The interviewee Mac Deng made false claims during the interview with the VOA for the reason known to him only.
First, Deng said, “I was driven out by war but the cause of war was not a meaningful thing that can divide us from being one people.” Is such a statement worth publishing? If the cause of war was not a meaningful thing that could divide Sudan, then why in the world was the section about the referendum put into the CPA with the sweat of negotiations?
Second, Mac distorted simple facts when he said: “Sudan is a rich country; it depends on oil. When that oil is cut in half it will become little for two nations. But not only that, there is a central part of Sudan called Abyei, which is geographically in the northern part. That part of the country is (inhabited by) Dinka people who are actually southern African people. If the country is divided they are going to be cut in the north and that’s where the oil lies. So the big percentage of the oil will be cut to the north and the smaller side will come to the south. And that would bring the economy down.”
Here, the logic of Mac’s argument is too naïve. A baby will even figure out that a food that will satisfy him or her when sharing in the same plate with another baby will still satisfy him or her when divided into two plates. If the oil satisfies Sudan when it is one, then why would it not satisfy it when it is divided into two? Mac may argue that the government-paid workers like ministers will increase when there are two governments, making oil revenues inadequate. That sounds great, but is it good to have a nation with many jobless people and call its economy a great economy?
The other obvious wrong information is Mac’s claim that a “big percentage of the oil will be cut to the north and the smaller side will come to the south” if Abyei became part of the North. Where did Mac get his data of oil’s locations from? Even if the Heglig oil fields in Unity States were given to North Sudan with Abyei, the oil in the South would still never be smaller than the oil in the North.
The laughing point that Mac made was this: “That part of the country [North Sudan] is (inhabited by) Dinka people who are actually southern African people.” Which book or article did Mac read to conclude that Dinka Ngok are from Southern Africa that even the renown scholar from Ngok area, Dr. Francis Mading Deng of Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT), who is quoted by many researchers on Dinka history, has not read?
It does not take a second to find articles online that say that “The origin and history of the Nilotics, the group to which the Dinka belong, is widely contested.” No historian actually has ever mentioned that any Dinka group came from Southern Africa. The only indicator that historians are looking into about the origin of Dinka is cattle. Cattle similarities between the current Dinka cattle and ancient Egyptian cattle associate Dinka people with ancient Egyptians. Historians say that “pictographs in temples of ancient Egypt depict cattle with striking resemblances to cattle today.”
Mac may say that what he means by Dinka Ngok as southern African people is that they are African Southern Sudanese. That is a possibility. But it would still be wrong to make such an argument because Southern Sudan is not claiming Abyei because it is inhabited by Africans. Southern Sudan is claiming Abyei because it was annexed to Northern Sudan in 1905.
This distorted news is what some people in the international community base their decisions on, when it comes to what they believe to be the “best interest” of South Sudanese.
The message that the international community should get is that South Sudanese have the rights to determine their own political future without interference from those who think that it is more blessing to have a united Sudan than the divided one. A forced unity of Sudan would be more blessing to those who have their special interest in the united Sudan. But the same people must remember that what counts is the interest of Southerners not the interest of outsiders who enjoy freedom in their countries.
Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He just graduated with a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and he is still pursuing a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org