Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 5 May 2012

In Sudan, Give War a Chance

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Text of an op-ed published by the New York Times’ online replica, International Herald Tribune, on May 5.

By GÉRARD PRUNIER

LESS than a year after South Sudan declared its independence, it appears headed for war once again with its northern neighbor, Sudan. At the same time, marginalized northerners are rebelling against the government of Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The international community has called for a cease-fire and peace talks, but the return of violence is not necessarily a bad thing. Soldiers killing one another in war would be far less devastating than thousands of women and children starving to death while waiting for a negotiated peace that will never come.

Mr. Bashir’s government cannot be trusted. It has for years systematically betrayed its agreements - signing dozens of treaties and then violating them. Paradoxically, an all-out civil war in Sudan may be the best way to permanently oust Mr. Bashir and minimize casualties. If a low-intensity conflict rages on, it will lead to a humanitarian disaster.

South Sudan seceded from the rest of the country last year in what once seemed a radical solution. But the conflict has continued. This is because Sudan’s wars have for too long been mistakenly seen as a result of tension between a Muslim north and a Christian south. According to this logic, separating them would bring peace.

But this logic was flawed. Sudan’s recurring wars don’t stem from religious conflict but from the Arab government’s exploitation of various non-Arab groups on the country’s periphery - including the southern Christians and predominantly Muslim groups like the Darfuris in the west, the Bejas in the east, the Nubians in the north and the Nuba in Kordofan. These peripheral regions have been exploited by Khartoum since the 19th century. But until recently, the South was the only region aware of this exploitation because it was neither Arab nor Islamic.

The rest of the country lived for more than 150 years under the illusion that it shared fundamental values with the Arab center. It was only when black Muslim soldiers were sent south to kill their black Christian compatriots in the name of Islamic purity that they began to realize that Islam did not give them any advantage in terms of education, health and economic status over the "heathens" they were ordered to kill.

The American-sponsored comprehensive peace agreement of 2005 was supposed to cure Sudan’s endemic conflict, but it used the wrong medicine. The agreement was signed by only two sides: the Muslim north and the Christian south. That left fully one-third of the Sudanese people - the African Muslims - without a political leg to stand on. And it is that forgotten third that is now fighting the Sudanese government because, after years of serving as its house servants and foot soldiers, they have come to realize that they will never be anything but second-class citizens, despite their Islamic faith.

Although the Arab world has been shaken by a series of upheavals, Sudan has remained the odd man out. Islamists continue to rule Sudan after 23 years of failure. They promised to end the civil war but instead militarized the country, killed more than two million people, ruined the non-oil economy, gutted civil liberties and gagged the press and academia. After losing the war (and the north’s oil resources), they realized they had no plan B. Their only recourse was to vilify African Muslim rebels as traitors, denounce southern Christians as instigators of the Muslim revolt and promise more repression.

Whenever foreign leaders demand greater respect for human rights or peace talks, Sudan always agrees, because agreeing makes the international community happy. But we forget too quickly. A year ago northern Sudanese forces invaded the disputed town of Abyei on the eve of South Sudan’s independence; they later agreed to withdraw, but they never left.

The status quo is not working, regardless of what American and United Nations officials might believe. Mr. Bashir recently referred to the black leaders of South Sudan as "insects" and insisted that Sudan must "eliminate this insect completely." For those who remember Rwanda and the racist insults hurled by Mr. Bashir’s janjaweed militias during their brutal attacks in Darfur, his vile words should be a wake-up call. Indeed, without some moral common ground, "negotiations" are merely a polite way of acquiescing to evil, especially when one’s interlocutors are pathologically incapable of respecting their own word. And in the case of a murderer like Mr. Bashir, there is no moral common ground.

Sudan has now reached its point of no return. Many Arabs across northern Sudan have become fed up with the jingoistic frenzy now being deployed by their exhausted tyranny and are quietly waiting for a chance to join the revolt begun by non-Arab Muslims.

The rebels battling Mr. Bashir’s government are waging a real battle for freedom, and their de facto alliance with southern Christians could finally bring Sudan’s endless conflict to a close. War is a tragic affair, but the brave Sudanese men who have chosen it as a last resort deserve to be allowed to find their own way toward a Sudanese Spring, even if it is a violent one.

