Sudan Studies Association
ANNUAL CONFERENCE, MAY 1998
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Proverbs are gems of wisdom. They are the un-masked and un-adulterated image of society. In them one finds peoples' ideas about life, the ideals and values they hold dear, and the elements they consider supreme in the spiritual as well as material life. With the help of selected Sudanese proverbs, each panelist will reflect on the place of proverbs among the group of the Sudanese s/he happens to know best.
AbdelRahman Ahmed AbdelRahman, Visiting Scholar, Michigan State University
In the second half of the 1970s, the production of cotton, Sudan's principal foreign exchange earner, was in a serious crisis reflected in a particularly pronounced decline in yields and output. In the early 1980s, the implementation of cost and price-generating reforms, supported by the IMF and the World Bank, led initially to some productivity improvement in the Gezira Scheme, the country's principal parastatal for cotton production. However, the initial recovery of the crop has not been sustained over the long haul, due mainly to unfavorable macroeconomic conditions. The experience of the Gezira Scheme demonstrates that even in Sudan's tradition-bound, market-unfriendly, and state-controlled systems of agricultural production farmers can be motivated through market-based incentives to be productive.
Adam M. Abdelmoula, Georgetown University,
This paper examines the emergence and introduction of Islam as a source of law in the successive Sudanese constitutions. Sudan inherited a secular parliamentary constitution from its British rulers. That constitution was suspended and resurrected several times. However, even before the country achieved its independence voices emerged calling for the adoption of Islam either as the sole source of its constitution or a source among others. Those voices, initially faint and marginal as they were, soon gained prominence. They intensified in mid and late 1960s leading to the presentation of an Islamic constitution that was about to be adopted but was thwarted by Numeiri's coup d'etat in May 1969. Since then the role of Islam remains the center of politico-legal debates in the country.
The first part of this paper is descriptive. It outlines the role and importance attached to Islam by the programs and policy statements of Sudan's major political forces, the points of consensus (or lack thereof) among these forces, and the constitutional implications of points of consensus identified. The second part is analytical. It chronologically examines how Islam has become the most fundamental constitutional source, how it has been construed each time, the reasons behind each interpretation given to it, and the conclusions and lessons to be drawn thus far. The third part is prescriptive. On the basis of conclusions reached in the second part, it tries to present proposals for the future in the form of constitutional choices.
Nuraddin Abdulmannan, President, The Kushite Nubian League, Washington DC Chapter
The Kushite Nubian League was founded in Washington DC in 1992 to preserve the Nubian culture and heritage and to rewrite the Nubian language and protect it from excessive Arabization. The good news is that the Nubian language will be rewritten in true type fonts. Kajbar Dam is the latest conspiracy against the Nubians. The current Sudanese government has signed last year a contract with a Chinese company to construct a dam in the heartland of Nubia. Some Nubian historical statues were vandalized and some rare statues were stolen.
Souad T. Ali, African and Middle Eastern Studies, Hiram College
This paper examines the subject of "traditional" and "modern" forces in Sudanese politics through discussing the views of three Sudanese politicians and/or scholars: Dr. Khalid al-Mubarak, a scholar and member of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Mr. Bona Malwal, a Southern intellectual, politician and member of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), and Dr. Taisier Ali, a scholar and member of the new Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF). The choice of these individuals is not arbitrary: the fact that they belong to the "traditional", Southern, and "modern" forces, respectively, is significant. However, my discussion also deals with the question of how can Sudanese resolve the conflict, or paradox rather, of the fact that "traditional" forces include significant elements of the "modern" forces as well and thus the definition of "what constitutes a modern force in the Sudan today" -- to borrow Bona Malwal's expression -- becomes problematic.
