By Martin Garang Aher
Northern Sudan had experienced tumultuous time in its history and is now grappling with the most austere political test it had never dreamt of - the break of the nation into two possible independent countries. This sincere and difficult development will come about as an achieved status quo resulting from political gerrymandering by many governments in the Sudan. The Sudanese government had often adopted covert policies to neglect people within their country and devised extreme measures of mistreatment to silence them. This pressure of injustice and maladministration had been applied to the people for approximately half a century.
When injustices outdo their limits, the masses always act on their own accord to demand justice for themselves. South Sudan was the first point of explosion as the pressure to demand justice and freedom mounted on the civil populace in Sudan. South Sudan has now alerted the Arab world that Islamaisation through slavery, sheer neglect of the people and conquest (through employment of divisive measures) has been halted. Throughout the entire Sudanese unity, much of what the people of South Sudan have offered to their united country (since independence from Anglo - Egyptian condominium) was a brotherly coexistence in a free and prosperous country. The first Sudanese civil war that ended in 1972 proved that citizens of South Sudan only demanded unity and togetherness - the rights of the citizenry to all Sudanese people - in the country through meaningful and compromising understanding. Southern Autonomy within a united Sudan was the vehicle through which this could be achieved.
But, Islamists in Sudan gave impression and erratic belief that infidels or non-believers can never lead them, or even share equal Rights with them in a democratic country. It is a woe of a belief which should be generalized to assume that no world government under a non-Muslim is desired by the people of Islamic Faith. Summary application of such a thought in Sudan had not been helpful. It falls short of respect for human dignity and becomes a weapon for not doing right to the people being governed. This fallacy of Divine call for mistreatment will make Sudan oppressive regimes that had ruled the country for decades carry the blame for any eventuality in Sudan. The unity of the country so desired today had been availed as an option for a period of time, but no one saw the repercussions of turning it down. This is why it is painful today to think or hear about south Sudan seceding from the country.
Many successive governments in Sudan, starting from the government of the Prime Minister Ismail al Azari to Omar el Bashir did little to heed the 'Call of Rights' by the oppressed in the country. Sudanese People’s expeditious attempts to keep the nation in harmony via equal treatment and value of the people had been recurrently downplayed. This will of togetherness by southerners has been demonstrated in many peace talks and also through violent arm struggle but to no compromise.
The latest test in which the people of south Sudan love to be in an autonomous state within the united Sudan was accorded to Khartoum in a Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005. Five years have passed since Sudan ushered in the peace but Khartoum is still arrogantly leaning on the traditional belief that it will ensnare the Southerners to vote for unity even though laxity in the implementation of the peace agreement remains a cardinal mischief characterizing its drag on the peace provisions and penultimate demands.
The ultimate demand of CPA is where the citizens of South Sudan and the adjacent marginalized areas, and who are partners in the peace process that was signed in 2005, are allowed to exercise their democratic rights to choose the Sudan they would like to join. That is, a choice between New Sudan and Old Sudan. National Congress Party has again routinely thwarted this CPA protocol with a view to derailing the peace and tranquillity that had settled into the minds of the people. At the border, NCP is amassing troops; a troubling and a masterminding sign to drive the country back into war anew.
The question they should ask themselves is whether war with the south will begin in Yei this time or at the border, and whether aerial bombardment of the cities in south Sudan will be exclusive to southern cities and not northern cities this time around? Any war in Sudan in 2011 will be a war that will be very close to everyone’s children. And this should be marked very clearly.
Recently, Egyptian and Libyan Arab brotherhood had been revealed when they all expressed support for a Sudanese unity and pressured Khartoum to do whatever is probable to keep the country united. Gadaffi accentuated Support for one entity of Sudan stressing fears that the whole of Africa will break up. This was an irresponsible statement from African Union leader. Human Life is important and preserving its sanctity is a noble and moral calling than dismantling territorial boundaries. Sinking mountains and drain out rivers do not mark African borders. Borders can be reshaped but people cannot be procreated once they are lost. The same imaginary phenomenon of borders is right and abounds throughout the rest of the world. Asia has never ceased to carry its name and will of power after peaceful secessions of India and Pakistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and Indonesia and East Timor.
If Sudan is keen about territorial boundaries, why is it not talking about The Elemi Triangle with the republic of Kenya and Ethiopia? This is a productive area with unknown reserves of mineral endowments. The other case is the Hala’ib Triangle taken over in a broad day light by Egypt. It has been annexed with all the Sudanese citizens residing in it. Recent population census and democratic elections in the Sudan following the CPA were not carried out in Hala’ib and Elemi Triangles. Is there any reason why the government is soft on foreign aggression and annexation but tough on its citizens' demands for rights?
Sudan should not dwell on the factor of unity for no apparent reasons. It has the moral and state duty to protect the Messeria and the Baggara from endangering themselves through future hostile clash with the southern army by dissuading them not to think of Abyei as their area of jurisdiction. If Messeryia vote wherever they graze their animals, then why don’t they vote in Aweil and Warrap states?
