Saturday, February 28, 2009

Emmanuel Jal: 'Music is my weapon of choice'

As a child soldier, he learned how to kill. Now, thanks to a British aid worker, Emmanuel Jal is an internationally acclaimed musician. This is his remarkable story

Emmanuel Jal: 'Music is my weapon of choice'
By Roya Nikkhah 28 Feb 2009

Photo: Emmanuel Jal: 'I know how it feels to pull that trigger'. Photograph: GEOFF PUGH

For much of his childhood, Emmanuel Jal's best friend was his AK47. He looked up to the gun, literally, because it was taller than him. "When I hear my sisters talk about what happened to them, it makes me want to pick up that gun again and kill," he says. "Hatred and revenge are feelings that I constantly have to fight, but now I fight them through my music; that's my weapon of choice."

Today Jal, 29, is an internationally acclaimed musician whose songs preaching against war and violence have been lauded by Nelson Mandela and formed soundtracks to Hollywood films, but his success follows a less than stellar childhood.

At the age of eight, as a bloody civil war raged in his homeland of Sudan, Jal was taken from his family home by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebel movement, and sent to Ethiopia where he was told he would go to "school".

But instead of learning his ABC, he found himself enrolled at an SPLA training camp for child soldiers, where he became one of Sudan's thousands of "lost boys", brainwashed, beaten and starved by the SPLA until he had learned how to throw a grenade and wield a machete.

Jal had seen his mother killed in the fighting, his village burned and his sisters and aunt raped by Arab militia men, so fighting for the SPLA against the Arab-dominated government seemed his only option for survival.

"I'd seen Arabs hit my mother so my desire, when I was taken to train, was to kill as many of them as possible. You are told when you have an AK47 that you are equal to someone really big, even if the gun is bigger than you. I wanted to be big and get revenge for my family and for my village."

Rolling his sleeves up to show me the scars on his arms from crawling for miles on stony ground in training drills, Jal recalls his training that replaced school. "If you stood up, they would kick you in the head, if you tried to crack a joke they would beat you, and they would wake us every hour in the night by blowing a whistle, to train us for night attacks. Even now, I still sleep with one eye open."

At 11, Jal was sent to attack his first town. He speaks slowly and carefully when I ask if he knows whether he killed people. "Yes, I participated in mob justice," he says, looking down at his hands. "I don't know how many, but I was told I killed people. When you're a kid, you don't aim and shoot like an adult, you just shoot like this," he says, closing his eyes and waving an imaginary gun above his head.

In 1993, after five years of fighting for the SPLA, Jal began to question his motivation for staying with the rebel movement. "The commanders used to tell me that this war was not about hatred and revenge, but about freedom," he says. "But I began to see I had the wrong reasons for fighting. When I had seen my mother beaten by Arabs, it sowed the seed of hatred in me and I wanted revenge, but I realised this was not a reason for fighting a war."

Knowing that desertion would mean certain death if he was discovered, Jal and 300 other lost boys took a chance, escaping from their camp in the night and setting off for eastern Sudan, where aid workers were based. A journey that should have taken one month to walk, took three, as they dodged army helicopters and minefields. One of Jal's friends had his leg blown off by a mine. Fewer than 20 survived the trek.

"We were so weak, we had no water and no food," says Jal, who watched some of his friends turn to cannibalism to survive. "That was the darkest part of my life," he continues, recalling how one night, he nearly succumbed to temptation. "I was so hungry, I was about to eat my own friend who was weak. I was holding his hand and thinking: 'I'm going to eat you tomorrow.' But I remembered my mother always telling me to be patient and wait for food because God would make it all right, and the next morning, a bird came which we shot and ate. That bird was a miracle bird. It saved my life."

When he finally reached the town of Waat in eastern Sudan, another miracle happened. He met Emma McCune, a British aid worker who noticed the 13-year-old Jal dragging his gun along the ground, too weak to carry it. McCune, who was working for Street Kids International, a Unicef-funded Canadian charity which built and renovated schools in southern Sudan, smuggled him on to an aid flight to Kenya. "She put on make-up and made herself pretty to distract the men on the plane, and then I crawled on board without them seeing."

Jal smiles for the first time during our interview when he talks of the woman he describes as his "guardian angel" who effectively adopted him, treating him as her own son when they reached Nairobi. "She put me in a good boarding school, paid for my fees, gave me her clothes. I had never had attention like that, I didn't understand what love means until then. She never shouted at me, she always corrected me softly. It is only now that she is gone that I appreciate the impact that she had on my life."

But six months after they settled in Nairobi, McCune was killed in a car crash. Homeless and wandering the slums of Nairobi, Jal sought shelter as an altar boy in a Catholic church. "I didn't do such a good job because my hands were always shaking," he says. "The priest knew I had been a soldier and would tell me: 'You're full of sin, that's why you can't serve properly.' When people know you've been a soldier, they judge you: you are a thief, a lost boy. But I liked the music and I went to concerts at church. I found myself writing music and it made me happy. So I started to perform it and kids liked it. I didn't write about my struggle, I wrote about peace."

Despite not having a record deal, in 2004 he recorded his first single, Gua, (which means "peace" in Nuer, a tribal language of southern Sudan), burning copies of the CDs himself when fans asked him. Word of mouth and radio play alone propelled the song to number one in Kenya for more than two months. "It made me really famous," he says, still sounding surprised, even though his three albums, Gua, Ceasefire and War Child, have gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies around the world.

Jal's songs have been used in the film Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and the television series ER. In 2005, he performed at the Live8: Africa Calling gig in Cornwall's Eden Project, a sister concert to the Hyde Park awareness-raising event that was prompted by accusations that the main event's line-up contained no world musicians. More recently, Jal became the first hip-hop artist to perform at the United Nations in New York, where he received three standing ovations. Last year, he played at the V Festival and at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert in London, performing his song Emma, a tribute to McCune. Her life story, including her relationship with Jal, is being made into a film directed by British director Tony Scott (brother of Ridley), whose films include Top Gun and True Romance. There is even talk that Nicole Kidman has been lined up to play McCune.

Since 2005, Jal has made London his home because he "liked the vibe here". Sitting in his publisher's London office, with his plaited hair, parka jacket, baggy blue jeans and trendy green suede trainers, he explains how writing his autobiography has been cathartic.

"While I was writing the book, my chest was always tight and I had nosebleeds and nightmares," he says, recalling one episode in the book where he describes being whipped and imprisoned in an underground pit with no food or water, as punishment for visiting his aunt without the permission of an SPLA commander. "I would sweat, because the demons came back. But when the book was done, I felt better."

Jal, who describes his music as "gospel rap", has short shrift for many of the mainstream rap artists, such as 50 Cent, who have been criticised for glamorising violence.

"Most hip-hop artists are fake, all that gangster talk is not real. It's fiction, but children don't see that, they think everything is real and people like bad guys. Young people's minds are influenced so easily, their conscience is easily corrupted.

"How can someone who hasn't actually killed anyone think it's fun to kill? It's not. I know how it feels to pull that trigger. If I talked about being a bad guy, death and killing, I would have gone platinum.

"When I wrote my song 50 Cent, I wanted to tell him that he is a role model to young people so he needs to come up with a different style, he needs to tell children it is not cool to be a gangster and kill. Otherwise he is creating a genocidal society."

With the money he has made from his music, Jal sponsors 40 children in primary and secondary schools in Nairobi, and has founded Gua Africa, a charity that works to rehabilitate child soldiers and help communities in Sudan and Kenya overcome the effects of war and poverty. Gua's latest project is in Leer, the village in southern Sudan from where he was taken and where McCune is buried.

"We want to build a school in Leer called Emma's Academy. It will also have a vocational centre where we can train teachers. When I see kids back in Sudan who have been fighting, kids like I used to be, it haunts me. The only way I will feel better is if I build that school to give them a childhood."

'War Child: A Boy Soldier's Story' by Emmanuel Jal is published by Little, Brown on March 5. To order your copy for £11.99 + £1.25 p&p, call Telegraph Books (0844 871 1515) or go to For information on Gua Africa, go to

Defining the Darfur conflict as Arab against African is inaccurate

From IslamOnline.Net
25 February 2009
Analyzing Darfur's Conflict of Definitions
Interview With Professor Mahmood Mamdani

Professor Mahmood Mamdani of Columbia University, US believes that defining the conflict as Arab against African is inaccurate and says much more about the potency of race in the West rather than the relevance of the notion in Darfur. He believes that estimates of 400,000 dead in Darfur are inflated, irresponsible and unrealistic.

Mamdani, who was named as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world by the US magazine Foreign Affairs in 2008, is from Uganda, and is the current chair of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, Senegal.

He is the author of numerous books and articles, including the book Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. His upcoming book, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, politics and the War on Terror will be published in English by Pantheon (Random House, New York) on March 17, 2009 and by Verso (London) a month later.

Following is the full interview conducted by IOL correspondent in Khartoum, Sudan, Isma'il Kushkush, a Sudanese-American freelance writer currently based in Khartoum, Sudan. (IOL): The conflict in Darfur is often described in the media and by activists as a war pitting "black Africans" against "Arabs".  How accurate do you think this description is?

Prof. Mahmood Mamdani: Even if you take the terms for granted, the majority of the "Arabs" in Darfur — the southern Rozayqat [Arab clans] — are not involved in the conflict. If you narrow the focus to those who are involved in the conflict, which is the northern Rozayqat, the Fur, the Masaleet, and the Zaghawah, then you realize that the distinction which best captures the difference between them is that the northern Rozayqat are those tribes in Darfur who received no [tribal] homeland, no "dar", in the colonial dispensation, because the colonial dispensation did not give a tribal homeland to those who were fully nomadic and were thus without settled villages. At the same time, the colonial dispensation gave the largest homelands to peasant tribes with settled villages.

The conflict between the "dar-less" tribes and those with "dar" was triggered by an ecological crisis. According the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the Sahara expanded one hundred kilometers over forty years. This came to a head in the 1980s pushing the nomadic tribes in the north down south and triggering a classical ecological conflict around the lush central Darfur mountains, the Jebal Marra.

If you step away from the conflict and ask if the description "black African" and "Arab" tribes is adequate to describe those who live in Darfur, a number of questions would arise. First, it is curious to have the adjective "black" before the adjective "African" since all those who live in Darfur are "black". The interesting distinction is between "Arab" and "African". The first mention I have found of this in any consistent way was in the writings of [Winston] Churchill, The River War, and then in the 1920s, of [Harold] MacMichael. Both of them basically distinguish between "Arab" and what they call "Negro". Both assume that "Arabs" are settlers and "Negroes" are natives, and they sketch a history of interaction between settlers and natives whereby the settlers "civilized" and "Mongrelized" natives. Out of this interaction are said to have come the contemporary Arabs of Sudan. This historiography doesn't claim that these Arabs of Sudan were themselves settlers but a mix of settlers and natives.

The really curious question was what was a "race"?The colonial census that followed dispensed with a notion of a mixed race. Instead, it distinguished between different kinds of natives and settlers. The natives were divided into "Negroid westerners" of Darfur, and Nilotics and Hametics of central Sudan. The settlers are described as "Arabs". Now the interesting thing is that the census counts the Arab clans of Darfur as not belonging to Darfur but as part of a single settler tribe called "Arabs". The other interesting thing is that it does not define "Arabs" as those who speak Arabic at home. Because if you count those speaking Arabic at home, they are more than 50 percent of the population in both Darfur and Sudan as a whole. But those counted as "Arabs" are a minority, roughly a third of the population.

How did they decide who is "Arab" and who is not? In preparing for the census, MacMichael suggested that it have three basic categories: "tribes", "groups of tribes", and "races". "Groups of tribes" put together tribes that spoke the same language. The really curious question was what was a "race"? A census taker was advised to ask a respondent "what is your tribe" and to record the answer without any question. So the tribe of a person was what that person said was the tribe. But that's where it stopped. Then the census authorities decided which of the "groups of tribes" this tribe belonged to, and then the "race" to which this "group of tribes" belonged. And it's that last decision that was totally political or politicized, because race was an entirely political category, it was not a cultural category. It reflected the lines of demarcation that the colonial state wished to create or deepen in the "native" population.
In the 1920s, the British tried to create two confederations in Darfur. They called one the Confederation of Arab Tribes and the other the Confederation of Zurga tribes. There was no mention of "African" tribes; the notion of "African" arose later after independence.

Hitherto, I have given you an account of what was done from above. Before we can discuss what happened after independence, we need an account of initiatives from below, how different groups came to identify themselves as "Arabs". An Arab self-identity was a history of multiple assertions from different vantage points as it was the result of different initiatives. The material I read suggests several distinctions. First, it suggests a very clear distinction between the nomadic Arab tribes of the west [Sudan] and the settled Arab tribes of the riverine Sudan. The nomadic Arab tribes are really part of the nomadic Saharawi population that historically moved around the rim of the Sahara. Very little is known of their history prior to that movement. The settled Arab tribes of riverine Sudan do not have one history; they seem to have several histories. The presumption that they are migrants from the Middle East does not hold. This presumption presents the history of a small minority as the history of all.

If one reads the history of the Sultanate of Funj, and I am thinking mainly of Jay Spaulding's writings, it becomes clear that a process called "Arabization" — which is seen as a product of immigration in both colonial and nationalist historiography — is actually better understood as a consequence of the history of "state formation". The earliest claim to be an Arab seems to come from the royalty of the Funj Sultanate and it seems to echo a common claim among royalty in the region during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. All the way from Western Sahara right up to Ethiopia, all of them claimed to have descended from one or another section of families in the Holy Land. The Ethiopian kings have claimed to have descended from King Solomon and most of the Islamic royalties claim to have a connection to the House of the Prophet.

The assertion that Sudan is "African" is more of a political development.The second major assertion came in the eighteenth century with the development of a commercial civilization along with the development of towns. Spaulding says that at the beginning of the eighteenth century there were two towns in Funj and they both were basically administrative towns. By the end of the eighteenth century, there were between twenty and thirty towns and they were mostly commercial towns. These commercial towns were dominated by merchants in association with the "holy men" — the fuqara [religious leaders] —, a conflict emerges between the royalty and the merchants over the rules that would be used to decide new kinds of disputes, disputes arising from commerce. The royal house held that "tradition" must decide and the merchants disagreed, holding that shari'ah [Islamic law] must decide. Coming out of the Byzantine period, "shari'ah" was very commerce-friendly and it was wholly understandable that merchants would want such a code to decide the outcomes of commercial disputes. The merchants won the contest. The merchant-backed mobs used their own armed groups to tame the king by appointing regents who would advice the king to rule. It is in this context that the merchants declared themselves "Arabs". The merchants and the fuqara didn't just claim to be decedents of "Arabs", they claimed to be "Arabs".
The third assertion that "we are Arabs" came from popular classes in the nationalist period. It was strongly influenced by Nasserism and other anti-colonial movements. The anthropological studies by Wendy James in the southern Funj show that as they engaged with power, different sections embraced different identities. Some became Arabs, some claimed to be Funj, and some championed prior identities as "authentic". The Arabs of riverine Sudan came from different histories. They are not a single people. Some were immigrants, others came from the merchant classes of the Funj, and others were former slaves who claimed the identity Arab. My understanding is that "Arab" itself was not a racial identity; it couldn't be. Arab is actually a multi-racial identity. Nor is it a single cultural identity because those who speak Arabic are not all considered to be "Arab" in Sudan. It is much more of a political identity; it is an identity embraced in relation to the state, and even racialized in the process.

Having said this, we need to acknowledge that a large schism exists between the Arabs of riverine Sudan and the Arabs of the west, meaning Darfur and Kordofan. The Arabs of riverine Sudan identify themselves with power, but the Arabs of Darfur are marginal to power. The historical fact is that whereas Darfur was marginal to Sudan, the Arabs of Darfur were the most marginal peoples in Darfur. In Darfur power was identified with the Fur, the Masaleet, and even the Zaghawah; but not the Arabs. I think that this historical fact is important to understand.

"Arab" itself was not a racial identity; it couldn't be.The notion of non-Arab as "African" also comes out of a nationalist assertion. My readings suggest two different assertions. A cultural assertion came out of the intellectual ferment among "Arab" intellectuals of riverine Sudan in the colonial period. Their discourse was around "the desert and the jungle". This literary school claimed that the culture of the Arab in northern Sudan was actually a hybrid culture bringing together the sensibilities of the desert and the jungle, understood by some as "Arab" and "African". The main point is that Sudan is a hybrid land with a hybrid culture.