This paper further offers a critique of the role played by the Sudanese elite within the realm of what Sudanese intellectuals have been avoiding to admit: that the elite (the "modern" forces) have utterly failed to present themselves to the Sudanese people in an acceptable manner. Alternately, they have mostly defined themselves in terms of the failure of others, and presented themselves as a so-called "alternative" to others by seeking shortcuts to power through the military. The disappointment these "modern" forces have been facing is that the Sudanese people have consistently and uncompromisingly rejected such a totalitarian approach that afflicted the country with the longest military dictatorships since independence, as symbolized by Nimeiri's 16-year rule and Bashir's (so far) 9-year rule.
The thesis of my paper thus revolves around the broad subject of "traditional" and "modern" forces in Sudanese politics, discusses aspects of past shortcomings, and explores possibilities for future cooperation between these forces. In the final analysis, this paper particularly appeals for an understanding of the significance of a future cooperation between "traditional" and "modern" forces in Sudanese politics in an attempt to eliminate sad past failures.
Anwar Osman A-Magid, Centre for Development Studies, University of Bergen [unable to attend]
The manufacture of a national identity accepted by all groups of the present Sudanese population is basic and essential for the project of nation building in the Sudan due to the fragile social and cultural structures and ethnic complexions in this country. At present, the identity crisis (among other problems) poses serious threats of destabilization of national unity of the Sudan, one of Africa's largest countries in terms of landmass and ethnic variability. This paper focuses on the role and contribution of archaeology in forging national consciousness and points to some of the lessons to be learnt from the past experiences when addressing the issue of nation building in the Sudan.
Barbara Degorge, PhD candidate, St. John's University, Jamaica, NY
Islam is not new in the Sudan. It first made its inroads during the 11th century by Arab Muslims involved in the caravan trade. With the beginning of the Funj sultanate in 1504, Islam entered into a 300 period of religious involvement. One of the principal elements for this growth was Sufism, which was spreading throughout the Islamic world during this period. Sufism is the personalized, spiritual interiorization and intensification of the Islamic faith and its practices. People who practice Sufism view themselves as Muslims who take Allah's call to perceive him both in the world as a whole and within one's self. "Being a Sufi" means those who were of a described group. The first emergence of Sufism as a political force can be seen in Abu Hamid al-Ghazali's writings (1058-1111). After his death, Sufi organizations (tariqahs) began to surface. These were loosely organized social groups, usually gravitating around one person famous for his teachings.
The role of Sufism in black Africa, in general, is not the same as in other areas of the Islamic world. Whereas Sufism is a more devotional and mystical experience elsewhere, the black African brotherhood has usually developed as a vehicle for exposing and indoctrinating the masses with the practice of Sunni orthodoxy. African Sufism has incorporated the traditional African religion into the practice of Islam, thereby creating a dualism. The tariqahs that evolved, especially in the beginning of the 18th century, extended past their own local regions, making their leaders politically important. Their importance lay in the fact that they could generate either support or opposition to a particular political regime. Because of the traditions of the indigenous people, the leaders of the tariqahs have been intermediaries between their followers and the local governments. Those involved in Sufism have also been leading forces in the creation of nationalistic states, as can be seen with the Mahdi in 19th century Sudan. The followers of the tariqahs have been able to be mobilized as they follow "sacred authority."
Those who have written about the Sudan have all noted that Sufism is a part of the Sudan and that there have been movements which have become political phenomena. However, the reasons why are rarely, if ever, explained. Using both primary and secondary sources, this paper will show the evolution of the tariqahs in the Sudan from their religious beginnings into a political force. It will explain how and why the loosely organized Sufi brotherhoods manifested themselves into a major political force to become, today, two of the main political parties in the Sudan.
David F. Decker, History, University of South Carolina, Sumter
Charles Gordon played a critical role in the rise of antigovernment feeling among merchants in Kordofan prior to the rise of the Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmed. During Gordon's 1878 antislavery activity in Kordofan he employed a distinct set of tactics to achieve his antislavery agenda. Letters sent by Gordon to the Rev. Horace Waller of the Antislavery Society in 1874 from Equatoria indicate the geneses of his Kordofan tactics. In both cases Gordon's tactics pitted groups of different ethnic background against each other. In addition, when he employed these "tricks of the trade" in Kordofan Gordon fostered the collision of the urban merchant diaspora with the local rural leadership structure.
