Friday, November 27, 2009

Job Losses Pose Danger for Obama and the Democrats

Vantage Point Articles and Essays
by Dr. Ron Daniels

There is a rebellion against Washington brewing across the land, and that’s bad news for President Obama and the Democrats. Unemployment is 10.2% and climbing. According to a recent poll, some 30% of American families are feeling the pain of the dramatic downturn in the economy, which has produced the highest level of joblessness in decades. Never mind that the devastating economic collapse was inherited by President Obama; what people care about is whether they see the government addressing their pain, whether any visible actions are being taken that give them hope that their job opportunities will improve in the near future.

While growing joblessness is the issue uppermost in the minds of millions of Americans, what they are witnessing in Washington is a protracted and divisive struggle over health care reform. And, on Wall Street, people are flabbergasted to see the stock market rising, bank and investment company profits soaring and monstrous bonuses for employees of the very companies whose reckless behavior precipitated the economic crisis. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people continue to lose their homes as the depression in the mortgage industry continues.

It is not that health care reform is irrelevant. In a nation where nearly 50 million people do not have health care and the prices of premiums continue to skyrocket, health care reform unquestionably must be a major national priority. Indeed, President Obama is correct to argue that the long term well being of the economy depends on bending the cost curve for health care downward. The problem is that people are less concerned about health care reform when their families and communities are being ravaged by joblessness. In this regard, there appears to be a dangerous disconnect between the Obama administration and Main Street.

Unfortunately, the brewing rebellion is yet another consequence of the timidity of President Obama in dealing with the huge crisis he inherited from the Bush-Cheney administration. Some argue that he has his priorities backward because the economy does not appear to be at the top of the agenda. For those who hold that view, it may be useful to remember that health care reform was not the first issue President Obama targeted for action/resolution; it was the economy. The first months of his administration were devoted to rolling out a new economic stimulus package and bail out packages designed to rescue the ailing financial, auto and mortgage sectors of the economy. But as Paul Krugman has repeatedly pointed out, President Obama’s stimulus package was too small to achieve the kind of job generation required to ameliorate the pain around the country.

Now President Obama is in a terrible bind. An inadequate stimulus package is “stimulating” far too slowly to reverse the tide of joblessness spreading across the country at a time when he is compelled to push through some form of health care reform legislation. After months of investing major political capital in this effort, the failure to produce something, no matter how modest, would be disastrous. The Republicans, who are determined to see him fail, are getting traction by howling about the lack of results of the stimulus package, the growing deficit and expansion of government. Sensing a political opening with the 2010 mid-term elections approaching, they are opportunistically tapping into and fueling the rage boiling across the country over the issue of jobs.

The question is how will President Obama and the Democrats respond. The President is scheduled to convene a Jobs Summit in the very near future, and that is a step in the right direction. However, it is not likely that the anger across the country will be abated by mere summitry. If there was ever a time for President Obama to be bold and decisive, it’s now. He needs to unveil a substantial job generating stimulus package and dare Republicans and vacillating “Blue Dog” Democrats to oppose it. And, he needs to be bold enough to propose that public service employment/jobs be an integral component of the initiative.

There was a time when Democrats routinely advocated that the government be an “employer of last resort.” With the successful Republican assault on “big government” and “social programs” beginning with the Reagan era, the idea of public service jobs as a remedy for unemployment disappeared from the political discourse. Democrats were cowered into refusing to consider initiatives that the Republicans might label as liberal “tax and spend” government proposals. However, the current crisis offers President Obama and the Democrats a golden opportunity to resurrect the concept of a full employment economy with public service jobs being part of the formula. Whether it is in a blue state or red state, most sane Americans want a job, no matter who provides it, that will allow them to bring home some green. So, rather than cower and be timid, President Obama and the Democrats should seize the moment to deliver a desperately needed jobs initiative and educate the American public on the importance of government as an employer of last resort in times of crisis.

