د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك

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مكتبة د.ياسر الشريف المليح(Yasir Elsharif)
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27-04-2004, 08:49 AM

Yasir Elsharif
<aYasir Elsharif
تاريخ التسجيل: 09-12-2002
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Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك (Re: Yasir Elsharif)


    At the social level, a crisis may ensue when people, while constructing their identities, fail to find a label that adequately fits them, or “when they do not like the identity they have chosen or were compelled to go by”. And because social identities are usually “constructed from the available repertoire of social categories, misfits are inevitable”. Also a crisis may occur when people are ambiguous about their identity, or lack a clear identity. A crisis may also ensue when there is a disparity between self-perception of one’s identity and others’ perception of the same identity. Finally a crisis may exist if the center of identity, i.e. the legitimizing power, does not recognize the peripheral's claims.
    Elements of the Crisis in Northern Sudan
    Among the elements that constitute a crisis of identity in any community, one can identify three that are applicable to the Northern Sudanese. First, there is a disparity between Northerners’ self-perception of their identity and others’ perception of them. Northerners think of themselves as Arabs, whereas the Arabs think otherwise. Northerners’ experience in the Arab world, and especially in the Gulf, proved to them beyond any doubt that the Arabs do not really consider them as Arabs, but rather as abid, (sing. abd), slaves. Almost every Northerner in the Gulf has had the unpleasant experience of being called abd. The Arabs of the Middle East, and especially those of the Arab Peninsula, and the Fertile Crescent, represent the in-group of the Arab identity that Northerners aspire to. These “real Arabs” occupy the center stage of this identity, and enjoy the power of legitimizing or de-legitimizing the peripheries’ claims. The Northerners, on the other hand, represent the outer circle of the Arab identity, occupy the periphery and wait to be drawn closer to the center, as a sign of recognition. Mis-recognition of any group by others, especially if these others represent the center of identity, can inflict serious damage in that group. In Charles Taylor's own words, "a person or a group of people can suffer real damage, real distortion, if the people or society around them mirrors back to them a confining or demeaning or contemptible picture of themselves". Far from recognizing Northerners as Arabs, the center dubbed them ‘abid, and thus kept them, to use Taylor’s term, in a “reduced mode of being”.
    The second element of the crisis of identity in Northern Sudan is concerning “ambiguity” about identity. Northerners came face to face with this symptom especially in Europe and America where people are classified into ethnic and social categories. In 1990, a group of Northern Sudanese in Birmingham in Britain convened a meeting to discuss how to fill in the Local Council’s Form, and especially the question about the social category. They felt that they did not fit in any of the categories that include, among others, “White, Afro-Caribbean, Asian, Black African, and Others”. It was clear to them to tick on “Others”, but what was not clear was whether to specify as “Sudanese, Sudanese Arab, or just Arab”. There was a heated discussion before they finally settled on “Sudanese Arab”. When the question why not to tick on the category of Black African was raised, the immediate response was that, “but we are not blacks”. When another question raised the point why not just say Sudanese, the answer was that: “Sudanese include Northerners and Southerners, and, therefore, does not give an accurate description of us”. Ambiguity about identity was also observed in the feeling of dismay Northerners usually experience when they discover, for the first time, that they are considered blacks in Europe and America. It is also observed in their attitude towards the black communities there. To be called black was a shocking experience to the average Northern individual. Southerners usually joke by saying to their Northern friends “thank God here we are all blacks” and its variant “here we are all abid”. Northerners attitude towards the black population in these countries is similar to their attitude towards the Southerners. They usually refer to them by the word “abid”, and one of my interviewees, once, referred to the Afro Caribbeans as Southerners “janubiyyin”.
    The third element of the crisis is concerning “misfits” of identity. Northerners live in a split world. While they believe that they are the descendants of an “Arab father” and an “African mother”, they seem to identify with the father, albeit invisible, and despise the mother who is so visible in their features. There is an internal fissure in the Northern self between the looks and the outlook, the body and the mind, the skin color and the culture, and, in one word, between the “mother” and the “father”. Arabic culture standardizes the white color, and despises the black color. Northerners, in using the signification system of the Arabic language, and the value system and symbolic order of the Arabic culture, do not find themselves, but they find the embodiment of the center. The Northern self is absent as a subject in this order. It is only seen, as an object, through the eyes of the center, and hence the “misfits”.