Hala El-Ahmadi, Women's Studies, University of Nijmegen, Netherlands
In the context of gender, Islamist discourse is indeed audable. This fact is illustrated by the huge number of women's memberships in Islamist organizations. This phenomenon created a situation of confusion for Western feminists and secular feminists in the Muslim region, alike. Obviously, Islamist notions of gender identity and the policies that are carried out by Islamist governments in countries like Sudan and Iran, do restrict women's participation in society. Have women, who joined Islamist groups, been "brain washed"? Has membership been imposed upon women, because of their lack of will and powerlessness? Are these women, as in the words of Helie-Lucas "hijacked by fundamentalists"? Taking into account the increasing number of educated women who join those groups, in this study I would like to discuss and analyze the factors that make women the advocates of Islamist discourse if it is against their interest and autonomy.
Ahmed Elyas Elameer, PhD candidate, Development Economics, Universiti Putra Malaysia
In 1956--its year of political independence--Sudan inherited from half a century of colonial administration an economy whose structure was moulded in the process of implementing the economic policy of this administration. Despite the lapse of more than four decades of national rule, however, this structure--malformed and distorted--has remained substantially unchanged. Imperative as it is for initiating and sustaining a process of auto-dynamic development, the radical transformation of this structure could only be achieved through a planned long-term action.
Over the past four decades, the Malaysian economy, on the other hand, has sustained a remarkable growth performance. Many factors have been identified to bring about such growth performance. The most important among them is the rich natural resources base of the country, particularly cultivable land, oil, and gas; and the country's outward-oriented trade strategy. All these factors, however, would not have automatically resulted in that rapid economic growth without the sound management of the economic and financial institutions (World Bank, 1989).
The objective of the paper is to examine how the Sudanese economy can be industrialized in line with Malaysian experiences in making the structural transformation of its economy. Currently, the Sudanese economy is found to be similar to that of Malaysia in the 1950s in terms of being fully dependent on agriculture, primary goods export, and intermediate and consumer imported goods. Malaysia implemented various policies and strategies in line with Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) that led to successful structural transformation of its economy. By examining macroeconomic variables (GDP, employment, export, import, and value-added shares) between the two countries over the period 1950 to 1996, the paper concludes that Sudan can adopt an industrialization strategy in line with Malaysia's experience, even taking into account the differences between the two countries.
Ahmed Elamin Elbashir, History, University of District of Columbia
Sudanese-American relations have gone from alliance to indifference to hostility during the last 30 years. By the time the National Islamic Front (NIF) toppled the Mahdi's government, there was virtually no U.S. economic or technical assistance to Sudan. The American government's unilateral sanctions, however, were not effective in any productive manner. As a manner of fact, they were utilized by the NIF leadership to accelerate its terrorist activities and its anti-American-Israeli rhetoric. Nothing short of American military intervention, unilaterally or multilaterally, can bring th NIF down -- something the American government is not ready or able to do in this post-Somalia era.
Ahmed el-Tayeb el-Gaili, Economic Development Studies, Harvard University
Until very recently, conventional wisdom in development studies suggested a necessary dichotomy between democracy and development. Conceptually, it was argued that the process of development is necessarily destabilizing and thus requires a coercive government that does not respond to short term political cycles that are common in democracies. Empirically, the democracy-development dichotomy was further bolstered by the success of several authoritarian regimes in Asia and Latin America in achieving very rapid growth rates.
This paper challenges this view on both conceptual and empirical fronts. Through the context of Sudan, the paper goes beyond regime type to posit that the relevant variable is the institutional structure of economic policy-making, particularly as it affects the level of autonomy from predatory political pressure. A review of the political economy of Sudan's authoritarian regimes will demonstrate that they are equally susceptible to political capture. The paper will then proceed to suggest how democracy and development could be reconciled in the future by examining the optimal institutional structure of economic policy-making that insures a certain level of policy autonomy and sustainability from political capture without undermining the democratic rights of citizens.
