Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 14 April 2019

The Bread Revolution: My last memory of Bashir’s rule in Sudan


By Garang Michael Mamingdit

"In 1989, the young, charismatic and decorated Islamic army officer, Brigadier General. Omer Hassan Ahamed Al Bashir took power in a bloodless coup d’etat against the then democratically elected government of prime minister Sadig Al Mahdi".

Yet again, 30 years later, on 11th April 2019, Al Bashir was ousted in a bloodless people’s revolution. To his credit, Omer Al Bashir’s bloodless entry and exit of power are quite a unique contrary to the violent tradition of post-colonial African leaders ascendant to power. But that’s just it, little credit in the ocean of Bashir’s 30-year dictatorship, corruption, censorship and blunt impunity.

Who could have thought mere bread prices and cost of living will solidify the collective grievances of the people, and turn it into a historic revolution that will de-throne one of the most brutal African military dictators of our time?

The answer lies in the definition of people’s power. Thanks to the relentless protest of the Sudanese people, under various groups and associations, determined to unchain freedom and liberty.

With help from his NiF/NCP Islamic cronies, Al Bashir, his spymaster, Salah Gosh and the radical Islamic fundamentalist and political godfather, Hassan Al Turabi established an impenetrable Arab based "deep state" and patronage network that serves a few political elite in Khartoum on the expense of the large majority of the Sudanese population. The same people deliberately orchestrated an acute famine that took many lives in the areas of South Sudan, Blue Nile, Nuba Mountain and the Darfur region in the name of quelling down resistance in these places.

Personally, I was born and grew up knowing only one president before parting ways with the North amid our independence. As a toddler, I survived the bloody raids of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Bahr El Ghazal region; particularly the current Twic State thanks to my brave and loving grandmother, who had mastered the manoeuvrings of local bushes and forests. I can only remember him for the horrors of the SAF warplanes dropping bombs on our villages, schools and hospitals.

No bush or forest could hide the vulnerable women, children and the elderly from the rampant raping and killing by the extremists "Muraleen" militants sponsored by Bashir himself. These ruthless militants left nothing behind, living or non-living. They torched homes to ashes, took livestock and killed anything that could not be taken.

Al Bashir’s regime continued to sabotage our county even after we successfully gained independence from Khartoum. He continued to undermine the South Sudanese leadership by using his infiltrators to split the SPLM, armed different disgruntled factions, and offer them a breeding ground in Khartoum from which they wage war against their own people. A perfect example is the Heglig (Panthou) War in 2012, where once again he unleashed his Islamic extremism against our people, calling us cockroaches and insects. His bitterness of seeing South Sudanese independent and progressing instead of being "second class citizens" and "Abit" or slaves in English has left him with only a death wish for every Christian South Sudanese. Yet, it is the same South Sudan that is simultaneously giving the Sudanese economy oxygen through the oil.

As if that is not enough, I have seen very unfortunate reactions from South Sudanese political class amid the current uprising in Khartoum. Most people seem shy to talk about the unfolding regime change, instead, they are clearly in shock and look desperate in grasping the downfall of their own foe. The fact that he is one of the guarantors of the peace agreement is not an excuse and frankly, does not make us indebted to him, rather his fall from power should be a relief for South Sudanese to find a new ally who may not be supporting rebellion in our country, and with whom we can establish a better bilateral cooperation and mutual trade.

We have to be bold and welcome his departure. Enough with the inferiority mentality. We owe it to our martyrs who perished fighting the North. This is not the time when South Sudanese quickly catch a cold when Al Bashir sneezes in Khartoum.

In the words of Anya Anya 1 leader Late Agrey Jaden, "We owe nothing to the North because we have nothing in common". Every time I think about Al Bashir regime’s indignities on the South, I only rage for mass vengeance against Khartoum so that they feel what we have gone through, but revenge will not make us right nor better. It will only make us look the same, if not, worse.

I have no good memory of him. He is a ruinous dictator who dug his own grave the day he crafted his misrule on impunity and mass murder of the innocent people. I hope the wolves of ICC and forces of Human Right groups take him to answer for his crimes. May this be a new dawn for the North and the South? We are yet to see.

Garang Michael is a South Sudanese Journalist, and a businessman based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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