Articles and Analysies
Sudan's Beja / Blemmyes, and their Right to Freedom and Statehood/By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
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Aug 22, 2006 - 2:14:00 PM



Sudan's Beja / Blemmyes, and their Right to Freedom and Statehood

Instead of hypocritically and shamefully showing a supposed peace in Lebanon, Colonial France and Britain should care to stop the Red Sea bloodshed, and support the historical people of Blemmyes / Beja in their national effort to get freedom and control over all the Red Sea coast of Sudan.
At the moment the misinformed international community plans to spend so easily US $ 3 billion for Lebanon's reconstruction, it is essential to highlight that much less money would be enough to bring peace in the strategically crucial area of Eastern Sudan where the Blemmyes / Beja have started their struggle for self-determination and independence. Support to historically indigenous Beja would bring the Khartoum tyrants at the brink of collapse, opening the path of independence for the oppressed peoples of Sudan, and at the same time it would reshape the entire area of the Red Sea where historical nations demand international recognition.

Millennia long Voices speak to us of the Blemmyan – Beja Pride

…… Hrmdoye ne qor ene ariteń lne mdes ne mni-t kene
mk lebne ye re qe-ne q yi-t hl-ne y es bo he-ne q r lebne tro.
S-ne ariteń net er ek li s-ne d-b li lh ne q r kene qor ene mnpte.

This was heard already before 1670 years at a moment the Blemmyan King Kharamadoye drove his compatriots to a point of national statehood at the northern area of the then ailing Meroitic kingdom in what is today's Sudanese North and Egyptian South. Using Meroitic scripture, the scribes of Kharamadoye immortalized down to our times an inscription on walls of the Mandulis temple at Talmis (modern Kalabsha). The beginning of the inscription reads in a plausible English translation as follows:

Kharamadoye the monarch and chief of the living Ariteń, the great son and patron of Amani, you (who) revitalizes (man). The lord's voyage of discovery indeed gives the creation of Good. Act (now Amani) he travels to support good. Make a good welfare swell (for) the offering of the Chief, (he) desires indeed the restoration of eminence. The patron of good Ariteń bows in reverence (before Amani) to evoke exalted nourishment (for) the patrons to leave a grand and exalted legacy to behold good. Oh Amani make indeed (a) revitalization (of) the monarch (and) commander of Great Napata…..

The temple of Kalabsha was transported 50 km in the north of it its original location, when the UNESCO and an astounding crowd of Egyptologists, archeologists, engineers, multidisciplinary specialists, and technician joined forces in the late 50s, the 60s and the early 70s to save Blemmyan, Nubian, Meroitic and Egyptian temples, fortresses, churches and monuments from the rising waters of the Nubian Lake that was formed behind the then erected Aswan High Dam.

In a way, the transportation of the Blemmyan temple symbolizes the historical movement of the Blemmyes (already known as Blehu in Egyptian Hieroglyphic), who were first noticed at the times of the New Egyptian Empire in the area of the Western desert, but gradually proceeded to the Eastern Desert, and since the middle of the 1st Christian millennium prevailed throughout the plains, the wadis and the mountains of the Eastern desert and along the Red Sea coast.

To Blemmyes has been dedicated a great part of Egyptian Demotic, Coptic, Ancient Greek, Latin and Medieval Greek literature, to that extent the brave people was a concern for various local and international rulers!

Epiphanius of Salamis, writing around 394 when Egypt as Roman province was Christianized to large extent but several Egyptian temples were still functioning, let us know that Talmis (the great Blennyan temple of Maluli) was under Blemmyan control; no much later Claudius Claudianus reported that between Syene (Aswan) and Meroe (today Bagrawiyah, 300 km in the north of Khartoum) the Blemmyes were prevailing. This covers an area of no less 1600 km alongside the Nile, and it was due to the earlier (370) collapse of Meroe following the Axumite / Abyssinian king Ezana's expedition. The Greek text of Ezana's inscription speaks of Bougaeitai, another appellation of the Beja – Blemmyes.

Blemmyes were the good friends of Firmus of Seleucia, as reported in the Historia Augusta, and Olympiodorus makes of the emerald trade the reason of the Blemmyan wealth and international significance. Would you like to go further in depth and study Blemmyomachia, a late Antiquity poetry that incorporated the national name of the Blemmyes into a new Greek word, 'the fight of the Blemmyes'?

The Coptic Life of Moses compares the spears of the evil with those of the Blemmyes, and the Aramaean monk Cosmas Indikopleustes, who traveled as far as Sri Lanka, found space to report about the Blemmyes and the key role they played in the Red Sea trade.

Equally significant are the Blemmyes for the Islamic historiography, and we find many references to them; one century after the arrival of Islamic armies in Alexandria, the Egyptian Muslim (in the north of today's Egypt only) and the Blemmyes (consisting in the most apt and bellicose element of the peoples of Nobatia (in the area of today's southern Egypt) sign a pact. If we only consider how many pacts were signed by Blemmyes / Beja and other peoples and were disrespected by the others….

Our memory travels back to meet the Blemmyan king Phonoin the Righteous and Noble, who expressed complain about his brother Yeni's murder by Noubades, saying:

- I want us to have concord between one another and that we have my cattle with your cattle, pasturing one with another and the sheep.

As we hear this sentence, we feel we hear the modern Beja leaders demanding their rights in a mild and wise way. Numerous injustices have occurred since the times of British colonial rule; after Sudan's independence the Beja were kept marginalized and not a single concern was expressed for them by the Khartoum tyrannical governments.

More recently the Beja established the Beja Congress ( as a major national instance and key tool in their effort to achieve what seems so normal for Lebanese and Eritreans: national self-determination and independence, development and democracy. And above all, Beja Culture preservation and promotion! Beja language is still native to approximately 3 million people who live throughout Eastern Sudan, from Egypt to Eritrea and from the Nile coast to the Red Sea shores. When we refer to Port Sudan and Suakin (the historical Ptolemais Theron harbour on the Red Sea), we speak about predominantly Beja areas.

The murderous acts of the Sudanese government and the Port Sudan bloodshed must be denounced by any human being, any democratic state, any humanitarian organization. The massive human rights abuses as practiced by the Khartoum Pan-Arabist murderers, and the massacre of Beja Congress leaders and members make the Beja feel that the Time of Liberation from the Sudanese Hell is close, and the new Beja democratic leaders will voluntarily echo King Phonoin's noble and peaceful voice; a voice that is badly needed in the Red Sea coasts and in the entire Middle East.
   By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
Published: 8/16/2006






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