Gérard Prunier, the former director of the French Center for Ethiopian Studies, in Addis Ababa, is the author of "Darfur: A 21st Century Genocide."



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  • 5 May 2012 23:35, by Mohamed

    1. Sudan did not lose the war. None of the major cities in South Sudan had fallen to the SPLA when peace deal was signed. Sudan opted for a peaceful resolution. Please check your facts Monsieur Prunier.
    2. Bashir refered to the SPLM leaders as "Sudan Peoples destruction Insect". Very good description to what they did in Heglig. In Rwanda it was a whole ethnic group classified as cockroaches.....

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    • 5 May 2012 23:41, by Mohamed

      ...in Sudan this classification was only given to the Armani Bunch in Juba.
      Not been 2% of the Southern Sudanese people.
      They have spent 10s of billions of dollars in personal gains+ military hardware to protect these gains.
      Not a penny spent on the people of South Sudan.

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    • 6 May 2012 10:54, by Mach Achiek

      Mohammed,

      The author suggests that SAF loose the war because it failed to defeat the ill equip SPLA despite its superior military capability.

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      • 6 May 2012 22:25, by Mohamed

        Mach,

        To win a Geurilla war is an impossible feat. Even the US could not defeat the Vietnamese Geurillas.
        The author implied that SPLA defeated SAF.
        Defeat is defined by losing a war.
        I simply stated that SPLA did not win the war as the author stated....

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        • 6 May 2012 22:28, by Mohamed

          ...actually in a civil war both sides are losers. Only the arms traders are the winners as was the case in the Sudan civil war.
          Hopefully both North Sudanese and South Sudanese get there brains working and develop both countries instead of what they are doing now.

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    • 8 May 2012 07:44, by southernempowerment

      Face it, you Northern Sudanese cowards lost the battle and now your mad! It is understandable. Keep calling us "insects" because its okay for any northerner to result to abuse rather than use their mind. A 2 year old baby knows its wrong to call people names, but I guess Omer missed that part in his life. I understand he’s an idiot! Let him enjoy being a fool and embarrasing himself in the media (

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  • 5 May 2012 23:47, by Mohamed

    John Garang Di Mabior had a different vision, but that went against the vision of the Armani bunch.
    If you look at Garangs clothing, he never wore anything extravagant.
    He was a man of the people for the people.
    That is why the Armani boys and Mussevini assassinated him with the help of a nearby Western power.(not US or Europe).
    Garang was opting for a New Sudan in a peaceful way.
    That.......

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    • 5 May 2012 23:52, by Mohamed

      Would have left Mussevini and the Armani bunch out of the petrodollar formula.
      Peace and prosperity for all is what John Garang wanted.
      Unfortunately, that did not suit Mussevini, the Armani bunch and there big sister.

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    • 6 May 2012 21:47, by Raan Warrap

      Mohamed. John Garang was a great leader but by no chance the great man you describe him to be. Even the great John Garang himself has blood on his hands. He was a great leader with great vision, but a flawless and non corruptive person he was not. Garang was as corrupt as Salva Kiir and the others, but at least he had the ability to be a great leader which compensated for everything.

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      • 6 May 2012 22:35, by Mohamed

        Raan, What I saw of the man was a genuine love for Sudan...all colors of Sudan. This definitely covers all small slips that occurred whilst he was maturing into a great leader. Everybody has his flaws, but it is the good things that balance out the bad. Garang, in his last days had overcome all of the bad and become the rightful leader of The Sudan.
        No one will compensate for his loss.

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  • 6 May 2012 04:21, by jur_likang_a_ likan’g

    I fervently oppose what the author of this work and Mohamed portray in this medium. South Sudanese fought for their social, ecomominc and political existence as Africans. Southerners were discriminated for being non muslims, denied all the rights mentioned. The answer to that was a fight for a country of their own. However Arabs for fought for occupation and even now they are doing so.