The assertion that Sudan is "African" is more of a political development, one that comes out of the southern struggle against a northern and Arab dominated post-colonial state. Even this assertion was not singular. It gave rise to two very contradictory notions. The early notion mirrored the colonial assertion and described "Arab" and "Africa" as racial categories. The early Anya Nya claimed that African was a race. The later SPLA [Sudan People's Liberation Army], particularly as defined by John Garang in his Koka Dam speech, defined African as a non-racial political identity. Garang made two claims. One, that "Arab" as a cultural assertion goes beyond Arabs, that "Aruba", Arabness, is actually present all over Sudan. So it should not be confused with a racial category. And he says that it is legitimately part of the whole of Sudan. He also argues that we must understand "African" in non-racial terms. That Sudan is part of Africa and by virtue of that all the peoples of Sudan are "African". So this is a new notion of Africa; a non-racist notion of Africa.

Although there was a strong organizational connection between the SLA [Sudanese Liberation Army], that emerges in Darfur in 2003, and the SPLA, I believe that the ideological notion of "African" that the SLA has embraced is not non-racial. Rather, it has embraced a racial notion of "Africa", probably because it was instrumentally useful in its contention over land and resources with the nomadic Arabic speaking tribes of the north. This notion has been picked up by international groups, beginning with those that were in solidarity with the struggle in the south, particularly the SPLA. These solidarity groups have little understanding of what is different about Darfur, particularly the fact that — unlike "Arab" in south Sudan — "Arab" in Darfur is actually the name for the most oppressed. Instead, they proceeded to translate South Sudan into Darfur and the struggle in Darfur as one between "black African" and "Arab".

Media Usage of African vs. Arab

IOL: Why do you think that activists and the media, especially the Western, define the conflict in Darfur in such a simplified manner: African vs. Arab?

Mamdani: Well, I think it is political. You can make sense of it not by focusing on those they are defining, but on their audience. Whereas the former live in Darfur, their audience is in the West. They understand that the Western audience would be quick to grasp a racialized distinction and would be easy to mobilize around it. It says much more about the potency of the history of race in the West rather than the relevance of the notion of race in Darfur.

A "Genocide"?

IOL: The conflict in Darfur is described in some corners as "genocide", while others reject that term and use "civil war". Can you comment on the usage of the term "genocide"; is it accurate to describe conflict in Darfur as "genocide"?

Mamdani: If you read the two international reports on Darfur, one from the UN Commission on Darfur and the other from the International Criminal Court (ICC), you will find no great disagreement over how many people have died. The real disagreement is on what to call it. The UN Commission says that this is a "counter-insurgency". They say the killings took place as a consequence of an effort to militarily defeat an insurgency. The ICC says no, this is evidence of a larger intention to kill the groups in question, the Fur, the Masaleet, and the Zaghawah.

How do you prove it? The claim is not made on the basis of those that have actually been killed; the claim is that they would be killed if the conflict went on because that is the intention of the perpetrators. From this point of view, the only way to arrest the killing is to arrest the political leadership of Sudan, and not to urge the two sides to negotiate. The UN Commission was arguing the reverse; that all efforts should be invested in negotiations and in stopping the conflict. The ICC seems to be arguing the opposite; that negotiations would only appease and give time to those who are bent on genocide. It seems to me that the ICC is responding not to what is going on in Darfur but to a particular constituency in the West.

"Genocide" vs. "Counter-insurgency"

IOL: Why do you think the term "genocide" has been used to describe the conflict in Darfur but not in Congo or Iraq despite the similarities in the conflicts that pit the "state" against an "insurgency"?

Mamdani: The conflicts in Congo and Iraq are different; the scale of killings is much higher. In Congo it is said to be four to five million. In Iraq it is said to have exceeded a million. So from that point of view, these conflicts are much worse than that in Darfur. The conflict in Iraq arises from an occupation and resistance to an occupation. The conflict in Darfur started as a civil war between tribes in Darfur, 1987 and 1989, and the government was not involved at all. The government became involved, first in 1995 and then 2003, but it is still not an occupation, it is an internal conflict.

So why would what's happening in Darfur be described as "genocide" while the numbers involved are less than in Iraq and when the conflict began as a civil war between tribes internal to Darfur and only then developed into an insurgency against the central government, followed by a counter-insurgency in response to that insurgency? Why?

The answer is basically that in international law "counter-insurgency" is considered a legitimate response by a government to an "insurgency"; "genocide" is not. Only if you call Darfur "genocide" you can justify an external intervention in Darfur. If you call it "counter-insurgency", intervention becomes an "invasion" of Darfur. That's the reason.

"Dead" vs. "Killed" Controversy

IOL: The number of "dead" in Darfur has been an issue of controversy. Can you comment on the studies made on this topic and is there a distinction between the terms "dead" and "killed" in Darfur?

Mamdani: We are fortunate that there was actually a review of all the major studies estimating the mortality in Darfur. The review was in 2006 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which is an audit agency of the US government. The GAO was asked to review six different studies of mortality in Darfur, including a study sponsored by the US state department estimating nearly 400,000 dead over eighteen months in 2003-2004, at the high end, and at the low end a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating 70,000 dead over roughly the same period.\

The WHO study made a distinction between those "dead" and those "killed". It said that roughly 80% of these 70,000 had died from malnutrition, dysentery, from the effects of drought and desertification, and 20% from violence.

The GAO got together with and asked the American Academy of Sciences (AAS) to nominate a team of twelve experts. These experts went over the six studies, and they concluded that the high end studies were totally unreliable in terms of methodology, in terms of projection. Their findings are on the website These were sent to the US State Department — which agreed with the GAO in writing — and to Congress, and then to the media, which basically ignored it. I find it quite amazing that it did not have any impact on the public debate in the United States or in the West. The public debate continued to be dominated by the Save Darfur Coalition and its totally inflated, irresponsible, and unrealistic estimates of 400,000 dead. The problem is that this is a very politicized movement which has had no effective counter-response.

Contrast in Numbers of Dead

IOL: Whatever the real numbers of dead in Darfur are, no one can deny a tragedy has occurred. But why do you think there is a contrast in the numbers of dead used by activist groups, the media, and even governments?

Mamdani: I think the answer is two fold: One, there is a legitimate debate. Let's say, take the WHO figures, 70,000 died. 20,000 roughly died from violence, 50,000 roughly died from non-violent causes, mainly children dying from dysentery, things like that. Now the debate is this: One group says those who died from violence are the only ones who died from the conflict. The other groups say: Not really. Many of those who died from non-violent causes like dysentery really died from indirect effects of the conflict because the conflict stopped supplies from coming in. From this point of view, those who could have been rescued died, they died of dysentery, but really, had it not been because of the conflict, they would have been saved. That is a legitimate debate. It is a debate that appears in all cases like in the case of the American Indians who died in the Indian genocide you will find many died from diseases, like smallpox, which they did not have to die from. That is a legitimate debate.

There is a second debate that is not legitimate, which is entirely political. The best example is the Save Darfur Coalition and their figures of 400,000. Here you find two things: One you find an extrapolation which is completely unjustifiable and unwarranted. The GAO showed that they [Save Darfur Coalition] extrapolated from deaths in refugee camps in Chad without taking into account any local variations.

They also extrapolate from death rates from 2003, 2004, when the conflict was at its highest, by assuming that the same rate continued in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008. This is how the UN got its figure of 300,000 [last year] when Holmes, the undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs said: "It was 200,000 in 2005 therefore it must be 300,000 now". "Therefore", meaning, if the same rate continues which is patently absurd, because the UN's own people on the ground showed that the mortality rates — not just deaths from killings — dropped low in Darfur starting January 2005. It was less than 200 per month, in other words, less than it would take to call Darfur an "emergency". So this kind of presumption, that nothing has changed, and therefore you just extrapolate from pre-existing rates, is totally unjustifiable.

Also unjustifiable is the Save Darfur Coalition's refusal to acknowledge that people are also dying from another cause, drought and desertification. So instead of a debate on how many of those could have been saved had there been no conflict, there is simply silence. This too is a deliberate denial to acknowledge a developed catalogued by the UN's own agency.

"Right" vs. "Wrong" to Avoid Political Complexity

IOL: The conflict in Darfur is portrayed sometimes as a "moral issue"; one that pits "right" against "wrong" as opposed to a "political issue" with its various complications. Can you comment on that, and why do think it is portrayed as such?

Mamdani: It is very important how you define the conflict. In retrospect, one can see that none of those who were involved in this conflict when it began in 1987-1989 as a civil war — the northern Rozayqat one side, the Fur, the Masaleet, and the Zaghawah on the other side — really had control over the issues that triggered the conflict. The issues were no doubt complex.

The really long term issues stemmed from how the British redesigned the hakura [land] system that came out of the Sultanate of Darfur. It eliminated individual ownership and re-divided all the land as "tribal land" with larger hakuras for peasant tribes, smaller ones for semi-nomadic tribes with cattle and no hakuras for fully nomadic tribes with camels. That was one issue. The second trigger was ecological, the expanding desert, pushing the tribes in the north down south, leading to the conflict around Jebal Marra. In 1995, the government tried to solve this conflict by giving land to tribes without hakura, but they should have realized that since all the land in Darfur was already divided up, to do it by taking lands from tribes with hakura would restart the conflict, as indeed happened.

In 2003/2004 when the insurgency began, the government responded to it with a purely security framework with no regards for the issues that had led to this conflict with no attempt to solve the basic problem. Because the rebel movements are anchored in those tribes with hakuras, they are not raising the question of land; the question that pushed the hakura-less tribes into the conflict. The government is simply looking at the security question and the issues being raised by the rebels which is the marginalization of Darfur, but not looking at the issues internal to Darfur which created the conflict in the first place. So, the government has a very narrow vision. The government does not seem to have a Darfur vision. It is evident that Darfur is marginal. There don't seem to be people with a Darfur vision in the government.

Those outside of Sudan, the Save Darfur movement in the US, are looking at it from their own vantage point which is not simply a global vantage point or a West-centered one, but worse, it's the vantage point of the most reactionary circles in the US, those waging the "war on terror". They are painting this conflict not as a conflict over questions of land, not a conflict over questions of law and order, an insurgency/counter-insurgency — which is how the Government of Sudan is seeing it —, but as a conflict between "Arab" and "African"; they've racialized the conflict completely. They are partly responsible for the conflict being racialized. Consider the fact that it is a much more racialized conflict now than it was five years ago.

When the Save Darfur movement claims that this violence is African versus Arab its explanation is not historical or political. Its explanation basically is that the Arabs are "race-intoxicated" and they are just trying to wipe out the Africans. The Save Darfur movement does not educate the people they mobilize about the history of Darfur. It does not educate them about what issues drive the conflict. So they know nothing about the politics of Darfur, the history of Darfur, the history of the conflict. All they know is that Darfur is a place where "Arabs" are trying to eliminate "Africans". That's all. Darfur is a place where "evil lives", so they have completely "moralized" the conflict and presented it as a struggle against evil. This evil is thus portrayed as ahistorical, or trans-historical, living outside of history — except that evil is said to live in this place called Darfur and Sudan.

The conclusion means of course that you have to eliminate this "evil". There is no settlement to a conflict like that. You can't settle it, you can't negotiate, there is only one way to have peace and which is to eliminate the evil. So ironically they are trying to create that which they say they are combating.

Darfur's Terminology: Of Importance?

IOL: We've discussed the issue of terminology in the Darfur conflict: "genocide" vs. "counter-insurgency"; "African" vs. "Arab"; "killed" vs. "died"; "moral issue" vs. "political issue". Some would argue that it really does not make a difference if we make these distinctions. How important is it to have a correct understanding of these terms to reach a solution for the Darfur conflict?

Mamdani: How you define the problem shapes the solution. If you define it as a "war of liberation", you have a different attitude to it. If you define it as "terror", you have a different attitude to it. If you define the person as a "terrorist" or as a "liberator" you have totally opposite attitudes to that person. If you define "violence" as "self-defense" or as "aggression" you have a different attitude to that violence. If you explain the issues behind the violence you are more likely to address the issues to stop the violence. But if you portray the violence as "senseless" without any reason, with no issues, with no backgrounds, then you are likely to think that the only way to stop the violence is to target those involved in it.

So "definition" is crucial. "Definition" tells you what the problem is. And in a way, the entire debate rightly should be about what the problem is. Every doctor knows that diagnosis is at the heart of medicine; not prescription. Wrong diagnosis, wrong prescription, and the patient will die. The heart of medicine lies in the analysis.

(Hat tip Pulse Media)

Don't Permit an ICC Crime Against Africa - Darfur Case Against Sudan President Bashir Is a Fraud Intended To Weaken Government

No matter what viewpoint one holds of the Sudan crisis, here are two must-read articles. The first by Douglas DeGroot, entitled "Don't Permit an ICC Crime Against Africa" appears in the February 27, 2009 issue of Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) at The second, also from EIR February 27, 2009, is a Press Release entitled "Warrant Against Sudan President Is a Fraud Intended To Weaken Government."  The text that I have highlighted in red is for future reference.

Don't Permit an ICC Crime Against Africa
by Douglas DeGroot
Feb. 20, 2009—Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol told reporters in Cape Town, South Africa today that Sudan wants the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s ongoing efforts to issue an arrest warrant (effectively an indictment) against Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes, to be postponed for a year, to give the government time to negotiate a peace deal in Darfur. Previous such efforts by Sudan have been rejected or boycotted by the approximately 15 rebel groups, except for one group. Kuol made his statement after Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), reportedly the best-armed of the rebel groups, reached an agreement to negotiate on Feb. 17.

The ICC, created and funded by the Anglo-Dutch imperial financial cartel, with financial backing from George Soros, wants to indict Sudan's President, to plunge the country deeper into bloody chaos, leading to its disintegration as a nation.

Lyndon LaRouche responded:
There should be no recognitions of the ICC. It's a complete violation of international law. The people who are pushing it should be questioned as to their morals and sanity. This very indictment is a crime against humanity, and the sponsors of the indictment should be brought to trial by some suitable agency.
On the day that Sudan and the JEM agreed to negotiate, the Obama Administration's UN Ambassador Susan Rice expressed her support for an indictment of the Sudanese President, despite the ongoing efforts to negotiate with Darfur rebels. At that point, concerned about the Administration's support for the indictment, LaRouche said: "It's the International Criminal Court which is criminal. The issuance of such an indictment would be a criminal attack on Africa, and we must not let a crime be committed against Africa, by the Obama Administration."

LaRouche reiterated that the ICC is simply a tool of Britain's Mark Lord Malloch-Brown, Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and his partner-in-crime, the world's top drug-pusher, George Soros (see this week's Feature). EIR's dossier on the funding of the ICC by Soros was first published in June 2008, and is available at A prescient memorandum by Lyndon LaRouche in 2002, when the drive to create the ICC was underway, is available here.

The Attack on Sudan Continues

So far, the ICC has been used as a tool only against Africa. Despite having received over 1,700 complaints from at least 103 countries, according to a Human Rights Watch report, it has only conducted investigations in African countries.

The UN Security Council could defer the indictment by a year if progress is made on Darfur-related issues, or, if an indictment is seen as a threat to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the prolonged civil war between the North and South. But despite the negotiations between the government and the JEM, and the desire by both the Sudan government and South Sudan government to implement the CPA, the ICC continues its drumbeat for a warrant against Bashir.

A Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) member from South Sudan, who is part of the Sudan government, said recently that if Bashir is indicted, and the UNSC does not defer the case for a year, the South will face economic doom. With the President viewed as an indicted criminal, investment will decline, he pointed out.

Yesterday, the panel of three ICC judges rejected an appeal against an indictment by two pro-Sudan groups (a labor federation and an NGO), saying they had "no procedural standing to appeal" a prior decision against them by the judges. There are still rumors, spread through the press, that the arrest warrant will be issued soon.

Why the Vendetta?

Sudan is geographically the largest country in Africa. If it were to successfully develop as a unified nation, as opposed to being a collection of autonomous regions (the way it was run under British colonial rule), it could spark the development of the entire northeast of Africa, and become the breadbasket of the continent.

For over 40 years of the 50 years, from independence from the British in 1956, until 2005, a civil war raged between the Sudan government in Khartoum and the South, the basis for which was created by the British during colonial rule. The formal signing of the CPA between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which ended the war, took place Jan. 9, 2005. Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha (originally from the South), and SPLM/A leader John Garang signed the accord. Taha, a member of Bashir's party, but from the South, had been given responsibility for the negotiations by Bashir, who had to lead a fight within his own party to get the peace agreement. The result was a unity government joining the two parties.