President Obama now faces a critical moment of truth in his young presidency. With a rebellion brewing across the country because of massive joblessness, he must act boldly or the Republicans will ride the wave of discontent to an astonishing victory in the 2010 elections. A party whose philosophy and policies provoked the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression and was repudiated by the voters in 2008 will likely regain control of the House and Senate, rendering the duration of President Obama’s tenure miserable. It is an ironic circumstance which can and must be prevented with bold leadership by President Obama and the Democrats.

Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. His articles and essays also appear on the IBW website and . He can be reached via email at

Friday, November 20, 2009




Paper delivered at the international colloquium ‘Teaching African history
and culture to the Diaspora and teaching Diaspora history and culture to
Africa’, held in Brasilia, Brazil, 9-13th November 2009, convened by CBAAC,
PANAFSTRAG, Nigeria and The Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial
Equality (SEPPIR) of the Government of Brazil, Brasilia, Brazil.

‘The linkage of Africa with its Diasporas on the basis of equality is the
key to African unity’ - Pan-African adage.


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

Sudan had its black African advanced cultures, predating Egypt, such as Kush
and Naphata, which bequeathed us their pyramids, which remain visible in the
sands of Sudan today. Chancellor Williams (Williams 1976 ) identifies some
nine periods in the history of north-east Africa, where some of the earliest
world civilizations centered, around the capital cities of Naphata and
Meroe, in present day Sudan. The cultures spread from these

northwards to the Nile delta. At that time north-east Africa was peopled by
black Africans, with people Williams refers to as white Asians entering
later, occupying Lower Egypt and north–eastern Ethiopia. This, in his view,
marks the date of the beginning of the falsification, by western writers, of
the contribution of black Africa to civilization.

The significance of the name ‘Sudan’ is important, because it bears strong
identity implications. The Arabized people of middle Sudan of various shades
of brown, generally speaking, tend not to consider themselves black Africans
and call themselves Arabs. As the state for the last five centuries has
belonged ideologically to this group, Sudan has ended up identifying itself
more with the Arabs than with black Africa . This issue is central to the
contemporary problems of the reality of the Sudan and national integration.

One of the consequences of the arrival of the Asians in north Africa was to
push, more and more, the black people away from the Mediterranean coast into
the interior. The traffic of black women into slavery northwards, gave rise
to a new type of Afro-Asian, who due to their deliberate estrangement with
their African Mothers came to be called Egyptians, Arabs and Moors,
depending on where they lived in north Africa. This lead to the enslavement
of Africans deeper into black Africa, which falls within William’s third
period of the black history of Egypt, beginning in the seventh dynasty
2181BC, which lead to the Arab invasion and the destruction of black
civilization. Nyaba ( Nyaba 2002 )

dates the Arab conquest of Egypt to 640AD.

*The State*

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

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

*The People*

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

*Religion *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Al-Jallaba: the Slave Traders of Sudan*

Many Africans were taken into slavery via the trans-Sahara route, to Europe,
or via Arabia. The Arab enslavement of Africans began a millennium before
trans-Atlantic slavery. It continues in north-east Africa and the Afro-Arab
Borderlands. The denationalized African descendants of slavery live in
Arabia, the Gulf States and points eastwards, such as Iraq, in the African
Eastern Diaspora, calling themselves Arabs.

