, majority of the Nuba people, South Blue Nile, Kassala and now Darfur plus those in the cities supported the SPLM/A and indeed some of them joined the war in the bush because of that Vision.

Over six million Sudanese people came to Khartoum Airport to welcome Dr. John Garang in July 2005. They supported Garang´s Vision of New Sudan.

In 1998 Garang visited Egypt where he convinced President Hussni Mubarak and his Government that he was a Unionist, not a Separatist. Garang believed in a New Democratic Sudan with modern values as opposed to the old despotic Sudan. He wanted to extend the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) model to the other regions as the best solution of their political problems. He wanted to establish the New Democratic Sudan in Khartoum whereby all the five regions of Sudan converge to form a truly strong Federal Government. The Constitution of this Federal Government would be worked out by the elected Parliament in Khartoum. Unfortunately, he did not live to follow his vision through.

I am therefore, wondering which Vision of Garang do we, the leaders of SPLM/A, claim we will always follow and implement? Are we still holding to the humor of Unionists vs. Separatists?

It is clear that the GoSS leaders are indecisive on this point. This is why today they are for Unity and the next day, they are for Separation. No wonder the SS people are indeed in dilemma - cross-road.

4. Why Separation?

There are many reasons why SS people may vote for Separation and yet as it will be seen below, Separation may not be the best choice because that is what Khartoum wants to happen so that they continue with Old Sudan policies of marginalization, oppression and intimidation of the rest of the other regions.

However, having said this, the following are some of the reasons which can possibly be used by the SS people to vote for Separation:

· The people of the South have neither forgiven nor forgotten the past when during the Turco-Egyptian rule in Sudan (1820-81) and during the Mahadiya/Khalifa Reign (1881-98) the Northerners looked at the South as a zone for exploitation of natural resources and slaves. Most Southerners still believe that this attitude of Northerners has not changed. For this reason they prefer Separation more than Unity.

· Southerners are afraid to unite with the Northerners because they fear that they may lose their cultures and languages to be replaced by Arab cultures and the Arabic language.

· The Northerners always dominate the Government in Khartoum. As such they always marginalize the other regions politically and economically, including the South. Unity will therefore, put the South at disadvantage.

· Economically, the Governments in Khartoum are interested in developing the North only while keeping the other parts of Sudan backward for their own exploitation.

· The Southerners, from the beginning strongly opposed the introduction of Sharia Law into the country because it was crafted by NIF as a political weapon to isolate the majority of the Sudanese people from participating in the Government. In future, Unity might bring Sharia Law to be imposed on the South Sudan.

5. Why Unity?

a) We all know and agree that the history of Sudan is very dark; nobody likes it and nobody will want to return to it except those few who prosper out of it. But we also know and agree that we have come a long way out of the darkness of our history and the bright future of the Sudan is just around the corner where the Vision of Dr. John Garang – the New Sudan, is going to be implemented because with Unity Khartoum is left with no option except to implement the Vision. And Southerners should be part of that New Sudan together with the marginalized regions.

b) Today we are free people and strong enough to fight anybody who dares to introduce slavery to our community. Together with the other marginalized areas of Sudan, we are liberated and together we can build a better New Sudan free from slavery, exploitation, oppression, justice for all and Law and order. We in the South Sudan should not fear anybody at all except God. But we should be prepared to work hard and compete effectively with others. That is what Dr. John Garang stood for and that is what he meant by New Sudan.

c) Since the British rule until Independence, the people of the South Sudan always treat the North as one people bound by Islam, Arabic Language and culture with one purpose to exploit the SS for their own good. Little did the people of the South know that among the Northerners there are also a lot of differences in culture, languages, politics, marginalization and racial discrimination? Is it not proper that the Southerners together with the other marginalized brothers in the North continue to fight the Khartoum oppressors politically and economically? Together we shall create and build the New Sudan.

d) The people of SS loose nothing to vote for Unity. On the contrary, they should benefit more from Unity. For example:

· If the people of SS voted for unity, they will still have the “Right to control and govern affairs in their region and participate equitably in the National Government.” (see the third and fourth principles above). This is exactly the federal system the people of the South have been fighting for since 1947.

· We are part of Greater Sudan, the largest in Africa and the richest in natural resources, agriculture and animal production, wildlife, water resources, oil, iron ore, zinc, manganese, gold, uranium, etc. We are a gifted country and we should thank God for all of this. Why should we not share these riches with the other marginalized Sudanese Communities?

· We are landlocked region with economic potential, we need a port of our own and that is Port Sudan not Mombasa. We can only use Mombasa as supplement to Port Sudan; otherwise, we will be slaves to Kenya. Time will come when the honey moon is over and then Kenya will dictate on us on their facilities of their harbor.

e) The right to self-determination should not be treated as if it were a private property of the South Sudan. Darfur is now asking for the right of self-determination or even separation and soon the rest may follow. It is clear that the situation in Sudan has changed greatly. In the Anyanya 1 war of 17 years (1955–72), Khartoum used Islam to rally the African Muslims in the North to fight the people of the South. Today the equation has changed greatly. Khartoum strategy today is neither Islam nor Arab Culture. It is something else! The Northern black Muslims including Darfur are now legitimate targets. These tactics of Khartoum will not end until all the Sudanese people are indeed liberated. Breaking away from Khartoum will not solve the problem because Khartoum will continue to manipulate the rest of the regions, once again, to destabilize the South or any other region. If we vote for unity, we will play leading role of the five marginalized regions and indeed build the new Sudan that our great leader John Garang has been dreaming about and therefore, change Sudan into a better prosperous place instead of leaving it to the handful of people in Khartoum.

f) As a matter of fact the solution to all the political problems in Sudan lies in the application of the CPA model to all the five regions. Every region has the right to run their affairs with little interference from Khartoum.