Tagelsir H. Elrayah, Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, Fairfax, VA
This paper is an historical account, drawing a picture of political/linguistic manipulation over the decades to demonstrate how closely intertwined they are. The author's experience as a language instructor in the secondary and college levels in the Sudan, in addition to the related works on the topic (e.g. Sandall 1982, Mahoud 1983, Badri 1985, Hurreiz, etc.) are reviewed. Factors that affected the policies and consequently the standards of the two languages (i.e. Arabic and English) in the north and the south of the country during each of the six regimes are determined and discussed. Based on the unfortunate instabilities of the past, the paper concludes with some suggestions for the improvement of the language policies in the future.
Mahgoub El-Tigani, Sociology, Tennessee State University, Nashville TN, President, Sudan Human Rights Organization (Cairo branch)
The situation of human rights in the Sudan has been appalling, especially with the terrorist and dehumanizing policies and practices of the NIF's dictatorial rule since its advent on June 30, 1989. Despite all national, regional, and international pressures exerted against the regime to respect the human rights of all Sudanese people, the NIF rule continued to commit gross human rights violations (GHRV). It is true that many previous governments and regimes were occasionally condemned for similar atrocities. Nonetheless, the GHRVs for which NIF rule is directly responsible are unprecedented in the modern history of the Sudan.
Human rights activists are not only concerned for the need to prevent NIF rule from the commission of GHRVs in the present time. Human rights activists are increasingly concerned for the future of human rights in the Sudan. This concern is strongly connected with these critical questions for which clear answers, accompanied with strong moral and legal commitments, must be obtained from all opposition groups. Chief among these questions is the extent to which opposition groups are serious about their commitment to international human rights laws; the safeguards required to preserve such commitments; the roles to be played by national and international human rights NGOs; and the role to be played by regional and international powers.
Abdullahi A. Gallab, Communication, Hiram College, Ohio
Apparently the Sudanese people have lost their grip on such things as holding their country together. Not only that, but they appear less equipped to deal with their future. Faced with these realities, many Sudanese have been consistently expressing a demeanor of despair, hopelessness and disillusion about the future. Looking at the national conversation in the social, religious, cultural, and political discourses, it is intriguing to allude to an implicit vision of a clamorous elite distressed by the hard fact of their political, social and economic state of affairs. Nonetheless, many of the activities that address these concerns have been, to a large degree, unable to read, articulate, and so to brew the intellectual climate and vehemently influence the national conversation and its different discourses.
This intellectual failure shows itself in a variety of situations; chief among them are those pertaining to the questions of the state, power, democracy, diversity, religion, race, totalitarianism, and how to place these questions at the center of the national concern. Furthermore, in the absence of such attention to a similar intellectual exercise, there has risen a trend of perceiving Power-as-One and ultimately attempting to address People-as-One, to borrow Lefort's terminology. Based on this brief abstract, my paper's thesis is thus: the role of the Sudanese middle class and their saga of success and failure in building a nation state.
Peter P. Garretson, History, Florida State University
This paper looks at the relations between Sudan and Ethiopia largely through the eyes of an Ethiopian diarist, Azaj Werqneh, covering the period of the late 19th century to just after World War II. This was an extremely important and volatile period for relations between the two countries and Azaj Werqneh throws some new light on those relations historically. The author will attempt to show that there were, perhaps, some lessons for the future; in particular, that continuity in history tends to be remarkably strong.
Azaj Werqneh, also known as Hakim Werqneh and Dr. Charles Martin, kept a day-to-day diary for fifty years, from 1899 to 1949. He was also Ethiopia's first western educated medical doctor, a close advisor and physician to three emperors: Menilek (1889-1913), Iyasu (1913-1916) and Haile Sellassie (1916-1974). Many entries deal with the Sudan and give some insight into relations between the two countries.