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  • 6 May 2012 12:58, by mohammed ali

    Marginalized pple exist in SS only. When your allies in the SPLA looooot $ 3.5 BILLIONS in 2 years i a country where there are more than 4.7 millions are starving,I can’t see a word less than marginalization to describe this horrible crime.This is worst than genocide!Actually about 400 person perished " collectively in one single place" due to hunger.I wonder how much is your share from this money

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  • 6 May 2012 13:09, by mohammed ali

    Basheer can’t trusted! Oh, yeah, SPLA send theif Pagan to invite Basheer to meet Salva in Juba, he accepted the invitation, 2 days later they attacked Heglig!You are talking about " trust"; isn’t that funny!How you can trust these theifs? Or you can trust the regular cheque which you recieve, just like a pay phone!

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  • 6 May 2012 13:15, by mohammed ali

    Now you abondoned the war between N & S was due to religion and came with the idea that it is between Arabs and non-Arabs, citing Darfur & Beja! So where are these Arabs? In Darfur there are more tribes who identify themselves Arabs , more than anywhere else in Sudan. In East Sudan the Beja themselves came from Arabia across the red sea and they are genetically & lingustically related to Arabia.

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    • 6 May 2012 15:08, by Rommel

      Mohammed Ali:

      You constantly make overwrought claims without ever providing evidence of any kind. The Beja do not have their origins in Arabia or anywhere else in the "Middle-east". The Beja have their origins within the African continent... there is no credible, contemporary historian or linguist that contends otherwise.

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      • 6 May 2012 15:19, by Rommel

        a)Name the contemporary geneticists whom YOU claim has demonstrated a genetic congruence between the Beja and the ’Arabs’.

        b)Name the contemporary historian whom YOU claim has demonstrated that the Beja did indeed originate in the "Middle-east".

        c)CITE them on their own research papers and provide the source (s).

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        • 6 May 2012 15:37, by Rommel

          And last but not least:

          Show us that the above work, has reached a consensus of approval within the Scientific community! The Rashaida are the only people in Sudan who came to Sudan directly via the red sea - from Arabia. The presence of the Beja people in Kemet("Egypt")and the Nile valley can be traced back to pre-dynastic times.

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      • 7 May 2012 19:15, by mohammed ali

        Rommel,p66 So far as the history of what is now Eritrea is concerned that is correct, for it was about this time that they were driven south from the Atbai and then from the Sinkat area. Crawford rightly attributes to them an Arabian origin, but, failing to connect them with the Hadareb, dates their arrival some 8 centuries too late. (The Funj kingdom of Sennar, 1950, p.111-2).....

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        • 7 May 2012 19:34, by mohammed ali

          Rommel:"Their Arabian origin manifests itself in their possession of horses, animals which the Beja at all times have heartily disliked, and Idrisi, the only Arab writer of the time to speak of them as Bellou, and not Hadareb, says: " The neighbourhood of Assuan is invaded by black horsemen called Belliyun, and it is claimed they had been Christians since the time of the Egyptians.
          They wander in

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          • 7 May 2012 19:36, by mohammed ali

            Rommel:"Kirwan (A.A.A., Vol. xxiv, p74-5) advances the theory that the name Bellou derives from Blemmyes. This demonstrably untrue in that the Bellou were Himyarites who emigrated from Southern Arabia in the 6th cent A.D. and could therefore have no previous connection with the Hamitic Beja.

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            • 7 May 2012 20:22, by mohammed ali

              Rommel,What abot the BANI-Amir ,do you know what is meaning of Bani , like in Saudi-Arabia..Bani-Malik, Bani-Jaffar tribe..Bani means "sons" , like in Sudan >>Bani-halba, Bani-jara.Again look at their hair, noses, libs and clour. Why should this be strange to you? The red sea was very small centuries and it is still enlarging as an extension of the great rift valey.

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              • 7 May 2012 20:31, by mohammed ali

                Rommel,It belongs to the Cushitic family of the Afro-Asiatic
                genetic stock. It is the sole member of its northern branch, and is so different from other
                Cushitic languages in many respects and especially as regards to the lexicon, that the
                American linguist, Robert Hetzron (1980), thought it best to set it apart from Cushitic as an
                independent branch of Afro-Asiatic.