Slavery was practised in Sudan since ancient times. The Arabs in the Paqt
Treaty demanded slaves from the Christian Nubians, that were brought from
the hinterlands. However it was more or less African traditional slavery
resulting from petty tribal feuds and wars. It continued like that in the
early period of the Funj Sultanate, until the Europeans began making
incursions into the continent to procure slaves. It was the Turco-Egyptian
colonial rule that launched the era of mass slavery in the Sudan. They made
it a state-policy loaded with the whole weight of Arab cultural
stigmatization of the blacks. Locally, the Arabized people of the centre,
which was growing fast, followed their lead. They played the role of
intermediaries who organized the raids, captured the blacks and then sold
them. The term al-Jallaba* * is a plural adjective in Sudanese colloquial
Arabic literally meaning the procurers. The singular is jallabi. The term
originated in reference to the intermediary slavers who were mostly Arabized
Sudanese. The culture of al-Jallaba* *had a big impact in consolidating the
establishment of the centre. When the Turco-Egyptian colonial rule was
compelled to abolish slavery, al-Jallaba defied that and boldly continued to
practice it. By that time their raiding squads had developed into formidable
armies. In the last decade of Turco-Egyptian colonial rule, Al-Zubayr wad
Rahama, their leading slaver, led his slaving army and conquered Dar Fur. In
fact they were just one step from becoming the rulers of the Sudan .
Turco-Egyptian rule not only recognized de facto al-Zubayr’s governorship of
Dar Fur, but further bestowed on him the prestigious title of ‘Pasha’. The
Jallaba cherished the prospects of inheriting faltering Turco-Egyptian
rule. If it were not for the Mahdia revolution that took place, they would
have assumed that power.

The Mahdia state, strictly following the scripture of Islam, where there is
no direct verse from either the Qur’an or the Prophet traditions abolishing
slavery, indulged itself in reinstating the institution of slavery. However
it abolished tobacco and snuff although there is no direct verse either from
the Qur’an or the Prophet traditions to that effect. Understandably the
Jallaba were among the first to declare their allegiance to the Mahdia. They
put their huge military resources and expertise at the service of the
Mahdia. That is one of the factors that made the Mahdia state belong
ideologically to the Arabized centre.

Backed with its colonialist pragmatism, the British-Egyptian rule that
succeeded the Mahdia had soon consolidated its alliance with the Arabized
centre. Although officially declared abolished, slavery was tolerated as a
practice and culture (Saikinga, 1996). In self governing Sudan, national
rule clearly showed its stand in this regard by naming a street in Khartoum
after al-Zubayr Pasha, the most notorious slaver in Sudan’s modern history.
In fact the culture of slavery is the catalyst behind the bad treatment of
the black Africans of Sudan, who live in the periphery around the Arabized
centre. Successive national governments have shown this ill-regard for black
Africans, which took place under the pretext of curbing the north/south war.
As elsewhere in the global African presence, for instance in Southern Africa
and its contacts with Apartheid, the core problem in Sudan is one of Arab
racism and the need to change the mindset of Arabs in general vis-a- vis
African culture, and thus to resolve, in Sudan, the national question,
because Sudan is and has always been an African country, populated in it’s
majority, by black African people..

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

With the weakening of the Christian kingdoms, between the 14th and 16th
centuries, many Islamic and Arabized kinglets began appearing and eventually
succeeded in replacing the old regime (Fadl, 1973; Shibeika, 1991). The most
important was the Funj Sultanate which came into existence in the early 16th
century and which succeeded in spreading its influence over most of these

The Funj Sultanate came into existence with slavery looming in the
background and with the colour black fully stigmatized by being synonymous
with ‘slave’. By the turn of the 15th century, Soba, the capital of the last
Christian kingdom of Alodia , fell into the hands of Arabized people, known
in middle Sudan as the Arabs. Having its founders being virtually blacks, it
was understandably called ‘the ‘Black Sultanate’. As it came in response to
the growing influence of Islamo-Arabized Sudanese, it explicitly showed an
Arab and Islamic orientation. The new formations of Arabized tribes began
claiming Arab descent supported with mostly fabricated genealogies. The
small family units compensated for their vulnerability by claiming noble
descent, i.e. descendants of the Prophet Muhammad; eventually in the name of
this descent they would appropriate both wealth and power, something the
immediate descendants were not ordained to have, while Prophet Muhammad was
still alive. To be on an equal footing with these tribes in matters
pertaining to power and authority, the Funj also claimed an Umayyad descent.
Scholars in Arabic and Islamic sciences from other parts of the Islamic
world were encouraged to settle in the Sudan .

