Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Citizenship in North and South Sudan in post referendum era

By Jacob K. Lupai

November 11, 2010 — Sudan has been a united country for 54 years since it got its independence on the 1st January 1956 but it seems unity has been a curse. Unity of Sudan was imposed with the brute use of force by those who erroneously believed they had all the means to make it happen. There was no consensus on unity of Sudan and so unity had remained superficial, lacking in all the aspects that would have made it attractive.

The masterminds behind such superficial unity were people who hardly believed they were Sudanese but a cultured and civilized breed with a mission to civilize the perceived uncultured and uncivilized of Sudan. If there were true Sudanese nationalism Sudan would have been the envy of the world. Unfortunately the cultured and the civilized who assumed the reign of power from the colonialists turned out to be backward looking, inferior, lacking in confidence and worse were racial-religious bigots whose call for unity was nothing but an invitation to hell on earth for those who were not bigots.

Unity of Sudan has been ardently propagated under racial-religious conviction and this has made Sudan what it is now, a land of perpetual flames of war. The reason is not difficult to find why Sudan is always in flames. Sudan is a country of multitude of diversities. There are Arabs, some with light skin while others are black. There are black Africans. There are Muslims and Christians with others practicing traditional religions. The list of diversities in Sudan can be long. It can therefore be seen that achieving unity in Sudan is a mammoth task.

When one race and one religion try to impose their will on the other races and religions in the one country it can be a problem. This is precisely what has happened in Sudan. After independence those who identified themselves as Arabs and Muslims also turned Sudan into an Arab Islamic country in an apparent disregard of the majority non-Arab and also in disregard of the non-Muslims and moderate Muslims of Sudan. In such circumstances the breakup of Sudan was imminent as people began to understand and assert their right to equal citizenship and respect for their beliefs.

According to Ali A. Mazuri in a paper, the multiple marginality of the Sudan, compiled in a book, Sudan in Africa published in 1985 as second edition, the Arabs vary in colour from white Arabs of Syria and Lebanon, brown Arabs of the Hadramaut to the black Arabs of the Sudan. Indeed the Sudanese Arabs are predominantly black and Mazuri is right to classify them so. The brown Arabs of the Hadramaut may look on the black Arabs of Sudan as slaves who in turn, as though to project their inferiority complex, look on their fellow black Africans countrymen who are also their cousins as the worst of the slaves. This may explain the fast disintegration of Sudan because of its black Arabs complex. All indications are that even if the black Arabs of Sudan increase their daily prayers from five to ten times this will not save the unity of Sudan.
South Sudan which is the bastion of resistance to gross discriminatory practices by the successive governments dominated by the black Arabs of Sudan will soon decide its destiny in a referendum on 9 January 2011. However, people are already aware that South Sudan will vote overwhelmingly to be the newest independent nation on the surface of planet earth. This should not be a surprise at all. The gross genocidal treatment of the South by the black Arabs of Sudan makes southerners not to regret being the first to celebrate the breakup of Sudan. In fact those who are experts on Sudan should expect this to happen after having learned about Sudan for the last fifty years how the South has suffered in the hands of the black Arabs.

The genocidal treatment of the South has now been shifted to the Darfur region of Sudan. The next transfer may be to the East to subjugate the Beja. Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile may be spared because they are part of the comprehensive peace agreement concluded between the South and the North.

Soon Sudan will be seen as two emerging independent nations, the North and the South. Darfur may also soon emerge as an independent nation. After all it was independent until 1874 when it was conquered and annexed. This will be a welcome development to break the abhorrent millennium-old hegemony of the black Arabs in Sudan. However, what will happen to the people when Sudan breaks up into two independent nations of the North and the South. We wouldn’t like the scenario of North and South Korea to repeat itself where families have been divided never to see each other again.

There are southerners in the North and also there are northerners in the South. With the referendum on 9 January 2011 there is naturally the fear of the unknown as to what will happen to southerners in the North when the South boldly votes for independence. There have been noises from prominent northern leaders of denying southerners in the North basic services if the South chooses independence. This is obviously blackmail for the South to vote against its wishes. Nonetheless it is hoped common sense will prevail and the human instinct of helping a fellow human being in distress will also prevail.

It would be helpful for the international community to monitor the treatment of southerners in the North in the event that the South opts for independence. The treatment of northerners in the South should also be monitored. Above all it should be part of the undertaking that the North and the South should agree on the safety and welfare of all Sudanese irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. Even if the South votes for unity violence may still occur as frustration may ensue.

When Sudan becomes two independent nations the issue of citizenship may become like a hot cake. What will become of southerners in the North and northerners in the South? Dual citizenship may be suggested as the solution. The danger here, however, is that people may have divided loyalty in contrast to being a citizen of only one country. It may be argued that when southerners in the North are given dual citizenship this may not alter their loyalty to the South and so southerners in the North may still suffer harassment. On the other hand dual citizenship may improve North-South relations in the long term.
Another solution is for the North and the South to have special relations. This means that northerners in the South do not need to take southern citizenship but will be treated equally with their southern counterpart. This should also apply to southerners in the North. In the special relations northerners and southerners may not need a passport to cross their common international borders either by air, land or sea. As part of the special relations peaceful co-existence should be for dividends to the North and the South. In contrast threats of violence will only polarize people. Sudanese have suffered more than enough that all efforts should be exerted to steer clear of war breaking out.

In conclusion, the North and the South have a lot to gain by being good neighbours in harmony with each other. People need to move on from the backwardness of the past to the future of opportunities to turn the Nile valley into a land of prosperity for all. The masses both in the North and the South have the same basic needs for a better and higher standard of living. This is the challenge to the North and the South and together much can be achieved through genuine collaboration.

The author can be reached at [email protected]