Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 2 November 2008

The Hausa - Fulani are Genuine Sudanese, Mr. President!

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By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

November 1, 2008 — Omer al-Bashir, the embattled president of Sudan, has been reported to have made a statement in a Sudanese newspaper al-Ayaam two months ago that the Hausa Fulani people are not Sudanese and that they should not vote in the 2009 general elections stipulated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)! This sparked off a vigorous protest in the Hausa Fulani communities all over the Sudan especially in the city of al-Gadhariff in Eastern Sudan. During the protest, in which people from the Hausa neighborhood organized a peaceful march led by a group of tribal leaders and officials in a popular demonstration to hand a memorandum of protest to the Head Quarter of the Gadhariff state to express their disapproval of President al-Bashir’s reported offensive statement that the Sudanese tribes of Hausa, Fulani, Bornu and Tama groups as non-Sudanese and they not have the right to participate in the upcoming elections in Sudan. Government of Sudan forces backed by heavy weapons attacked the unarmed civilians and chased them into their neighborhoods using tear gas and live ammunition, which resulted in the martyrdom of four people who were killed in cold blood and hundreds were wounded and among the seriously injured were children and women and local hospital had difficulty coping with the casualties. Accordingly, the NCP regime added insult to injury. The irresponsible, imprudent and a racist statement by the president al-Bashir and the killing of peacefully demonstrating civilians are deplorable.

We all know that the Hausa Fulani people are hard working, devout Muslims of high moral code and patriotic Sudanese citizens who are widely distributed all over the country for centuries. They have contributed immensely to the development projects. It is unfair and an unjust accusation on the part of a president of a nation to label his fellow compatriots as aliens. Though it is appalling, but not surprising as al-Bashir is not a stranger to controversy with respect to random and misjudged statements of his personal views. He is renowned for the vulgarity of the language he tends to use without giving any attention to the consequences it may lead to. Al-Bashir’s blunders have tarnished the Sudanese reputation and the once good name of Sudan. Similar reckless distasteful obnoxious assertions were made by Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, Sudan’s Minister of Defence, who was reported to have stated in a press conference at the Sudanese Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday March the 13th 2008 at 11:45pm in an answer to the question whether it was true that the Government of Sudan (GOS) was planning to settle Five Million Egyptians mainly from Upper Egypt, the Nile valley south of Cairo, in the Northern Region ”Shamaliya” by saying: " If we assume the argument that the government seeks to resettle 5 million Egyptians in northern region why not? What is good of 8 million people in Darfur, all of whom are Africans came from abroad. Isn’t it better for you those who come from Egypt or those Africans who have come from West Africa?! ".

At this juncture, it is high time we define what makes a Sudanese and to identify the criteria for being a Sudanese. Sudan means in Arabic, the lingua franca for the different Sudanese ethnic groups, ‘Land of the black people’ that extends from the Red Sea in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the Western coast of the African Continent before the colonial powers partitioned it into present day countries, separating and displacing its people using the Divide and Rule Doctrine.

The Hausa people have a glorious history and a promising future. They are a Sahelian people mainly located in the West African regions of northern Nigeria, southeastern Niger, Sudan, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Chad and smaller communities scattered throughout West Africa and on the traditional Hajj route across the Sahara Desert and Sahel like many other African tribal groups across the imaginary borders created by the ex-colonials.

Historians report that with the decline of the Nok and Sokoto, who had previously controlled Central and Northern Nigeria between 800 BCE and 200 CE, the Hausa were able to emerge as the new power in the region. Closely linked with the Kanuri people of Kanem-Bornu (Lake Chad), the Hausa aristocracy adopted Islam in the 11th century CE.
In 1810 the Fulani, another Islamic African ethnic group that spanned across West Africa, invaded the Hausa states. Their cultural similarities however allowed for significant integration between the two groups, who in modern times are often demarcated as "Hausa-Fulani", rather than as individuated groups.
The Hausa remain in preeminent in Niger and Northern Nigeria. Their impact in Nigeria, as in Sudan, is paramount, as the Hausa-Fulani amalgamation has controlled Nigerian politics for much of its independent history. They remain one of the largest and most historically grounded civilizations in West Africa.

