By Justin Ambago Ramba, MD
March 9, 2010 (SSNA) — The way how we south Sudanese relate to our fellow countrymen from the north will continue to bewilder us yet for a long time to come. The clarity defining south/north politics have unfortunately died with Anya Nya movement in the sixties, when southerners were expected to conform to a straight forward code of conduct that interaction unnecessarily with the Sudanese citizens from the north was seen as a sign of betrayal.
The above introduction is not to say that southerners never used to interact with the northerner in past far before the days of the Anya Nya. As tracing back to the days of the slave raids, indisputably many southerners were unfortunately involved in this disgraceful trade when they acted as middle men in exchange for things fire arms, beads, clothes, salt, sugar, and much minor things like the looking mirrors. Imagine selling a fellow southerner just in an exchange for a looking mirror. Unfortunately these trait genes are still inexistence till today as I write.
Elections held in post independent Sudan, revealed that many southerners did act as agents for the big sectarian parties of national Umma, or the Khatmiya DUP parties’ activities in the south. Some also went to playing roles of winning over supporters for those old Jallaba traders who were comfortably winning parliamentary seats in the south.
This compulsive tendency to serve the Arab’s interests dragged on until the time of the late Jaafar Nimeri, and throughout the life span of the Addis Ababa peace agreement and the southern regional government from 1972 – 1983, when the whole thing was later on blown off by none but the president himself. We can still remember when some of our old timers used to over exaggerate their praises for Nimeri, by saying that the president was the best northerner and the only one who had the concerns of the south at heart.
People in the south failed to realize that the north is formed of either secularists or Islamists, with the former being labelled as communist in an attempt to tarnish their images to the wider northern electorates who no doubt identify themselves with the latter camp largely as a result of their centuries of religious teachings, orientations and up bringing well as their strongly enrooted believe to identify with the Arab Islamic Middle East.
Late Nimeri who came to power with help of the communists in fact represented the average northerner with a Sufi Sunni Muslim background. He obviously chose a secular slogan for his coup simply because the system he changed was ran by sectarian Muslim elites who were preparing the country directly or indirectly to embrace an Islamic rule. Hence it was logical for Nimeri to ally with forces opposed to the establishment of a religious state, if he was to ever succeed and gain support.
It is already in history that Nimeri failed to convert to neither true secularism nor communism and in 1977 he was quick to reconcile with the Islamists thus blocking any chance for a secular Sudan. Who declared the Sharia Law in the Sudan, and abrogated the Addis Ababa agreement? Was it not the very Nimeri that southerners praised in every tribe’s traditional songs and dances? Yet he went and became a typical northerner and chose Islamic fundamentalism to secularism, a critical turn point in the history of this county and a development that can only be brought to rest when the country is finally divided into two.
Today south Sudanese are in partnership with the north in the government of national unity thanks to the CPA brokered by the US administration in 2005. As now as it stands I find it very disturbing to see southerners campaigning for any of the presidential candidates without compromising their positions on secession when all of these candidates are northerner unionists except for one who is a south Sudanese Islamist and of course a diehard unionist for that matter.
When the southerners refused to put forward a candidate to run for the presidency of the Sudan, except of course Abdulla Deng Nhial, Sheikh al Turabi’s nominee, it was concluded that, the southerners are seeing no reason to go for the post so as not complicate their position when it comes to vote for secession in the coming 2011 Referendum.
In the current presidential campaigns that kicked off since the 13th of February 2010, two distinct groups have surpassed the other parties in the magnitude of their campaigns. As seen in Khartoum the country’s national capital, the National Congress Party (NCP), of the incumbent president Omer al Bashir has went at length to put up a campaign that will go into the country’s history as the most extravagant. An amount of no less than four billion Sudanese pounds must have already been spent in Khartoum alone.
However the SPLM’s nominee the secular northern Muslim Yassir Saied Arman can also be seen mostly in the suburbs of the city, though he has decided to boycott the use of the state radio and TV in protest for the National Elections Commission’s proximity to the dominant NCP a position also shared by Sayed Sadiq al Mahdi the presidential candidate of the national Umma party.
The theme of this article is basically to address the disgraceful role being taken by some south Sudanese individuals or organisations who have lately taken up the role of roving the country left and right in their deafening campaigns for the two northern Muslim unionist presidential candidates. One being the SPLM’s nominee, Yassir Saied Arman and the other is the NCP nominee, the incumbent president Omer al Bashir. Each campaigning group is seen adamantly going around wooing the southern electorates to vote for its candidate of choice in what looks like saying, “ Look vote here, our northerner is better than their northerner!”
Since the southerners have decided not to run for the Sudanese presidency, then for the same reason we should maintain our dignity from running around and campaigning for the same northerners whom we have distasted as marginalizers. We had an opportunity to participate at all the levels of this elections, but it seems that when given the chance, we also went on to marginalize ourselves even further, by either nominating yet another northerner to represent us or prefer to continue with what we know best and that is to work hard to bring up a northern Arab to the presidency.
Running around to campaign for a northern Arab to come and preside on us using the slogan that, “our Arab northerner is better than theirs”, is both degrading and a reflection of a mind overridden by chronic servitude. And even if what is being done could a paid for job or a part of some people’s job discretions, the whole thing does appear well especially on some of our elders who have chosen to miswrite the last pages of their political lives.
Is it not true that the south is ready to face whoever comes up as a president in the north since we voluntarily chose not to contest? And would it not be very naive to trust another northern Arab after what late president Nimeri did to us? Any northerner can decide to put resistance to the full implementation of the CPA once he or she sees that the north’s interest can be served by so doing. So on our side we can only trust ourselves to be the sure guarantors of the CPA first, then come the US, UN, the IGAD and the international community, but never a single Arab for that matter.
To those who need a reminder, they should understand that a northern Arab’s home is in the north, and every northerner has the north’s interest at heart. We are better off keeping our friendships with the northerners at the personal level. Your northerner whoever they are, they are only good for you. Selling northern Arab candidates to southerner voters in nothing but an outright sell out.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” King Jr. Martin Luther
Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B. Ch, D.R.H, MD. The Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). The Party that stands for the Independence of South Sudan. He can be reached at either [email protected] or [email protected] All the articles of the author are available at www.nilebuffalo.com and blog http / / ussp-news.blogspot.com