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                • 7 May 2012 20:36, by mohammed ali

                  Rommel, Asia....are the Africans Asian?The Beja society is organized in tribes, and the Bejas call themselves Arabs (Ýarab)2,
                  while the Beja language itself is designated by the term beïawiye, which is a cognate form of
                  the Arabic term for ‘bedouin’. But not all the Bejas speak Beja. Most of the Beni Amers for
                  instance speak a variety of Tigre, while most of the Halengas speak Arabic.
                  1 Following

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                  • 7 May 2012 21:26, by Rommel

                    Mohammed Ali:

                    You really need a course in comprehension, lest you embarrass yourself furthermore. I found the work that you’re attempting to quote with the sloppy incompetence that we have come to expect of you, and nowhere in the entirety of the work does it assert an Arab origin for the Beja. It instead speaks of the migration of the Himyarite tribe from Shihr in Southern Arabia.

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                    • 7 May 2012 21:43, by Rommel

                      Did you really think that you had advanced something, that you had demonstrated the veracity of your overwrought claims!? The book chronicles the migration of the Himyarite tribe (Arabs)to the Atbai and Sinkat hills in the 6th century A.D. and their intermarriage with the Beja and their subsequent absorption. I’ll quote excerpts from the book so as to limit your self-induced confusion.

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                      • 7 May 2012 21:47, by Rommel

                        "The earliest arrivals were not however Moslem, and are said to have been a fragment of a Himyarite tribe which came by way of Red Sea from Shihr in Southern Arabia and settled among the Beja of the Atbai and Sinkat hills, intermarrying with them, and acquiring predominance partly by virtue of superior culture, and partly by reason of the matrilineal system of succession in vogue among them..."

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                      • 7 May 2012 21:53, by Rommel

                        "The earliest arrivals were not however Moslem, and are said to have been a fragment of a Himyarite tribe which came by way of Red Sea from Shihr in Southern Arabia and settled among the Beja of the Atbai and Sinkat hills, intermarrying with them, and acquiring predominance partly by virtue of superior culture, and partly by reason of the matrilineal system of succession in vogue among them...."

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                        • 7 May 2012 22:05, by Rommel

                          You are either terribly confused or are trying to be wily at our expense and that of history.

                          The quote that you provided:

                          Their Arabian origin manifests itself in their possession of horses, animals which the Beja at all times have heartily disliked

                          The quote above remarks on how the Hadareb are unmistakably Arab and that this is inferred by their possession of horses,

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                          • 7 May 2012 22:13, by Rommel

                            "animals which the Beja at all times have heartily disliked"

                            I’ll provide you with yet another excerpt from the same work, in reference to the same people.

                            Quote:

                            They wander in the desert between the Beja and the Habash, and come as far as Nubia.

                            If they were Beja, why would they "wander in the desert between the Beja and the Habash"!?

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                            • 7 May 2012 22:24, by Rommel

                              You must learn how to analyse pieces of information and put them in their correct context. You have provided excerpts of some impertinent debates among historians regarding the taxonomic meaning and provenance of words like Bellou and Blemmyes... all of which are of no value when discussing the origins of the Beja.

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                              • 7 May 2012 23:10, by mohammed ali

                                Rimmel," Beja of the deserts of Eastern Sudan are among the country’s longest-established peoples. For the four thousand years of their known history they have watched civilisations flourish and decay with their own lives almost unchanging until very recently. They have been referred to as "Blemmyes" in Roman times, as "Bugas" in Axumite inscriptions in Ethiopia, as the "Fuzzy Wuzzy" by Rudyard Ki

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                    • 7 May 2012 23:20, by mohammed ali

                      Rommel, you can easily deny that the Sun is rising from the east, when you try to augument yourself.I have never directed any word towards, because I know that I have presidented facts.You replay is to attack!The weapon of the weak argument.All what I presented to you is written by historians, not a single word from me; yet instead of presnting A single reference against it....

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                      • 7 May 2012 23:37, by mohammed ali
                          • 7 May 2012 23:57, by mohammed ali

                            Rommel,""Crawford rightly attributes to them an Arabian origin, but, failing to connect them with the Hadareb, dates their arrival some 8 centuries too late."’ (The Funj kingdom of Sennar, 1950.Did you read this , or he needs comprehension cources, just like me! Rightly attributes to them an Arabian origion! This is not my invention.The Sun rises from the East, Rommel.You can’t be so blind!