Expressing optimism about building a unified nation, Garang said at the signing: "This peace agreement will change Sudan forever.... Sudan cannot and will never be the same again, as this peace agreement will engulf the country in democratic and fundamental transformation instead of being engulfed in wars.... We believe that a new Sudan is possible, for there are many in the North who share with us ... a belief in the universal ideals of humanity." In an interview on Dec. 31, 2004, Garang said "Our priority begins with infrastructure," referring to the lack of development in the South, a carryover from the colonial period.

The day before the signing, Taha said: "The situation in southern Sudan was the result of backwardness, scarcity of resources, people's dissatisfaction, and shortage of services. The agreement calls on the Sudanese people to pool their resources rather than fight politically on empty slogans and struggle over power. Thus, the emphasis and the priority would be on taking care of the poor classes, returning of the refugees, and ensuring essential services for the citizens, including health care, education, and job opportunities for productive manpower."

The Darfur Destabilization

In 1999, Hassan al-Turabi was ousted from the ruling party by Bashir and his allies, who wanted Sudan to have a nationalist government. As part of the shift leading to Turabi's ouster, Osama bin Laden, who had been brought into Sudan by Turabi, had been kicked out in 1996. An opponent of the CPA, Turabi was allied to the British-intelligence-controlled Muslim Brotherhood. It was in the period between his ouster, and the signing of the CPA, that unrest in the Darfur region was blown up into a major insurgency. Networks associated with Turabi played a significant role in carrying this out. Well before the CPA was signed, there were reports of arms supplies coming into Darfur from outside Sudan. The insurgency made it impossible for the government to take advantage of the CPA to develop the most undeveloped regions of the country into a unified nation.

The formal conflict began with Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) attacks in 2002. By February 2003, JEM rebels attacked larger towns and government garrisons, killing many poorly equipped policemen. The decimation of law enforcement in the region led to a chaotic every-militia-for-itself situation.

According to Sudan expert Alex de Waal, in a region where every community has armed itself for years, there are many militia groups. De Waal, who is not a supporter of the government's approach in Darfur, although he opposes the ICC campaign against Bashir, points out that the groups termed "rebel groups" by the media campaign against the Sudan government, range from nomadic clans that have armed themselves to protect their herds, to trained fighters headed by Musa Hilal (leader of one of many militias referred to as Janjaweed), and some of his Chadian Arab comrades in arms.

Abdel Wahid, a key early organizer of the SLA, later indicated his recognition of the manipulated nature of the rebellion, as the rebels split and fought each other, when he said: "If I had known what would happen, I would not have started this revolution."
- - -

Warrant Against Sudan President Is a Fraud
Intended To Weaken Government

Feb. 27, 2009 (EIRNS)—High-level Sudanese sources have today revealed that John Prendergast, a well-known opponent of the Sudan government who depicts himself as a defender of the population of Darfur region of Sudan, has indicated that if Sudan President Omar al-Bashir would agree not to run for President in the election scheduled for later this year, the impending charges by the International Criminal Court (ICC) could be made to disappear.

The sources indicated that the goal of the ICC assault against President al-Bashir is to create chaos in the country, which would facilitate the separation of South Sudan and other regions, from the nation.

These revelations demonstrate that the claim that the purpose of the ICC indictment is to bring accountability for alleged crimes of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, is a lie. The ICC indictment, expected March 4, is a fraud, with no regard for the lives of the people of Darfur and Sudan. As a result of this revelation of the true intent of the ICC indictment—to oust President Bashir, and weaken the Presidency of Sudan—all leaders, especially those in the U.S government should act immediately to quash the expected ICC warrant. Failure to act now to prevent the issuance of the arrest warrant against Bashir, would demonstrate a profound lack of morality and commitment for justice in Africa.

The ICC is being used to prevent the Sudan nationalist government from carrying out a nation-wide development strategy which would unify the disparate segments of the country, as it was run by the British at the time the country was part of their colonial empire.

The revelation that the goal of the ICC initiative is not to do anything to benefit the people of Darfur, but to weaken the government, is a further indication, as charged by Lyndon LaRouche Feb. 19, that the ICC, funded by the world's top drug-pusher, George Soros, is merely a tool of Britain's Mark Lord Malloch-Brown, Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on behalf of the London-based Anglo-Dutch imperial financial cartel.

LaRouche added: "There should be no recognitions of the ICC. It's a complete violation of international law. The people who are pushing it should be questioned as to their morals and sanity. This very indictment is a crime against humanity, and the sponsors of the indictment should be brought to trial by some suitable agency."

The continuous destabilization of Sudan by insurgencies in the various regions of Sudan, all run from outside Sudan, have made it impossible for the Sudan government to development the nation, to the advantage of the entire population. There is no indication that the ICC has investigated funding for anti-government insurgencies coming from Dubai, and elsewhere. There are also numerous reports of a big arms buildup by the Government of South Sudan.

Political attacks on the government worsen pre-existing economic problems that are confronting Sudan. By 1993, Sudan was the largest debtor in the world to the World Bank and IMF. If Sudan's infrastructure were developed, it could be a breadbasket that could feed all of Africa. However, it is now a net importer of food. Hemmed in by insurgencies, and the ignorant supporters of those insurgencies, Sudan cannot successfully develop its economy.

Rob Crilly reporting from Darfur is yet to meet an IDP who has heard of ICC

Sorry I cannot find any recent news reports from Reuters by Englishman Andrew Heavens in Khartoum.  Maybe he is on holiday.  There doesn't seem to be a news blackout. Since arriving in Darfur on February 24, Irishman Rob Crilly, a freelance journalist who writes for The Times and Irish Times, has managed to access Twitter and his blog. Here is a copy of some recent messages from Rob via Twitter:
On tarmac in geneina en route to nyala. Remind me never to fly in a yak-42 again. In-flight mag is in russian
5:57 AM Feb 24th from txt

robcrilly: Nyala. Totally fricking incommunicado. Govt has turned off mobile phone network. Even my Thuraya is not working properly. All ahead of ICC
Twitter / robcrilly 26/2/09 12:51

robcrilly: Authorities not letting me spend much time in the camps. But have yet to meet a single IDP who has heard of the ICC.
Twitter / robcrilly 28/2/09 09:57
Best of British luck chaps.

Meanwhile, from Reuters 28 February 2009 KHARTOUM - excerpt:
British-Tunisian journalist held in Sudan
Sudanese police have detained a British-Tunisian journalist for breaking immigration rules and engaging in "activities not covered by his mandate," Sudanese authorities said Saturday.

A spokesman for Sudan's security services said Zuhair Latif had entered Sudan legally but subsequently violated immigration regulations.

He added Latif had "performed activities not covered by his mandate" but declined to give details and did not specify when he was arrested.

Authorities were considering whether to press charges against Latif or deport him, and could make a decision within the next few days, the spokesman said.

He gave no further details about Latif and no one from the British embassy could be reached for comment.
- - -

From The Scotsman 28 February 2009:
British journalist missing in Sudan
A FREELANCE British journalist has been detained by Sudanese security and his whereabouts are unknown, it was claimed last night. The British Embassy is investigating.

Friends of Zuhair Latif said security personnel went to his house yesterday and confiscated his documents, tapes and computer. Mr Latif, who is of Tunisian origin, has freelanced for the United Nations.
- - -


From Sudan Tribune Sunday 1 March 2009 - excerpt:
Press watchdog expresses concern about Tunisian journalist arrested in Sudan
February 28, 2009 (PARIS) — A press watchdog expressed concern over the fate of a Tunisian journalist arrested by the Sudanese security yesterday in Khartoum. His friends said his whereabouts are unknown.

"We call on the Sudanese authorities to urgently explain this arrest, which comes less than a month after the expulsion of Heba Aly, a journalist with Canadian and Egyptian dual citizenship. The government must publicly say where Latif is being detained and what he is charged with", said Reporters Without Borders in a statement released today.

A freelance journalist who works for France 24’s Arabic-language service and the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat, Zuhair Latif was arrested by the Sudanese security services in his house on Friday after confiscating his computer hard drive, documents and tapes. [...]

Latif had just spent 21 days in Darfur although the travel permits issued to the journalists by the authorities are usually for periods no longer than two weeks. According to local sources, his arrest could be linked to this visit to Darfur and the fact that he also works for the World Food Programme, a UN agency.

The British Embassy in Khartoum today said Latif was not a British citizen.

US military provided 17 advisers, $1m in fuel, satellite phones and intelligence for raid on LRA in DR Congo

The US sent 17 advisers from AFRICOM to work with UPDF on Operation Lightning Thunder against LRA in DR Congo.

Source: Sunday Monitor report by Angelo Izama, Kampala 25 February 2009:
US, Uganda to discuss military cooperation
A US military official, Brig. Gen. D. Christopher Leins is in Uganda to discuss military cooperation.

This visit comes in the backdrop of a New York Times article which revealed details of US military assistance to the UPDF in operation “Lightning Thunder”.

The article said, at the request of Uganda, the US sent 17 advisers from its new Africa Command to which Gen. Leins belongs, to work with UPDF on the Garamba operation.

It also said the US military provided a million dollars in fuel as well as satellite phones and intelligence for the operation which it said was personally authorised by ex-US President George Bush.

Yesterday, Army Spokesman, Felix Kulayigye said the UPDF had made no further requests for assistance from the American military and that there was no “on-going” assistance currently to operation Lightning Thunder.

Earlier, the army in a press release said Gen. Leins and the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Aronda Nyakairima, met at the Ministry of Defence Headquarters in Mbuya and discussed mutual cooperation.

In a follow-up interview, Maj. Kulaigye said Lightning Thunder was only mentioned in brief and that the discussion was focused on training assistance for officers.

The US Embassy also said the hunt for Kony had not been discussed.
[Cross posted to Congo Watch and Uganda Watch]

AU Chairman: Hard Evidence Proves Israel behind Darfur Conflict

Report from The Tripoli Post dated 28 February 2009:
AU Chairman: Hard Evidence Proves Israel behind Darfur Conflict
Israel supports Darfur rebels

Photo: Shadowy killers like the ones in this picture are supported by Israel to commit crimes against humanity the way the Zionist state is doing in Gaza.

Tripoli-"The problems facing Africa are not caused by Africans but rather by foreign forces with economic and political objectives in Africa," the Chairman of the African Union (AU) Muammar Gaddafi told participants in a UNESCO-organized conference in Tripoli on Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of the whole African continent, Gaddafi warned foreign forces not to interfere in the internal affairs of African countries and mentioned the case of Mauritania where foreign forces could transforms local conflict on power into an international one.

Gaddafi said "we do not reveal a secret as we announce that we have found material evidence proving clearly that foreign forces are behind the Darfur problem and are fanning its fire."

"Some of the important leaders of the Darfur rebels have opened offices in Tel Aviv and hold meetings with the military there to add fuel to the fire," the AU Chairman added.

He demanded that any international legal proceedings against Omar al-Beshir be halted immediately, charging that it was Israel and not the Sudanese president who was to blame for the Darfur conflict.

Gaddafi said "as long as it has been proved that it is Israel who is behind Darfur, why then we hold Bashir or the Sudanese government responsible when the Darfur problem was caused by outside parties."

"The ICC, the United Nations and the international community must turn their attentions towards the guilty party in this dramatic conflict... the party which turned this banal dispute between tribes over camels into an international crisis," the AU Chairman said.

Gaddafi said we tell foreign forces "Stop, do not interfere in African affairs. Africa is able to solve its problems by itself and your interference made its problems worse."

Gaddafi said the Africans did not interfere in the Irish-British conflict nor in the conflicts that are going on in North America and Europe and, therefore, they should not interfere in our problems.

The International Criminal Court said on Monday that it will rule next week on whether to issue a warrant for the arrest of Beshir on charges of war crimes, including genocide, in Darfur.

On 16 February, Haaretz published a report saying that "a leader of one of the rebel groups in Sudan's Darfur region recently visited Israel to discuss with a senior Israeli official the situation in Sudan."

Haaretz said "Abdel Wahid al-Nur is the head of the Sudan Liberation Movement. While in Israel, he met with the senior official and discussed with him the ongoing conflict in Sudan."

Haaretz quoted a Defense Ministry official as saying: "In the interests of national security, various and sundry meetings are held.

We are not in the habit of giving responses after each of these meetings."

The paper said "Israel currently has more than 600 Darfur refugees, and Ehud Olmert's government decided to grant them all asylum and work permits."
See Sudan Watch 24 February 2009: Sudan: Israel, France, Chad providing support to Darfur rebel groups SLM-Nur & JEM?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sudan's Bashir: "Talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie ... We're all Africans, we're all black"

Is Sudan an African or Arab country? Are Sudanese people African or Arab? See answers here below in this lengthy but important post.

Arabian Peninsula

According to numerous comments copied here below, some Sudanese people view Sudan as an Afro-Arab country even though it is situated in the continent of Africa and not, as the map above shows, in the Arabian Peninsula.

A few years ago, in a report by Reuters (copied here below) Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir was quoted as saying:
"Talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie. The government of Sudan is a government of blacks, with all different ethnic backgrounds ... We're all Africans, we're all black."
- - -

From Rob Crilly's blog post at From The Frontline February 22, 2009:
Who Are Darfur's Arabs?

Powerful piece by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times about two sisters affected by violence in Darfur. Kristof was in Chad (or the Darfur area as he calls it) for a few days with George Clooney, raising awareness of the conflict and the looming ICC indictment of President Bashir. Which is great. And makes for eyeopening reading. Until you read his analysis of the situation:
Suad, 27, fled from Darfur to a refugee camp in Chad five years ago with her husband and beloved younger sister, Halima, who is now 12 — if she is still alive.

Then Sudan dispatched its janjaweed militias into Chad to slaughter members of black African tribes — applying to eastern Chad the same genocidal policies that had already gutted Darfur.
What is he getting at? Are the Janjaweed not black and not African? We can skip over the genocide claim as that's big and complex and there are plenty of notable people who hold the same position. But it's time we really put and end to this idea that Darfur's Arabs are somehow not black Africans. What are they? Outsiders? It is thinking like this that has left them marginalised, beyond the reach of aid and convinced they are the victims of some sort of international conspiracy. The vast majority have had no role in the fighting, have seen their migration routes closed and markets disappear in the war.

I have spent the past week interviewing Arab leaders in Khartoum as I wait to travel to Darfur. I have met a man who commanded an Arab rebel group and heard suggestions that non-aligned Arab tribes may be ready to come out against the government. I heard a lot of anger that the world has bought into a false dichotomy, developed for ideological reasons by a government keen to manipulate perceived differences. "We are all black Africans," they tell me.

Darfur has long been a melting pot of different tribes, peoples and cultures. Even its name contains Arabic - Dar, meaning home, of the Fur. So let's not stick to these naive notions that this nasty, horrible, intractable conflict has anything to do with black Africans and foreign Arabs. Thinking like that is in danger of making us forget that all Darfuris are victims.
Here is a copy of some of Rob's twitters from Sudan:
Nyala. Totally fricking incommunicado. Govt has turned off mobile phone network. Even my Thuraya is not working properly. All ahead of ICC
about 3 hours ago from web [Feb 26th 2009]

On tarmac in geneina en route to nyala. Remind me never to fly in a yak-42 again. In-flight mag is in russian
5:57 AM Feb 24th from txt

Bet @nytimeskristof didn't travel like that
5:48 AM Feb 24th 2009 from txt

Bloke across from me brought a chicken in a box as his carry-on. Kid you not. Otherwise it's mostly blankets and buckets
5:46 AM Feb 24th 2009 from txt

Flying from the terminal for haj pilgrims
12:39 AM Feb 24th 2009 from txt

I'm flying Marsland, I got reservations (with thanks to Sparks)
10:36 PM Feb 23rd 2009 from web

Off to bed. Fly to Darfur tomorrow (that's Darfur, not the fringe of Darfur or the Darfur area - ie Chad)
12:01 PM Feb 23rd 2009 from web

@nytimeskristof you didn't stay long, and I reckon you wrote more about George Clooney and yourself than anyone else
11:37 AM Feb 23rd 2009 from web in reply to nytimeskristof

Have Darfur travel permit. Now just need to work out whether I'll be stuck there when ICC comes through
7:51 AM Feb 22nd 2009 from web

And a sprig of mint. Mmm. I'm getting another one
3:40 AM Feb 22nd 2009 from txt

Sipping tea spiced with ginger in down town khartoum
3:28 AM Feb 22nd 2009 from txt

come on @nytimeskristof whatcha up to?
11:14 PM Feb 21st 2009 from web

Day 7 waiting for Darfur travel permit. Reckon today's the day
10:02 PM Feb 21st 2009 from web

Haven't hit my 1000wd target for today yet. Subject is Darfur's Arab rebels
10:27 AM Feb 21st 2009 from web
ICC protest

Photo: "Go on International Crime Court" (From Rob Crilly's blog post February 26, 2009: Lockdown in Darfur - excerpt: "Communications in Nyala, capital of South Darfur, are next to impossible. The mobile phone networks have been running at a fraction of normal capacity for the past few days - a sure sign that the government is either planning a big push or wants to underline its control of the region. Many NGOs rely on the mobile network for the internet too, so clusters of aid workers can be found anywhere with a satellite connection.")
- - -

Is Sudan an African or Arab country? Are Sudanese people African or Arab?