Abdullahi Ibrahim, University of Missouri, Columbia
This paper seeks to rehabilitate the Islamic courts of Instantaneous Justice (1983-1985) in the course of the history of the dramatic legal and judicial reform in Sudan, and the broad social history of the country. The professional and political detractors of these courts turned them into a legal pariah for their alleged subservience to President Numeiri's whims, and their outrageous excesses such as the execution of the elderly Islamic reformer, M. M. Taha, and subjecting non-Muslims to Islamic law penalties of lashing, amputation of arms, and diagonal amputation. Based on court cases in which the instantaneous courts took the ruling political and business elite to task, and interviews with judges of these courts, the paper will bring out the underlying passion, or rage for that matter, for justice of these courts in the context of the heartless legal, social and economic realities and uncertainties of the postcolonial Sudan.
Robert Kramer, History, St. Norbert College
If it is true that memory is an unreliable instrument for the recovery of the past, it is especially true with regard to contemporary Sudanese recollections of the Mahdist period. Nowhere is this more evident than at Aba Island, the birthplace of the Mahdist movement and home to the Mahdi family since the 1860s. Interviews conducted at Aba Island in 1987 reveal an interesting conflation of events: experiences linked to Aba in the 20th century were superimposed onto oral histories of life in Mahdist Omdurman, while events of the Mahdiyya were attributed to (or blamed on) more recent times. Thus, the livelihoods and lifestyle that obtained at Aba after World War I were "an exact continuation" of those in Mahdist Omdurman, despite the radically different conditions and circumstances separating the two eras; while the suffering of the Ansar after the disastrous battle of Karari in 1898 came to be placed squarely on the shoulders of former President Ja'far Numayri.
The question then arises: how did members of the Ansar, particularly Sayyid Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi, make sense of the lives of their parents and grandparents? What did this "Mahdiyya"--at best, an 18-year period interrupting two longer periods of colonial rule--come to represent to them, and what were its lessons? By way of an answer, this paper describes the attempt by Sayyid Abd al-Rahman and his followers to create an ideal society on Aba Island in the years following World War I. The basis for this system (termed al-kafala al-ijtima'iyya) was the understanding, by the Sayyid and his advisors, of the values and principles of Mahdist Omdurman; the subjects of this system--its beneficiaries--were the largely-West African ("Fellata") emigrants who flocked to Aba in search of agricultural jobs and the Sayyid's baraka. A small and homogenous community, the Ansar of Aba were island-bound, isolated, and highly dependent upon the largesse and leadership of the Sayyid: in other words, the ideal environment for a controlled experiment in social engineering. Though most records of the Aba administration during this era were destroyed by Numayri government forces during the uprising of 1970, this paper offers who is remembered of the organization of Aba society, and is intended as a contribution to the ongoing discussion of how Sudanese have remembered and used their past.
Sam L. Laki, Resource Economics, International Center for Water Resources Management, Central State University
A water crisis is looming in the Nile basin in the near future due to higher population growth rates, greater affluence, and higher demand for water by agriculture and industry. There is no basin-wide agreement among the ten Nile basin states and the existing rules of international water management are complicated and are not equipped to handle any future water conflicts in the Nile basin. This paper reviews the existing water sharing arrangements among the Nile basin countries, examines areas of potential conflict over future water use, and suggests possible areas of cooperation that will ensure equitable use of the Nile waters. The paper concludes by (1) appealing for the formulation of good water development policies to deal with growing water needs such as water quality protection, efficiency of water delivery, and efficiency of water use, and (2) calling for human resource development and technology transfers that are critical for good management and efficient use of the water resources of the Nile.
Ann M. Lesch, Political Science, Villanova University
National identity is highly contested in many parts of the world. In the former Soviet bloc as well as Asia and Africa, peoples struggle to define their selfhood, often along politically-charged religious and ethnic lines. These concerns are especially important in the Sudan, where the politicization of ethnic and religious cleavages has undermined efforts to establish stable and representative political systems.