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                            • 8 May 2012 17:52, by Rommel

                              Mohammed Ali:

                              You are far more confused than I had ever realized. I know that you think you have provided copious amounts of evidence... but you have not provided a single shred of evidence for your claims. Crawford is not referring to the Beja in that passage; he is instead speaking of the Himyarites, as was Kirwan before him.

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                              • 8 May 2012 17:58, by Rommel

                                The quote you provided, and subsequently misrepresented, is sourced from Chapter seven, aptly titled, "The Arab Infiltrators". The quotes that you have provided contradict you:

                                Quote:

                                This demonstrably untrue in that the Bellou were Himyarites who emigrated from Southern Arabia in the 6th cent A.D. and could therefore have no previous connection with the Hamitic Beja.

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                                • 8 May 2012 18:07, by Rommel

                                  Let’s analyze the above quotation, shall we.

                                  The first passage says this:

                                  Kirwan (A.A.A., Vol. xxiv, p74-5) advances the theory that the name Bellou derives from Blemmyes.

                                  Which is followed by this:

                                  This demonstrably untrue in that the Bellou were Himyarites who emigrated from Southern Arabia in the 6th cent A.D. and could therefore have no previous

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                                  • 8 May 2012 18:16, by Rommel

                                    connection with the Hamitic Beja.

                                    The quote first disputes the theory that Bellou is deprived from Blemmyes and expounds on this by pointing out that the Bellou were:

                                    a)Himyarites

                                    b)that they had "emigrated from southern Arabia in the 6th century A.D."

                                    c)that they had no previous connection with the Beja.

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                                    • 8 May 2012 18:21, by Rommel

                                      Let me help you put Crawford’s quote into context by quoting the passages that came before it.

                                      Quote:

                                      Paul 1953 Britain
                                      p64 Chapter VII The Arab Infiltrators
                                       
                                      At some time in the 9th century A.D. there began a slow and by no means a continuous process of infiltration by Arab tribes, never at any time of great proportions, yet sufficiently pronounced as to result eventually in all the Beja

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                                      • 8 May 2012 18:23, by Rommel

                                        peoples becoming Moslem. The earliest arrivals were not however Moslem, and are said to have been a fragment of a Himyarite tribe which came by way of Red Sea from Shihr in Southern Arabia and settled among the Beja of the Atbai and Sinkat hills, intermarrying with them, and acquiring predominance partly by virtue of superior culture, and partly by reason of the matrilineal system of succession

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                                        • 8 May 2012 18:25, by Rommel

                                          in vogue among them....

                                          Their arrival prior to the Hegira is well established, for they are later spoken of as Jacobite Christians who were converted to Islam only after the appearance of Arab invaders from Egypt in the 9th century. These immigrants, to give them the name by which they were most commonly known by Arab writers and travellers, were the Hadareb, a Beja corruption of Hadarma,

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                                          • 8 May 2012 18:28, by Rommel

                                            or inhabitants of the Hadramaut. To the Beja, however, they were as commonly known as the Bellou by the reason of the fact that on arrival they spoke a strange tongue, the Beja for which (as it still is) was Bellaweit, though it was not until they had been driven south from the Atbai in the 15th century that the latter name replaced the former in common usage.

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                                            • 8 May 2012 18:29, by Rommel

                                              “It is well known", says the Amarar historian, “that the Bellawiyan are Arabs who came from Arabia before the main immigration of the
                                              Arabs to the Sudan, and dwelt in the Beja and mingled with them." (Sudan government archives)

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                                              • 8 May 2012 18:34, by Rommel

                                                Most writers have been content to classify them as Beja which, in some sense, after centuries of intermarriage with genuine Beja tribes they indeed became, the Himyarite strain in their blood gradually disappearing. Longrigg yet again states: ‘that these (the Belu) were of Beja origin is certain; that they entered Eritrea as pagans and soon (at the latest by the 15th cent) adopted Islam on the

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                                                • 8 May 2012 18:37, by Rommel

                                                  the coast, and Christianity elsewhere, not less so’. (A short history of Eritrea p 32)
                                                   