6. The Way Forward?

There is a serious dilemma, a cross-road situation, that the people of South Sudan (the grass-root) are facing and they definitely need guidance from the leadership with one voice. The question they usually ask is what is the way forward? Should they vote for Unity or Separation?

The analysis above has shown that the Southerners should Vote for Unity. The New Sudan we have fought for by losing two million Southerners is still far from being achieved. The Old Sudan is very active in its operations and threatens the very existence of the New Sudan. As soon as the Southerners voted for Separation in 2011 and withdraw from Khartoum National Parliament, the GoNU, other National Institutions, Civil Societies, etc, the New Sudan concept will be over. Once the “troublesome” Southerners are out from Khartoum and the other towns of the North, the enemies of New Sudan will not waste time but celebrate and clean up the supporters of the New Sudan in Khartoum and elsewhere in the Northern towns. The GoSS in Juba will have more political, socioeconomic, security problems than they have ever seen in their lives. There will be no peace in South Sudan. Khartoum will mobilize our disappointed supporters to destabilize the South forever.

So, to avoid going back to square one; let us fight for our rights and dignity within the United Sudan. Our fore fathers did it before and we have done it twice in our lifetime. We will do it again if necessary, this time politically in Khartoum together with the other marginalized people. At this time, in history, we are not alone, we are five marginalized regions: the South Sudan, the Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains, Kassala and Darfur.

We all converge in Khartoum and work together to create and build the New Sudan that Dr. John Garang had visualized.

This is the New Sudan, the powerful Democratic and free Sudan that we are all dreaming of to happen in the ten, twenty, thirty or fifty years to come. This is the Sudan around the corner with bright and better future for our posterity/children. So, let us Go and Vote for Unity. Do not be afraid for we lose nothing. The reverse is indeed darkness and isolation.

6. Conclusion

The Sudan has been slowly undergoing changes from the Old toward the New Sudan and it will never be the same again. The SS people should remember that they have been part of these changes throughout. They have endured sufferings for too long and have spilt too much blood on this land called THE SUDAN. The sufferings of the marginalized and the blood of the two million Southerners shall not be in vain but override separation and replace Old Sudan with the New Democratic Sudan. And we are part of that New Sudan. So let us VOTE for Unity!! Let us VOTE for New Sudan.

SPLM Woyeee! New Sudan Woyeee! GoSS Woyeee!

(Name withheld on request)

Envoy in Europe

1. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). 2005.
2. Yosa Wawa. The Southern Sudanese Pursuits of Self-Determination: Documents in Political History. 2005.
3. PM Holt & MW Daly. The History of the Sudan From the Coming of Islam to the Present Day.


Monday, March 16, 2009



Due to its denigration of African culture Arabia, since it’s incursion into Africa, has seen the continent as a civilization vacuum waiting to be filled by Arab culture and Islam.

The painful fact is that it was only with the initiation of the current peace process between Khartoum, in central Sudan and Juba in south Sudan and the international focus on the genocide in Darfur, that it became apparent to the public at large, that from Mauritania on the Atlantic coast, moving eastwards to Sudan on the Red Sea, despite careful concealment, that a system of apartheid was in operation in the Afro-Arab Borderlands, where Africa meets Arabia, in places such as Mali and Niger, which border on southern Algeria and southern Libya.

The potential for fighting arising from such a situation has manifested itself already in parts of Sudan, in Niger and in the on-going conflicts in the Sahel, involving groups such as the Touaregs in Mali and Niger. Concerned persons such as Prof Helmi Sharawy of the
Arab Research Centre for Arab-African Studies and Documentation (ARAASD ) in Cairo, Egypt and Prof Kwesi Prah of the Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society (CASAS) in Cape Town, as well as Prof Dani Nabudere of the Marcus Garvey Pan-African Institute (MPAI ) in Mbale in Uganda, have been working towards the creation of a security mechanism to prevent conflict, by way of dialogue. Meetings have taken place between progressive Arabs and progressive Africans to find common ground and to implement restorative justice, by way of dispute resolution strategies, in a situation of historical opposition and mistrust. The former Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Prof Alfa Konare convened such a meeting of scholars in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia towards the formulation of ‘A Strategic Geopolitical Vision of Afro-Arab Relations’ from 11-12th May 2004 at the headquarters of the AU, in order to determine the various views and to look at potential solutions, by way of a civilization dialogue. It is all too apparent that some would wish to intensify the divisions and exploit them. Such forces have had the upper hand in the past. Only protracted, laboured, internal solutions, within the area, will help in the long term.

As the deep rooted historical problems of the Borderlands receive better understanding, well meaning people of peace will be obliged to find ways and means to handle an area of Pan-African affairs, where black Africans, due to their geopolitical weaknesses, have been in denial since self government came about in Africa in the mid-1950s. Indeed these skewered relations date back a millennia, from the initial interaction between the two peoples. It was only with the Darfur issue emerging as a genocide, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, that the organization for Pan-African unity, formerly called the Organization for African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union (AU), concerned itself with developments in the Borderlands. Formerly these were off-limits. During the long years of war in south Sudan starting in 1955, the fighting there was not a matter of concern for the Pan-African body. The south Sudan conflict was said to be an Arab issue, for decision by the Arab League only. Such a view was supported by Libya.

Paradoxically, as it may appear, it was the Republican Administration of George Bush in the USA, which championed the cause of the Darfuri against the genocide and pushed the international community to conclude the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between Khartoum and Juba. History will draw its own conclusions as to why it was Bush and not the previous Clinton Democrat Administration which opted for peace in South Sudan. The Democrats did nothing to stop the war in South Sudan or to decisively intervene in the Sudan issue. They are remembered for bombing a civilian target in Khartoum, which was a pharmaceutical factory. They failed to concern themselves with the lives of the marginalized millions living in the Borderlands and were part of the cover-up. The last Democrat Administration in the USA saw central Africa, the Great Lakes and particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in flames. The Democrats were part of the problem, not part of the solution. This might have been the most murderous period in the self-government era in this area of Africa. The policies in this area of the incoming Obama Administration have yet to receive clarity.

