By Abdirahman Mohamed Dirye
October 18, 2010 (SSNA) — After devastating conflict with huge loss of life of more than three decades, South Sudanese are at doorstep of marking a turning point in their history, at the moment the people in Juba, Wow, and Malakal towns are expecting excitingly that their long overdue dream of having homeland of their own might come true in short period of time, with only three months away or so from now on, the exciting prospect of statehood is coincided with massing troops on both sides of the demarcated line, so that the alarm bell rang in advance causing the horrible images of death and destruction of the past years haunting again in the minds of many, the previous stories of slaughter of thousands of innocent lives touched the hearts of the Christians; Muslims alike, of course, it was profoundly moving sagas, the magnitude of the genocide puzzled the free world as much as Africa, Arabs from the north committed a unprecedented scale of murder more than the civilian casualties of Dresden city of Germany in the Second World War or Al qaeda’s single terror attack on the World Trade Centre which resulted the death of three thousand Americans at once; as a result, the south’s cause for justice had captured the world mass media and as result earned a sympathy from all walks of life.
Besides abundance of minerals including oil, gold, and diamond, the size of the South Sudanese government (SSG) territory is ten percent larger than Kenya.
The struggle of the South Sudanese people which SPLM shouldered the burden of war which lasted in the course of forty years had started whether southerners TO BE OR NOT TO BE, but not aimed at independence at the all from the start, John Garang, the greatest African hero of his time, and William Ding led that disastrous campaign which was inevitable at the time to victory, the legacy of such great men is celebrated one not only in The New Sudan but the wider Africa. Their peregrination in search of liberty and equality become fruitful, the south is very much owed to these great leaders, they died for the cause of justice and equality under the law, they paved the way for nationhood leaving the present and unborn generations of Africa free and celebrating, they passed away leaving great invaluable possessions behind them, they are still immortal in the hearts of freedom-lovers across the continent.
Humiliation and ignoring of South politicians’ demands were run high for the past forty years, despite the fact that South Sudanese asked Khartoum of Arab dominated government many times a peaceful negotiation to resolve their differences before they go out of control; anyway, four decades of sustaining guerilla-style of run-and-hit attacks along with simmering division among cadre in Khartoum based government brought Arab Northerners to their knees; forced to sign Kinshasa peace pact and as a result, the South commanded real respect from the Northerners. A language of force is the only music the ears of tyrannies of Arabs as well as Africans can hear. Falling under unprecedented pressure, Khartoum military regime hit a brick wall and gave up.
Hassan Turabi’s release from house arrest and his infamous statement “NAAS MAATU FIL JUNUUB MAA SHUHADAA BAL FADIIS” which is roughly translates “the people who raided the South and died as result are not martyrs but dead donkeys because they were aggressors” was not significant because his direct catastrophic involvement South-North issue, a Somali saying “ LABADII XAQDARO KU SHESHIISAA XAQAY KU COLLOWDAA” which literally mean “two men who agreed injustice will surely disagree truth” was fit for the setting; however, Darfurians were a part and parcel of the north. Expecting their share of the cake, the south oil, they fought heroically against people who had nothing to do with them. Illusion is always illusion, so Hassan Turabi, Saqaawa by tribe, criticism of Khartoum government policy did not mean he was not complacent in the wide massacre of the south Sudan people, of course, he was big hawk. He engineered the conspiracy of marginalization, but he later realized that it was a big mistake to create mullahcracy based on social injustice of its citizens, Darfurians who live in backwater villages of stone-age era were taken for ride.
It is only centuries ago when poverty-stricken Arabs whose kids died of thirst crossed from Arabian Peninsula into Sudan and welcomed by Nuer, Dinka, and other hospitable tribes of South Sudan. These floods of Arabs whose abject misery documented both in the Bible and the Quran settled a fertile land without any trouble, and then waited if the indigenous folks would make uprising; drive them back, but with generosity of African chiefs they were allowed to live peaceful; they gave Arabs an inch and they took a mile, Arabs have annoying habit of the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but who grasps all loses all. South Sudanese left north Sudan heading southward to help the new guests find enough territory, but a sort of greedy character surfaced among the new arrivals, many South Sudanese super elites begun to feel agitated, but sympathized their ordeal, and the plight that displaced from their original homes; consequently, they were accepted to live not like second or third-class citizens but as equal nationals, not like Bidouns of Kuwait or Khaals of Saudi Kingdom ( the term is usually used to refer Saudi slaves of black ancestry in 21 century!).