The Hausa and Fulani cultural similarities however allowed for significant integration between the two groups, who in modern times are often demarcated as "Hausa-Fulani", rather than as individuated groups and many Fulani in the region do not distinguish themselves from the Hausa.
The Hausa have been Muslim since the 14th century, and have converted many other Nigerian tribes to the Muslim faith by contact, trade etc.
The architecture of the Hausa is perhaps one of the least known but most beautiful of the medieval
age. Many of their early mosques and palaces are bright and colourful and often include intricate engraving or elaborate symbols designed into the facade. By 1500 CE the Hausa utilized a modified Arabic script known as ajami to record their own language; the Hausa compiled several written histories, the most popular being the Kano Chronicle. Hausa-speakers (35 million), situated largely within but also beyond the borders of the state of Nigeria.

The Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was reported to have said: “How do they live together respecting each other’s culture? This has been the problem of the Sudan.", when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in Nairobi on 9 January 2005 and was hailed by leaders from around the world as the dawn of a new era for Sudan.

In short, Sudan is for the Sudanese and we believe that there is ample room and enough resources in the country for those who accept to live in it as citizens, including those who continue to identify themselves as anything else but Sudanese, like president al-Bashir himself and his uncle al-Tayeb Mustafa as well as some elements in the National Congress Party (NCP/NIF) such as Mohamed Mandour al-Mahdi, Nafie Ali Nafie, Abdelrahim Hamdi, Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein, Hassan Makki, a self-proclaimed "intellectual" and a committed racist who has described the IDP camps around Khartoum as a dangerous black-belt zone and Hassan Sati and others of the ilk. We the Sudanese will need to repeat the eternal question quoted by Luke Kuth Dak, reportedly asked by the famous Sudanese novelist al-Tayeb Saleh, when the National Islamic Front (NIF) seized power by military coup in June 1989, deposing the elected Sudanese government of the Umma Party’s Sadiq el-Mahdi. The novelist has been quoted as said:” where did these people come from?!

The Hausa Fulani people and others were appalled by the deeply offensive unacceptable remarks Omer al-bashir has made about their nationality. He has a duty to convey public apologies for the distress and disquietude caused to them. Is president Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir prepared to use the virtue of humility and offer unreserved public apology to the Sudanese Hausa-Fulani people? A sixty-four dollar question ($64 question).

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com



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  • 2 November 2008 07:17, by tayeb M. Alhassan

    Don’t say genuine but more acceptable to say they have the right to stay as any other cross boarder immigrants, historically settled in Sudan to again citizenship by the long term stay. This is more realistic, serves better to settles the question.

    repondre message

    • 2 November 2008 15:32, by Miryam

      If al Bashir talks about Housa and Fallata who has just arrived yesterday or within the recent period, he is alright, but if he is- and this is what I believe- talking about those who lived in Sudan for ages and all of them were born in Sudan and worked in all of its regions and cities scilently and without complaints, despite the marginalization, poverty, ignorance and diseases, he is definitely worng! If he considers a person who comes one hundred years ago and another one who was born in Sudan he is fully wrong, and then he has to face the question WHO is SUDANESE? I am afraid even him if he does belong to any sea/border crossing tribes, he will not be a Sudanese on his own ration.
      Please stop this nonsense and focus on the important issues the country is facing..

      repondre message

  • 3 November 2008 09:12, by Hillary B.M.L,M

    You are right if you say Genuine African not genuine Sudanese.Those tribes in fact not Sudanese Tribes by Origin.Also Omar Al basher should not forget himself otherwise.The genuine Sudanese Tribes prefer Genuine Africans than totally non Sudanese, and non Africans in Origin.Concerning Election,if Hussa and other Western Sudan Tribes are not to vote, then it is right decision but the question is,what about those illegal so called themselves Sudanese Arabs should they vote? Why I say this because in Northern Part of Sudan,some Tribes are Sudanese by origin others are not but they call themselves all Arabs.

    repondre message

    • 3 November 2008 09:57, by tayeb M. Alhassan

      Immigration is a genuine article in the human rights referendum in which we definitely believe. The latest Arabic tribe arrive to Sudan is "Al-Rashayda" more than 100 years ago now no despute about being Sudanese but the question is whether those immigrants, regardless of ethnic back ground are trouble-less and helpful to build the country’s future then with wide open arms they are welcomed.

      repondre message



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