From Sudan Watch archives
February 24, 2007
Sudan's Bashir: "We're all Africans, we're all black - talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie"
Reuters report (via Sudan Tribune) February 24, 2007 - excerpt:
[Sudan's President] Bashir acknowledged Sudan was facing a "problem" in Darfur, but placed the blame squarely on rebel groups which did not sign on to a peace agreement concluded in Abuja, Nigeria in May 2006. "There is a problem, and the main cause of that problem is the rebellion ... we've done everything to possible to try to convince those who bore arms against the state and the people ... but all efforts and mediation failed," he said.
"There's a discourse in Western media about the number of people killed in these events, and a lot of organisations and the American media refer to imaginary numbers, up to 400,000 dead. All these are false."

He dismissed claims of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. "Talk of Arabs killing blacks is a lie. The government of Sudan is a government of blacks, with all different ethnic backgrounds ... We're all Africans, we're all black."
I agree with all of the above. Read through three years of this blog and you will see why. Pity I can't find a transcript or video link of [the] whole discussion instead of this short report by the BBC - excerpt:
Speaking via satellite to a conference in Detroit, he [Sudan's President Bashir] said that his government welcomed help on Darfur, but not at the expense of its sovereignty.

The Sudanese leader was addressing the national conference of the American Muslim organisation, Nation of Islam, at the invitation of controversial leader Louis Farrakhan.

He said he was speaking to a US audience because he wanted to correct the "campaign of distortion by the media" towards Sudan.

Mr Bashir also accused the international community of unfairly pressurising his government.

"We welcome the help of everyone to solve our problems, including the problem of Darfur, but not at the expense of our sovereignty and the unity of our homeland," he said.

"Those who want to topple the government in Khartoum, we will not allow them to do so," he warned.
Clearly, the aim of the Darfur rebel leaders is to topple the Sudanese government - they've admitted it themselves, noted here in the archives of Sudan Watch. JEM's even talked of making Darfur their own country. I wonder if the financing and brains behind the insurgents are that of black Africans.
- - -

From The Sudanese Thinker
Sudan: Arab or African?
by DRIMA on FEBRUARY 3, 2007

Ingrid @ Sudan Watch asked the following question:
Since Sudan belongs to both the African Union and Arab League, I wonder if Sudanese women see Sudan as an African or Arab country.
Now even though I’m not a woman (Duh!), I’m still going to try and answer Ingrid’s question. Is Sudan an African or Arab country? In other words, are we Sudanese, African or Arab? It’s a tough question to answer for the simple reason that I’m only given the option of choosing between “Arab” or “African”. I don’t see Sudan as being either one or the other. There are about 600 tribes in Sudan. Yes, that’s right, 600 tribes! Ethnically, some are African, some are Afro-Arab and the few remaining others are Arab. Therefore Sudan is an Afro-Arab country. It’s as simple as that but I don’t believe that answers Ingrid’s question or does it? Well in case it doesn’t and I can only choose between “Arab” or “African”, then here are my thoughts. Sudanese girls and boys in da house, indulge me in the comments section if you may.


First of all, let’s discuss this issue from the perspective of ethnicity. Pictured at the bottom of this post are 2 Sudanese girls (aren’t they so cute and innocent). They represent both the far sides of the Sudanese ethnic spectrum. The first picture is of a girl from the Nuer tribe which is an African tribe from Southern Sudan, not Afro-Arab but African. The second is of a girl from the Rashaida tribe which is an Arab tribe from Eastern Sudan, not Afro-Arab but Arab. The Rashaida are the most recent Arab tribe to make into Sudan. They crossed the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula about 150 years ago and made it to the north eastern side of the country. Since they arrived recently, they haven’t intermarried with locals. It’s a known fact that a Rashaida father will almost never allow his daughter (or son) to marry outside of the tribe (the same is quite true for other tribes). As such, the Rashaida have remained purely Arab.

Now that both ends of the spectrum have been presented, allow me to further explain the main difference between them. What’s the main difference (besides the obvious)? Well here is the main difference: one is indigenous to the land and the other is not. Arab tribes came from the Arabian Peninsula while African tribes (Nuer, Dinka, Nuba, Nubians etc.) have been in Sudan for ages.

Let’s move on to the next point i.e. the Afro-Arab. “The Afro-Arab” is the product of intermarriage between Arab tribes and African tribes. I am a Northern Sudanese. Ethnically speaking I am a Shaigee. I am of mixed blood, mainly being Nubian, Nuba and Arab. The Nubian and Nuba in me are indigenous to Sudan. The Arab in me was an outsider that came, settled, assimilated into the Sudanese African ethnic pool and as a result made part of it Afro-Arab.

In the big context, it is “the African” that dominates. It’s very difficult finding many pure Arab tribes like the Rashaida in Sudan. They’re minorities. The majority are either African or Afro-Arab. Hence, ethnically speaking and in the big context we Sudanese are mainly African and not Arab. That’s also true for most Northern Sudanese. “The African” still dominates.

Whether we’re Arab or African, can’t be fully answered without taking into account how we Sudanese view ourselves though. For Southerners, that’s not a major issue. It’s simple. They’re Africans. For many Northern Sudanese however it gets a little complicated. Choosing either Arab or African is not easy. Here’s a little test for my Northern Sudanese Afro-Arab readers that should make it easier. Do you want to know how you can find out if you view yourself as more African than Arab or vice versa? Here’s how. Visualize the following and tell me which one you find more offensive.

a) A Persian guy shouting “Arabs are filthy dogs”.


b) Some KKK dude shouting “Africans are filthy niggers”.

For most Sudanese I asked, the answer was (b).


We’ve concluded that us Sudanese are mainly African in terms of ethnicity but what about culturally? In terms of culture are we Arab or African? Again, I’d say that for Southern Sudanese, this won’t be a major issue. Unlike many Northern Sudanese, they’re not suffering from an identity crisis. Southern Sudanese are both ethnically and culturally African but this is not really true for Northern Sudanese. For the Northern Sudanese who are dominantly ethnically Afro-Arab, it’s a different case. All Afro-Arab tribes in Sudan (and even some African ones) have been Arabized even if not fully (keep in mind that along with Arabization came Islamization and Islamic culture). Therefore culturally speaking Northern Sudanese are mainly Arab due to Arabization and not African.

In the big context, I believe that it is the Arab culture that dominates in Sudan. Yes, many Afro-Arab tribes have retained a lot of African traditions and have not been fully Arabized. Yes, the Arab culture in Sudan might be sort of loose but it is what ties many tribes together and is what’s common amongst them besides Islam. About 70% of Sudan’s population is Muslim. Moreover the majority of Sudanese also speak Arabic together with other languages. They’re multilingual.


Now this is the really difficult part. (Voice inside my head: damn it, why do you have to choose between Arab or African man? Why can’t you just choose both?). Well like I said at the start of my post. Sudan is an Afro-Arab country. It’s really that simple. However to which side do we belong more? If you as a Sudanese had to make a choice, which one would you choose? African or Arab?

As I’ve presented, ethnically speaking we Sudanese are mainly African but culturally we’re more Arab than African (thanks to Arabization). So, which one do we belong to more? Which one do we choose? In order to give an answer, I have to ask another question. Which one plays a bigger role in forming one’s identity? Would that be ethnicity or culture? For me, the answer is ethnicity.

A girl from the Neur, an African tribe (Malakal, Southern Sudan)

A girl from the Neur, an African tribe (Malakal, Southern Sudan).

A girl from the Rashaida, an Arab tribe. (East Sudan).

A girl from the Rashaida, an Arab tribe. (East Sudan)
{ 90 comments… read them below or add one }
1Marta 02.03.07 at 6:52 pm
Great post, congratulations. You have explained very clearly the ethnic/cultural backgrounds in Sudanese people. I knew that Sudan was arabized and that the arab-culture was more influential in the North but I didn’t know about the different tribes and the relation between them.
This is a very interesting issue as many other people are debating their ethnicity/cultural backgrounds, for instance the berbers in North Africa.

2Guest 02.03.07 at 9:45 pm
I doubt the picture of the Nuer girl is actually Nuer. Her features are very different from a Nuer people.

3halalhippie 02.03.07 at 10:12 pm
Great post, lovely girls. (and the African is veiled and the Arab is not) hmmmm….

Very thoughtful as always. You da man, Drima.

4The Raccoon 02.03.07 at 11:12 pm
Great post, man!

5beninmwangi 02.04.07 at 12:18 am

Bravo, Five Mics, Five Stars, perfect 10 out of 10 here. My friend you never stop amazing me with your marvelous insights. You have educated me so much, in one day. As you mentioned in the comment section of my blog, you are an entrepreneur. But, you are so versed on culture, societal issues, and the world at large. You could be a professor on such topics easily-ever the philosopher.

Also, as compared to the everyday person of America who has never left the borders, I have considered myself somewhat more familiar with Africa and the world at large. But, the Sudan has always been a bit of an enigma for me, because whenebver Sudan is described in the media it is from a very polarized picture frame of reference. One hears about the Arab north and the Black south or the Christian south. You’ve answered a big question for me here-thanks!

6person 02.04.07 at 12:55 am
I agree with guest that girl isn’t nuer.

7howie 02.04.07 at 4:09 am

Nothing new about tribalism…if it isn’t racial, then it is ethnic, or religious…and of course within each of those groups we have our tribes.

And if we can’t get all excited about that…well …it can be like L.A. and other parts of the world I am sure…tribes are based on your neighborhood or maybe the school you attend…

The supposition that your “tribe” really has a lot to do about who you are is rubbish. I don’t much care about culture, or nationality or race…it is all entertaining to joke and talk about and yes, of course, aspects of these things do influence attitude and behavior.

But this is all about accident of birth. To me…your culture or nationality or race is NOTHING to be proud of nor is it anything to be ashamed of…because you did not earn it, work for it or choose…it just happened to you…you can only really have pride or shame in who and what you are.

But we make a big damn deal out of this shit…and not enough of a big damn deal about promoting goodness….goodness…period.

8Precious 02.04.07 at 6:53 am
Amazing post Drima.. I dont think anyone can put it better than you did..

I did write a little about it in a more personal prespective in my post ” African Roots or Arab Culture

Though I must say that howie do have a point when he said :”But this is all about accident of birth. To me…your culture or nationality or race is NOTHING to be proud of nor is it anything to be ashamed of…because you did not earn it, work for it or choose…it just happened to you…you can only really have pride or shame in who and what you are. ”

But then again, I am LOVING my African culture.. and commited to my Islamic Culture as well,, but the only things that relates me to Arabs, is the Language.. nothing else!!

And thats ofcourse is only my personal opinion on the matter..

Thanks for opening such an intresting topic.

9The Ususal Suspect 02.04.07 at 7:55 am
Interesting and thoughtful post Drima.
I have to ask- what is African? This question has come up time and time again in my work place as we talk about “Africans” as they are one homogenous group- Africa is a continent- made up of I don’t know how many countries (Drima you know how bad my geography is- Gobi Desert in Australia!!!).
So when we say African, what do we mean?

10Black Kush 02.04.07 at 12:36 pm
I amire your great efforts at explaining the unexplainable identity crisis of the Sudanese people. As a person from South Sudan, I know with out doubt am African, tall black and all Nilotic feaures.

I agree with the Guest above that the girl doesn’r look like Nuer o me either! Nuers are typically pitch black Drima. Unless if she is of mixed marriage! That google image smells of fraud.

11Hipster 02.04.07 at 1:02 pm
Wow, Drima, interesting, thought-provoking & insightful article!!! One of your best!

To answer your question, I think the scale would be more tipped towards (b).However, being an expat, am I choosing “African” because I was persecuted by the Arabs in the UAE despite having Arab friends?Would my answer be different if racism didn’t exist? I wonder….

Hmm, ethnically, I’m Nubain, Egyptian, Ethopian,Turkish & Kurdish. Culturally, I guess I’m an Arab Muslim although there are many Sudanese traditions that I have learned about only when I went to Sudan.
So to answer Ingrid’s question, I prefer to regard myself as an Afro-Arab.

One reservation though: Why don’t the North African countries face the same identity dilemma? They are Africans too yet they are regarded as Arabs?Is it due to their light-skinned complexion?
Somebody please fill me in.

12Hipster 02.04.07 at 1:04 pm
Pz, disregard the grammatical & punctuation mistakes.Grrr.

13Hipster 02.04.07 at 1:05 pm
Drima, why does it keep saying that my comments await moderation?

14tsedek 02.04.07 at 1:41 pm
Good explanation, Drima - thx

15tsedek 02.04.07 at 1:45 pm
Hipster moroccans are not seen as arabs but tamazighs - they very much want to make that clear. although arabs also mingle in with the population.

16Drima 02.04.07 at 3:25 pm
Halalhippie, LOL. Not every girl that covers her hair means she’s wearing a hijab. She’s just covering her hair probably because she had a bad hair day or something. It’s nothing religious dude.

Beninmwangi, my pleasure.

“it just happened to you…”

Howie, this post is meant to dig deeper about that “it”.

TUS, how u doing mate? I’m afraid to answer your question properly, I’m going to have to write another long post but a short answer would be this: Africans are people who are indigenous to Africa. Egyptians are Africans, or more accurately ancient Egyptians were Africans. Today’s are a mix of many things.

Black Kush, ya about the picture, I think the girl might be mixed. Her skin might seem too light for her to be Nuer but I have a southern friend who says he’s Nuer and his skin tone is just like hers so I figured she’s Nuer too (as Vit Hassan the photographer who took the picture also said).

“Why don’t the North African countries face the same identity dilemma? They are Africans too yet they are regarded as Arabs?”

They do Hipster. Just ask Algerians, Morrocans or Libyans and see what they’ll tell you.

Thank you all for your feedback.

17jonah84 02.05.07 at 3:07 am
Drima, this is very thoughtful article. I do believe countries which have recent admixtures tend to have some identity complex or crisis.

I wonder what percent population the “pure” Arab or “pure African” group make?

Another question does the fact a person speaks arabic make him an Arab?

When I was going to university, I noticed that Africans students from francophone countries tended to perceive themselves as “French” whereas those from Anglphone countries did not perceive themselves as “English”.

Of course, this could be baggage of colonization but most of those people I am talking about were born post independence era.

In terms of French form imperialism if person speaks French and accepts French culture no matter the physical appearance that person could become “French” usually at the expense of their native culture.

I wonder if something like that is at play in Sudanese Identity discussion. It is possible to equate Arabic language with French language and Islam with French Culture.

Is it possible for people to identify with “Arab” identity just for speaking the language?

I wonder percentage of egyptian population is truly Arabic.

Or did they become Arabic because they do not speak any other language?

For example, an another African country Eritrea has similar afro-arab admixture and even more mixed than Sudan but the country and people do not identify themselves as “Arabs”. In Eritrea Arabic is one of “working” language used but it is not the “official” language.

It seems in countries where the native language is maintained the Arab identity is not claimed even if there is a mixture i.e. Eritrea, ethiopia, Iran, pakistan, etc..

18person 02.06.07 at 5:28 am
Actually not all nuers are pitch black, it’s just her facial features are not common with any nuer subclan.

19Hipster 02.06.07 at 6:24 am
Tse & Drims,thankx for the feedback.