From a theoretical perspective, the clash occurs between ethnic and territorial models of nation-building. In the ethnic model, the state is coterminous with a self-defined ethnic group, relegating other groups to inferior political status. In the territorial or civic model, residents in a particular territory have a common allegiance to the state, irrespective of their ethnicity. An overarching political culture is created out of various traditions and ethnicities. Can the clash between ethnic and territorial nationalism -- so evident in the Sudan -- be overcome? This paper will examine "ethnic pluralism" as a way to overcome the crisis. That alternative seeks to combine equal rights under the law for all citizens with special provisions to ensure representation for the country's diverse peoples.
Richard Lobban, Anthropology and African Studies, Rhode Island College
Situating ancient Nubia (Kush or Meroe) during the "classical" times of Ptolemaic (Greek) rule of Egypt has caused an intense battle in the cultural war waged between the schools of thought represented by Martin Bernal's Black Athena and Mary Lefkowitz's Not out of Africa. This paper addresses some scientific issues of this debate by looking at the relationship between Meroe (from the 4th to lst centuries BCE) and its contemporary neighbors, the Ptolemies of Egypt. In particular, this paper investigates the work of Eratosthenes of the library of Alexandria in his studies of cartography and geography, and the specific role that the Nubian town of Aswan and King Ergamenes of Meroë may have had in contributing to the first accurate measurement and configuration of the planet earth. It will also explore these stimulating scientific times in terms of their possible relationship to the emergence of the Meroitic writing system.
David Nailo N. Mayo, Michigan State University
This paper seeks to illuminate aspects of conflict resolution in the Sudan, if and only if federalism is chosen as a system of government in post-bellum Sudan. The author examines normatic approaches to the Sudanese conflict and alternative models: the Arab-Islamic model, SPLA demands to restructure the political system, and the theory of federalism. The paper examines the demands for federalism presented concerning the south, Beja, Dar-Fur, Nuba, and Southern Blue Nile, as well as the model proposed by Ahmed Ibrahim Diraige. The author then proposes the Grand New Federalism model as the optimal approach for achieving peace. Under this model, the Sudan would be restructured into five states (Azania, Beja, Dar-Fur, Nuba, Sennar) and two districts (Southern Blue Nile and Federalia).
Mohamed Zeinelabdin Mohamed
The war in the Southern part of the Sudan started in 1955, stopped in 1972, and re-started in 1983 to the moment. The aim of this paper is to review the history and origins of the conflict between 1972 and 1983 in order to identify the factors that led to the commencement of the war after the agreement of 1972. Additionally, the current agreement will be analyzed and compared to the first one to see what lessons we have learned from the past.
The investigation will include the consequences of the Addis Ababa Agreement (1972), and what went wrong during the period of 1972-1983 (Elobeid, 1980). The works of Alier (1990), Khalid (1990), Hamid (1988), Bure (1988), Wieu (1988), and Noweiri (1986) will be reviewed to highlight the mismanagement of the Southern region and the Central governments, and the continuous mutinies that led to the serious complications.
The government's mistakes and other factors that led to the outbreak of the hostilities in 1983 (e.g. Kosti oil refinery, abrogation of the Addis agreement, and other decisions that angered the southerners) will be analyzed from the author's point of view. Reference will be made to the works of Alier (1990), Malwal (1987-1988), Deny (1987), Woodward (1986) and other pieces of literature related to this period. Some suggestions will be provided to overcome current drawbacks and avoid similar problems in the future.
Leben Nelson Moro, African Studies, The American University in Cairo
Since education is the key to development, something that will underpin peace in a future stable Sudan, our attention is drawn to the nature of education that Sudanese are receiving in this trying time. Inside the country, the situation is hopeless, which compels us to look at the situation in the Sudanese diaspora.