On the 22nd February 2003 the Drammeh Institute in New York and CASAS convened the Conference on Arab-led Slavery of Africans in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was attended by scholars from around the world, especially from Sudan and Mauritania. Conference stated that after centuries of silence and non-expression, it was time to speak out on the inequities visited against Africans in their relations with Arabs. It recognized the need to overcome collective amnesia and the need for research on African interaction with Arabs, the Ottomans and the Turks, all of whom played a key role in making north Africa what it is today. Conference promoted closer relations with the eastern Diaspora in Arabia, the Gulf states and points eastwards. It censored the implementation of genocide in Sudan and charged Arab societies with the ethnocide of African people through forced cultural Arabization processes over a millennia. Finally the conference called for the institution of a civilization dialogue between the Arab and African people.

Such a dialogue needs to take place between those living in the Borderlands, such as in Mauritania and in Sudan, with those in that area who profess to be Arabs. Some might assume that, for example, Afro-Brazilians, could conduct such a dialogue with the Arabs of the area. This would not be helpful. Neither would it assist if, for example, South Africans dialogued with Arabs. Africans in general, as has been said, have been in denial on these issues, and some still are. It is those who have felt the effects of the expansionist hegemony over a millennia, not the African Union, who can best begin a process of possible reconciliation, as seen in southern Africa.

Such a dialogue will, as and when initiated in an organized fashion, be fraught with difficulties and take centuries to have effect. The current Government of National Unity
(GONU) in Khartoum, Sudan, illustrates that the attempt at cohabitation of the National Islamic Front (NIF)/National Congress Party (NCP) of Omar el Bashir in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Juba, South Sudan, has been anything but harmonious. The relationship has been characterized by deceit, lies and betrayal by Khartoum from day one.

Finally, the civilization dialogue between the African and the Arab must be conducted on a basis of strict equality and mutual respect. Such a dialogue, once its existence is formerly established, will take place in both formal and informal settings, where people meet formally and informally. It will need to be worked towards deliberately and continuously. At the moment Arab superiority to the African is a given, both in the Arab world and internationally. This explains China’s position on the Sudan issue, where due to economic interests, China is the principal defender of the Khartoum government and its main supplier of weapons. Another surprisingly vocal supporter of Bashir and Khartoum has been Tabor Mbeki.

The current international positioning for and against Khartoum, in the issue by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of the Writ against President Bashir of Sudan, needs to be carefully scrutinized and followed. These manoeuvres do not just reflect support for a despot, but relate to initial positioning on the broad issue of Afro-Arab future relations and their global implication. What happens in Sudan today has application, for example, in Mauritania and the rest of the Afro-Arab Borderlands tomorrow. The domination of Arabs in this area was in the past a ‘given ‘ in the geo-political discourse. The facts of the area were difficult to locate ( the ratio of Arab to African in Sudan is concealed by the government of Sudan – the same applies in the rest of the Borderlands, right across to Mauritania ) and the area was not subject to analysis in the international media, being ‘off-limits ‘ for discussion in the west and east, in so-called ‘traditional diplomacy’. The well being of the area was determined by the neo-colonial arrangements left by the departing external actors, who monopolized developments in the area according to their own interests. The first generation of post-colonial leaders, such as Sekou Toure and Modibo Keita abided by these rules and did not seek to interfere with the colonial dispensation in the Borderlands.

What broke the mould was the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of South Sudan, lead by Dr John Garang de Mabior, fighting on behalf of all the marginalized people of Sudan, including the Darfuri, the Beja of the east, the Nubians in the north of the country and others. The SPLA together with the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) forced
Khartoum to sign the CPA. This changed the course of history and the strategic balance in the Borderlands, from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, creating the opportunity to open the Borderlands to public scrutiny - an area which had been shut off from view. This led to the Darfur ‘rebellion’ and the further ramifications which are underway. The significance of the CPA, which cost three millon+ lives and long years of war, should be compared with the implications of the battle of Cuito Cunavale in Angola for Southern Africa. In the instance of the CPA the military struggles took longer due to international marginalization and indifference to the loss of African lives and was undertaken by Africans. In the international relations of the period 1950s-2005 the events in South Sudan did not feature in the media. The implications of this are that the resolution of issues such as Darfur and the Borderlands in general will have to be done by African actors, not by external players. Until Africans are strong enough the area, including Somalia, will remain war prone. Indeed this lesson should have been long learnt in the Congo basin. All these mean that the Pan-African body, the AU alone, has to be up to the historical responsibilities it faces. Gone are the days of external solutions. There is no other option to peaceful co-existence, combined with a preparedness to met force with force.

B.F.Bankie, former Researcher, Kush Institution, Juba, South Sudan

The African Nation?


Is there an African nation? Where is it? Are there African nations? If so, where are they?
I submit that the African nation does not exist and has never existed. There is the African race, but it is not a nation. There are many African nations, but these are what we have learned to defame by calling them tribes. These so-called tribes were the true nations in pre-colonial Africa. What nowadays are called African nations, are not nations at all; each is just a country under the jurisdiction of a state. It is fashionable to call them nation-states, but that is at best a courtesy.