20Quinton Henderson 02.09.07 at 9:39 pm
I am a 19 year old African American of Sudanese descent, and I have a burning question. I would like to know how much the Africans and Arabs in Sudan dislike each other. I personally Identify as being pure African, and I would like to see Sudan restore it’s original Ancient Nubian civilization fee of Arab influences. I am NOT and I repeat NOT a racist. I’m simply perplexed by the fact that during the Nubian era which predates Egypt by at least 5000 years, Our nation enjoyed a tremendously lengthy period as a major world civilization (contrary to conventional belief witch is only now being overturned) from Queen Candace’s bloodless repelling of Alexander the Great, to Taharqa’s successive conquests of Egypt, the Assyrians and his campaigns as far as Gibraltar, all occurred under Pure African administration. Islam and Arabs originally are alien to our society, and their introduction to our civilization was NOT peaceful. Arabs frequently tried to conquer our nation and failed militarily the majority of the time but, they brought with them Islam as diplomats and history has shown the decline of Sudanese civilization starting with the widespread acceptance of Islam. The point I’m trying to illustrate, is that we were FAR more prosperous affluent and in general powerful as a nation and people BEFORE we assimilated Arabs and their customs into our society. Our authentic culture propelled us to greatness in the past, so WHY do we allow a foreign set of traditions predominate over our nation? If I accidentally offended anyone reading this I sincerely apologize, but I don’t believe our society should completely neglect it’s glorious Nubian past in favor of a religion and people who we have had to repeatedly crush militarily just to sustain our state.

21Drima 02.10.07 at 12:27 pm
Bro, drop me an email in my inbox so I won’t forget to get back to u… i think i might write a whole post about this…

22Rihab 02.10.07 at 2:49 pm
i really hate our ongoing identity crisis, seriously, i think we are the most psychologically messed up ppl on the planet!

i did your test and i guess i’m more african since i’d be more offended at the nigger reference… but on a general level do i feel arab or african?? well, i’d say it depends on my mood lool! the sad thing is that although i meant that as a joke, it is partially true, somedays i feel a very strong affinity for arabs and other days it’s for africans. however, i would say i can relate more to arab culture than i can to african culture… in which case i perceive myself as culturally arab and racially african.

that being said, i think on a political level if we are serious about sudanese unity northerners need to try to let go of the over-attachment to arabs, and focus more on establishing a holistic sudanese identity.

… and one more point, i don’t think it’s true that people will only strictly marry from their own tribe, i think ppl from northern tribes are quite open to marrying other northern tribes.. i think issues occur when we’re talking about north/south marriages.

23Don Cox 02.10.07 at 5:16 pm
You might compare Sudan with New Zealand. Is NZ a European country or a Pacific country?

I think most of the North African countries can be seen as Arab colonies. The parallel with French colonialism and the Francophone African countries is quite close.

Whether colonialism is a good or bad thing in the long run is another question.

24Quinton Henderson 02.12.07 at 1:51 am
Yeah our Sudanese identity crisis is quite a mess. Good thing I don’t have it because I am undeniably pure African, but perhaps it is not as bad as we think. To my surprise I’ve found that many Arabs, Indians, Asians etc.. don’t dislike me as I previously thought the would. Along with the Sudanese issue, it was included that the Indian caste system was based on lighter skin at the top so I thought they all hated blacks. I was wrong, I asked my math teacher Mr. Patel and he said it didn’t exist. And they also said that most orientals disliked blacks because they are supposed to have a preference for lighter skin. I ‘m coming to see this as false as well. Assuming this was all true, I avoided them thinking we would only be enemies. I’m not a bad person, I simply thought that was true, and I don’t allow myself to be a victim of racism without an equal retaliation on my part. Theres even a gorgeous Egyptian girl in my computer class and she’s very friendly toward me. All in all, the media and eccentric human rights activist could be blowing this out of proportion. Oh and Drima, my email is if you wanted to write another post regarding this matter.

25Dj. Ram`mi`ran 03.01.07 at 1:54 pm
Wow, that gurl is not even close features as a nuer tribe…where do they get the picture?

26Sarah 03.02.07 at 2:25 pm
i actually dont agree with the concept of sudanese arabs being afro arabs at least not all of them,as a matter of fact i origianally come from northern(al shimaliyah,and no im not nubian!) and let me tell u i look arab so do the people of my family, some dark skinned but with arab caucasian facial features and u no what ive seen sudanese who look germanic and there parents arent mixed they actually look more european than arab. enough said

27Sarah 03.02.07 at 2:27 pm
to add to that, there parents have different ancestries (like me bieng arab or predomenantly arab) but they are still sudanese

28ashenafi 03.03.07 at 8:39 am
I repeat you Sudanese are African. I repeat you sudanese are African.
Love yourself.

29Mohamed 03.03.07 at 6:21 pm
I think it would be a lot easier for Sudan to be African. I wish it would drop the whole ‘Arab’ business and become what it should have been. I agree with you that ethnicity plays a larger role — you can always learn a new culture.

30Ahmad al-Safawi 03.15.07 at 4:00 pm
I am a european citizen of mixed Egyptian ancestry, my mother is from Alexandria (light skin) and my father is from Aswan (dark skin). It is wrong to claim that North Africa is colonized by arabs. In fact, you really cannot know 100% how much of the DNA of the north african population is nubian, sub-saharan, berber & arab. You cannot either know how much of it is greek or roman. I think that a big percentage of the Population of Lower Egypt and Libya might be Arab by DNA, while most of Morcco and Algeria might be berber by DNA, and most of Upper Egypt might be nubian, but we’ll never find out excactly how many.

When my mother is from Lower Egypt, and my father is from Upper Egypt, then what am i? Most of the features of my fathers family assemble africans, and most of the features of my mothers family assemble arabs and even europeans. The same might apply for many people in all of Northern Africa - many moroccans might be mixed between berber and arab ancestors, and many northeners in Sudan might be mixed with different tribes - arabs, nubians and others alltogether. Thus ethnicity cannot be based on DNA entirely, especially not in this case where the population is so mixed.

No nubian is less sudanese than an arab, because historically, Sudan did not exist. The african south was never united with the nubian north in the past! This only happended due to british colonism, and nothing else, and at that time, many arabs were living in the north and the east.

If North Africa is that mixed, then what is our correct ethnicity, if it cannot be based on DNA entirely? Are we Algerians, Egyptians and Sudanese people? Are we arabs, berbers, nubians and africans?

First of all, 90% of Egypts population and 70% of Sudans, is muslim. Over 95% of the population in Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya is muslim. Thus it is correct to say the Islam is the major religion in Northern Africa.

One would say that this does not answer the question about our ethnicity, but yes, is does! The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (saw) said: “Being an arab is not something you inherit from your mother or your father, it is just a language that is spoking. So whoever speaks arabic, he is an arab”. It is well known that this was refering to Bilal the Ethiopian, Salman the Persian and Suhayb the Roman, which were’nt arab in any way ethnically!

If aryans such as persians and romans can become arabs by speaking the language, the same is true for africans.

So all muslims in Nothern Africa who speaks arabic, then they are arabs! Dark skin & frizzy hair does not make the words of our Prophet (saw) invalid, this was the feature of Bilal al-Habashi, and according to the Prophet (saw), he was Arab!

All sudanese muslims who speaks arabic, is arabs, along with all other north african people.

31Elshadi 03.16.07 at 7:49 pm
How can sudanese be exclusively african when arabic is the official language? if we were to count on genetics only, only the population of the Arabian Peninsula and parts of the Mashriq would be arabic today, which is certainly not the case. In fact the Arab league consists mainly of nations outside the Arabic peninsula (including Somalia!) So if Lebanon can be arab, then Sudan can be arab too!

yubqa al7ob yejma3 Al-Sudan inchallah

32Drima 03.17.07 at 5:32 am
Wow! I didn’t know this post was still attracting new comments!!

33moroccan 03.30.07 at 4:01 pm
The overwhelming majority of Moroccans and Algerians are Berbers/Amazigh. This has a genetic basis – the people of North West Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and some of Mauritania) for the most part are ethnically separate from both Arabs and Africans although both groups have intermarried with the Berber peoples.

Intermarriage is good for the health of a population in respect of genetics.

34neamah 04.06.07 at 1:32 pm
let me make this clear,
sudan is a massive country with so many different people withe different ancestries ranging from the trurks to the sub saharan africans, so basically since the official language is arabic, culturewise: Arab, ethic wise: an indivisual thing, I have met sudanese with ancestors from the arabian peninsuala, i have met ones with turkish ancestors, i have met copts,nubians,black africans etc. i have even read of armenian people who are sudaneeas a matter of fact i met a young girl she is sudanese,claiming she is origianally from the northern province of sudan when i look at her i get all kinds of ideas in my head:she can be pakistani,yemeni,turkish,portugese,hispanic,whatever, you guys sudan is a large country with a large spectrum of people so whatever you are be proud

35sweh 04.08.07 at 9:00 pm
Arabs are invaders living on land they do not belong to its like that group of people he posted that were perdecuted from saudi arabia they go to other countries think they are better and try run things and eventually take it over.

think of the things palestinians say about jews can be said about arabs in africa who press their beliefs on african people or even kill them, and lets not forget arab nationalism, theres 21 arab countries abd what would these arabs contries do to africans if african people heavily migrated to many arab countries?

What has arabs done positve in africa past and or present?
they mostly force their ideas on people.

and sudanese ppl are not african americans, african americans are a ethnic group of americans of african descent. sudanese people in america are sudanese american.

642: the Arabs conquer Egypt (mainly monophysite) from Byzantium, destroy the library of Alexandria and found the first mosque in Africa, Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque (the site of future Cairo)
647: the Arabs expand in nothern Africa
670: the Arabs led by Uqba ibn Nafi fight the Berbers in northern Africa
Egyptian ruler Mehemet Ali conquers Sudan on behalf of the Ottoman empire

1941: the Ba’ ath Party is founded in Damascus by Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din Bitar with the mission to unify the whole Arab world in one Arab country

1945: The League of Arab States is formed by the independent Arab countries (Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen)
1947: the Baath Arab Socialist party is founded in Syria by Michel Aflaq with an emphasis on Arab nationalism
1961: Nasser of Egypt launches a program of “Arab socialism
1962: Saudi Arabia abolishes slavery


36sweh 04.08.07 at 9:08 pm

37Surfinit 04.14.07 at 12:29 am
Well this is really interesting. I’m Sudanese, but I’ve never lived there, I’ve only be on visits. I was born in Saudia Arabia and now live in Colorado. The first post was amazing and really through however I don’t think it applies to all Sudanese people. It would be nice to know what you really are but I don’t think that’s really possible…Personally, I consider myself Arab. I know for a fact that my grandfather’s ( my mom’s dad) acenstory is pure Arab. My Grandmother (mom’s mom)is straight from Morocco. My dad is from El- Obied, Sudan they might be Afro- Arab… but they also trace their ancestory to the Arabian pennisula…my point is that it depends. Libya,Morocco Egypt and so on are easily accept by conteries in Arabian penisula as Arabs because they have lighter skin tone, I’d like to know why Sudanese people aren’t regarded as Arabs then?

38Moe 04.16.07 at 4:13 pm
You are in africa, you are AFRICAN
You speak arabic, you are ARAB
Your culture is afro-arab, you are AFRO-ARAB

You have a problem, may the arabs and the africans help you resolve it. But they wont, you have only your selfs this times. So let me try agian, may THE SUDANESE help you.

You have so much in common, but you onley like to se the difference, that is your (and many others) problem today, instead look for what unites you.

what ever you chose or are, you will always have friends from the “arab world” (the people) and the african world, we are eternal neighbours (includes african, arab-african and arab sudanese).

What about the OIL and foreign interference…,?

One last word, if you are one then you are one, if you are two or more then you are two or more, and not one less.

VIVA LA SUDAN! from palestine

39Wilberto 04.17.07 at 11:25 am
Drima said:
First of all, let’s discuss this issue from the perspective of ethnicity. Pictured at the bottom of this post are 2 Sudanese girls (aren’t they so cute and innocent). They represent both the far sides of the Sudanese ethnic spectrum. The first picture is of a girl from the Nuer tribe which is an African tribe from Southern Sudan, not Afro-Arab but African. The second is of a girl from the Rashaida tribe which is an Arab tribe from Eastern Sudan, not Afro-Arab but Arab.

Wilberto says,
There are over 40 million Sudanese, the pure Arab Rashaida tribe numbers only 70,000. Thats a negligible figure, not worthy of mentioning. Go here for picture of Sudanese Arabs and all other ethnic groups in the Sudan.

40Wilberto 04.17.07 at 11:34 am
Dj. Ram`mi`ran Says:

March 1st, 2007 at 1:54 pm
Wow, that gurl is not even close features as a nuer tribe…where do they get the picture?

LOL! Thats a good question. See Nuers here: ( click on Nuer in the “People Groups.”

41wawawa 04.20.07 at 10:16 am
btw great post that i didnt know sudanese and i consider myself as an arab yes i do have darker skin them the ancient arabs like many sudanese people
but i speak arabic(as my native language) my family follow the arab and islamic culture
my conclusion is that sudan is neither its mixed the south are africans and the north is arab (thats if you follow arab culture)

p.s…i find it stupid that the govenment in sudan is making such a big problem just to ‘arabize’ the country its up to the southerners, you cant force them to hange culture,religion and lifestyle.

42sweh 05.13.07 at 11:48 pm
the reason why many countries outside of the penisula speak arabic is because of force why is it that people who are not genetically arab dont fight arab conlonist?

-have it ever wonder to you why they changed the meaning of arab? maybe to increase their numbers. but the fact is ther are millions whom are not arab by genetics but speak arabic and is muslim,

43Adeleke,A.A. 05.14.07 at 6:09 am
Can you imagine the impact of Afro-Arab unitry on the possible “United States of Africa.

44Ahmad al-Safawi 05.26.07 at 8:19 pm
sweh: This was not something that arabs “changes”. It was always like that since the time of our prophet (S): Whoever speaks arabic, then he is arab. This is decreasing the value of what you are favoring, namely Nationalism.

My wish for all sudanese people is that the stop hating each other and that they atleast try (even though it is quite another case) to deal with the North/South as we deal with it in Egypt. Or in the words of Samira Said: Kollena Ensan! O sudanese people, by all my heart i wish a bright future for your country.

45des_pes 05.28.07 at 6:44 am
Sudanese people go back and read your History. North Sudanese, Nubians were same people as ancient black Egyptians. Similar religion. While the extreme north was taken by the Romans the southern part flourished for centuries until annexed by Axum. When axum declined various Christian tribe arose influenced by Byzantium connections. The Arabs later invaded and converted you to Islam and Arabic was imposed on you. How does that make you Arabs? You are dark in complexion, no different that the people of the horn. Why would you dare deny your Africaness and associate yourself to a backward people like Arabs who sometimes go as far as calling you niggers? There are more Arab looking people in Ethiopia and Eritrea than you and they don’t dare call themselves Arabs, as the word Arab instigate the word “filth” F*ck Arabs and their backward oppressive culture.

46des_pes 05.28.07 at 7:11 am
The sooner you North Sudanese stop this bullsh*t of being Arab, the better it is for you, for one you will dissociate yourselves from Arabs and their backward culture and doctrine, lazy, stupid and oil drenched mofos. Second, the huge part of Sudan is not even Muslim. For you northerners to even try and Arabize them its a shame, you confused yourselves and you try to impose that confused outlook on them. Free yourselves from this enslaved mentality and the horn will be in a better shape for good. One more point, if you were born in Africa, and your Parents are from Africa you are African. end of discussion. We know these light skinned northern countries in the Sahara are are trying to dissociate themselves from the rest of Africa, but if your ass is in Africa, you are African.

47Drima 05.28.07 at 7:28 am
des_pes, I welcome opinions as extreme as they maybe but could you please refrain from using insults?


48des_pes 05.28.07 at 7:57 am
Sorry, my emotions flooded by brain. I do not like Arabs and when my own Africans claim to be Arabs I went overboard. There is other discussion I am part of where Arabs calling Black African Muslims names. So that is the reason, you will not find my posts containing bad language from here on.

49Drima 05.28.07 at 8:10 am
Thanks man, I appreciate it

I’m for free speech and everything but let’s just keep it healthy.

50des_pes 05.28.07 at 8:11 am
Here is another example, do South African whites consider themselves European? leaving all other matter aside, here these people consider themselves Africans. What’s with you Sudanese? My point is, there is no positive gained by being Arab, 1. you are not, 2. keeping this confused outlook will only bring misery to your country.

51Ahmad al-Safawi 06.03.07 at 10:10 am
So, des_pes, according to you, i am also African, even though i am egyptian, a little fair skinned and most certainly Arab? According to you, New Zealand is a polynesian country, and everybody residing there is polynesian, regardless of their origin and their culture?

No man, it is not that simple. Being an arab has nothing to do with being backwards. Man, if you are trying to make this a competition between Arabs and Africans in culture and civilization, then the result is certain for everybody. But hey - that does not mean anything. We are all equal in the sight of God.

And by the way, Nubians and the ancient egyptians aint not the same people, egyptians being hamitic while nubians being nilochadic.