Late last year I conducted research among Sudanese refugees in northern Uganda under the Sudan Cultural Digest Project, a program sponsored by the American University in Cairo, and gained a deep insight into issues relating to education. I interviewed a number of officials and refugees and accessed reports and policy papers on refugee education. I learned that refugees left their homes and continue to stay away partly because of the need to educate themselves. Uganda offered substantial opportunities at the primary level, but the same cannot be said of upper levels. Refugees are disenchanted because of this, while the locals view the refugees as a favored lot, mainly due to their better performance. These Sudanese will be essential in the future Sudan, but it is likely that they will face serious adjustment problems due to their completely different experiences, language, etc., they are accumulating lest the future Sudan will be completely different.
Marion Pratt, Social Science Advisor, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID, Washington DC
Long-term civil war and cross-border strife in Southern Sudan and surrounding areas pose enormous difficulties for governments and humanitarian organizations attempting to mitigate the ravages of armed conflict and help restore the livelihoods of traumatized populations. As high-level negotiations continue, consistent information exchange, organizational cooperation and collaboration, integrated cross-border initiatives, and holistic approaches to relief and development linkages with respect to the high diversity of stakeholder interests in this setting provide parallel venues for rebuilding the foundations of a more peaceful and prosperous Sudan.
Yehudit Ronen, Tel Aviv University
A violent religious, ethnic and cultural conflict, virtually a civil war, has unceasingly plagued the Sudanese society and state since the eve of independence in 1956, clearly dominating the political and socio-economic spheres of life. The principal rift lies between the country's two largest and most starkly dissimilar human communities: the Arab Muslim majority, concentrated mainly in the north-center of the country and holding the reins of power since independence, and the black African minority, which includes Christians and animists, who live mostly in the south.
This paper aims to examine the broad cluster of issues which have caused and steadily nourished the chronic armed conflict between the two communities, focusing on the period between 1972 and 1989, but referring also to a wider context of time and historical depth. The paper discusses issues such as the conflict between the monocentric state, created in the images of the hegemonic Arab Muslim northern community, and the heterogeneous Sudanese society, the impact of intra-south discord on the deepening schism, and the state's way of allocating economic resources, including oil found in the south.
David Sconyers, Franklin University
This paper addresses the 1953-1956 era of the Sudan Political Service. It is based on dozens of interviews with Political Service officers who served during the 1935-1955 time frame. There were conducted, mostly in their homes, over the better part of the three years that I lived in England. Included are extensive excerpts from the private documents and relevant materials from the SAD, PRO and CRO archives.
Elias Nyamlell Wakoson, Literature and Languages, Texas A&M University
This paper is an attempt to understand how Sudanese create the realities of their existence in the "Sudanese market place." The question of clash of identities in the Sudan has been narrated and analyzed by several reputed Sudanese scholars -- both Southerners and Northerners -- yet there is little conceptual analysis to explain how "Sudanese" create the realities of their existence. Historical narratives have adequately cartographed the molding of the differences among the peoples of the country and the commonalities among them. This doesn't go far enough because previous scholarship and strong political opinions have not helped the Sudanese resolve the intricate question of national identity which has permeated all aspects of Sudanese life creating the conducive condition of perpetual civil war in the country.
My argument here is that the conceptual dynamics of significations in the space (the Sudan) which Sudanese occupy holds the key to the resolution of the current conflict-situation in the country. Political negotiations -- or the so-called "Peace Talks" -- have taken the format of bargaining in the market place: prices go up and down, but the goods and the rules of the market place have not changed, because the realities created by diverse significations have not changed. The epistomology on which Sudanese political leaders, Sudanese scholars, and Sudanists base their creations of the realities of the country have to be transformed, first and foremost, before the Sudanese can silence the guns and begin to live new realities.