Why is it important to determine whether or not Black Africa is a nation? Pretending that Black Africa is a nation when it is not would be as delusional as leaning on a walking stick without noticing that it is made of ice. When things get warm the ice will melt and you’ll be leaning on air. Alternatively, if a builder lacks cement blocks and, in desperation decides to call heaps of beach sand by the name cement blocks, he will soon find that he can’t lay the heaps course on course like he could actual blocks. For lack of the factors that make a population cohere into a nation, the African nation, being a pseudo nation, would disintegrate under pressure, just like an ice stick in warm weather. For example, suppose you had an army of the so-called African nation. And half your army were Black Muslims each of whom said in his heart: “I am a Muslim and I worship Allah and I follow the way of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I have no relationship with you, except that your skin is black. The lightest Arab is closer to me than you. If there were to be war between Muslims of any shade of color and the darkest of black people, I will be on the side of Muslims.” If a Black African army is filled with such people, what chance has it of defending Black Africa from the Arabs? Such is the danger of fashionably pretending that there is an African nation when, in fact, it doesn’t yet exist. We should all take to heart Nyerere’s warning: “It is no part of transforming dream into reality to pretend that things are not what they are.” –[Nyerere, “Dilemma of the Pan-Africanist” in Langley ed., Ideologies, .p. 347]

Now back to the question: Is Africa a nation? In attempting to answer this question scientifically, rather than sentimentally, we would be helped by starting from the following statements from three different disciplines: Cultural anthropology, Historiography and Biology.

Lets hear first from cultural anthropology through Cheikh Anta Diop:

“The cultural identity of a people [is] centered on three components—linguistic, historical, and psychic.”
--Diop, in Great African Thinkers, p. 268

Also according to Diop, the psychic factor is the domain of poets, singers, storytellers. Note the example of the brothers Grimm who, by collecting German folk tales in their Grimm’s Fairy Tales, laid the psychic foundation of German national identity; also note the role of the epic Kalevala in fostering national identity in Finland; also the role of the Mahabharata epic in fostering Indian national consciousness, and the role of the William Tell legend in the national identity of Switzerland. Similarly, the Old Testament has been an indispensable anchor for Jewish identity; for the Japanese, the Nihon gi or Chronicles of Japan, which was compiled in 720 AD and the Kojiki or Records of Ancient Matters, which was compiled in 712 AD, with their collections of myths, legends, historical accounts, songs, customs, divination and magical practices of ancient Japan, have provided the psychic bedrock of Japanese national identity.

Let’s next hear from historiography through Jaques Barzun:

“What makes a nation? A large part of the answer to that question is: common historical memories; . . . a common language, a core of historical memories with heroes and villains; . . .a nation is forged into unity by successive wars and the passage of time. . . . It takes a national war to weld the parts together by giving individuals and groups memories of a struggle in common. Needless to add, nationalism can arise only when a nation in this full sense has come into being.”
–[Jacques Barzun, Dawn to Decadence, pp. 775, 776,695, 435

Finally, let’s hear from ethology, the biological science of animal behavior, through Robert Ardrey:

“A biological nation is a social group …which holds as an exclusive possession a continuous area of space, which isolates itself from others of its kind through outward antagonism, and which through joint defense of its social territory achieves leadership, co-operation and a capacity for concerted action. It does not matter too much whether such a nation be composed of twenty-five individuals or of two hundred and fifty million. It does not matter too much whether we are considering the true lemur, the howling monkey, the smooth-billed ani, the Bushman band, the Greek city-state, or the United States of America. The social principle remains the same.
--Robert Ardrey, The Territorial Imperative, pp. 210-211

What Diop, Robert Ardrey, and Jacques Barzun together tell us is that a nation is made by shared language, historical memory of struggles carried out together, and a shared body of myths, legends, epics, songs etc., and demonstrates it nationhood by outward antagonism and the defense of its common territory.

It doesn’t take much reflection to grasp the fact that by these criteria, there is no African nation as yet, and there never has been. The African nation, though talked about in some Pan-Africanist circles, remains only an aspiration. The languages are diverse; there is no shared body of myths, legends, epics, songs etc; and the historical consciousness has never been fostered.
Unsurprisingly, we do not behave like a nation. We do not defend our joint territory. If there was an African nation already in existence today, it would have manifested its nationhood by collectively defending the portions of the common Black African territory that have been under attack by Arabs for the past half century, as in Mauritania and Sudan. In particular, an all-Black-African army would have gone to defend the people of Darfur from Arab attack since the ethnic cleansing began there. But the rest of Black Africa has left the Mauritanians and Afro Sudanese to their fate, as if they were aliens, and their fate did not concern the rest of us.

The behavioral test of territorial defense aside, the contrast between India, China, Arabia on the one hand and black Africa on the other, should highlight the fact that Africa is not and has never been one nation. India was politically unified in the 4th century BC and had shared a common culture for centuries even before that; China was politically unified in the 3rd century BC and has shared a common history and culture ever since. The Arabs became a nation through Mohammed when they finally, and for the first time, shared the same religion and political leadership, and then dispersed, in a burst of imperial aggression, from the Arabian peninsula and spread to occupy the lands from the Persian Gulf westward to the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Thus, the Arabs became a nation 14 centuries ago and have shared a common historical consciousness ever since then. In contrast, it was only in the 20th century, with the European conquest and colonization of all of Africa, that Black Africans first began to think of themselves as one. And they have yet to be unified politically or culturally, let alone in religion.


Every one of these Black African countries of today is not a nation but a noyau, i.e. “a collection of individuals held together by mutual animosity, who could not survive had they no friends to hate”. Every one of the Black African countries today is populated by people of many pre-colonial nations and is like a refugee camp into which the populations of many genuine nations have been herded by force.

What would it take to make nations out of these colonial concentration camps that the Europeans carved out in the late 19th century during their scramble to conquer Africa? And what would it take to make the African race into a nation? Lessons could be learnt from Ashanti, Zulu, India, China. A shared struggle against our Arab enemies would be a good start for a common historical consciousness.

But is it much use trying to turn Black Africa into a nation this late in time? I don’t think so. The tasks before us in this 21st century can be accomplished without Black Africa becoming a nation. Fostering Black African unity through various methods is more feasible and desirable. It would be much easier to turn SADC and ECOWAS into nations, into modern superpowers, than to start doing what India and China did three millennia ago by conquest.