    The Impact of Marginal Identity on the Northern Psyche
    This inferior position has undoubtedly had its impact on the psychology of the Northern individual. Recognizing that the standard features of the in-group as white or light complexion, soft straight hair, and non-flat nose, the average Northern individual has a sense of lacking in some of these traits and attributes, and a desire to complement or compensate for them. The understanding was that the lighter the color of the skin, the closer the person is to the center, and the more authentic his or her claim to Arab ancestry. Failing to comply with the standard color, as is the case with most of the Northerners, the individual seeks a second resort in the hair, in order to prove his or her Arab descent; the softer the hair the closer the individual to the center. Failing to meet the hair criteria, the individual takes the last resort in the shape of the nose, the closer to the standard the better, for, at least, it can stand as a prove of non-Negroid origin.
    Color Consciousness
    An individual lacking in the standard features normally seeks to compensate or complement them. And because marriage offers these individuals an opportunity to compensate and complement, the average Northerner aspires and seeks, as far as possible, to marry a partner who is closer to the standard features and color. Such a union gives the individual an immediate compensation for his or her darkness and offers an opportunity of recovery from it in his or her offspring. In her remarkable study of a Northern Sudanese village that she gave the pseudo name Hofriyat, Janice Boddy found out how the villagers are color conscious. She learned from them that the ranking of skin color according to desirability "ranges from 'yellow' or light through increasingly darker shades called 'red', 'green', and 'blue'". She then continues to say that the term aswad (black) is usually reserved for Southern Sudanese or Africans".
    Whereas Boddy's quotation proves the point of desirability of the lighter color among Northerners, her literal translation of the terms of the Northern color codes asfar, asmar, akhdar, and azrag, may cause some confusion, if not explained. And in order to explain it, one would rephrase Boddy's quotation as follows. The first color in ranking is asfar. This literally means "yellow", but used interchangeably with ahmar to denote "whiteness". The second in ranking is asmar. This literally means reddish, but it is used to describe a range of color shades from light to dark brown. This range usually includes subdivisions such as dahabi (golden), gamhi (the color of ripe wheat), and khamri (the color of red wine). The third in ranking is akhdar. This literally means green, but it is used as a polite alternative of the word "black" in describing the color of a dark Northerner. Last and least is azrag. This literally means "blue", but it is used interchangeably with aswad to mean "black", which is the color of the 'abid.
    The average Northerner views dark color as a problem that should be dealt with. Whereas females deal with it directly through local or imported color lighteners, males usually resort to indirect methods, i.e. a conjugal union with a light-colored partner. But whatever satisfaction this latter complementary and compensatory measure may offer the individual, still there remains a great deal of anxiety generated by the consciousness that one is moving around with the wrong color. In order to counter such an anxiety, defense mechanisms must be put to work; thus the color brown becomes the standard, and the color black takes a different name. In order to avoid describing the self as aswad (black), the collective Northern consciousness renamed the word as akhdar, which originally used to describe the dark color of the soil. Thus, accordingly, whereas a very dark Northerner is only akhdar, an equally dark Southerner is bluntly aswad.
    In discussing the Northerners’ color concept, Deng writes the following:
    Northern racial pride focuses on the right brown color of the skin, considered the standard for the North and therefore for the Sudan. To be too light for a Sudanese is to risk being considered a foreigner, a khawaja (European), a Middle Eastern Arab, or worse, a Halabi, a term used for the Gypsy-type racial group, considered among the lowest of the light-skinned races. The other side of the coin is of course, looking down on the black race as inferior, a condition from which one has mercifully been redeemed. Northern Sudanese racism and cultural chauvinism, therefore, condemns both the very dark and the very light.