                                                  This description is not altogether accurate. It is not improbable, as Rossini believes, that there were at least two groups of Bellou, a northern one, the Hadareb of the Atbai and the Sinkat hills, and a southern one, which was the nucleus of the Bellu kingdom which flourished between the latitudes of Suakin

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                                                  • 8 May 2012 18:48, by Rommel

                                                    and Massawa from how early on is not known, and whose fortunes will be traced in a later chapter. (Munzinger dates the rise of this kingdom
                                                    as ca 1370)

                                                    After the quote above we enter familiar citation territory:

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                                                    • 8 May 2012 18:49, by Rommel

                                                      Kirwan (A.A.A., Vol. xxiv, p74-5) advances the theory that the name Bellou derives from Blemmyes. This demonstrably untrue in that the Bellou were Himyarites who emigrated from Southern Arabia in the 6th cent A.D. and could therefore have no previous connection with the Hamitic Beja.

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                                                      • 8 May 2012 18:51, by Rommel

                                                        Idrisi who infers that they had something to do with the Rum (Greeks?) is obviously mistaken and confused by the fact of their Jacobite Christianity. Munzinger says that they came from the north in the 15th century.

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                                                        • 8 May 2012 18:51, by Rommel

                                                          p66 So far as the history of what is now Eritrea is concerned that is correct, for it was about this time that they were driven south from the Atbai and then from the Sinkat area. Crawford rightly attributes to them an Arabian origin, but, failing to connect them with the Hadareb, dates their arrival some 8 centuries too late. (The Funj kingdom of Sennar, 1950, p.111-2).....

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                                                          • 8 May 2012 18:56, by Rommel

                                                            It would appear from the little that is known of them at this period the Hadareb cannot have arrived in any great number although they acquired the status of a ruling caste, they failed to establish their own language and, from being idolaters, imitated the Beja in adopting a form of Christianity.

                                                            Their Arabian origin manifests itself in their possession of horses, animals which the Beja at

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                                                            • 8 May 2012 19:24, by Rommel

                                                              all times have heartily disliked

                                                              Anyone with any sense of comprehension understands that all these passages are in reference to the Hadareb who intermarried and later became a part of Beja society in a position of preeminence. The Beja have a documented history of residence in the Nile valley for over 4000 years, with absolutely no no evidence of Arab ancestry.

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                                                              • 8 May 2012 20:04, by Rommel

                                                                Their physical features are not a byproduct of some imagined migration from Arabia. The Afar, Tuareg and Oromo have the exact same features, without any evidence of non-African ancestry. The Beja language is not at all intelligible with Arabic but could be an outlier of the cushitic phylum. That is, they are the most distant of Cushitic languages.

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                                                                • 8 May 2012 20:07, by Rommel

                                                                  Judging by the vocabulary and grammar, there are some scholars who place Beja language closer to ancient Egyptian than to Cushitic so many scholars separate Beja into their own distinct group. The Beja language belongs to an African language phylum. This is what anthropologists have said of the physical features of the African people:

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                                                                  • 8 May 2012 20:08, by Rommel

                                                                    Jean Hiernaux "The People of Africa" 1975
                                                                    p.53, 54

                                                                    "In Africa, many anthropological characters show a wide range of population means or frequencies. In some of them, the whole world range is covered in the continent. Here live the shortest and the tallest human populations, the one with the highest and the one with the lowest nose, the one with the thickest and the one with the thinnest lips in

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                                                                    • 8 May 2012 20:09, by Rommel

                                                                      the world. In this area, the range of the average nose widths covers 92 per cent of the world range: only a narrow range of extremely low means are absent from the African record.

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                                                                      • 8 May 2012 20:10, by Rommel

                                                                        Means for head diameters cover about 80 per cent of the world range; 60 per cent is the corresponding value for a variable once cherished by physical anthropologists, the cephalic index, or ratio of the head width to head length expressed as a percentage....."

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  • 6 May 2012 19:02, by hsappleton

    100% agreement on this article. thank you

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  • 8 May 2012 07:48, by southernempowerment

    I love how this tribune says no racism.. no one seems to be caring.. ahhaha Anyways, North Sudan needs to shut up!!

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South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)


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