Copyright © by Chinweizu 2008

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The genocide in South Sudan and Darfur and its implications


There were two main migrations out of Africa. There was the first exodus of the original man ( Homo sapiens sapiens ), who was black and who settled all over the world. The next migration out of Africa was forced by slavery. Although the western Diaspora in the Americas, the Caribbean and Europe is known, the eastern Diaspora, which preceded the western Diaspora by a millennium, is not generally known. The African eastern Diaspora is found wherever Africans were taken in Caucasia and Turkey, in Arabia, in the Gulf, in India and points further eastwards. The eastern Diaspora is coming into view, largely as a result of an increasing conscientiousness of African identity in places such as South Sudan and Darfur, where Africans who formerly, since time immemorial had identified themselves as Arabs, are coming to realise that they had been denationalised of their African identity, due to enslavement, colonisation, forced Islamization and Arabization.

For instance in Darfur, in western Sudan there are three main black African groups, the Fur, the Masaaleit and the Zaghawa. Interestingly, in the past the Islamic leaders of Sudan, such as Turabi, tended to all originate from Darfur. These three African ethnic groups, which in recent times have been the subject of genocide by central government in Khartoum, were widely used by Khartoum as shock troops in its war against south Sudan, and to good effects. They are remembered in the south for their callous brutality against southerners.

With the war coming to an end in south Sudan, with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the southerners attained some measure of self-government. The Darfuri Africans got nothing. It is this, and their long-term marginalization, which caused the Darfuri to go to war with Khartoum, in the realisation that they had been used by Khartoum, which through it’s genocide in Darfur, clearly saw the Darfuri not as fellow Arabs, but as inferior Africans. There is that well recorded statement by some Arab and Sudanese leaders that the Darfuri have yet to achieve full Arab status ( ie that they remained too African and insufficiently Arabised).

One of the central connections of Africa with its Diasporas is culture. However Arabised and westernised the African Diasporas are, they retain elements, sometimes distant, of African culture.

The study of African society, especially from the cultural perspective, teaches us that the unity movement of Africans should have consciously advanced through culture, then the economy, to finally arrive at the political union of Africans within or outside the continent – for the movement towards unity began in Africa, was taken outside Africa and was then carried back to Africa. The Charter of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) taught us that the organisation was dedicated to continental unity only, despite the Pan-African impulses which lead to its creation. Neither the OAU nor the African Union (AU) made any pretence to include the African Diasporas in their deliberations or administration. Yet the key link in the history of the African unity project is the linkage of Africa with its Diaspora.

As the significance of the struggle in the Afro-Arab Borderlands is better understood, so will the contestation around the African identity intensify. The Mauritanian, Garba Diallo says, ‘ a millennium of massive religious/ideological and human influx from the Middle East into the region has not only physically pushed the native population towards the south, but it has also displaced their African identity. The problem has become so profound that many of the Sahelian people cannot tell whether they are African, Arab or a mixture of both. This identity crisis is the root cause of the bloody wars of the Arabized regimes in Africa’. As the realities of this area are better understood, one of the consequence is likely to be fresh thinking about the sequences and consequences of unity.

Despite the happenings in the Borderlands (e.g. slavery, genocide, wars, racial oppression etc), which developed over a millennium, the states of Africa have in general been in denial and have chosen to ‘look the other way’, as regards these events, on the basis of non-interference in the affairs of sovereign states. Thus the realities in the Borderlands were ignored as an issue in the OAU/AU and elsewhere by those who would be expected to champion the cause of their kith and kin. There has even been talk that concerned persons should ‘not disturb the peace’ by raising such issues at this time. Some Africans are saying that the issue of reparations for Arab-led slavery should not be addressed in this period of world history, due to ongoing developments in the Middle-East, again deferring the Arab question.

One of the first steps taken by the Khartoum government after self-government, was to join the Arab League. The support by the Arab League states to the government of the Sudan in Khartoum in its fight against south Sudan and African nationalism is long standing and substantial. The support of the Arab world by way of finance and in terms of military supplies, has at times taken the form of volunteers. Ben Laden, the Muslim fanatic, spent time in Sudan and in Juba, fighting on the southern front of the fundamentalist global Jihad. After Sudan he went to Afghanistan. Will he next proceed to Somalia ? This war by the central government in Khartoum has received consistent support from the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas, it’s Islamist wing. Hamas is on record of receiving substantial material support from Khartoum. Africa has no comparative reaction to the quest of Arabia to push southwards its interests and to secure for the National Islamic Front (NIF)/National Congress Party (NCP) control of the headwaters of the Nile, as far south as Uganda, if needs be. The OAU/AU was unable to discuss these matters, given it’s internal financial situation.

The mercenary Lords Resistance Army (LRA), after moving from northern Uganda, was installed in Juba and supported for many years by Khartoum. Now that the LRA has relocated to the Congo, it most likely is still financed by Khartoum, to cause mayhem on the southern boundaries of Sudan. Such mayhem is used to soften up the area, before the jihadists go in to convert. This terror tactic was used in west Africa, in places such as Liberia and Sierra Leone. Africa, in the past remained in a defensive posture in its handling of Arab hegemony, suffering in silence, while sustaining its support for Arabia in its conflict with Israel. This embittered the southern Sudanese, who had begun fighting Arab colonialism on their own with traditional weapons in 1955. But for the protracted fighting of the southerners against Khartoum, Arab hegemony would have overrun the south and moved into Uganda. Turabi was intent on achieving this. As it was the southerners stemmed the tide of the Arab onslaught. In point of fact what has happened is that Arab influence moved round the south and into Somalia. It will not stop there. It must be understood that these are historical processes. After Somalia will come Kenya and after Kenya will come Tanzania. It is this push south, starting over a thousand years ago, which is the older and historically more significant feature of our oppression as a people, as compared with the western enslavement, which began some 500 years ago.