While many foreign students were given the opportunity to study at B University or N University for free of charge, thousands of Southerners are fighting to eat, whereas thousands of Bangladesh cheap labor were imported to work as hospital sweepers and garbage collectors in Khartoum, thousands of southern families are without food and shelter under sweltering conditions of Sakhaanah(burning phenomenon in Sudan), when you look at Souqul Arabi and the number of Egyptian construction workers that go through in the early morning of each day, you decide that no local person is an unemployed let alone without basic need, its shameful behavior for the government of Khartoum to allow Egyptians do such odd jobs while its nationals are below poverty line! The needs of local community take precedence over Pan-Arabism if totalitarians in Khartoum are not naïve, how they can sell unity to the forgotten sectors of the society while their jobs went to outsiders!
After so many casualties of the deadliest conflict in the continent between SPLM and Sudan national armed forces, the hope of exploiting oil resources in the South Sudan without signature of its owners was not only dashed but abandoned altogether. The North Sudanese come to their senses that such status quo would not be sustained in the long term, they asked themselves whether the sacrifices of Arab youth lives towards plundering someone else’s natural wealth were worthwhile; whether the wide scale bloodshed of the South Sudanese non-combatant people would be forgettable or even if people- to-people relationship is reparable to make a room for Arab businesspeople to remain and conduct business activities in Jubba or other major towns in the South in case southerners become outright independent country, this matter and many more remained “enigmatic.”
The marginalization of Southerners took many forms , distancing them from main posts of previous governments was the norm, in addition, access to higher education denied, calling names such as plebs and missing-tooth men was the daily reality, and ultimately the declaration of Sharia Law upon heterogeneous nation like The Sudan kept South Sudanese Christians at the sidelines of the society.
It was deliberate action intended to keep immersed in ignorance, similarly, the ongoing Darfur crisis caused by the same factors.
Whenever Omar Bashir pay visit to troubled region of Darfur, he have common saying and beautiful Sudanese dance of waving his hands upwards “Darfur ardul Quran” which means Darfur is the land where the Quran originates, but this is smokescreen and sort of faith stunt tactic ,when Darfurians found out that Omar is paying lip service to Islam and a simply quoted Quranic verses just like poetry to stir the feeling of marginalized people in order to give temptation of false martyrdom, they shocked to the core. Afro-Arab context the fuel and the firewood of deadly wars are the vulnerable, the poor, who can easily be exploited by using rhythm of religious dimension.
Since Comprehensive Peace known as the CPA was signed between the two parties ,the North and the South ,with backing of the international community, Northern Sudanese who are somewhat better educated are engaged in unhealthy confidence-building campaign to deceive unfortunate folks in south Sudan by giving luxury cars such as BMW and fake positions to SPLM youth to make unity attractive choice to them, but time-buying or loyalty-buying would not work out as long as the men such as Silva kiir , a man of principle, is alive ; however, these tactics seem harmless in comparing what is going behind the curtail, massively organized immigration of Arab tribes in disguise of Masiiriya, minority clan of South Sudanese decent but a Muslim by faith, into oil rich region of Abyay is underway in pursuit of oil and land grab.
Nonetheless, such desperate steps of grabbing resourcing of other similar communities are not only jeopardize the region’s stability unless the Northerners are warned by the regional powers but also reignite all- out wars and return the country to bitter battles “…….there is enough for every one’s need, but not every one’s greed” Gandhi . Because their share of the national wealth is sufficient even if the South Sudanese decide to live on their own. The grief-stricken people of the Southern Sudan put the past behind and want to move forward, despite injustices inflicted upon them, although the southerners are original inhabitants of Sudan, they willingly desire to live with northerners as equal neighbors but not dominated ones as before. The days of overrepresentation by North Sudan are counting day by day, hour by hour, like it or not the era of domination over other Sudanese tribes by Ja’li clan is bound to an end. The Darfurians took arms to assert their rights; eastern tribes of Port Sudan shook the foundation of Khartoum regime which is unlawful not only internationally but also domestically.
