Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 13 July 2011

Mixed feelings in northern Sudan for South Sudan independence


By Ahmed Elzobier

July 13, 2011 - In the north, following the declaration of southern Sudan independence, one group appears to be happy and they are the supporters of northern Sudan’s separatist party, the Just Peace Forum. Nevertheless, most northern Sudanese are subdued and sad for various reasons. Some see the secession as a destruction of the country but they are helpless to do any thing about it. Other groups have mixed feeling of joy and sadness. Joy that southern Sudanese people have their freedom, and sadness for the great failure of Sudanese nationalism as it loses what has been an important part of its national character for hundreds of years.

The prominent Sudanese poet Mahjoub Sharif has expressed heartfelt emotions of sadness in a new poem he calls “The trees have passed”.

The trees have passed
Like imaginary dreams
Nice and gentle people
Through shades and clouds
The trees have passed

Where are you my dears?
It’s a painful scene for me
Where are you going?
Mary I will miss you
I am shedding tears
Yet we are citizens by our marks
In drawing we are neighbors
The trees have passed

People started to realize the new reality when the Ministry of Information and the Survey Department revealed in a press conference on 4 July, that Sudan has lost, as a result of the separation, about 25% of its area, 80% of its forests, 75% of its oil and 20% of its population. Abdallah al-Sadig, Director of the Survey Department said Sudan will now have no borders with Kenya, Congo and Uganda and its borders with Ethiopia and Central African Republic will be significantly reduced.

But to rub salt into the wound he described the new map to the helpless northern Sudanese folk as a “beautiful” map. The Minister of Information Dr Kamal (and by the way this the same guy who told southern Sudanese back in October 2010 that they would not receive injections after separation) also added that the government presented an exceptional example of peaceful coexistence and integration in Africa – I am not sure, but either these two people are professional comedians pretending to be politicians, or sadistic psychopaths. The question remains, how many beautiful maps and integration strategies they will be presenting in the future?

Meanwhile, in clear violation of the Human Rights Declaration article 15, “everyone has a right to a nationality” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality”, the Council of Ministers approved, on 7 July 2011, a new Sudanese nationality bill rendering hundreds of thousand of southerners temporarily stateless. It was not clear if the bill was even discussed in parliament. This was done despite these southerners being habitually resident in the North and many having no connection with the South. Dr Amin Maki Madani, a prominent lawyer and the Director of the Human Rights Monitor Organization in Sudan, considers the government act to be unconstitutional as it violates the nationality laws of Sudan, and an immoral act resembling Nazism. Meanwhile, all government institutions have sacked their southern employees and government adverts in various newspapers are calling for private sector companies to provide a list of their southern employees. Last month the SPLM /NCP agreed to give a period of nine months for southern Sudanese in the north to adjust their status, a very vague statement having nothing to do with the AU High panel proposal. However, in reality the NCP is adamant that southern Sudanese will be treated as foreigners after 9 July. The entire government attitude is vindictive and mean, and their soft target is ordinary people from southern Sudan. This time they have really sunk very low, even by the traditional sudanese standards. It shows that northern Sudan is now infected by a serious ethno-fascism virus that might destroy the remainder of the country.

For a reality check we should consider all the factors leading to the current situation in Sudan: slavery raids and trade in the nineteen century; the close district laws during the colonial period; the 1947 Juba conference and the hasty decision on the unity of Sudan; the 1953 consideration of Sudan’s status without consulting southern Sudanese; the Torit rebellion in 1955; the promise of federation that was never fulfilled by the first post-colonial government; the war that was waged to Islamize and Arabise southern Sudan by 1958’s military regime; the unfulfilled promises of the round table conference of 1965; the Addis Ababa agreement 1972; the violation and collapse of the agreement in 1983; the reluctance to achieve peace in 1988; the rise of Islamic extremism in Sudan; the military coup in 1989 that has sealed the fate of the country and whose main objective was to stand against the peace initiative; the declaration of Jihad on southern Sudan; the proxy wars; the displacement and killing of millions of people; the indifference of the majority in the north about the war in the south; the 2005 CPA; the unfulfilled promises of the CPA, the unresolved issues of extreme poverty, inequality, disrespect of religion and cultural diversity, and lack of democracy.

Combine all these ingredients and it becomes clear why the southern Sudanese were left with no option but to abandon the sinking ship of Sudan and on 9 January 2011, to vote overwhelmingly for separation.

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  • 13 July 2011 16:26, by rock

    Ahmed Elzobier:
    you wrote a good article but is too late at moment.
    as you mention in this article that southerners left with no option, is true South Sudanese were left with no option rather than to separate.
    if Sudanese people could understood the cause why southerners took arms against central government in first place, i think we would have done something to rescue Sudan but most of northerners think that was Southerner`s problem.

    repondre message

    • 14 July 2011 13:27, by Mading Makuac

      Dear brothers and sisters in eastern Sudan ,Western,, Blue Nile, Kordufan and Abyei,please enjoy South Sudan independent
      with us because our freedom is your freedom.
      Mading Makuac

      repondre message

    • 15 July 2011 13:53, by Boyone

      Dear brother Ahmed,

      Your article is very meaningful and you said all why southern optioned separation than unity, even though we southerners seem to celebrated in Jul 9, 2011 for the independent, it’s also in other hand we are grieving for the lost of our great diversity cultural in the whole Sudan as well, we never hated Muslim people in general for the religion but the way the led the country in so many decades by ignoring the existence of some others nationality in the whole Sudan brought us to this final destination. No religion is better then other religion but our brother Arab in the north misunderstand the whole concepts in Sudan, few people use this to exploited the whole country and now we all have seen how greediness could do great damage to people.

      When I read that Poem, it made me almost cry because I knew it was Witten by someone who really felt the damages this separation would cause to the people who once lives together in peace. We southerner still love to see each as brother in Sudan but our brothers in the northern seem not to realized what damages they did to the whole country and never the less ,they still pushing us hard to the margin using the same hatred. We optioned for the separation because need everlasting peace and development that we never had in many generation and that’s the trust. If people like you Ahmed exist in the north, people knows the realty, unity would have been in good by now but Bashir and his people sunken the ship like you said.

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  • 14 July 2011 14:28, by Catch 22

    Your observation and analysis couldn’t have been any more striking and to the point. For there was no political will to mold the Sudan in to the country that will accommodate all its inhabitants and create the necessary environment for realizing prosperity for all by successful governments based at the center. On the other hand, religion was misused to keep non Muslims from contributing meaningfully on matters of the state. The Northern elites made very little effort to address the imbalance in the country, subsequently leaving the southerns as the only group of people interested in making change in the Sudan.
    I’m sure the recent events in south Sudan and Sudan in general offers a big lessons to many countries, that you cannot govern people against their will and consent. This lesson is equally relevant to our new leaders in the republic of south Sudan as it is to the republic of Sudan (north).Greed is our worst enemy, unfortunately politician never learn.

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