    While Deng’s observation is generally true, his conclusion needs many qualifications. It is my contention that ahmar (white) is the ultimate standard color for the average Northerner. It is considered the standard color of the in-group, i.e. the center of the Arab identity. Whereas the brown color is standard only at a lower level, and as a way of defense mechanism that had to accommodate it as an inescapable reality. Unlike the white color, brown is good not on its own right, but only as a second best alternative. Although popular music frequently flatters the magical looks of the brown sweet heart asmar ya sahir al-manzar, the overriding signification system of the Arabic Islamic culture standardizes the white color, as we will demonstrate later. Had Northerners developed a comprehensive and consistent signification system that standardizes the brown color, they could have solved a great deal of their identity crisis.
    Although it is true that Northerners stigmatize the very light ahmar and the very dark, aswad or azrag, this stigma is not at the same level. The social stigma attached to the color aswad is because it is associated with the color of the ‘abid (slaves). Whereas the social stigma attached to the color ahmar (white) is because it is associated with color of the halab (Gypsies). The halab, who are looked upon as people with lax morality and demeaning behavior, are considered as “social outcasts”. The cultural formulations that prejudice the color aswad are overwhelmingly abundant and deeply rooted in the Arabic culture and literature, unlike those that prejudice the color ahmar which are scant and only developed later on, during the Turkish occupation of the Sudan. These latter cultural formulations came about as a result of the atrocities inflicted by the Turks upon the population, for Northerners came to view the Turks as the embodiment of corruption, greed, and cowardice. The Mahdist revolution against the Turks and his decisive victory over them intensified and augmented their contemptible image in the eyes of Northerners. This was when the popular catch phrase “al-humra al-abaha al-Mahdi”, came into usage. The phrase can be translated as “the redness, (meaning whiteness) that the Mahdi had detested”. Ahmar is therefore condemned, with these limitations and connotations in mind, not in absolute terms. Indeed ahmar is essentially viewed, by both the Arabic culture and by the Sudanese local culture, as the embodiment of beauty. In his Qamus al-Lahja al-'Amiyyah fil-Sudan, A Dictionary of Colloquial Arabic in Sudan, 'Awn ash-Sharif Qasim has this to say about the white color.
    They [the Arabs] call an individual with a white complexion ahmar. 'Aisha, wife of the Prophet, was called al-humaira, (a diminutive form of the word ahmar) because her skin was white. The Arabs also used to call the Persians and the Romans humr (plural of ahmar) because the color of their skins is white. And they mean the white color when they say al-husnu ahmar (beauty is white).

    Janice Boddy shows how the women of Hofriyat village are conscious of skin color. To them, "white skin is clean, beautiful, and a mark of potential holiness". They repeatedly told her that, as a white woman, she had far greater chances to get into heaven, if she converted to Islam, than them or any other Sudanese. Their reasoning was that "this is because the Prophet Mohammad was white, and all white-skinned peoples are in the favored position of belonging to his tribal group".
    Also, condemnation of ahmar (white) remains only at the level of discourse and is not reflected in the social behavior of the Northern Sudanese. For instance, Northerners showed readiness to intermarry with white people, be they Europeans or Arabs, but they demonstrated reluctance to intermarry with black people, be they Southerners or Africans in general. More precisely, whereas Northerners do not have problems in marrying off their daughters to the first category, they do not even contemplate marrying them off to second category.
    Marginality Consciousness
    Another sign of the impact of the marginal identity on the Northern psyche might be observed in the political behavior of Northern ruling class. One of the first decisions to be taken by the Northern ruling class after independence was to join the Arab League. Mohamed Ahmed Mahgoub tells us that "we had hasten to join the Arab League immediately on the declaration of our independence". Recognizing its place in the margin of the Arab world, this government kept a low profile within the Arab world, and did not take sides in the Arab internal disputes, neither with the radicals nor with the conservatives. Like any other marginalized categories, Sudan was almost forgotten by the Arab world in normal and stable times. History teaches us that only during turbulent times of wars and upheavals that severely shook or torn the social fabric of societies, that women and slaves, as marginalized categories, got recognized by the center. Equally, only when the Arabs were demoralized and humiliated by the stunning defeat that they suffered at the hands of Israel in 1967, that Sudan was remembered, drawn close to the center, and allowed to play a significant role within the Arab League. It's neutrality, or rather its bystander role, qualified it to host the 1967 Arab Summit. Mahgoub tells us that "Khartoum was the only politically acceptable conference site for both conservative and extremist Arab leaders". What he does not tell us, though, is that the margin had become a convenient place for the center to withdraw to, in order to lick the wounds.