52Enjoylife !!! 06.03.07 at 2:17 pm
Ahmad al-Safawi

Egyptians are hamitic which means from Ham. Also, the first pharaoh was black. Arabs and the rest of the world are always trying to seperate blacks from Egypt. Just stop it. Do your research.
–The term Cushite or Cushi (כושי) for black-skinned people
–Ham’s sons were said to have fathered the peoples of Africa.
–In the Bible and archaically a large region covering northern Sudan, southern Egypt, and parts of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia were known as Cush

53Enjoylife !!! 06.03.07 at 3:00 pm
Yes, Cush is from Ham by the way, the son of Ham.

If you are born in Africa, you are African. Do not attempt to say you are Sudanese and Arab but not African.

Ahmad al-Safawi: If I have now learnt to speak Arabic, does that make me an Arab now??? No, that is completely wrong. Africa is a black land not divided by the desert ( sub-Sahara ). Arabs came after, AND YES, including Egypt.

In terms of Ethnicity of Sudan, if you are Nubian, that is true Sudanese, and there is no argument. If you are anything other than that, you came afterwards and have mixed-Afro-Arabs, or are just straight Arabs who try to claim they are Sudanese, but are not indigenous to that land but are from the Arabian-Peninsula.

It is now a mixed society now, Nubian, Afro-Arab and Arab. Yes you were all born there, but the truth is, black are indigenous, anything else isn’t. If you are anything different to the indigenous inhabitants, you are Sudanese only by birth place. The culture was imported by Arabs, and is not true Sudanese.

Sudanese were more similar to Egyptians which again proves they are black. If the Egyptians speak Arabic and the ancient Egyptians never, doesn’t that mean the Arabs brought that in. Egyptians had their own language which was similar to Sudan along side culture, thus making my point stand.

Drima 100% accurate with his post.

54SWEH 06.05.07 at 4:34 am

The Masalit of Sudan

The Masalit are a 250,000 strong non-Arab people group living in the most remote and unknown areas of the North African countries of Sudan and Chad. Approximately 140,000 of these live in Sudan, primarily in the west near the border with Chad. The Masalit developed a reputation for being fiercely independent—they had their own language and customs, produced everything they needed to survive and were capable of defending their own borders. In more recent years, however, political, economic and cultural processes have brought them into increasing contact with the outside world.

The Jaaliyin of Sudan

The Jaaliyin claim to be direct descendants of the prophet Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic faith. It seems more likely, however, that their original ancestors are the Nubians and that the Jaaliyin gradually adopted the Arab culture.

The Sudanese Arabs

The Sudanese Arabs find their heritage in the Bedouin who wandered the deserts of Saudi Arabia centuries ago. They are now a diverse group of 16 million people who find their commonality in the language of Arabic and the religion of the Islamic prophet Mohammed. The largest people group living in the North African country of Sudan, they have spread throughout the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, but a majority can be found living in either Sudan or Egypt. While three million of those living in Sudan belong to the supratribes of the Jahayna or Jaaliyin, the rest can be found primarily by their self-identification as an Arab from Sudan, rather than as a member of a specific tribe or people group. The single thread of a common culture binds these Sudanese Arabs with other Arabs from around the world. Aspects of pure Arab life, such as rigid codes of honor, loyalty and hospitality, have remained strong in the Sudanese Arab culture.

Although some Sudanese Arabs have continued living in the nomadic style of their ancestors and others live in urbanized towns, the majority live in small rural villages, where they grow grains, vegetables and cotton and raise livestock. Although farming is the chief occupation of the villagers, some have jobs as religious leaders or skilled carpenters or tailors.

The role of men in the Sudanese Arab society, as in all other Arabic cultures, is extremely important. Children, and especially male children, are highly valued. Women are in a subservient position but are more liberal and dress more freely than many of their counterparts around the world.

As with other Arabic societies, hospitality is an important part of the culture. One characteristic of Sudanese Arab culture is the coffee ceremony, which welcomes guests by serving them coffee in an elaborate presentation.

Their Religion

Islam is the religion of the majority of Arabs, and like their counterparts, most Sudanese Arabs devoutly embrace the Islamic faith. It is very common to find them stopping and bowing to pray whenever the call to prayer is heard, whether they are on the roadside or in their shop or business. They also practice the other four pillars of Islam, including the ritual fasting and the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. The rules that govern society, including regulations concerning marriage, divorce, inheritance, taxation and warfare, are all found in Islam’s holy book, the Koran.

The historical link between Arabs and the Muslim religion is still strong. There are few Sudanese Arab Christians, and converts are not well-accepted. While there have been Christian workers in Sudan for many years, most concentrate on reaching Southern Sudanese and neglect the country’s Muslim majority.

The Fur of Sudan

Centuries ago, the old Fur sultans (political rulers) used to derive power from direct and indirect control over the trade of ebony, ivory, spices, rich cloth, slaves and other goods from Darfur to Egypt over the so-called Forty Days Road (Darb al-Arba’een). Today, the Fur are politically associated with the North African country of Sudan, yet they still maintain their tribal solidarity, and are committed Muslims who pride themselves on the fact that they brought Islam to the west of Sudan.

Remarkably, the Fur maintained their independence until the year 1916, when the ruling sultan was defeated by the British and the province was politically integrated into Sudan. It is the Fur language that sets this group apart from surrounding tribes, yet as the decades pass on, many Fur have become increasingly Arabized, especially those who move to the cities and regularly speak Sudanese Arabic, the language of politics, trade and commerce. Despite this Arabization and Islamization, however, the Fur continue to maintain cultural and political consciousness, and their traditions are still very much alive.

The Rashaida(immigrants from saudi arabia)

The Rashaida are closely related to the Saudi Arabia Bedouin, who migrated to Sudan from the Arabian Peninsula about 150 years ago. Many Rashaida also live in the neighboring country of Eritrea; in fact, they make up five percent of the population of Eritrea (3.75 million people). In Sudan, they number around 68,000, and live mostly in the northeast part of the country on the outskirts of the city of Kassala, one of the most frequently visited spots in Sudan.

The Rashaida are a nomadic people who live in tents made of goatskins. They are herdsmen, breeding primarily goats and sheep. Since they are largely illiterate, they memorize in great detail the pedigree of their animals, keeping mental records of their herds over seven or eight preceding generations of the flock, although they usually only emphasize the female lines.

Besides herding, the Rashaida also gain income through jewelry making. It is the veiled Rashaida women who craft much of the silver jewelry sold in the Kassala souq, or market, which is said to be one of the best in Sudan. Along with the jewelry, the Kassala souq supposedly markets some of the best and juiciest fruits Sudan has to offer.

The Nubian People

Location: Historically Nubia extended from Dongola, in northern Sudan, up the Nile to Aswan in southern Egypt. Today Nubians are concentrated in three cities: Kom Ombo in Southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa and Khashm el-Girba in Sudan.

History: Nubians have a proud and rich heritage. They existed long before the pharaohs, and were once a Christian people. In 580 AD, Christianity became the official religion of Nubia.

Eight years after the death of Mohammed in 632 AD, Arab conquerors carried Islam into Egypt. Over the next two years, Muslim Arabs invaded Nubia. After conquering the Nubian city of Dongola, the Arab general made a treaty with the Nubian king. This treaty re-established trade along the Nile routes, and allowed Nubia to remain Christian for the next six centuries. Terms of this treaty required the Nubians to send 400 slaves per year to the Arabs, while the Arabs returned horses, cloth, and other goods.

Nubia gave way to Islam in the 16th Century as the last Christian church was closed. As it is illegal for Muslims to enslave a fellow Muslim, conversion freed the Nubians from the bond of slavery.

The Aswan Dam was built in stages beginning in 1902. Completion of the High Dam in the 1960s formed Lake Nasser, and flooded the Nubian homelands. Nubians in Egypt were relocated to the Kom Ombo area, north of Aswan. Nubians in Sudan were moved to Khashm el-Girba. Some Nubians remained in the Wadi Halfa area in far northern Sudan.

Identity: Nubians are a non-Arab Muslim people who once lived in the historic region of Nubia. Nubians have dark skin and are visibly distinct from their Egyptian neighbors. Today, Nubians belong to two major societies, the Kenuzi and the Fedidja.

Language: The Kenuzi speak Kenuzi-Dongolawi while the Fedidja speak Fedidja-Mahas. There is also a group within the Nubians who have become Arabicized to the point that their first language is now Arabic. Most of the men today are bilingual, speaking their Nubian language and Arabic. The women are less likely to speak Arabic, especially at home.

Religion: The Nubians are 100% Sunni Muslim. Islam is the only religion legally permitted.

What kind of people spend 15-25 percent of their monthly income on coffee, sing songs about camels and have a glorious crown of fuzzy hair atop their head? The Beja, a nomadic people group with a million and a half members who live in the northeastern portion of the African nation of Sudan.

Eastern Sudan has been the homeland of the Beja since the days of the pharaohs 4,000 years ago. Despite contact with the Egyptians, along with Greeks and Romans, it was the Muslims who finally had a real and lasting impression on the Beja. Although the Beja had partially accepted Christianity in 500 A.D., their conversion was only skin deep and beginning in 640 A.D., when Arabs first invaded Sudan, the Beja began to gradually adopt the Islamic faith. The Arabs did not conquer Sudan, and although many Beja tribes still do not speak Arabic, Islam left a lasting impact on their lifestyle, customs and religious practices.

In general, the Beja have always rejected authority and they greatly value their nomadic freedom. For the most part they have not changed their lifestyle or practices in the last 1,500 years

Cattle and War - The Nuer of Sudan

Numbering approximately one million, the Nuer are the second largest people group (second to the Dinka) in south Sudan. Traditionally, they are cattle herders whose complete way of life revolves around their livestock. Cattle are used for payment of fines and debts and as bride prices in marriage. Children mold clay figures of cows out of clay, ash, wood or any other available material. Young boys have a favorite ox who they give a name and treat as if it was a puppy.

Unfortunately, Sudan’s civil war, which has lasted for over a decade, has devastated this traditional way of life and displaced many Nuer to the safety of the neighboring country of Ethiopia or to places in northern Sudan, such as the capital city of Khartoum. Many Nuer serve with the Sudanese rebel army, although some are at odds with the rebel leader, a member of the Dinka tribe. In the past, war and tribal fighting has broken out between Nuer and their Dinka neighbors.

The Dinka of Sudan

A missionary entered a small Bible school in Khartoum, Sudan. He approached the class of 24 students, including members of the Dinka tribe. Interested in seeing what the students were learning, he asked the class of young evangelists to tell him how he could become a Christian. “None of the 24 could tell me!” he exclaimed in dismay.

Unfortunately, although many of the 2,800,000 Dinka in the North African country of Sudan have been evangelized, much of what they know is head knowledge about Jesus, rather than clear understanding of what accepting Christ is all about. They are in need of sound Christian teaching and Christian compassion.

The Dinka are a tall, thin and very dark skinned people who are found mostly in southern Sudan along the Nile River and into the countryside, generally to the west. There are about five distinctive groups of Dinka. They are the largest people group in the south and make up about ten percent of Sudan’s total popu-lation. Despite this fact, however, they are looked down upon by many other Sudanese, particularly those with lighter skin. They are also rejected by other Sudanese people because of their leadership in the civil war that has ravaged the country for over a decade. The Dinka make up a majority of the rebel army, and in fact John Garang, the rebel leader, is a Dinka.

In this Islamic nation, the Dinka are also rejected because they are Christians, although many claim to be Christians only so they will not be identified as Muslim. Many are Catholic and have mixed Christianity with traditional African religions, while some still follow animistic practices.

The Dinka are traditionally cattle herders. They give their cows names, and sometimes a herder will take the name of his favorite cow and prefer to be called by that name. They are a poor people and the Islamic government in Sudan has limited their opportunities even more.

The civil war in Sudan has been hard on the Dinka. Many families have at least one relative who was killed while fighting the government forces. Even if a Dinka is not involved in the war, people automatically assume he is a rebel just because he is a Dinka. Some Dinka herds have been taken by renegade bands with no clear indication of whose side they are on.

The Nuba Mountain People of Sudan

The Nuba people reside in one of the most remote and inaccessible places in all of Sudan–the foothills of the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan. At one time the area was considered a place of refuge, bringing together people of many different tongues and backgrounds who were fleeing oppressive governments and slave traders. As a result, over 100 hundred languages are spoken in the area and are considered Nuba languages, although many of the Nuba also speak Sudanese Arabic, the official language of Sudan.

The Nuba Mountains mark the southern border of the sands of the desert and the northern limit of good soils washed down by the Nile River. Many Nubas, however, have migrated to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to escape persecution and the effects of Sudan’s civil war. Most of the rest of the 1,000,000 Nuba people live in villages of between 1,000 and 50,000 inhabitants in areas in and surrounding the Nuba mountains. Nuba villages are often built where valleys run from the hills out on to the surrounding plains, because water is easier to find at such points and wells can be used all year long. There is no political unity among the various Nuba groups who live on the hills. Often the villages do not have chiefs but are instead organized into clans or extended family groups with village authority left in the hands of clan elders.

The Nuba people are primarily farmers, as well as herders who keep cattle, goats, chickens and other domestic animals. They often maintain three different farms: a garden near their house where vegetables needing constant attention, such as onions, peppers and beans, are grown; fields further up the hills where quick growing crops such as red millet can be cultivated without irrigation; and farms farther away, where white millet and other crops are planted. A distinctive characteristic of the Nubas is their passion for athletic competition, particularly traditional wrestling. The strongest young men of a community compete with athletes from other villages for the chance to promote their personal and their village’s pride and strength. In some villages, older men participate in club- or spear-fighting contests. The Nubas’ passion for physical excellence is also displayed through the young men’s vanity—they often spend hours painting their bodies with complex patterns and decorations. This vanity reflects the basic Nuba belief in the power and importance of strength and beauty.

The majority of the Nuba–those living in the east, west and northern parts of the mountains–are Muslims, while those living to the south are either Christians or practice traditional animistic religions. In those areas of the Nuba mountains where Islam has not deeply penetrated, ritual specialists and priests hold as much control as the clan elders, for it is they who are responsible for rain control, keeping the peace, and rituals to insure successful crops. Many are guardians of the shrines where items are kept to insure positive outcomes of the rituals (such as rain stones for the rain magic), and some also undergo spiritual possession.

Because of their unique culture and overall poor job at conformity, both the Muslim and Christian Nubas face the most fierce persecution found in Sudan. On the other hand, those Nuba who are Christians are most likely the strongest believers in Sudan, and the Christian leaders are the boldest to be found in the country. At the same time, however, Nuba Muslims are probably the least accessible people, not only in Sudan but in all of Africa

55Daniel 08.03.07 at 8:39 pm
I have to say, that I could not agree with you in 100% regarding : Arab or African? : The Sudanese Thinker, but it’s just my opinion, which could be wrong

56Ahmad al-Safawi 08.04.07 at 3:57 pm
Now let me tell you. As i wrote hamitic, i were talking linguistic - the branch of the Afroasian language family that is NOT semitic. That is Coptic, Berber, Somali, Oromo etc. etc. etc…

Nubian is not one of those. I have nubian ancestors myself.

The Coptic language is in fact very different from the Nubian one - the Coptic language being Afroasian (like Amharic, Hebrew, Arabic, Somali etc.), while the Nubian being Nilochadic. It is thus wrong to say that Nubian and the Ancient Egyptians were one. Yes, Nubians has for centuries lived in what is today Egypt, and Nubians have even ruled Egypt - but that does not make the Nubians and the Egyptians one.

My fathers family assembles africans, and my mothers family assembles arabs or southers europeans. Am i lesser Egyptians because of my mothers ancestors? Or am i lesser Arab because of my fathers ancestors?

No to both. I am both.

And yes, if you are muslim, then you will automatically be arab if you speak arabic. That was true for Suhayb, Salman and Bilal, and it is true for you and me too. Being an arab is not something that you inherit from your parents.

Then what about the berber? They are indegneous Africans too. That does not mean that they are black.

Being an African is not a matter of color. It is a matter about were you are born.

In same way, you can be a black american, and a black european. You can also be a black arab. And yes - A white african too.

I am AFRICAN, because i am born in a part of Egypt situated in Africa.
I am ARAB, because that is my primary language and my culture is arabic.
I am MUSLIM, because of my belief.

I will remain these, even if you may hate it.