Baggara are the last tools in the NCP human arsenals. They will not escape the wrath of Riverine Arabs who always discard people after they have served their purpose and continue to pinch them should argumentation ensues. Darfur war is a clear and an unmistakable Sudanese government heedlessness and disrespect for the people who made it possible to keep southerners at bay for twenty years in the war of a new Sudan. Darfuis formed the bulk of government militias that tormented South Sudan during the lengthy period of war. Today all weapons of the Sudan Armed Forces are stored in Nyala ready to be used against the Furs.
Baggara must learn to know the government they serve well. They must read into the history of Sudanese tactics of starting with the furthest enemy. The Anya Nya war between Khartoum and south Sudan was almost exclusively fought by the Nuba people who were the government’s favorite source of manpower. The war with SPLA/M saw the government targeted the Nuba people harshly while favoring the Fur and the Baggara as the favorite source of manpower against the southerners. Today, Furs are the enemies and Baggara are the immediate darlings. The question is who is next? And what about the united Sudan portrayed as a peaceful matrimony? It may not be a realistic union but an ideal type.
Unions are not always permanent. And this includes the integrity of a country as a united legal entity. In Africa, the then East African Community (comprising of Kenya, Uganda and a united Zanzibar and Tanganyika) which saw the early African renaissance in trade broke up and abandoned many services that were ran jointly by one regional body such as East African Airline and East African Customs and trade. But the same body has been revived after a fairly negotiated settlement in the spirit of a new and mutually benefiting trade bloc.
Ethiopia is another country where dissidence had been the order of relations between the government of Emperor Haile selassie, President menghistu haile Mariam and Eritrean TPLF (Tigray Peoples Libration Front) and OLF (Oromo Liberation Front). Since the 1993 secession of Eritrea, no any of the other warring groups in Ethiopia had demanded an analogous request as Eritrea.
Africa in general has never disintegrated because of Eritrean freedom. Eritreans were justified and this is the similar condition in which marginalized Southern Sudanese and others are held in at present. The Arab world should not be disheartened by what is going to transpire in Sudan following January 9, 2011. It is an experiment that has gone berserk and people are left without any preference but to opt for destiny and life over terrorization and enslavement. And they are geared up to sacrifice everything to get it.
The recent strong wording from president Obama is quite encouraging to Sudan and Africa in general. The Arabs are the same the world over, bullies, enslaving pundits, terrorists and pretentious killers. Not all Arabs are bad but all Muslims are terrorists to every nation including America. If America stands and watch what is going on in Sudan, they will be surprised by the reemergence of another terrorist wing in Sudan. The results are always felt in New York and other American cities. America must dismantle the Sudanese airpower if it wants to avoid civilian casualties in the events of war between the south and the north following the referendum and popular consultations.
The continent of Africa must also be vigilant for Arabization is trickling down south faster and menacingly than ever. It is a south Sudanese problem now, but it will be an all Africa problem in future. If Sudanese militias (Zaghawa) could bring down a government in Chad and Ange-Felix Patasse of Central Africa, which country can be safe in Africa? The government in Khartoum is a terrorizing lump to all Africa and the black Africa in Particular. Uganda is the only African country that understands this fully well. The rest of Africa must wake up to the realities of Islamic black side.
Africa should embrace stern measures in dealing with dreadfulness in food, diseases and political oppression. This requires reformation in the AU charter that prevents meddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations. With this charter unchanged, Africa will continue to wallow in the mess of wars and neocolonialism economic ideologies. Africa must not be left to free thinkers like Nelson Mandela. Africa of Nelson Mandela is tantamount to Africa of Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana in 1960s and Gadhaffi of Libya in this century. Some of the ideologies by these strong men are somehow impractical.
This is the Africa where states of affairs are allowed to chart their own courses without political pressure applied to oppressing regimes. It is ridiculous and inhumane to watch people die while playing a messianic mission. Even the Messiah gave up his own life for the oppressed. In this regards, it is everyone’s hope that Thabo Mbeki will play a fair-haired game in the Sudanese deceptive politics while wearing a white shirt. He must remain unstained throughout this mission and must not try to act Gandhi and Mandela in due course. Sudanese politics is full of lies and tough stance on any negotiations is necessary.
What we have in Sudan is no different from apartheid in South Africa in the twentieth century. That was the reason why pan Africans, both at home and in the Diasporas, garnered for support and faced the apartheid government unblinkingly. South Africans recently harvested the result of Pan African Movement when they hosted the first world cup in Africa. They knew that without empathies and actions of other African brothers, all would be different.
Massive threats and propaganda have become the norm in the Sudanese media of late. If the intentions were to force southerners to vote for unity, then the question that remains indelible in the minds of the voters in southern Sudan would be the nature of the credibility in a forced unity rather than by choice and what would happen should someone vote for unity amid threats and curses. Of course Sudanese government traditional threats and killings will not abate even if Sudanese in the south vote for a united Sudan. So, why die in unity and not in separation? Southerners must be left alone.
It is possible the government in Khartoum is squandering referendum and popular consultations time on Abyei. NCP must not waste time on Abyei for Abyei is the ultimate curse for them. If they choose to go to war because of this oil rich state, then they have to know that southern Sudanese know nothing else other than war and they are ready to turn around and fight for self defense.