*Arabization and the Rise of Islam*

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

So the seeds of the Sudanese ideology of Arab-oriented dominance over the
Africans were sown. According to Jalal M. Hashim ( Hashim, 2006 ), Arab
hegemony works through two mechanisms: 1) the stigma of slavery, blackness
and people of African identity, who occupy the margins and surrounding
periphery and 2) the prestigma of the free, non-black/brown Arabs, who
occupy the centre. This ideology, in its drive to achieve
self-actualization, underlines a process of alienation and domination. While
posing as whites, Sudanese Arabs do not hold whites people proper in high
esteem. They stigmatize Africans and prestigmatize the Arabs with whom they
identify. This ideology of alienation has prevailed for the last five
centuries up to the present moment. It has been consolidated by successive
political regimes whether Turco-Egyptian or Egyptian-British or national
rule. It finds its roots in the vice of slavery. Slavery was once again in
full swing by the late 20th century as a result of the intensifying grip on
the state by Islamo-Arabism. By placing on high the Arab model through their
erroneous and confused concept of race, the Arabized people of Sudan have
made themselves second-class Arabs, this is how they are perceived in
Arabia. The repercussions of this would not only affect them, but the
country and would lead to a widening divide between Arabism and Africanism.

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

As with most, if not all African countries, the colonial power brought
together into a state framework, national groups that had been distinctive,
separate and in some cases mutually hostile. The identities that are
currently in conflict are the result of a historical legacy characterized by
a form of slavery that classified groups into a superior race of masters and
inferior enslaveable peoples. The north, two-thirds of the country’s land,
is inhabited by ethnic groups, the more dominant of which intermarried with
incoming Arab male migrants and traders and, over centuries, produced a
mixed African-Arab racial group that resembles the African peoples in the
Afro-Arab borderland of the Sahara, herein after called the ‘Borderlands’ of
the African nation, and those further south. Indeed, the Arabic phrase,
Bilad al-Sudan (‘land of the blacks’) refers to all of those sub-Saharan
territories. Arab immigration and settlement in the south was blocked by
distance, environmental barriers, the harsh tropical climate and resistance
of the warrior Nilotic tribes. Those Arabs who ventured southwards were
primarily slave raiders, driven by commerce, not interested in Arabising and
Islamising the South.

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

The independence movement was pioneered and championed by the north,
supported by Egypt. The cause was reluctantly supported by the south, which
stipulated federalism and guarantees for it’s area, as conditions for
endorsing independence. The south opted for independence on the basis of
northern reassurances that their concerns would be given ‘serious
consideration’. However, the north quickly reneged on promises to
southerners and stepped into the British colonial shoes. As internal
colonizers, northern governments sought to impose Arabisation/Islamisation
as the basis of a unified homogeneous Sudan. Thus the north/south war
started in Torit, in South Sudan in 1955, one year before Sudan achieved
self-government, a war which continued till 2005, except for some eleven
years of peace starting in 1972. The conflict finds its origins in the
geo-political location of Sudan in the Borderlands, with it’s history of
slavery and Arab expansion southwards, making conflict predictable.

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

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

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

*Garang’s Vision*

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

Garang’s vision of the New Sudan was initially not understood, far less
supported, in the north and the south and even within his movement. For
southerners, who overwhelmingly preferred separation, it was incongruent
with their aspirations, and in any case was utopian. For the north, it was
arrogant and, at best, naive. The fighting men and women in the south took
it as a clever ploy to allay the fears of those opposed to separation within
Sudan, the international community and the Organisation of African
Unity(OAU) and later the African Union (AU). Their attitude was reflected in
the Dinka saying popular among fighters: ‘Ke tharku, angicku’, ‘What we are
fighting for, we know’. While Garang was talking the language of a united
Sudan , they were fighting for secession.