Above all, the resettlement of thousands of Eritreans, Palestinians, Somalis, and Syrians by providing Sudanese national ID cards such as passports poses threat not only to South Sudanese but the entire nation, but the main goal is to distort the referendum result or at least de-legitimize the outcome whereby claiming that the people of South Sudan voted for unity! Initially, why then did they fight against Khartoum almost for four decades? Maybe to see how heaven look like when they pass away or maybe they liked to die in vain! But surely not, moreover, the people from the South devoted much of their time and paid much effort to put their country on the international map through the barrel of the gun by sacrificing the most precious resource they have: the blood of their youth, so it will feasible to reaffirm their will easily through the ballot boxes in the plebiscite on independence on January 11, 2010, philosophically speaking, right can be wrong and vice versa, so innocence can be naivety, truth can be a lie, and the like, southerners should not be innocent in the fateful day and repeat likewise gaffes of their elders. Everyone in the south must be fully prepared to D-Day of independence. Since Somaliland have historical attachment and share a painful experience of genocide with South Sudan, any decision to go alone will have huge positive impact on Somaliland, an unrecognized nation in the Horn, in the future, the two nations have very much in common, whereas a recognition of South Sudan government is at the hand as soon as the people vote for their statehood, the international community sent Somaliland to Coventry, in other words, the Somaliland search of acknowledgment become like Ark Covenant.
If the majority of the people in Jubba are said to have chosen a unity instead of separation, the armed struggle was pointless then, the lives of many martyrs including John Garang, the charismatic leader, has gone in vain!
I think the future of the South Sudanese people of going alone as outright independent country lies in the hallow hand of that people, all they do is to cast their vote in favor of separation and put their northern ex-masters to shame, that would not be without adventures, risk-taking is necessary in such case, it is up to people of the South Sudan to stop the bribery of the fifty percent oil revenues that go undeserved target and avenge their relatives’ death by voting in favor of Jubba, no compromise to the right-of-self determination.
If the people in Aljazeera or Shendi province wish to have Egyptians or Eritreans as neighbors instead of South Sudanese they are daydreaming, whether they like it or not, South Sudanese are here to stay forever till to Judgment day, self-styled Arabs of Sudan have no right whatsoever to choose their neighbor. Southerners are aborigines of here, so that if Arabs of Shendi ,who equally dark , do not like the original inhabitants here must move away somewhere else such as Saudi kingdom if they take them back or live with the landlords because neither Arabs are a sea organisms nor Southerners are land creatures . Coexistence as brotherly partners is very much likely.
The Sudan had different rules during British rule like two entities, though it is said to have one colonial master, Great Britain, for instance, what once referred as “the Closed Districts” had especial rules completely different from the rest of the country, there is no common denominator between the north and south Sudan, north is Muslim and claimed to have Arab origin, but south is either Christian or a worshiper of old African religions and pure African ,furthermore, the persecution and perdition of the south for their religious beliefs are widely documented by human rights organizations; however the south is entitled to go its own way if they choose to do so in the next referendum.
Sudan is both in state of celebration if things go as planned and condition of mourning if things go wrong; however, the south Sudan is in turning point, they are extremely euphoric to see their country in the pipeline. New chapter of history is unfolding in the very eyes of everyone both proponents as well as opponents of their nationhood. The jubilation of South masses is already begun.
North Sudan is responsible a practically annihilating the Southerners apparently no reason at the all; therefore, any trial t o prevent their statehood from happening will reinvigorate the already tense situation; they ought to congratulate once South Sudan declare independent nation even prior to the referendum schedule.
With only three months away when the South Sudanese people will establish their first motherland and become masters of their own fate, and terminate living death that many southern Sudanese blokes went through ,the celebratory atmosphere is running high , but the so called Arabs of Aljazeera should refrain from anything that deem provocation bearing in the mind that their youth’s bones still laid unburied in the Uganda border, what brought them there is mystery, maybe they were trying massively to convert the southerners ; anyway, it’s a painful history for both sides, the repetition of such grave mistake of retaining the same masters who wronged your people and raided your cattle would have dire consequences for the region, my fellow countrymen and women of Somaliland who live across the five continents are looking forward this momentous event with great pleasure, wishing them well, if the south vote in favor of independence, the dwindling enthusiasm of Somaliland cause will gain momentum again globally.
The Author is a Somaliland volunteer, and activist based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He can be reached at: [email protected]