Despite the various international conventions supposedly assuring human rights for all, Africans were only recently considered subjects of international law, whereas before they were treated as its objects, and it was well known that in places such as South Africa, they were denied human rights by the apartheid system, later considered to be a crime against humanity. It was only by 1994 after the racist authorities in South Africa had come under sufficient international pressure, that a planned regime-change took place in that country, prior to which the international community had chosen to ‘look the other way’ as far as the human rights abuse, which went on in the country, despite the work of Smuts in the formation of the League of Nations. The question needs to be asked, why no anti-apartheid movement developed in solidarity with the south Sudanese or the Mauritanians? South Sudan lost some three million persons during the long years of war. Why are Africans apparently indifferent to the genocide currently going on in Darfur?

Sudan and other countries in the Borderlands continue to experience a similar situation as South Africa and Namibia prior to 1994. However, it needs to be stressed, that the situation in the Borderlands is more complex and its problems far more deep rooted than those found in Southern Africa. Sudan today, like South Africa was in 1994, is ruled by a minority, in this instance, a ‘coloured’ mixed race group, centred on Khartoum, implementing a Bantustan – type policy of separate development, with Khartoum accorded the benefits and South Sudan, Darfur, Nubia, Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains, the East etc, being marginalised and denied resources. Under Khartoum’s social conventions, black Africans are permitted status, only if they Islamise, Arabise and denationalise.

Central government in Khartoum is at war with large parts of the rest of the country, including areas, such as Darfur, where the population is largely Muslim. Weapons of mass destruction such as poison gas, aerial bombardment were/are used by the government against defenceless people. Rape is used as a weapon. The pattern of human rights abuse by Khartoum against not just South Sudan, but other areas and the absence of a co-ordinated international response substantiates the claim that Africans remain partial beneficiaries, of international human rights norms. For Arabia, Africa remains a civilisation vacuum, waiting to be filled by Arab culture and Islam. Whatever the truths of history concerning the African origins of world civilisation (Cheikh A.Diop), such tenets are not taught in schools in Arabia. The knowledge that the original civilisation in the Nile Delta was black African is denied the Arab people. African political elites are accorded deference in the Arab world and diplomatic protocols are observed in state to state relations. Sudan teaches that it is at the level of ‘people to people’ or ‘state to people’ relations that the spirit of the OAU/AU supposedly guided by Pan-Africanism, is in need of improved performance by the Arab brothers. Those in the Borderlands tell us that double standards are deliberately implemented and that cohabitation in places such as Sudan and Mauritania is an apartheid nightmare.

B.F.Bankie, former Researcher at the Kush Institution, Office of the President, Juba, Southern Sudan.

Friday, March 13, 2009



The problems that the Borderlands raise, being that area of Africa stretching from Sudan on the Red Sea to Mauritania on the Atlantic Ocean, date back thousands of years. That area provides a sharper, historically based, holistic definition of the African personality than that hitherto offered by the Black consciousness movements in the Americas and southern Africa .

The last population census conducted in Sudan was in 1983. Population figures in Sudan, the largest country in Africa, and especially southern Sudan, are the subject of continual dispute. Sudan’s total population was estimated to be close to twenty million people, with 80-85% settled in rural areas. While 39% of Sudan’s population considers itself as ‘Arab’, the ruling elite in Khartoum present Sudan as an ‘Arab’ country, which most international bodies and scholars accept. In Sudan, mainly around Khartoum, exists a minority group of mixed race Black people who do not consider themselves Africans and who participate in the oppression and the enslavement of the majority African population. Clearly what is at stake here is not a matter of colour, but a question of culture. What the Borderlands teach us is that the African personality is primarily defined culturally. It is not race based.

This has profound implications for the struggle of the Africans in the new millennium. For the African unity movement it means wiping the slate clean and returning to the drawing board. With hindsight we conclude that too much emphasis was placed on colour, politics and economics as a basis for unity, at the cost of marginalising the significance of culture, and that indeed culture is the missing link in development. This is something that apparently the Rastafari concluded early on in the elaboration of their philosophy, with their acknowledgement of the centrality of culture, whilst not denying race, whereas the Communists, as seen in South Africa and Sudan, mistakenly denied race as a factor in social relations, only referring to class , despite their awareness of the national question.

As regards the historical progression of humanity in the Afro-Arab Borderlands, the doctoral thesis of Cheik Anta Diop in 1960 established the cultural origins of the Egyptian civilisation as being African. This was further affirmed at the UNESCO sponsored Symposium on the Peopling of Ancient Egypt and the Deciphering of the Meriotic Script convened in Cairo, Egypt, 28 January to 3 February 1974 and attended by Diop and Theophile Obenga. An examination at the National Museum in Khartoum, in Sudan, in December 2002 found irrefutable evidence that the earliest civilisations in the area of present day Sudan were African cultures. With the passage of time an Indo-European peoples entered north Africa through the Nile Delta pushing southwards the Africans, so that today the Borderlands define the line of confrontation between Afro-Arab cultures.

In the Borderlands, due to the Arabisation of its peoples, some of those leading the fight southwards are Black people, such as Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, who is of Nigerian Falata origin, who are culturally Arabised, who have been denationalised, having lost their African identity over generations.

It is no accident that the longest war in Africa was fought in the Borderland area of South Sudan starting, in the latest phase, on 17th August 1955. The fact is that the Borderlands wars have been going on and off for hundreds of years in a relentless Arab advance, pushing southwards, supported latterly by Arab League members. The costs of the protracted war were the debasement of the value of human life, the stoking of ethnic divisions as a basis for control and the disconnect between the authoritarian leadership and the mass movement, manifest in an absence of caring and social responsibility for the other, such that there is visible indifference to suffering within the ranks and the random use of violence. All these are manifest in Southern Sudan society today. It is a situation of survival of the fittest. The war tore the social fabric, traumatising the entire population, destroying what little infrastructure, such as roads, there had been, ending education, health and social services, creating a society where informants and collaborators flourished and the honest were considered naïve. Recent population estimates for southern Sudan (1998-2004 ), being extrapolations derived from multiple sources and indicators, vary widely from three to eight million.

