Why Crisis in Darfur
As I am not well qualified to give an historical background to the conflict in Darfur, I leave that to the experts. But first of all I beg my readers if any to excuse my ignorance, solely for two reasons:-
First and foremost I am of a very humble or rather a low education background, so I do not expect my readers to judge my personal opinion on a very high educational or intellectual level if at all there are people who will bother to read.
Secondly I am from southern part of the Sudan, which might implies that I am not much abreast with the actual realities or dynamics behind the Darfur crisis which I believe had it roots in time immemorial.
I had the chance to briefly looked into the reasons which many people believed led to the current war in Darfur both from the JEM and SLM\A perspectives, and what always catches my attention is the social injustice(s) simply summed up as marginalization. I also do believe that the main cause of this conflict is the widespread feeling of being consistently socio-economically marginalized. This same marginalization is what forced the southern Sudanese to take up arms and fought this dreadful lethal war for the last 21 years of which nobody emerge victorious there was no winner.
According to the current African history the North – South Sudan war was one of the longest and bloodiest wars every fought in Africa. Regional resentment of Khartoum is not limited to the south, but was present to varying degrees in other areas of Sudan, and it’s this same marginalization that is forcing people even as far as Eastern Sudan to resort to arms and violence as the last option. It seem like everyone is saying enough is enough, if our voices are so low enough to be heard than AK47 can speak louder and do the rest of the talking, dialogue is not given a chance in many cases and sadly enough this is the reality through out our beloved continent of Africa. It is only after shedding innocent blood is when people come with stain hands to sit down for a dialogue.
However, when it comes to comparing the current war (North – South) that had just come to an end; mostly referred to by the International Community and those learned writers as a war between North (Muslims\Arabs) against South (Christian\animists\Africa), the situation of Darfur takes a different shape.
Nobody has ever mentioned that the war is between Northern Muslims against Western Sudan Muslims, which could be an unfair presentation, because the whole of Darfur is Muslim. But I think my readers do agree that the war is more ethnic than religious. Therefore, if we look back to the history of the recently ended war between North and South I could definitely conclude that it was ethnic – Arabs vs. Black African and this is also true in the case of Darfur.
At this juncture I am bewildered and I could not think that at any given time the people of Darfur could take arms against the government of Khartoum, I wonder who woke them up. Somebody might have enlightened them. People of Darfur make up the file and rank of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), some of them are holding influential ministerial posts, and again I asked myself why arms after the long silence.
Mainly people of Darfur are the ones that fought the war for the Government of Sudan in the South, under the pretext that it was a holy war against pagan or animist southerners as most learned people like to refer to it. Not knowing that it was actually aimed against black African of which the people of Darfur are part and parcel because of their African origins regardless of their adherence to Islam. The file and rank in the Sudan Armed Forces mainly Darfurians waged the war for the government of Sudan against the South unaware that the sword they were using is two-edged and will inevitably turn against them.
I could only say that the people of Darfur had missed the truth when they embraced Islam as a faith and tried by all means possible to discard of their African origins – culture and values. The vacuum left by discarding their African origins is therefore been tried by many Darfurians to be filled by becoming more Arabinized, even if that does not necessarily implies changing of the skin color. It happened in many occasion when those influential figures from Darfur may they be top government officials, high ranking officers in the army, wealthy traders just to name but a few all thrives to fulfill their common dream and that is by marrying a very light skinned Arab women so as to become more Arab. Islam didn’t fill the vacuum left by the abandonment of their African origins. Even though the whole population in Darfur are Muslims, they still feel inferior by simply been black or Abid (slave) as the blacks are usually referred to.
By marrying an Arab lady many people assumed that they have become more Arab. This formula is not working and this is why innocent lives are being lost on a daily basis – the formula has to be revisited. Those who are trying to become more arabized are the very ones that should have spoken out on behalf of Darfur, with regard to their influential positions, but sadly enough they always turn a blind eye to the social injustices and suffering of the Fur people that had gone on for decades – resulting in total marginalization.
These influential people feel more Arabized and they no longer felt any attachment to the poor black souls in Darfur. Up to this moment I believe there are prominent Darfurians who don’t want to speak out for the fear of losing their ‘Arab ness’.
In conclusion, Darfurians who are keeping quiet should know that this same sword now persecuting the black Africans in Darfur could easily turn against them. Even when the ostrich bury its head in the sand, pretending that nothing is happening – there is no wind, the fact always remains that you cannot stop the wind just by simply burying your head in the sand (Arab ness).
The crisis in Darfur must end and people should get their rightful dues. That will not happen unless people come back to their roots and origin. Leave the ostrich style and face the wind. I am very much concern as a southern Sudanese and I hope my weak voice could be heard. Enough to the bloodshed and the solution is in the hands of those Darfurians who constitute the file and rank as well as those holding ministerial positions, who knows you might be in that position for the time such as this.
Be proud of being a Muslim by conviction but more importantly be proud of being an African by origin.
Stephen Chol Mayak
Rumbek – South Sudan