57fouad 08.23.07 at 6:47 am
I have always believed that arabs and africans are cousins if not brothers because of many factors. I mean we all know the story of Abraham and Hagar. She bore him his first son Ismail who would become the father of the arabs. Hagar was an African servant,and Abraham was a semit. Therefor, arabs are pretty much the product of the medeteranian ethnicity and the african ethnicity. Also, Afria’s closest neighbor happens to be the arabian peninsula. Now, we all know that the black or african gene is dominant especially compared to the white genetic, however arabic genetics are very dominant as well. Infact when arabs and blacks have offspring despite the dominant tendancies of the black genes there are times when the arabic genetics is very visible. I am not saying this is a constant nor that the arab gene is stronger then the black gene because scientificly the black genes are the most dominant. I just believe that in the end the black man of africa, along with the lighter african from north africa and the people of the middle east and arabia are all family and that there should be no need to try and draw lines and borders between which is which and who is what. take me for example look for your self I am of mixed ethnicities I am north african, palestinian and turkish. I have very light skin yet incredibly nappy hair and its red! What do i consider myself? I consider myself over all as a muslim afro arabian because I have african features, my father traces his roots back to north africa, i speak arabic, my mother traces her roots back to palestine, and i also have some turkish heritage. I understand that some africans want to assert their individuality by pushing away any arab roots they have. I also know that there is cruelty from all races especially towards the africans and that there have been arabs that have made money off of slave trading however, let us not forget that there were the blackest of africans who sold their own people for hundereds of years to the white man. So, instead of arguing about who is african and who is arab we need to come to the realiziation that we(meaning blacks and arabs) are both truly brothers and both the followers of God. This is why Allah wants someone to identify themselves as a muslim rather then an ethnic group so their can be no disunity in the umma(community). I have alot of love for the people of African and people of african decent because just as i said the people of africa and the people of arabia are brothers. I mean he used a great example by stating that persian calling an arab a filthy dog and a white person calling an african a nigger. I have never in my life heard an arab racially insult a black person whether christian or muslim because arabs over all are an incredibly diverse people. There are white arabs, black arabs, dark arabs, brown arabs, blue eyed arabs, and even red headed arabs. Unlike Laintos, arabs are even more diverse when compared to their own sub groups. Culturally, I am an arab american because i speak arabic i eat arabic food, and i live in america and i live as an american, but over all of that, I am a muslim and a servant of God and my God commands me and the rest of my people to be respectful and to love my neighbor, and since i am north african my neighbors include the middle easterns, the arabs of saudi and yemen(arabia) and the rest of africa. I am proud of all of my roots and i just hope that one day all my arab and african brothers can see past what the eurapians are trying to do by continuing to divide the people of Allah and turning them against each other.

Peace out to all my niggas and sand niggas and Salamo Alikom

58fouad 08.23.07 at 7:12 am
also regarding Egypt and north africa, being north african myself i can assure you the the people of north africa were never “black” black. They were dark yes, darker then the white man ofcourse, but they were not as black as the rest of the africans. The berbers existed in north africa for thousands of years some say even more then 10,000 years ago. Those people were african, as african as a persom from senegal or the congo, but I think that the ancient egyptians for example were not black, nor arab, but more of a mix of the both. If you look at carving in walls in Egypt, you would see that they had dark skin but not black, althought there are some drawings of blacker indiviuals ,that is because Egypt was a mixed society of black egyptians, dark egyptians and lighter skinned egyptians. North Africa has always been a diverse portion of the world. I believe that the middle east was a bit mroe diverse due to its placement in which it connents 3 differant continents, Asia, Europe, and Africa. That is why arabs are the most diverse people in the world geneticly and ethnicly, but as i said north africa would be the 2nd most diverse because you have had mating between black africans, lighter africans, arabs, and even some europians for cenutires if not thousands of years. I kind of pisses me off that europians believe that ancient egyptians were somehow white, and black africans claim that the ancient egyptians were black, very similar to how whites believe jesus had blue eyes and blonde hair and was white, and africans believe he was a black man. Just as jesus was neither, the egyptias were/are neither. You truely believe that all of the “black” ancient egyptians were wiped off or pushed off their lands and the arabs took over? probably not especially when you look at what happens to a region of the world when the old muslim empire would take over. Spain for example had its golden age in science, phiosophy, mathematics, etc. Many converted to islam in europe, not because barbaric arabs from the desert put swords to their throats, but because the arabs who are also muslims have been taught by their faith to live in peace and harmony with their fellow man and teach them while learning from them. The same happened to Africa when islam spread from arabia. Many flocked and became muslims. back to the point, to make it simple

Original Pure Arabs- the arabs of yaman, saudi arabia, oman, etc

Arabized middle easterns-people of the medeteranian region such as palestine, syria, jordan,etc

Arabized Africans-the people of north africa and some parts of middle africa.

Arabized euopians- whether they like it or not, theyr features have changed due to their arabization, spain, portugal, italy, turkey, and even parts of france

the muslim/arab empire was the fastest growing empire in history. I am in awe by the statement which that person made calling arabs backward. I am not a full arab and never have been infact i have faced racism from arabs when i lived in the middle east due to my lighter skin and my negro hair, that is a part of life, if u r differant then the majority u will eat sh*t, and since i am of mixed decent that come from all sides i have done my research and i am very certain that africans and arabs are brothers, and so is anything in between which include the berbers, the egyptians, the north africans and so on. Speaking arabic does not make u an arab, but if share arabic culture, if you have arab ancestory then u are arabic, whether ur skin is as white as snow or as black as the night. Arabs are almost at another dimension when it comes to race. Unlike most of the empires that ruled the world, the people of arabia were so humble with their “supposed enslaved” nations that many arabs and the people of the region they controlled would marry and produce offspring. Hence why there are so many parts of the world that have been arabized, which brings me ot my next point, arabs did not force their language nor their culture on anyone. The people who accepted the arabic language were mostly muslims and that is because islam’s holy book was brought down in arabic and God demanded that man learns this language for its beauty and power. Unlike the missionaries who come to africa to this day holding a bible, forcing africans to “become” christians in order to give them food, islam’s message is simple, sumbit to God or move along…There is nothing backward about the beauty and grace of the arabic language nor its original people.hell for example, 10 percent of the slaves that were taken from africa to north and south america where muslims who spoke arabic, so while some of you may believe the filth that the white man tries to portray about arabs and muslims’ influence on africa, just remember that no arabs or north africans enslaved, raped, bred and abused people for over 600 years. There is no black and white in the eyes of God, only faithful and faithless. I suggest to all of you that you get over this race crap because this is what makes life very hard for people like me and you, get your education, if your a muslim that is all you need to worry about being rather then trying to accept one side of your ethnicities and disregard the rest that u dont seem to like because in this day and age the media plays it down. Worship God and make this world a better place, that is what you need to do.


59Zep Tepi 10.27.07 at 8:04 pm
I am a Black American who has American Indian and English blood. I know I am still BLACK. Black bllod always dominates, don’t fool yourself!

60Damage 12.01.07 at 9:02 am
Fascinating read.
But for me, it begs the question:
If we take the factual history of the slave trade (as opposed to the one-sided version currently doing the rounds, blaming millions of innocent modern whites, based on having the same skin colour as the protagonists): The north africans (or black people as seen back then) who came across the sea to rape and pillage 1.5 million white people, then kidnap them as (mostly sex) slaves - only for the ‘favour’ to be learned, and returned, a couple of hundred years later by whites on africans (the ’slave trade’ we all refer to now) - Could we consider those original slave traders to be african (therefore the revenge was accurate) or arab (inaccurate, but this was a time of ‘black and white’ so generalisation was understandable, perhaps even forgiveable)?
Maybe I didn’t explain that well, but when the white slave traders avenged the previous raids from ‘the black people across the sea’, if they were african not arab, then perhaps the slave trade (the half-baked version told to us today) was more justified than first thought. If it were arab raiders, then the whites who went deeper into africa, with hindsight, didn’t return the favour’ to the right people.
‘Apologies’ to anyone who doesn’t know the real history of the slave trade, it’s a pity we only have the black militant version available in the mainstream: the book ‘white gold’ would be a good starting point.
One amusing anecdote concerns the arabs who kidnapped white slaves well before these events: the whites were constantly described as ‘lazy’.

61fouad 01.10.08 at 4:58 pm
i am sorry to say..but the whites could have not returned the favored to the arabs if they tried and as a matter of fact they did. In the time of the muslim and arab empire, the arabs did infact force some into slavery. Most of the time people who were forced into this slavery were either soldiers or people who had traveled with these soldiers. Also the arabs treated their slaves as workers and these slaves were all skin colors including arabs themselves. If you lost to an arab general you would in turn owe your life to him and can work to pay it of. Furthermore, when the moors who are afro arabs did invade white europe, they did positive things. They brought the white man out of the dark ages and gave them scientific and philosophical advances. They taught them the number zero and gave them banking tacttics. Even the jews had their golden age under moorish rule/ So in a sense, the moors/muslims/arabs who conquered europe did them a favor by making them humans again and treating them as equals. The whites on the other hand enslaved africans and treated them like animals, breeding them, selling them, beating them and so on and so forth. Infact over 10 percent of the slaves brought from africa were muslim. Therefor, we owe you..not you owe us. We helped your people, we shared with them all that we formulated in mathematics, philosophy, theology, medicine, arts, engineerings and so on and so forth….educated yourself better and try not to read your people’s side of the story…because since the innocent days of your elementary school you have been taught lies.

62Asma Ana 01.28.08 at 3:30 am
Dear all,

Please read “War of Visions: Conflict of Identities in the Sudan” by Francis Mading Deng, a distinguished Sudanese scholar to get some perspective on this identity crisis in the Sudan.

63ibrahim salah 02.07.08 at 12:25 am
I don’t think it’s ideal to make an issue or deal out of it. we are as we are and should be proud of this. this type of disscussion is not benefit any one.

64Chimande 02.19.08 at 10:09 pm
As you said before, indiginous African were Arabilized and Islamized at the same time by Arab. They’ve adopted Arabs culture and tradition. Therefore, it’s their choice to call themselves Arabs or Africans. But I think it would be a great shame for those who had lost their cultural identity, when they’re ask whether they Arabs or Africans. It’d be better for them to said we Africans because they were the native of the land before assimilation took place, as the knew. For real arabs, it’s find to call themslves arabs.

}: Sudan at large is in Africa. Why don’t we called ourselves Africans?
In my conclusion, let’s take arab as one of the enthic group in Sudan, like Dinka, Nuer, Nuba, Acholi and many others. So take this: Arabs are Arabs, Dinka Are Dinka, and Nuer are Nuer. But if we come together as Sudanese, We ARE AFRICANS!!!!
Believe it or not!

Thanks by the way.

65Cocoa Chic 03.12.08 at 6:37 pm
Oh my Gosh!! This dialogue has been going on for over a year. Everyone is mixed and everything all depends on complexion and hair texture. This is how people classify who and what you are. This is to mentally place themselves in a position of superiority based upon what society has taught us. Everyone does it. Europe has globally imposed their views on what they deem good. Africa is the Motherland and all other countries and continents are her children. Everyone is African is my opinion regardless of skin color.

66Salam Taki 03.13.08 at 2:56 pm
Hi Sudanese Thinker!

Let me re quote so that I may understand:

“Since Sudan belongs to both the African Union and Arab League, I wonder if Sudanese women see Sudan as an African or Arab country.”

Ok! Lets go:

Sudan is a country in a continent called Africa. Period. The people who call this continent called Africa, their home are called Africans.
I think Sudanese women should know that Sudan is in Africa, and therefore is African.

Arab Country! A country for Arabs! Ah! An Arab is a person from the geographical area called Arabian Pennisula! Sudan is not in the Arabian Pennisula.
Sudanese women had better known this.

African and Arabs are merely expressions of a geographical location. African can be a people, a culture, a thing name it and similarly should Arab or Arabian.

Several times, the connotation “African” has been used as a euphemism to refer to people who are black but in reality with a beautiful darker skin complexity! African is belonging to a continent called Africa.

I came across you site recently and I should be visiting with a regularity! I am a New Sudanese. Your blog’s name is my exercise.

Your peace, Salam Taki

67elsaid 03.26.08 at 3:05 pm
Why ?

68Nasser 07.07.08 at 9:08 am
why do I have to classify myself within these narrow confines of Arab or African? What good is it to me? Do I claim superiority or feel inferior depending on my classification? this discussion raises a volatile race issue and is only about the non-integration of our peoples and tribes to present a unfied country. If you feel superior,its your right to feel so but without insulting or degrading others. We all have a right to live, work and lead in Sudan ie Silva Kiir is accepted as First VP and Ali Osman as VP all over Sudan. We can be cohesive and strong if we stop this classification business and get down to real nation-building. claiming we have an identity crisis is lunacy. If you perceive yourself as Ethnically and culturally Arab so be it or vice versa !!

69ochanji 07.07.08 at 4:07 pm
arab -african.its called duality.conflict of interests

70Ted 07.19.08 at 2:35 am
The reason why there is so much confusion about Africa is mostly due to the Europeans trying to take credit for its history by teaching American kids that whites built the pyramids and then the Arabs came in and now they are lying and instigating themselves into taking credit for Africa’s ancient civilizations. The Europeans and Arabs have mastered the art of lying about their historic ties to Africa and even go so far as to make the Ancient Egypt -white or Arab. This is why so many people are confused about Africa. Africa is home to black Africans (the entire place)-every non-black group came to Africa in recent days. That includes whites in South Africa, Arabs in norh Africa and now the Chinease in East Africa.

71Clara 09.02.08 at 6:05 pm
Salam Taki you were brilliant in your explanation!

72Maur Abdallah Bwanamaka 09.05.08 at 9:23 am
Asalaam Aleikum to you all
Dear Drima,am not Sudaness but Kenyan from coast province where we share simmiler phenomenon,however going by what i have read from a number of blogers,there is alot of hate and confusion amongst the people of Africa in regard to race and tribe matters,I am Muslim but not Arab, though i express myself in Arabic and am marriade to two wives one pure Arab and the second Afro-Arab while i am pure African does not make me an Arab neither my children but we shall remain to be Muslim.
When we trace the word Africa,it started with the Greek rule of what is today North Africa but formaly Carthage under the discription of Afric meaning a hot province encompasing the sections of Libya,Tunisia upper Egypt through alexandria.
When Vasco da Gama decided to take a voyage to India guided by the maps of Ibn Khaldun which had this discripion of the northern parts of the continent,He dresed the whole continent with the name hence today Africa which does not have relations with ethnic,colour or religion of its inhabitants.
The prophet Muhammad(saw) refered to this continent as known then ABYSINIA the mordern day Ethopia,Before him was profet Moses(saw) whos escapades in Egypt had encounters with guest from Abisinia(watch ten commandments)infect this should have been the true identity of the continet becouse the names comes from the heartland of the continent not as imported as the word, Africa.
The British with there evile tactics of devide and rule added the colore tone in definition of the word African by giving a black meaning,The Africans unaware of this evil took pridge in this definition and has continued to hount them since then to to date,Being Arab does not make you special and this was emphasised by the profet in his last surmon neither being black of the blakest does not make you special aither,there are poeple of fair colour who are very ugly just as there are people of dale coloure who are ugly too,not all European women are beautyfull nether not all Chiness are ugly but the stereotypes injected in your mind deterimine your perspective,so if you are cheap in thinking you get confused with this identity but all in all,Africa is not about colour or ethnicity but continent infact the continent had extended all the way to the Pursian Gulf across Syria Sham which is todays Lebanon but the dreging of Suiz Canal we lost what is commonly reffered to as the Middle East to the Aian continent which has Caucasian Russians as part of it but omits Caucasian Australians and New Zelanders as Oceniacs becouse the Anglo saxons ruled the world as pax Britanica and had to separete themselfs from others in order to impose their evil with ease,otherwise the majority of Arabs are in Africa than in Asia and mojority of Arabs look more like Africans tha Asians,they are not Mongloids becouse they are a subspecis of African tribe.
Traiditional trends have also affected our perspective very much,this include machantile activities and agriculturerall,this goes across race or tribe,where as agriculturallist tend to be conservative,slow,patient and reclousive,machantiles tend to be liberal,flamboyant,agresive,impatiant though some inclusive and others reclousive,then if you can translate this to general over view of our identity crisis,then you can understand why all the tention in the socio-political and economic status of Sudan and generally the of the African diversity which is African FIRST then something else afterwards,i love all of you and Drima the post is wonderfull,keep it up somewhere we shall soon learn and help the generations after us to live a less confused life, SHUKRAN.