Central to Garang’s philosophy was the conviction that the dichotomy between
the Arab-Islamic north and the African south is largely fictional. While the
north has been labeled Arab, even those who can trace their genealogy to
Arab origins are a hybrid of Arab and African races and their culture is an
Afro-Arab mix. Significant portions of the country in the Nuba, Ingassana or
Funj areas bordering the South, are as African as any further south in the
continent. The Beja in the eastern part of the country are also indigenously
Sudanese. The Fur and several other ethnic groups in Darfur to the far west
are black Africans. In the Darfur conflict black African Muslim pastoralists
are being ‘ethnically cleansed’ and pushed off their lands by Khartoum to
make way for Arab Muslim nomads, thus continuing the age-old march
southwards by Arabs, pushing Africans further southwards, which takes place
with the tacit approval of the Arab League. In most cases, non-Arab pockets
in the north, such as the Nubians, though predominantly adherents of
Africanised Islam, have been marginalized almost as much as the people of
the south. The vision of the New Sudan therefore promised to liberate all
these people and to create a country of genuine pluralism and equality, with
a greater influence for the previously marginalized African groups.

Over time Garang’s constructive approach neutralized those opposed to
secession in the north, Africa and the world, and rallied support for
justice in a reconstructed united Sudan. Garang incrementally challenged the
whole country with the prospects of a nation enriched, rather than ravished,
by its racial, ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. His vision began to
appeal to those non-Arab groups that had been subsumed under the
Arab-Islamic umbrella and eventually, even to northern progressives as many
began to question their assumed ‘Arab’ identity. This national identity
‘renaissance’ challenged the dominant Arab-Islamic establishment. The
reaction of the establishment throughout the 1990s was to adopt a radical
offensive posture that fuelled Islamic fundamentalism and led to a sharp
deterioration in Sudan’s relations with the international community. Islam,
rather than the Arab race or culture, was their weapon for mobilizing the

Although the South Sudan conflict was the oldest in Africa, starting in
1956, it was never put on the political agenda of either the OAU or the
United Nations (UN). Sudan’s membership of the Arab League, permitted it to
claim that South Sudan was a matter for the Arab League, which made no
effort to broker peace and stop the fighting. The inability of Africa to act
on the Sudan issue, whether it be South Sudan or Darfur, has made black
Africans spectators of the slaughter of their fellow Africans in South
Sudan, Darfur and elsewhere.

*Addis Ababa and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)*

The Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972 gave Southerners a corner of the country
within which to exercise a limited degree of autonomy, while major national
and international issues were left to be determined by the centre. The
agreement did not provide the south with a financial base and Southern
ministers remained dependent on the goodwill of central government and
President Nimeiri for revenues. In 1983 war broke out again due to northern
unilateral impositions in the south, such as Sharia Law and the use of

On 9 January, 2005, the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A signed the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), by virtue of which President Omar
Hassan Bashir’s National Congress Party would have 52 per cent of all
executive and legislative posts, while the SPLM would have 28 per cent. The
remaining 20 per cent was split among other political parties in Sudan, with
those in the North getting 14 per cent and those in the South 6 per cent.
The CPA commits the Sudanese Government to confining Sharia Law to the
North. It also grants South Sudan a six year period of administrative
autonomy after which the population can decide in a referendum in 2011
whether to stay in a united Sudan or secede. It offers the Nuba Mountains
and Southern Blue Nile significant regional autonomy. To a significant
extent, the CPA ensured a more symmetrical or equitable relationship between
the North and the South than was available under the Addis Ababa Agreement.

The South now has its own government. The Government of South Sudan (GoSS)
was supposed to be independent of northern interference. It has its own
army and its own Bank, which unlike its northern counterpart, adherers to
conventional – rather than Islamic – banking principals. It has its own
resource base and was supposed to have access to oil revenues. In reality
many of these provisions were manipulated, even withheld. * Sudan was to
have a national foreign policy formed by Khartoum. The importance of this
would become apparent later, for when the SPLM established Liason Offices
around the world, they were noticeably quiet in explaining, especially in
Africa, what had gone on in the South since 1955, which to many remains
unknown and would shape Pan-African opinion globally on Sudan and the
Borderland issues. *These Offices were to allow the South to develop
bilateral relations with international trade and development partners. In
the Government of National Unity announced in September 2005, the SPLM and
other southern representatives have ministerial power within an arrangement
set out in the CPA, which gives the ruling National Congress Party 52% of
the places, the SPLM 28%, other northern parties 14% and other southern
parties 6%. In order to maintain agreed quotas and to reflect Sudan’s ethnic
and political balance, several ministries were to be represented by a
minister and a state minister