In Darfur, which is located in the west of Sudan, a similar war to that which existed in south Sudan, is being fought. Whereas peace came to Southern Sudan, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, in Darfur there is no prospect for peace, in the short term, with the Darfuri committed to avenging the genocide by the Khartoum government, of their own. Whereas the current war in Darfur started in the new millennium, it has all the features of the war in the south ( eg the use of rape as a weapon, ethic cleansing, genocide, enslavement, aerial bombardment etc ). Whereas formerly the Darfuri, who are mainly Black Arabised muslims, considered themselves Arabs, the current war being wagged against them, has lead to many of them adopting an African identity, after realising that they are considered inferiors by Khartoum, which is settling in their area Arabised Africans from west Africa, such as the Taureg. A consequence of the Darfur genocide is the pending issue of a Writ by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Sudanese President Bashir.

It is widely believed that if Bashir can sign peace with the Darfuri he may go back to war with the South, or with the Nubians in the Borderlands near Egypt, or with the Easterners living along the Red Sea, or any of the other marginalised groups in Sudan. Traditionally Khartoum has been at war with the periphery/marginalised parts of the country and consumed the wealth from the periphery into the centre, which is Khartoum, where an apartheid type of social system operates, at the top of which are the Arabised/Islamised mixed race/coloured group and at the bottom are the Black Africans, with a few Black African muslims making it to the top, such as Haruna, the Black muslim Darfuri Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, who is wanted by the ICC, a Writ has issued for his arrest, for executing the Darfur genocide, masterminded by President Bashir.

Prof. Helmi Sharawy of the Arab Research Centre for Arab-African Studies and Documentation (ARAASD) in Cairo, headed by Prof. Samir Amin, in his paper entitled ‘Arab Culture and African Culture: Ambiguous Relations’, defines the current status of Afro-Arab relations as ‘ambiguous’. Whereas the war in the Sudan is above-ground, that in places such as Mauritania is manifests by way of social tension and from time to time, by physical conflict, as well as an inability to maintain a democratic system, resulting in frequent military interventions in the state. The state of social relations throughout the Borderlands in places such as Niger, Mali, Tchad, Southern Libya and Algeria would be described as tense, in places conflict driven. In Mauritania a small Arab/Moor group holds in awe the majority African population, through an oppressive social system permitting the hereditary enslavement of Africans.

By B.F.Bankie, former researcher at the Kush Institution, Juba, Southern Sudan

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

South Sudan – the last state in Africa to obtain, in 2011, Independence ?


Lt Gen Joseph Lagu (Rtd), who led the Anya-nya, the freedom fighters of South Sudan, in their fight against the Arab-led Khartoum government, in the first stage, which ran from 1955 to 1972, of the recent phase of the armed struggle , from 1983 to 2005, states in his book ‘ Sudan – Odyssey through a state – From ruin to hope’, quoting from The Anya-nya Manifesto, on family and ethnicity, as follows :-

The enemy is waging a war of annihilation against us; he wants
to destroy us completely so that he can take over our country
for himself. For generations past he was trying to do this, even
carrying away our women and children to sell them as slaves in
foreign lands

On culture and traditions the Manifesto states :-

The enemy looks down upon our customs and traditions. He
believes his Arab cultures and traditions are superior and
should therefore be imposed on us, if necessary by force. This
is just another way, on the spiritual level, of destroying us as
a people. Our answer to this kind of attack is simple: You Arabs
keep your Arab culture and traditions and let us Africans keep ours.
and if you try to impose on us your ways by force, you will
be met by force.

From the African nationalist/Pan-Africanist perspective, on defending Africa, Lagu said :-

Our brothers and sisters in East Africa must realize that
ever since the first Arabs reached Malakal, Juba and Wau,
we, the people of South Sudan, have been defending not only
ourselves but also them from the onslaught of Arab Colonialism.
We have never ceased the struggle against those barbarians and
we never shall until we triumph. The harder and more successfully
we struggle the more our neighbours will recognize the vital
importance of our struggle to them and the more ready they will
be to support us…..Therefore we, the African people and soldiers
of South Sudan, must keep bringing these facts to the attention
and consciousness of Black Africans all over the continent

Speaking on objectives :-

The goal of our struggle is clear and straightforward – the
right of self-determination of our people.

On fighting offensively :-

The Anya-nya Armed Forces are conducting a guerrilla war,
which means a small war. Our enemy is a professional modern
army equipped with everything including tanks, heavy guns and
an air-force. We have only light weapons. If we try to beat the
enemy in battle in the open field, we would do exactly what the
enemy wants us to do because then we would be defeated quickly
by his superior weapons. To avoid this, we chose the guerrilla
method of war which gives us many advantages while placing
the Arabs at disadvantage. And as long as we fight this kind
of war, the enemy will never be able to defeat us.

Summing up Lt -Gen Joseph Lagu (Rtd) advised the Anya-nya liberation Armed Forces of South Sudan :-

That our specifically African – as distinct from Arab – identity
and the common aspirations which unite all our tribes in a common
struggle fully qualify us for nationhood and the right of self-
That by rejecting the attempted Arabization of South Sudan
and by adhering to our African identity and heritage we exercise
a basic human right which is bound to be recognized by
everybody sooner or later..

The extensive use of quotations from the Anya-nya document of Major-General Joseph Lagu, who lead the armed struggle of South Sudan to the Addis Abba Peace Agreement of Febuary 1972, with the Arab led Khartoum government, makes it clear that the armed struggle was not about religious convictions. It was unambiguously about culture/race. Class was not mentioned in the pamphlet as Anya-nya was not guided by Left ideology. In the Darfur conflict of the 21st century the Islamists in Khartoum have sort to expel the Moslem African groups, such as the Fur, Masaleit and Zaghawa from their traditional lands, in order to change the demography of Darfur, by settling in those lands Moslem African groups, who are more Arabised, such as Taouregs from west Africa.