73Tee 09.21.08 at 5:20 pm
Very interesting comments. I have a question that I would like to ask everyone. Are you all aware of the fact that the original Arabs were a black-skinned people with kinky hair? And they were pure Arabs-not “mixed with Africans”. Are you aware that the girl in the picture who is supposed to be from the Nuer tribe looks more Arab than the girl who is from the Rashaida tribe? I am prepared to present proof of what I am saying if there is anyone who doubts my words. Also, what is meant by “African” here? Can we use the word “Africa” when talking about history, given the fact that a century ago the word wasn’t used by anyone inhabiting the area. Did the Dinka call themselves Africans in the past? Did the Fulani call themselves African? Did the Ancient Egyptians? Did the Nubians? Did the Nuba? Did the Shagiyya or the Jaaliyyin? Did the Shuwa Arabs of Nigeria and Chad? Did the Kanuri of Nigeria? Did Mansa Musa, who said that he was a descendant of Ali ibn Abi Talib? Did the Arabs along the coast of Kenya and Tanzania? Do you get my point?

74van 09.28.08 at 1:11 am
i stumble across it whilst i was searching for something captivated my attention and i found the discussion enriching,with a lot of insights.I would be interested to know more about issues regarding-original arabs as blacks,historical and cultural links of present date nubian egyptians and nubian sudanese,the ethnical makeup of ancient egypt without partisan views-but based on purely scientific and historical facts and outline of arab population and their minorities groups,and the term arab(racial or linguistic concept).
SO,For long i heard about the sudanese conflict opposing the North to the South,infact it has been depicted by Media as a war opposing the arab-muslim north to the christian-animist south.A war between white arabs and black africans.Back then i wasn’t really interested in Sudan and had never viewed photos and pictures of sudanese people.As tension further mounted in the darfur region which was once more presented as war opposing africans to arabs with the latter being credited with ‘an ethnic cleansing plan’ i became more intrigued and started to ask myself questions about what is going wrong over there.why do white arabs or to be more precise ‘fair-skinned arabs’ want systematically to exterminate black i began to search more information about Sudan and was shocked when i came across pictures of northern sudanese(arab sudanese), and sudan’s political leaders who were all blacks.Pr. bashir, Al Turabi,Osman Tahar,sadek el Mahdi and the bulk of northern sudan are all blacks.i even watched sudan tv on the net,hoping to see the so called fair-skinned arabs but to no avail.I couldn’t understand or get the point why black people killed other blacks just coz they had a darker tone colour and weren’t muslims.Infact theproblem was more complex than i thought.It wasn’t only link to religion,economy and the like.the most dangerous problem they are facing is the identity problem-that is what defines an individual or a community.a man who can’t define his identity or doesn’t know to where he belongs is in great danger.So i came to the conclusion that media showed and talked about a picture which indeed is different from the reality.
besides i live in Europe and came across some northern sudanese who are blacks and are considered as such by europeans.And even the really fair-skinned arabs are not considered by europeans as whether northern sudanese ara arabs or not,whether they have mixed blood or not,the fact is there and it is irrefutable-THEY HAVE DARK SKIN AND THEY ARE BLACK,AND ARE CONSIDERED AS SUCH BY WESTERNERS AND EVEN BY THEIR FELLOW MIDDLE-EAST FOLKS. HOWEVER IF THAT CAN COMFORT theh or make them happy to hear it-then they are ARABS. if they feel happy to be and believe that they are arabs then it’s ok and it’s up to them.I have nothing against arabs but i’ve heard and read about alot of racist cases towards blacks in most arab countries who treat blacks like animals and diss them.Arabs shouldn’t forget that present-day there exist black communities throughout their countries who are descendants of former slaves and who contributed to the social,religious,ecnonomic and cultural development of their countries-amongst others are-bilal,antara ibn chaddad,kafur,sadate,mohamed chalgham,etc. And also many fair-skinned arabs have black blood they shouldn’t forget that also. furthermore geographically sudan is in Africa and ethnically they are more akin to blacks.To conclude it may well be possible that there exist pure arabs in sudan but i haven’t seen much evidence.and instead of fight over who is arab,black or afro-arab sudanese should try to put their differences aside and work together for a peaceful and prosperous sudan.
africans,arabs,afro-arabs or whatever u are called or whatever is your skin colour you are all equal and brothers.remember this-1 hand cannot tie a bundle.wish u all love,peace,harmony and prosperity.
i would be interested to have a feedback or read about another article regarding this my email

75Tariq Berry 09.28.08 at 7:25 pm
If you give me your e-mail, I can provide you with the information. Or you can order my book The Unknown Arabs. It’s available at

76Rotator 10.04.08 at 1:30 pm
About 80 percent of African-Americans have varying percentages of European blood (ancestry) from 90 percent European blood to 20 percent European blood. Yet they don’t go around calling themselves “Europeans.” Sudanese like Afro-Latinos are unable to shed the brainwash that Arabs and Europeans (Spanish and Portuguese in this case) are superior to Africans so they call themselves “Arabs” and “Hispanics” rather than African. What a shame! They think that by calling themselves “Arabs” and “Hispanics” means their ancestors were’t ever slaves. And they go around doing the Europeans work for them killing and discriminating against their own African people while the Europeans laugh at how stupid they are. Que lastima!

77rhazes 10.07.08 at 9:56 am
As a congolese person, i stumbled on this blog, because I was wondering why some blacks sudanese claimed to be arabs. I understand that they’ve been arabized long time ago by the arabs conquerors. But the fact remains that those people are black african, it is definetly been a brainswashing process, because blacks have been associated with slaves. The proof is when these black sudaneses arabs go in a real middle eastern arab country, they are going to be reminded that they are NIGGERS, when they go to Europe or America, same thing. So why deny the truth, I see pictures of blacks sudanese and they have some of the darkest skin ever. I think it is a perpetual denial of african origin in here. I am not saying that all africans are black as you can have arabs (morroco,algeria), indians and chinese african. But those nothernn black sudanese are definetly african black. African is by blood, but to I can be a wannabe arab in less then 20 years by following islam code and culture plus changing my name.

78NoName 12.01.08 at 7:26 am
We are Afro-Arab, 50/50, mixed race, lol thats an easier way to put it… There’s hardly any real Arabs any more

79NoName 12.01.08 at 7:29 am
North Sudanese aren’t dark black at all, they are very light brown, I’ve been to an Arab country, and I live in Europe, I’ve never have the N word said to me, why can’t everyone just say we are Afro-Arab

80Voldee 12.01.08 at 7:31 am
North Sudanese aren’t dark black at all, they are very light brown, I’ve been to an Arab country, and I live in Europe, I’ve never have the N word said to me, why can’t everyone just say we are Afro-Arab People think we are pretending to be arab when we aren’t, South Sudan are pure African, North is a mixture, so stop saying that we’re pretending, I find it really offensive, we have arab roots and african roots, ‘Afro-Arab’ thats what we are.

81AfroArabGurl 12.01.08 at 7:35 am
North Sudanese aren’t dark black at all, they are very light brown, I’ve been to an Arab country, and I live in Europe, I’ve never have the N word said to me, why can’t everyone just say we are Afro-Arab People think we are pretending to be arab when we aren’t, South Sudan are pure African, North is a mixture, so stop saying that we’re pretending, I find it really offensive, we have arab roots and african roots, ‘Afro-Arab’ thats what we are. I’m offended with what Rotator said, we call our selves Afro-arab

82Sami 12.09.08 at 8:56 pm
Good post and certainly worht reading. I couldnt hold back from commenting although I dont know where to start. I guess the main thing to say is that the tragic conflict in Sudan is terrible regardless of race/ethnicity, religion etc etc.

I dont knwo in detail about every clan that inhabits the country and their origins but I have read about some of them and some reasons behind the conflict. I will try and make sense of something that is so complex, although often people do oversimplify it, so please forguve me if I dont make sense or if Im saying the wrong thing and have my facts wrong.

As far as Im aware, the conflict in Sudan is between some clans in the Muslim and Arabic speaking North and the non-Muslim and non-Arabic speaking South. I dont know the exact ‘reason’ for the conflict; some say the Northern clans are trying to Arabize the South while other sources say its to do with resources like water. There is of course no excuse for either. Although there are many who speak Arabic and are Muslim in the North of Sudan, from what I have read, they are not strictly ethnically Arab. Some are ethnically Afro-Arab and trace some, but not all, of their ancestory back to Arabia, while others are cultrually Afro- Arab, they speak Arabic and are Muslim but are black Sudanese.
Politically, Sudan is part of the Arab League. By the Arab Leagues standards, Sudan is Arab as many speak Arabic, but that doesnt mean they are ethnically or even cultrually. There are many countries that speak Arabic and have elements of Arab culture (are Muslim). Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon etc etc they all speak Arabic and have a large muslim population but all have a history that pre-dates Islam. It works in the interest of the Arab League to call the above countries Arab as it makes their numbers seem bigger to outsiders and for economic reasons (oil). However, idenity is personal. There are some who might feel Arab as they are Muslim and speak Arabic although ethnically they might be Morrocan or Sudanese etc etc.

On another note, I notice some of you seem to speak about Africa and Africans as if they are all the same. I dont know a great deal about African history and heritage but I was under the impression its a massive continent and the people who live on it are varied.
Although its not really relevant, I notice some of you are slagging off the ‘Arabs’ for supposedly trying to steal Egypt and anncient Egyptian history and pass it off as their own. Firstly, Egypt had fallen to the Byzantium Empire and before that to Roman, Greek, Persian, Nubian, Assyrain rule , prior to the Islamic Conquests and secondly Ive never heard muslims or Arabs try to claim that they were responsible for anncient Egypt and the acheivements of the anncient Egyptians. Muslims most probebly dont want anything to do with anncient Egypt as they usually think that prior to Islam, people were all idol worshipping pagans and Arabs are well aware that the acheivements of anncient Egypt were nothing to do with them PERIOD. There is a well known Egyptin historian, who Ive stupidly forgotten the name of, who hates this Afro-Centric claim to anncient Egypt all being black. It was for some time ruled by a Nubian dynasty as Nubians were highly influenced by it but they were not the same people and are not to be confused. Both Nubians and anncient Egyptians were aware of this.
My other problem is that some of you are talking about Africa and everyone in it as being the same. This is very ignorant. You are oversimplifying it and lumping all people who live on the continant together. In reality, a Somalian is different from a Ghanian, a Morrocan is different from an Ethiopian, a Rwandan is different from an Egyptian and so on and so forth. In other words, Africa is a contitent and many of the countries in it are nation states. Many of the peoples witin the nation states that make up the continent are divided up into clans, although they may be ethnically and culturally the same. Arabs and Islam are new to the area. Well Islam is anyway. Arabs or to be more specific here, southern Arabian clans and peoples have had some link with some parts of the continent prior to Islam (read about the Aksumites and Sabeans). The clans that are in Sudan who claim Arabian ancestory are more recent.

I dont personally know anyone from Sudan so I dont know what they class themsleves ethnically. I respect the fact that some may think of themselves as Arab or Afro-Arab and so should we all. Whether they are cultrually mixed through religion and language or ethnically mixed, we should respect the choice of the individual so to speak. However, I get the impression this varies from clan to clan throughout the country or in the northern areas at least. What confuses me though, is that physically (as in appearence) many of the northern clans Ive seen who claim Arabian ancestory, are ethnically Nubian (black). - look at the pic.

interesting how many of these clans say they have arab ancestory but look Nubian, although im disputing the fact. Indeed some of them most probably do. It just seems that the way Arabness is passed down through the male line has ‘washed’ out anything out, even when in reality they are only a very small percentage ethnically arab, even though its not my place to determine their identity.

On another note. I mentioned in my post about how other people who consider themsemv or are consdered arabs have a history that pre-dates Islam. This is true for Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and the north African countries like Libya, Morroco etc etc. More often than not, Palesitnians are looked down upon by many in the Arabian world proper (as in the saudi and gulf states). On the one hand they act as if they love them but on the other they treat them and speak about about them like dirt. Infact they speak about most people who are not of the same triabe as them badly n many cases. There racial biggtotary not exclusively to black peoples.

Good post Drimma and thank you for shedding some light on an otherwise very complex matter.


83anonymous 12.17.08 at 12:10 am
the topic is more than great, but i have 2 points that i want to add,
for the question that you should ask to know wether this person is an arab or african, unfortunatly the answer is B for most of sudanese, this is because for a very smiple reason which is “media & education” i have stayed in sudan and read a from kindergarten till the school certificate, but i haven’t ever heard of KKK, but if you realized there are far explanation about the persians (furs) and how they affect the islam, and how one of them has killed omer ibn alkhatab,and so many more,specially in arabic literature(not to say it is a religous point of view), also at some poems.
whereas the KKK only heard of them when i start watching movies or read about the african-american might asked this question to sudanese who didn’t really stay for long in sudan or wasn’t exposed to our “rural cultures”.
the second point is, insisting on media,
remeber during war between the north and the south, there were a “patriotic” TV show on the national TV (the sacrificing battleship) or in arabic (sahat alfida) the main reason of the show is to neglect and ignore the african side of most of northern sudanese where at tthat times they consider “the african” as repels.
well what to conclude is that, most of the sudanese see them selves as arabs (which it really pisses me of, although am one of them)
because going outside sudan you are a nigger even in “our beloved arab countries”
the thing that decide wether you are arab or african is not ethnicity but the culture does (my point of view).
well that what could be said for the while but its a really great work, keep it up

84Sami 12.22.08 at 8:57 am
its not as if the Arabs are the only people to be racist is it. what about some of the regimes in Africa ? There have been many genocides and human rights violations commited by African leaders. It suits the AU to point the finger at Arabs for their own politcla gain while on the other hand the AU used to support Mugabe. Its only in recent years that theyve been trying t get him oit of power. They’ll probably do what Arabs do and blame conolialism to avoid taking any responsibility. Now, Im not deny what goes in Sudsna isnt bad but please, stop over simplifying it. Its a lot more coplex than ‘arab vs non-arab’. If we are defining Arabs as a people with a speficis culture and religion, then yes I guess we can call them Arab however to the best of my knowledged many of the Northenr clans have some Arab ancestory but are still clearly black Africans. There are also many southern clans who speak Arabic and are Muslim in the south but they still the northern clans. I was under the impression that much of the conflict was over resources.
I also got the impression that many northern lans are mixed (partly) with some Arabs but physically they are black Africans, even though they might call themselves Arab.

85ahmed bashir 12.25.08 at 6:49 pm
Hey here is the most important notice have to be added.
there is easy way to differentiate between arabs or non-arab in sudan, the language!,for those whom are not arabic originally speak more than language , and whom speak only arabic are arabs.
No matter what is the colour for the person, you notice that most of sudanese dark people colour are arabs this because of arab tribes got married from africans women but the childern will be related to the father “arabs”.
The answer is neither black nor white, ARABS are brown.
NOWADAYS why do we find most of arabs are white? like syrians, lebanese, egyptian and palestinians and many others….
maybe the same case happened with sudanese, but for them they mixed with the westren people.
but the question is why those white people got accepted as arabic rather than sudanese people?.
the answer is that many humankinds prefer the white colour rather than black…

For NORTHERN SUDANESE you have the right to choose either arab or african, as long as you have a tribe related to arabic people.


86ahmed bashir 12.25.08 at 7:10 pm
But for the unity of our nation i would prefer if every person from sudan call him self SUDANESE, with no further explanations… As long as we are living together so far peacefully, no need to disturb our unity any more.

87(A)n@rchist 12.26.08 at 2:55 am
The Arabs are land thiefs!They are not African.Imagine the fit Arabs would have if Blacks invaded Arabia?There is an racist-based conflict in Sudan;Darfur is ground zero.Why don’t the Arabs and everybody else who is not Black leave Africa?I dedicate this comment to the Black Diaspora,who are victims of the Continuing World War Against Blacks!!!

88Wilberto 01.12.09 at 2:09 pm
ARAB WANNABES (The problem in Sudan today)

Present-day Sudan is home to millions of Arabs, with 40% of the population identifying themselves under the ethnic group of ‘Arabs’ EVEN THOUGH THE OPTION OF ‘AFRO-ARABS’ IS ALSO AVAIBLE. Afro-Arabs within the Middle East itself are for the most part descendants of African slaves who were brought there during the arab slave trade.

89tariiq 01.19.09 at 2:51 am
(A)n@rchist straite up go f*ck ur self buddy, i guranetee ur some dirty south sudanese faggit, without us u little dirty ignorant niggers would be lost, i hope to god we make to different countries, u guys are really useless.

90LibaneseMARONIT 01.24.09 at 12:53 pm
they are not arabs they are niggers
- - -