*Garang’s death*

The complex framework of the CPA, being an agreement between only two
parties, the SPLM and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and which
initially lacked broader support throughout the country, particularly in the
North, was threatened by Garang’s sudden death in a helicopter crash on 30th
July 2005. He had led the SPLM/A for twenty two years and, together with
First Vice-President of Sudan, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, had been pivotal in
the negotiations that led to the CPA. He had been sworn in as First
Vice-President of Sudan and President of South Sudan previously.

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

Under the CPA the ruling National Congress Party has the capacity to
implement the Agreement but lacks the political will, whereas the SPLM has
the commitment but is weak and disorganized. Corruption is a major problem.
There is a real risk of future conflict unless the Congress Party implements
the CPA in good faith and the SPLM becomes a stronger and more effective
implementing partner. Late off the starting blocks and with a weak
organizational structure, the SPLM has been overwhelmed and is ineffectual
in ensuring the Congress Parties’ CPA compliance, due to what some analysts
have called its incomplete metamorphosis from a liberation movement to a
Government. This makes uncertain future projections as to peace. An added
complication arises from Khartoum’s war in Darfur. As a consequence Al
Bashir stands accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. On the 4th
March 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Bashir, who is
now a fugitive from international justice. The Darfur conflict is a direct
consequence of the north/south conflict, as the SPLM/A, under Garang,
provided the inspiration and the means for the Darfurians to assert, by
armed struggle, their rights.

Given the fact that the CPA is a peace accord between opposite poles of an
acutely divided country, it remains to be seen whether this much-needed
peace will be sustainable. Respected projections are that Khartoum will
abort the CPA, just before the referendum in 2011. In such an eventuality
the South may chose to unilaterally declare independence (UDI).Several other
regions of the country – foremost among them Darfur in the West – are
challenging the Arab power centre. Though Muslim and Arabised in varying
degrees, they now see themselves as non-Arab, marginalized and discriminated
against on racial grounds. While marginalized groups in Kordofan, including
those who have been generally labeled as ‘Arab’ though reflecting strong
African features and cultural characteristics, still identify with the Arab
centre, dissident voices are complaining about their marginalization. The
Nubians of the North, who have been marginalized and in whose lands
Egyptians are being settled by Khartoum, who were in recent generations
close to Egypt and the Arab world, are reviving their pride in their ancient
Nubian civilization and disavowing the Arab label.

*The international relations of the Sudan state*

The Islamist parties in government, previously the National Islamic Front
(NIF) of Dr Hassan Abdalla El Turabi,( who in 2009 declared his exit from
public affairs but maintains a profile in his Popular Congress Party [PCP]
), now called the National Congress Party (NCP) of Omar Hassan Ahmad
Al-Bashir, adopted a political survival strategy of diverting attention from
internal contradictions by fomenting conflict and instability in neighboring
countries, as well as by actively supporting Islamic and dissident groups
fighting the governments of neighboring countries, such as Tchad and the
Central African Republic (CAR). The objective of this strategy, used by
Libya’s Gaddafi in Liberia and Sierra Leone, is first and foremost to
de-stabalise and then, where possible, assist in the overthrow of the
regimes, in order to pave the way for the take over of the state by Islamic
groups in those countries.