Reference is made to page 572 of Lagu’s book, which quotes from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/SPLM) Leaflet of the 18th November 1983, quoting the Late Col John Garang de Mabior, Chairman, Provisional Executive Committee of the SPLM and Commander-in-Chief, SPLA at Paragraph III :-

The SPLA irrevocably believes in the unity of the Sudanese people
…we therefore make it very clear in the SPLA/SPLM Manifesto
that our struggle can neither be racial nor religious in any way.

At Paragraph VIII Garang is quoted as saying :-

Because of the oneness of the Sudanese people and unity and
integrity of the Sudan, the armed struggle in the South must
of necessity eventually engulf the whole of Sudan

The decolonization of South Sudan, which cost over two million Southern lives, and which may lead to it becoming self-governing, depending on the outcome of the 2011 Referendum, bears striking resemblance to the obtaining of majority government in Namibia and South Africa. In these countries power was held by a minority, which imposed its language and culture on the majority. In the Afro-Arab Borderlands stretching from Mauritania on the Atlantic to Sudan on the Red Sea, an Arabised/Islamised minority rule and enslave an African majority, imposing Arab culture and Islam, effectively denationalizing the majority population. It is this denial of African nationality which differentiates the Borderlands from Southern Africa, where Africans were able to keep their cultural identity. Both types of colonialism were/are of the settler- type. However that in the Borderlands dates back well over a millennium, whereas that in Southern Africa was some 500 years old. It is these realities which make change, progress and peace in places like Sudan, be it South Sudan, Darfur, Nubia, Blue Mountains etc, slow, complex and difficult.

B.F.Bankie, former Researcher at the Kush Institution, Juba, South Sudan

This article also published in New Era, Windhoek, Namibia

The root causes of the war in South Sudan and the Anya-nya armed struggle


Many find it difficult to accept the root causes of the last phase of the protracted war in South Sudan , which ran from 1955 to 1972 and from 1983 to 2005. In order to establish the causes, the book of Lt Gen Joseph Lagu (Rtd), entitled ‘Sudan – Odyssey through a state – From ruin to hope’ is drawn upon. The key to understanding Afro-Arab relations, past and present and the relevance of South Sudan is found in the reasons for the conflict.

Lagu, who is alive and well, spending a good part of his time in Juba, South Sudan, in his pamphlet ‘ Anya-nya Armed Forces – South Sudan Liberation Movement; what we fight for’, issued to fighters in his then capacity of Major-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Anya-nya Armed Forces (A.N.A.F) in January 1972, goes straight to the point and says, amongst other things :-

When in 1954 the British and Egyptians decided to end their condominium rule of the Sudan and grant this country independence, our political leaders clearly foresaw that the South was facing domination by the North. They therefore asked at once for guarantees that would safeguard the interest of the South. Both the British and Egyptians, however, disregarded this reasonable demand because it conflicted with their own interests. Thus was the future of the South recklessly gambled with and the seeds of trouble foolishly sown.

Lagu goes on to state : -

As the British started leaving the South, their administrative posts and
business firms were taken up by Northern Sudanese who previously
had not been allowed to work or settle in the South. The Southerners
began to feel more and more strongly that their country was being
colonized by Arabs and that their great expectations from independence
boiled down to the replacement of one master by another. The Northern
officials looked down upon the Southerners, openly discriminating
against them and on the whole treated them as subject people. Their
arrogance and contempt towards the Southerners soon became
unbearable. They kept on insulting and abusing us, often using the
word ‘abeed’ (slaves) when referring to Southerners.

Further on Lagu says that whilst the British Governor-General and British troops were still in Khartoum and Southern soldiers of the Equatoria Corps had rebelled, the northern Prime Minister of Sudan at the time refused to intervene, so the British were requested to intercede. This was accepted but :-

There was no investigation and no justice. Instead, after the
Southerners laid down their arms, Northern troops were let loose
on them by (the Prime Minister) while the last of the British left
Sudan for good. There followed a blood-bath in which many
Southern soldiers, policemen and warders were killed and the
remainder taken to the North to serve long terms of imprisonment.
…there came the systematic Neo-colonialist and Imperialist
robbing of our country; a genocidal campaign of mass murder,
looting, rape abduction, setting on fire of villages and crops.
Hundreds of thousands of our people including many leaders
either took to the bush or fled to neighbouring countries where
they live as refugees

Commenting on the eight years which passed from 1955 to 1963, Major-General Lagu said :-

Only one thing stood out clearly and this was what the Arabs
themselves wanted then, as they do now: to dominate and
colonize the South. To achieve this they try to impose on us
Africans their religion, language and customs. By this method
they want to turn us into Arabs and thereby conquer our
country for good.

On the rise of the Anya-nya Major-General Lagu stated :-

At the beginning we had to depend on our native weapons –
spears, bows and arrows, but during 1964-65 the bad winds
which blew over the Congo blew good over South Sudan.
Arms belonging to the Congolese rebels passed into Anya-nya
hands and our operations against the Arab enemy soon
became more numerous and more effective. Enemy units
ambushed by the Anya-nya provided us with more weapons
and ammunition. We grew stronger and grew quicker.

The experience of the Southern Sudanese, Darfuri, Nubians and other people of Sudan, marginalized by the Khartoum government and other people living in the broad band of Africa running from Mauritania on the Atlantic through Mali, Niger and Tchad, through to Sudan on the Red Sea, is in many ways similar to the oppression the people of southern Africa underwent before they achieved self-government, when apartheid South Africa held sway in the southern Africa region. The main difference is that whereas settler hegemony and racism in Southern Africa lasted some five hundred years, Arab domination in the Afro-Arab borderlands has existed over a thousand years and continues today, with demographic change and ethnic cleansing going on in Darfur, where a genocide is in continuing implementation.

B.F.Bankie, former Researcher at the Kush Institution in Juba, South Sudan