    Carrying the Luggage
    Another sign of the impact of the marginal identity is what may be called “carrying-the-luggage” attitude. The marginal identity always looks forward to the center for cultural, religious, and political inspirations and intellectual pursuits. It has an inclination to borrow cultural products from the center, and is not expected to produce or lend. Sean O’Fahey tells us that “the northern riverain Sudan always interacted with Egypt or looked across the Red Sea to Arabia”. The cultural relationship between Northerners and the Arab world is more or less a one way road, in which cultural materials flow from beyond the northern borders, against the tide of the Nile, and from the east, across the Red See. It is remarkable that almost every political party in the Arab world has a branch in Northern Sudan. The Ba’th Arab Nationalist Party, in its both factions, the Syrian and the Iraqi, the Nasirite Party, Qaddafi’s Peoples’ Conferences, Saudi’s Wahabbi movement and Egyptian’s Muslim Brothers movement all have offshoots in the North. The 1924 political movement, and later the Unionist movements in the 1940s worked under the patronage of the Egyptians, and both aimed at the political unity with Egypt. To the center, the margin is a cultural and political vacuum, if not a dust bin, which is there to be filled. This is why the different entities within the center compete to fill it up.
    Conformity with the Center
    Another sign of the impact of the marginal identity on the psychology of the Northern individual is what I may call the “conformist attitude”. It is observed that the majority of Northerners that work in the different countries of the Arab world adopt the accent spoken in the country they find themselves in. Even when they return to Sudan, there is a high possibility that these accents, or at least, certain words and expressions may become part of the individual’s language repertoire. It is also observed that the few Arabs who come to Sudan do not change their accents even if they lived among the Sudanese for years. Moreover, Northerners that mix with these Arabs in Sudan are more likely to amend their language and accent in order to conform to that of the Arabs who live among them.
    Invisibility Consciousness
    Because the margin is conscious of its invisibility to the center, there is a need to advertise itself. Thus another sign of the Northerners' marginal identity is their overemphasis on Arab descent. Northerners, and especially the elite, usually state and reiterate that they are Arabs. Statements such as "I am an Arab. I have a genealogy" , or "I am an Arab, whether you like it or not" , or "we are the Arabs of the Arabs", or "I am an Arab, nationally and culturally" , are repeatedly issued by the political and cultural entrepreneurs. Unlike the elite of the Arab world, who do not need to state the obvious, Northerners feel the need to complement their lack in features by words. One sees this phenomenon as a continuation of the old Northerners’ quest to create family genealogies, for both phenomena reflect the disputable nature of Northerners claim to be Arabs.
    All these signs provide evidence that Northerners have all the symptoms of “misrecognition” that Charles Taylor discusses in his Politics of Recognition; namely internalization of inferiority, “self-depreciation”, and “a crippling self-hatred
    ”.
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العنوان الكاتب Date
د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif22-04-04, 09:45 AM
  Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif23-04-04, 11:32 AM
    Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Haydar Badawi Sadig23-04-04, 05:20 PM
      Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك aymen23-04-04, 09:29 PM
        Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif27-04-04, 08:31 AM
  Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Omer5424-04-04, 07:38 AM
    Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif24-04-04, 09:17 PM
  Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك قصي مجدي سليم24-04-04, 07:55 PM
  Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif27-04-04, 08:42 AM
    Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif27-04-04, 08:49 AM
      Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif27-04-04, 08:51 AM
        Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif27-04-04, 08:55 AM
          Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك Yasir Elsharif27-04-04, 09:00 AM
            Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك aymen27-04-04, 10:23 PM
            Re: د. العفيف: لماذا هذا الإلتواء من الدكتور خالد المبارك aymen27-04-04, 10:23 PM
  الدكتور خالد المبارك عن منظمة العفو الدولية Yasir Elsharif29-04-04, 11:43 AM


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