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

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

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

It is important to recognize that the problems of the Sudan are not
accidental and flow from its geo-political location along the Nile river, in
the Afro-Arab Borderlands, stretching from Mauritania on the Atlantic ocean
through Mali, Niger and Tchad, to Sudan on the Red Sea. The relationship
between Africans and Arabs in this area, dating back a millennium, has been
called ‘ambiguous’ by Prof Helmi Sharawy, Director of The Arab Research
Centre for Arab-African Studies and Documentation (ARAASD ) in Cairo,
Egypt. In Mauritania today hereditary slavery is still in practice on a
wide scale, despite the passing of laws to abolish it. Such an antiquated
social basis for state formation can only render problematic the future of

In northern Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African
Republic, Tchad, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, Sudan has or is active in
stirring up instability and conflicts. It does so primarily to promote
Arabisation and Islamisation, either in the short, medium or long term.
Khartoum believes that the best method of defence is attack and that
offensives should be unforeseen, unpredictable and constant.

Despite Sudan being a pariah state, the Khartoum government has remained in
office. It is unlikely that this is set to change, given the general global
preference for the statuo quo ante and resistance to the resolution of the
African national question, whether in Southern Africa or the Borderlands.
The Khartoum regime is feared and loathed by its neighbors. Sudan straddles
the river Nile in the north-east area of the Borderlands of Africa and
maintains its hegemony over this water resource for the benefit of its
northern neighbor. Sudan also is the outpost for the promotion of Arab
interests in north, east and central Africa. It’s outreach extends
culturally and physically into places such as Mali and Niger in west Africa,
where there are Touaregs, a black ethnic group, who have been effectively
Arabised and are being settled in the burnt villages in Darfur, recently
abandoned by the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa of Darfur.

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

The conflicts in Sudan receive a hearing in Arab forums, such as the Arab
League, but no resolute action. Whereas the South Sudan situation was never
raised or placed on the agenda of the OAU. The Arabs, lead by Egypt,
tenaciously resisted the inclusion of the conflict in the various OAU
summits and Ministerial meetings, on the basis that South Sudan was an
internal affair of the Arab League.

Even so Africa has, since the time of Nasser’s Egypt , supported the
Palestinians versus Israel. This has not been reciprocated by the Arab north
African states. Worse still, Africans in general are either ignorant of the
Sudan situation, or do not wish to support fellow Africans in Sudan, due to
a wish not to offend Arabia, because of favors received or an inadequate
sense of African national solidarity. .

*The rise of the Khartoum proxy, the Lords Resistance Army/Movement (LRA/M)
and its deployment in central Africa*

In the 1980s the forces opposed to Yoweri Museveni’s government in Uganda,
those of Tito Okello and Alice Lakwena’s Holy Spirit Movement, sort refuge
in eastern Equitoria in South Sudan. The arrival of the Lord’s Resistance
Army (LRA) in south Sudan in 1993-4 began a decade of fighting involving
Ugandans on Sudanese soil, cutting off large parts of Southern Sudan,
causing thousands to flee.

Initially the LRA had been fighting only in northern Uganda against
Museveni’s Movement army, the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF). The LRA
came to South Sudan from Uganda seeking refuge. In 1993 the Khartoum
government harnessed the LRA, to crush the SPLA. By 2005 the LRA had moved
into the DRC, spreading mayhem, brutality, displacements, abductions and the
use of child soldiers. By 2009 the LRA was operating in CAR.

Under the command of Joseph Kony, the LRA/M is one of the most notorious
terror groups in the world. Whereas Alice Lukwana had formed a group
inspired by Christianity, to promote the genuine grievances of the people of
northern Uganda, especially the Acholi, the structure she founded has become
a mercenary force, used by Khartoum to terrorize its neighbors and to
implement its Arabisation/Islamisation project. Having depopulated northern
Uganda with its terror tactics and strategy, Kony settled in Juba, South
Sudan, where the LRA was seen as yet another invasive armed group.

When the LRA engaged the SPLA, typically the LRA fighters attacked first,
followed by a second attack by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of Khartoum.
Vincent Otti, who was for many years Kony’s deputy until he was executed, is
quoted as saying, as regards the LRA’s relationship with Khartoum :-

‘We had a very good relationship with Khartoum and the Chairman
(Kony) went there. Even me, I went several times’.

