Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sudan: The war of fiction

In 1884, in the Berlin Conference, the Europeans decided to set off for Africa. Which in the mid 1800's was considered a land ripe for violation - they, of course, used the terms trade, exploration and settlement. In arrogant rhetoric, the Europeans considered Africa a "disputed territory".

This disputed territory was "disputed" because it didn't belong to any of the prominent countries at the time; and because it didn't have any squiggly lines encompassing a name of a country written in Times New Roman font. And so the rampage began.

Africa was divided between seven European countries. The conquest of Africa was done in an astronomically condescending fashion, with no regard to local customs, culture or belief systems. The locals were tamed forcefully and financially.

Britain got Sudan, and unfortunately for them, Sudan was complicated. They found a medley of remnants of old civilizations and religious conquests, local tribes and seasonal nomads. They were discombobulated.

When they finally left, the British left Sudan as how we see it today - including South Sudan. They were well aware of the differences between the North, South, East and West.

It is fair to say that the border demarcations throughout Africa have been done arbitrarily with colonial interest in mind. They were drawn up to either ease control of the area or for trading purposes.

The Africans were then made to believe that they belong within these borders, and regardless of culture or religious beliefs they have a moral duty to the land demarcated for them.

Sudan's border dispute with South Sudan is not unique, it has been plaguing Africa for decades now ever since the 'Scramble for Africa'. It is a shame that we argue for and against war based on lines drawn by foreigners for us to manage. We base our patriotism on these arbitrary lines, and call out others on not respecting them. We sacrifice the lives of the poor and desperate to protect what is 'ours'.

The current conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is a direct reflection of Western arrogance and assumed superiority. The United Kingdom even has the audacity to comment and 'urge restraint and cooperation'. Whether it's a resource war or not, border disputes are silly and wasteful. We buy weapons from Western countries to defend borders they have drawn up for us. Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?

We can always argue that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement addressed the border issues and that there should be legal consequences. However, the CPA itself was somewhat conjured up and supported by the West.

In this context, patriotism based on borders is a flawed concept for us, and the foundations for this war-to-be are as fictitious as Omar Al Bashir's reading abilities.


mashoy said...

Good post brother! historically you are right in some points, namely the colonialism who lead to discriminate people and divided them to a groups by drawing border between them, however, this borders were previously exist between ethinic groups,nations, so it's hard to blame just British, or Europian colonialism for creating such a problem, though they have a large part of it, the border between Sudan S.Sudan are exist from the begining, and British just came to enhance the isolation between each others,

Reem said...

Thank you for this. However you are in grave danger of being called a racist and other un-patriotic names because you are stating what is a basic fact: South and North Sudan never were and never can be the same thing. Neither is superior to the other, but they are technically different people with different cultures and cannot be forced to live under the same rules.

Reem said...
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Nada said...

As attractive as the arguments you present against war may be, there is an inherent danger in this type of thinking. I will draw your attention to you post on identity and your claim that identity is what you find yourself in and consequently what you commit to. If we are to have a country to which we belong and with which we identify as Sudanese, then we must adopt whichever borders there are at the moment and move on from there. The problem now is that we do not have a concept of citizenship which includes every one and to which every one wants to belong. We start talking about differences and arbitrary borders and we definitely loose our footing!

She Books said...

I agree with what you said about this being an externally manipulated situation since it's initiation, and that yes these borders were dictated for us, however, these are the borders that have unfortunately been there and accepted since the independence of our country, until the CPA, however I would like to point out that regardless of who influenced the agreement, and who drew the borders, they are set and accepted and have been violated, and should be defended. I wish it weren't so, but it is. I really like your blogs though, my thoughts on the final line which I found extremely humourous was, thank god the man lives in Kuwait.

aesh said...
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cordonedsudan said...

I must agree with Nada. While your post is noble in intent, we shouldn't be over-ambitious. We have far more grave and serious threats to consider. For one the Sudanese economy has been dismantled by the ineptitude of these unwelcome ideological Islamists. Secondly, tribal identities are increasing and self-awareness from once 'marginal' groups focusing on the Center-Periphery dichotomy is having detrimental consequences.

The Sudanese (as a whole) must conjure a social construct that describes the citizen relationship to the State. The separation of South Sudan is without a doubt unfortunate. But it was necessary. There is a latent agreement that South Sudan is in fact its own distinct nation. Any aims to unify our regions should be constructed in the paradigm of a pan-regionalism that respects and identifies the distinctness of the South Sudanese identity, just as Quebec is done in Canada. Only through decades -- perhaps centuries -- of patience and intellectual and economic growth can we attempt to construct a greater regional project of unity.

For the time being, we must focus on immediate issues:
(1) Understanding and Adopting the pillars of democracy: The right to assemble, the clarity in forming party platforms and party positions, the exercise in uniting constituents, and the discipline of building rule of law and respect for the democratic process.

These are not just token words. They have proven consequences.