Title: The Social Peace Building in Dar Masalit Sultanate
Author: Jalaledin Bahereldin
Date: 03-09-2014, 08:01 AM
By: Jalaleldin M. A. Bahereldin
Dated: 03 March 2014
Dar Masalit Sultanate has been established during the last quarter of the nineteenth century in Western Sudan. Historically, the Sultanate of Dar Massalit is considered as one of the greatest Sultanate in Africa, due to the distinguished strategic relationship it has established at local, regional and international level. Dar Masalit Sultanate has been involved in several conflicts including intertribal, regional and international due to the ambitions of others to control Dar Masalit Territory. The Dar Masalit Sultanate made a lot of efforts to protect its territory as well as to achieve peace and sustainability for its community. Therefore, the Dar Masalit Sultanate has become one of the greatest Sultanates in Sudan and in Africa. As much as it was involved in numerous conflicts, Dar Masalit Sultanate was equally engaged in various peace agreements so as to maintain the security of its community. The famous international agreement that was signed between Sultan Bahereldin (Andoka) on behalf of Dar Masalit Sultanate and the French Authorities in 1919 was called the Gelani agreement. The agreement was witnessed by the British Colonial power, which was controlling Sudan at the time. The Gelani agreement gave high respect and recognition to Dar Masalit Sultanate. It also recognized the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Dar Masalit Sultanate and its independence from the regional French and British colonial powers. According to the Agreement, the sultanate was to be administrated by the Sultan of Dar Masalit, who enjoyed the freedom of choosing to submit to either of the French or British colonial powers or to establish their own Kingdom.
The Sultan of Dar Masalit voluntarily opted for his territories to be part of the Sudan under the British Colonial power. The Agreement also maintained the right to self-determination of the Sultanate 50 years after its signature. The Dar Masalit Sultanate, hence, was governed indirectly by the British authorities, which benefited the Sultanate to modernize its system of administration.
This was especially beneficial to the Sultanate, which managed to set up a well-structured management and administration system at three branches. These were the executive branch, which was headed by the Sultan and which comprised such executive entities as Furshas or Amirs, Omdas and Sheiks. Whereas the Consultative Council served as the legislative body, the third branch was the justice system. From early on, the Sultanate established very strong justice mechanism to maintain accountability and ensure social justice for all. This tremendously promoted rule of law within the Sultanate.
The governance of the Dar Masalit Sultanate was not limited to the Massalit people alone. It rather included all other tribes that existed within its geographical territories as well. The Sultan of Dar Masalit allowed all tribes to participate in the administrative structure of the Sultanate. This demonstrated the democratic model that the Sultanate was founded upon since its establishment. Such type of participatory governance system also contributed to preserve the social security of the communities and promoted inter-tribal peace building within the Sultanate. As a result, all the tribes in Dar Masalit Sultanate lived harmoniously, fostered a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect and trust. The relationships between the different Dar Massalit tribes were built on the trust and respect of others.
A traditional dispute settlement mechanism was enforced to resolve inter-tribal conflicts, which were usually triggered over resources. In such cases, the Sultan court served as higher appellate body, where disputes would be referred to for final settlement of such disputes.
The land tenure system of the Sultanate of Dar Masalit was based on the traditional Hakora system, which is still well-known and familiar among the Darfurians to date. The land ownership is determined based on the original occupancy and residence on the land.
The Significant role of the Native Administration for maintaining social peace and cohesion between the different tribes is played through the Native Administration Civil Circumambulation Initiative. The Initiative carries out its main tasks through regular monitoring visits to villages and settlements. It also organizes peace building meetings to identify the concerns and challenges of the communities and the way forward.
Following the Darfur crises in 2003, the Government of Sudan has highly relied on the Native Administration Reconciliation Mechanism to negotiate and achieve peace in Darfur. This is mainly due to the fact that the Mechanism is regarded as valued and effective for Peace building. This is also reiterated in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), which strongly recommends engaging the Native Administration at all stages of its implementation. In addition, the DDPD also stipulates the need to empower and strengthen the Native Administration to play vital roles in the community to achieve concrete peace in Darfur.