Kony had an official residence in Juba and received all-round support from
the Khartoum government. The South was at that time governed by the South
Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) lead by Riak Machar, presently
Vice-President of GOSS and a former associate of Garang, who had split from
the SPLM to form SSIM. According to Mareike

Schomous ( Schomous 2007 P25 ) Machar and Kony met at least once, in 1997.

Ugandan government information has tended to drive the public perception of
LRA activities. Talks arbitrated by GoSS lead by Riak Machar, between the
LRA/M and the Ugandan government started in 2006, with oversight from
Joachim Chissano, former Head of State of Mozambique. Despite the stop/start
nature of these meetings, they ultimately broke down, when Kony’s
outstanding writ issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), could not
be cancelled, leading him to return to military activity. The LRA is but the
latest proxy used by Khartoum to fulfill its aims. The Janjawid of Darfur is
another. There have been many armies used over the centuries to fight the
African people of the south and other parts of the country, by the central
authority, for pacification purposes.

*The unity of the Africans at home and abroad *

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

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

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

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

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

‘…The African movement itself, which was initiated by Black Americans in
reaction to discrimination against them, adopted the theme of the black
man’s dignity and freedom and his returning to his roots – while the black
Americans had neither knowledge nor concrete links with the African
continent, other than the colour of their skin. Hence the birth of what is

‘Africanism’ based on their African descent – but only with black Africa
in mind. African unity was to them as much a way of living the ancient
African empires of Ghana, Songhai, Mali and others, as it was the unity of
black Africa. With this, Africanism, before reaching the African continent
itself, took a separate path from Arab Africa. Egypt therefore, as well as
the rest of North Africa , had no connection with this particular African


Like the rest of the West, the United States and Britain have persistently
dealt with the civil war in Sudan as between the African and Christian South
against the Muslim Arab North. On the Wednesday 2nd September 2009, in
Cairo, the European Union foreign policy head, Javier Solana stated - ‘It is
very important to have the country (Sudan ) united’, going on to say ‘ I do
look at the map, I do look at the distribution of resources, I do look at
the situation…. I am for unity of the country’.

It does not make sense to put an end to the war in the South and leave it to
flare up in the Ingassana, Darfur, Nuba Mountains or Beja, especially when
the causes of the war are the same and the fighting groups have achieved a
kind of unifying body. Whereas the war is a circular one, the Naivasha peace
initiative and its CPA is a linear solution.

Two areas in Africa where the issue of racism has been at issue are
South(ern) Africa and South Sudan. How the issue was managed in both
instances provides some salutary lessons for the marginalized people of the
Borderlands in general, where millions of impoverished, unseen, black
Africans live in countries such as Libya and Algeria. In South Africa
western finance capital brought about, with minimum loss of life, the timely
end of apartheid, which was no longer internationally socially sustainable
as an intensive system of capital accumulation. In South Sudan there were no
such financial interests of the international community, to end Arab
oppression of Southern Sudanese Africans, who consequently had to fight
Khartoum in a bloody war in which over two million lost their lives.
Problems such as Mauritania and Darfur, with long historical antecedents,
will not be resolved by the North Americans, the Europeans, the Chinese or
by the United Nations, because they have shown, through the history that
they have little capacity to resolve core African historical weaknesses.

Windhoek, Namibia, November, 2009

*General bibliography *

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

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

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

Hashim,M.J. 2006 Islamisation and Arabisation of Africans as a means to
political power in the Sudan: contradictions of discrimination based on the
blackness of skin and stigma of slavery and their contributions to the civil
wars. In Bankie.B.F and

Mchombu.K (Eds) 2006. Pan-Africanism Strengthening the unity of Africa and
its Diaspora, Windhoek , Namibia : Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers

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

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

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

Schomerus,M. 2007 The Lord’s Resistance Army in Sudan: A history and
overview. Geneva, Switzerland, Small Arms Survey

Sharawy,H. 1999 Arab culture and African culture : ambiguous relations. In
The dialogue between Arab and other cultures, Tunis, Tunisia, The Arab
League, Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (ALECSO ).

Williams,C. 1976 The destruction of black civilization. Chicago, Third World
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