Home | News    Wednesday 19 October 2005

Alcohol production highlights division between North and South Sudan

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

Oct 16, 2005 (KHARTOUM) — Life is difficult in northern Sudan for southern Sudanese displaced by civil war. Many have little or no education, and most cannot find decent jobs. Brewing alcohol in their homes is one way southern Sudanese women earn money to support their families. But they also risk arrest, because liquor is illegal under Sudan’s strict Islamic law. The mostly Christian southerners feel they should not have to obey Islamic law.

JPEG - 11.3 kb
No champagne for the wedding couple here; Sudan celebrations take place without alcohol. (jimrogers.com).

There is a celebration in Haj Yousef, a ghetto on the outskirts of Khartoum, which houses displaced southern Sudanese. The celebration, called a Karam, marks the reunion of a husband and wife who have been apart.

Mary Paul has returned to her husband after eight months visiting relatives in south Sudan. She is sharing her celebration with three friends who have just been released from prison.

The women were incarcerated for brewing alcohol, which is illegal under Sudan’s strict Islamic code of law, called Shari’a. But southern Sudanese women, who often have little education and many children, find that brewing cheap alcohol in their homes is one way to earn money to feed themselves and their families.

Although it is illegal, the production and sale of liquor in Sudan is rampant. Last spring, Sudan’s Interior Ministry announced it was beginning a campaign to close down illegal breweries.

Gizenga Willow Yamba, a displaced southern Sudanese who works with a Canadian relief organization in camps for internally displaced, says many southern women are sent to prison each month for illegal brewing in and around Khartoum.

"The number of women is ranging over 200 women in prison, because of brewing. This means what? This means the consumption is there. It is not open, but it is being smuggled," he says.

Mr. Yamba says northern and southern Sudanese drink alcohol, but the brewers are mainly southern women who produce the alcohol in their homes, risking arrest.

Three weeks to one month in prison, plus a fine, is the usual sentence for brewers or drinkers. If no fine is paid, the sentence is extended to two months in jail.

Anjuma Henry spent three weeks in prison for brewing zenzibel, a potent liquor made from a fruit of the same name. Ms. Henry began brewing alcohol because she could find no other work. She has only completed school through the seventh grade and strong racist sentiment in the north often prevents southern Sudanese from attaining work.

Local Christian churches have been pleading with parishioners to stop brewing liquor. The home brews can also be dangerous because of additives that can be potentially lethal. Last March, 20 Sudanese died and six others were blinded after drinking from a particularly strong batch of alcohol.

Alcohol brewing is one component of the strong cultural conflict between the mostly Muslim north and mostly Christian south Sudanese. Alcohol is forbidden under Islamic law. A campaign by the Khartoum government to enforce Islamic laws across the country was one reason for Sudan’s two-decade war. A January peace agreement ended the war, but the hostility continues.

Carmella Angelo was imprisoned for three weeks for brewing a potent date liquor, called aragi. She says the guards in the prison mocked and humiliated her for being a southern Sudanese.

She says, "In the prison, the police provoked the women constantly." They asked questions like "Now, after the peace agreement, do you want to return to the south or do you want to stay in the north?" She says the police asked, "why don’t you go home?" She says the women told them, "We want to go back to the south immediately."

Along with the humiliation, the women said they lived in deplorable conditions in the prisons.

Theresa Ancheto also spent three weeks in prison. It was her second time in jail for illegal brewing.

She says conditions in the prison were terrible. "It was very difficult to get food and water, even for the pregnant women." She says the women were humiliated, the guards beat them and insulted them for no reason.

The women who brew alcohol are afraid of going back to prison. But the little money they earn is a powerful incentive for them to continue taking the risk.

Mary Joseph was released from prison one-year ago. She says she tried to find legitimate work, but could not. She has returned to brewing alcohol in her home to support herself and her two children.

She says she is afraid of going back to prison. But there is no way out. She says she’s not educated and has no certificates, and that is how you get a good job. She says that is why she is surviving on alcohol. She says, if she could get another job, she would do something else, "but, right now, there is nothing."

The three women who were recently released from prison say they will not return to brewing alcohol. But they acknowledge they have few other prospects.

(VOA/ST)

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article


 
 

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


Uganda’s military intervention in South Sudan under international law 2014-04-19 09:37:28 Is there foreign policy principle justifying Uganda’s military intervention in South Sudan civil war and under whose authority could the exercise be carried out? By Kuajien Lual Wechtuor April (...)

Al-Bashir’s decree fell short of Sudan’s demands 2014-04-17 09:57:38 By Mahmoud A. Suleiman Ampril 16, 2014 - This article comes against the backdrop of the Decree number 158 of 2014 passed by the National Congress Party (NCP) president Marshal Omer Hassan Ahmed (...)

Why hiring a lawyer if you can buy a judge 2014-04-17 09:11:43 By Dong Samuel Luak April 16, 2014 - Many people in South Sudan are asking, how long did it take President Salva Kiir to plan all this tragedy befalling our young country now? Recruitment, (...)


MORE




VIDEOS



Latest Press Releases


UNICEF supports emergency response for children in Sudan with 89 tons of life-saving supplies 2014-04-19 09:47:06 Khartoum, 18 April 2014 --- Today in Khartoum airport, UNICEF received 89 tons of life-saving supplies to support the humanitarian response to children affected by emergencies in various hot (...)

Letter to the South Sudanese government on the ratification of the African Charter 2014-04-16 06:24:18 Letter to the Government of South Sudan on the ratification of the African Charter H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit President of the Republic of South Sudan Juba, South Sudan CC: Dr. Barnaba Benjamin (...)

In Sudan, at least 26,000 primary school children risk repeating an entire school year 2014-03-21 08:42:00 UNICEF SUDAN PRESS RELEASE In Sudan, at least 26,000 primary school children risk repeating an entire school year Khartoum, 20 March 2014 --- Primary school-aged children in Sudan are in (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2014 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.