International Dialogue on State-building and National Development in South Sudan
Convened by the African Research and Resources Forum (ARRF) and the Centre for Peace and Development Studies (CPDS) at the University of Juba, Juba, South Sudan
September 23- 23, 2011
September 23- 23, 2011
Foreign policy options for the Government of South Sudan post self-government.
There is a tendency in Sudan studies especially in the South, to see issues exclusively from the internal perspective, which is understandable, given the history of South Sudan and its geo-political location.
The paper finds it’s rational in the existence of the new state of Southern Sudan since 9 July 2011. Going back into the history, it was noted that the report of African Union (AU) High Level Panel for Darfur, set up in 2009, was the first report of the continentalist body to acknowledge the Sudan as an African issue, declaring Sudan a ‘bridge between north Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa’. Southern Sudan joins the global African community as a state entity.
Apparently Article 2.9 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement CPA) should explain the fact that to date the South under GoSS has yet to articulate a firm position as to where it fits in Africa and the global African community. This we note from the absence of policy pronouncements, as regards the past history of the area occupied by South Sudan and Sudan in north east Africa. The Kush Institution established in 2008 in Juba was to handle this lacuna.
For informed Africans located elsewhere than in north east Africa this lack of clarity creates a vacuum of expectations. Perceptions based on field studies and analysis would indicate that the centre of gravity in the unity movement of the Africans globally, is shifting away from continental to sub-Saharan considerations. The Founding Fathers of the OAU did not incorporate the fractious relations in the Afro-Arab borderlands in the Sahel in their calculations, in their composition of their African nation. Rather they based their calculations on geographic identity. This amounted to a denial of history, as the experience of South Sudan, Darfur , Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Nubia attest.
Apparently it will take time for Africans to come to terms with what happened in South Sudan. Silence on the issue will delay this process. It will not stop it. The consequent impact of the South Sudan experience on the unity movement will have profound implications/applications for Africans in general and this will be a two way process, affecting also the South. History to date has made it such that the majority of Africans are ignorant of the realities of events in north east Africa. The paper considers for how long such a policy can be sustained and the various ramifications.
The institution of slavery is a matter on which information is either suppressed or not available. Both Arabs and Africans are reluctant, unwilling or unable to bring the facts to the common knowledge of the two peoples, either by way of curriculum reform or academic research. The approach has been (Laya 2005) to not raise questions of legitimacy of the state, and in the name of ‘national unity’ reference to slavery is prohibited . Laya affirms that in the spirit of the African Renaissance it would be best to not ignore the unhappy period of slavery. In his view, historically, there was a close relationship between the trans-Atlantic and the trans-Saharan slave trades.
Ancient Kush, located in present day northern Sudan was strongly influenced by Egypt for some 1000 years beginning in 2700 BC. Subsequently Egypt’s power in Sudan waned. In the sixteenth century Muslim religious brotherhoods spread through northern Nubia. These plus the Ottoman Empire, ruled the area through military leaders for some three centuries. In 1820 Muhammad Ali, who ruled Egypt on behalf of the Ottomans, sent 4000 troops to Sudan. This invasion resulted in the Ottoman-Egyptian rule of Sudan from 1821 to 1885. Slavery in the Sudan took hold during this priod,when it was made state policy. Slavery became a cash commodity when the Europeans started making incursions into the continent to procure slaves. In the western reference and Sudanese context, mulatto means white, Jallaba, means of mixed race from the North of the Sudan. The Jallaba were the procurers of slaves who led raiding squads backed by formidable armies. As Egyptian rule faltered, the Jallaba hoped to inherit governance of the Sudan. The late Dr John Garang de Mabior (2008) refers to the Jallaba as Afrabians, a hybrid of different races and nationalities, including black Africans, immigrant Arabs, Turks, Greeks and Armenians, that first evolved during the 15th century and have since always chosen to identify themselves as Arabs, even though many are black. Hashim states that the political Right, descendants of the Jallaba, has ruled the Sudan since self-government in 1955. While the Sudan might have been expected to join Africa, it chose to join Arabia as a second-class member. When the northern elite was installed in power in Khartoum by the departing Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, they considered the Sudan as consisting of their fellow noble Arabs of the centre North area; the Muslim Africans of the periphery (with possible Arab blood) undergoing rapid Arabisation; and the slaves, being blacks with no authority to rule.
Looking at the socio-cultural structure of Sudanese society, Hashim (unpublished paper) refers to the development of a new ideological consciousness of race labelled ‘Arabised Sudanese’. Skin colour came to distinguish racial differentiation. So that in the Sudanese context a light-brown person was an Arab and a black African was seen as a slave. The stigma of slavery and blackness meant marginalisation and the prestigma represented the non-blacks, the Arabs who were at the centre. This type of alienation has been in place in the Sudan for over five centuries and continues until today. In the Middle-East the Sudanese Arab is considered too dark and is treated as a second class Arab. The blacks of the Sudan, who have completely assimilated Islamo–Arab culture and religion (such as the Darfuri) are discriminated against by the Arabised mulattos of the centre of the Sudan, and are seen as slaves, too African and thus worthy of being dehumanised by genocide.
In a paper on the impasse of post-colonial relations, Simone (2005) refers to the legacy of Afro-Arab slavery as having distorted the relations between two major nationalities in our world, the African and the Arab. This, he explains, is because the descendants of the slavers have never publicly condemned or even admitted the abuses of the past to the descendants of those who were abducted and whose lands were raided. This is a major factor in explaining why slavery continues today. Despite the adoption of the Arab Charter on Human Rights by the Arab League in September 1994, slavery abides. In December 2005, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) adopted a Ten-Year Program of Action, promoting issues such as tolerance, moderation and human rights. This has not affected the lives of the people living in Islamic states such as the Sudan and Mauritania. The issue of slavery cannot be divorced from that of reparations and restitution, as stated in the Declaration of the Conference on Arab-Led slavery of Africans, held Johannesburg on 22 February 2003 (CASAS Book Series No. 35, Cape Town).