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An open letter to Hassan Abdullah Turabi By: Brian Adeba,
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Jan 22, 2008 - 7:56:05 AM

An open letter to Hassan Abdullah Turabi

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The recent baya, an Islamic swearing of allegiance ceremony, conferred on President Omar El Bashir was criticized by Sudan’s leading Islamic ideologue Hassan Abdullah Turabi. This prompted this writer to reflect on another baya which Turabi supported in the 1980s.
 
Dear Hassan,

Please excuse the familiarity—my reference to you by your first name and the like. But you see, having grown up being told you are a dangerous man, I have been following your political career since the day I began to know stuff about Sudanese politics. I feel like I have known you all my life. So what’s up with the new year Hassan? I see that you have been busy recently—I mean with all those tours in eastern Sudan, man, you must be up to something new. But if there’s a question I want to ask Hassan, how do you do it? I mean the average 76-year-old dude is busy taking naps (and I mean many naps), trying hard not to forget the names of his grand children, and drinking milk in the shadow of something called retirement.
 
Dear Hassan,

Please excuse the familiarity—my reference to you by your first name and the like. But you see, having grown up being told you are a dangerous man, I have been following your political career since the day I began to know stuff about Sudanese politics. I feel like I have known you all my life. So what’s up with the new year Hassan? I see that you have been busy recently—I mean with all those tours in eastern Sudan, man, you must be up to something new. But if there’s a question I want to ask Hassan, how do you do it? I mean the average 76-year-old dude is busy taking naps (and I mean many naps), trying hard not to forget the names of his grand children, and drinking milk in the shadow of something called retirement.
 
And by the way, how are the roads in eastern Sudan? With the Beja Congress warriors safely out of the way, you must have travelled without any worry of your Toyota Landcruiser hitting a land mine. Dude, those things can be nasty, I tell you.
 
Being a political animal myself, I scour the headlines every day, looking for news about Sudan. A recent story by Asharq Al Aswat newspaper ( http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=11448) on January 13 caught my eye. Boy, you must really have some balls, blasting Omar El Bashir like that on that baya (swearing of allegiance) thing in the town of Sinkat. Come to think of it, I agree with you. But since my knowledge of Islam is just like George Bush’s on—say—Djibouti, I can’t really comment on whether it is a blatant tampering with religion or not, or even whether such a swearing of allegiance is for “Allah alone,” as you put it.
 
But Hassan, these are hard times my brother, with you being out of power and your former pupil getting all the plaudits of the presidency...I mean who can blame you for blasting that Hosh Banaga guy from Shendi? I totally agree with you that students should respect their teachers. After all, when you began to think of political Islam, that guy was still in diapers—I mean politically—for Christ’s sake! What impudence! What disrespect!
 
Even you, the grand sheik of political Islam in Sudan, never asked or encouraged anyone, at least not publicly, to swear allegiance to you right? Boy, I am sure you are bristling under your turban, wondering how the hell these chaps read the Holy Quran. But Allah is merciful Hassan. One day this pupil will be out of power faster than a camel going to pee in the Northern Sudanese desert!
 
Talking of baya, Hassan, you and I know politicians are not famous for remembering things. I mean, they might be excused if they are 76 years old, but other than that, most of these dudes have selective memories most of the time. But since you are still lucid, with the energy to transverse eastern Sudan on a political tour, my best friend, who I generally think of as a cynic, thinks you fall in the latter category. If you are wondering what the heck I am talking about, just hold on there and I will be with you in a minute. You see Hassan, I have just finished reading the memoirs of Joseph Lagu. Remember him? He once occupied one of those useless second vice president positions you power guys in Khartoum are fond of dishing to the south. But that was a long time ago, under Gaafar Nimeiri’s time in the 1980s.
 
Now, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, selective amnesia. Lagu writes in his book Sudan: Odyssey Through a State, From Ruin to Hope that there was one such baya made to Nimeiri, which you fully supported. In fact on page 426 of his book, he actually thinks you duped him into attending this swearing of allegiance ceremony in the village of Abu Gurun, east of Khartoum North. Remember that one? That was the day Nimeiri was crowned imam of Sudan. You told Lagu his presence at the ceremony would be a “most appropriate encouragement for the villagers.” I now doubt if Lagu would have attended the ceremony if he knew what it meant.
 
Anyways, his is the most poignant and personal description of the event, ever to be found anywhere. As he sat beside you, ignorant of what was about to take place, he turned to you for an explanation. Lagu goes on to write: “He (Hassan) tried to explain to me in a note with his hands shaking with excitement.” Dude, your hands were shaking with excitement, please underline that.
 
Admittedly, that was a golden era for you Hassan. I mean at that time, the office of the president was saturated with Islamists. There was you, Babiker Abdulla, Neyel Abu Gurun, Awad El Geed Mohamed, and Bedriya Suleiman. That’s why I understand when you bristle with anger at that Shendi guy. I mean, didn’t you guys succeed in getting Shariah into the law books? Where was he at the time, huh?
 
As I said earlier, politicians have short memories. Dude, how you chose to forget the baya to Nimeiri, which you fully supported and approved, beats me. My friend the cynic has a theory. He says a baya is a blatant tampering with religion only if it is not approved by you. I can’t help, but agree with him Hassan. After all, it was you who said that now all the Mujahedeen who died fighting the SPLA—including the notorious army major Shams El-Din—are rotting in hell without their fair share of virgins and wine. Dude, Hassan, how unkind of you, when you were the first to encourage them to die for the glories in the hereafter!
 
Lastly Hassan, here’s a fashion question for you. Do you have any idea why Jallabiyas in Sudan have to be white?
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Brian Adeba


Brian
Ottawa, Canada


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