Gabriel Warburg, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and Haifa University
First, if an Islamic state is what the inhabitants of Sudan crave for, why did it take so long to achieve it? After all a Muslim majority existed in Sudan since it achieved independence and its two largest political parties are led by noted and knowledgeable Islamists, one of whom was the democratically elected prime minister when the present regime ousted him by force. Secondly, can an Islamic state adjust to the problems of modern statehood without compromising its principles? Thirdly, is the promulgation of an Islamic constitution within a democratic state possible and will Islamists, once elected, yield to a secular alternative, in case it was determined by a democraticaly elected majority? Fourth, ethnic and religious diversity are important factors in Sudan. Is it not questionable whether a majority of sixty percent can decide on an issue of such magnitude without jeopardizing its viability as a nation state? Finally, is the secular alternative, presently advocated by the NDA, a politically realistic one?
Steven Wöndu, SPLM Representative, Washington, DC
The SPLM/SPLA launched itself in 1983 with the emphatic objective of creating a united democratic secular Sudan. They gave it the name New Sudan. Through radio broadcasts, publications, and other pronouncements, the SPLM firmly denied any accusations that it threatened Sudanese unity. Disagreements erupted within the movement between those who preferred a separatist agenda and unionists. The unionists prevailed, but not before loss of lives. Early peace initiatives (Koka Dam, the DUP/SPLM initiative, the meeting with Prime Minister el-Saddiq el-Mahdi) were all based on the principle of national unity. The SPLM vehemently insisted that it was a national rather than a southern movement.
In July 1991, the SPLM/SPLA High Command passed a resolution to the effect that, in future negotiations, they would raise the option of self-determination for the south and other marginalized areas. Thus, in the Abuja talks in 1992-1993, the SPLM took the position that, if a secular state was not acceptable to the government and, by extension, to the people of the north, then the country should break up into two confederal states for an interim period, after which the south and the other marginalized areas would decide through a referendum whether to sustain the interim arrangement or adopt a different form of unity. In 1994, the SPLM/SPLA called a National Convention which limited the definition of New Sudan to include (for the time being) the south, Nuba Mountains and Ingessana Hills. At Asmara and now IGAD the SPLM/SPLA position is that there must be both a secular state during the interim period and the right of the south and other marginalized areas to secede the establish their own independent state.
What explains the metamorphosis of the SPLM/SPLA's objectives? Did they have this in the back of their minds way back in 1983? Was it the result of external influence after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Was it a result of the internal split of August 1991? Was it the result of disappointment with the northern response to the call for a New Sudan? Was it popular pressure from the southern constituency (convention, new leaders, civic opinion, etc.)? Or is the whole thing a strategic political bluff to pressure the north to accept secularism?
What does the new stand of the SPLM/SPLA mean to the future of the Sudanese state? Can a united Sudan still survive the current conflict? Is a new Eritrea emerging in central Africa or should the world brace for another Somalia? Theory apart, what can we read from the behavior of the SPLM vis-a-vis the areas under their control and from the thrust of its external relations effort?
Amin Hamid Zeinelabdin, University of Khartoum
The paper attempts to explain the recurrent pattern of the replacement of a civilian democratic government in Sudan by a military regime in the years 1958, 1969 and 1989 by focusing on the main causes that contributed to undermining democracy and that invited the intervention of the military. Seven factors are singled out: party factionalism, absence of democracy within the leading parties; the intrusion of religion into politics; the civil war in South Sudan; the deteriorating economy; the contacts of the politicians with members of the military establishment; and finally the major cause of the recurrence of the abovementioned phenomenon, that is the failure of any party in the elections to attain the majority of seats in parliament, which would enable it to form a government.
This is regarded as the fundamental flaw of the parliamentary system, which makes it imperative to search for an alternative formula for the constitutional future of Sudan. The paper suggests the introduction of the U.S. style presidency as the most appropriate political formula for a Fourth Sudanese Republic and furnishes some of the reasons for its adoption and speculates on why this experiment might not encounter the failure it witnessed in the Second Nigerian Republic.