Articles and Analysies
No Renaming Southern Sudan if it chooses to Secede BY: Rengo Gyyw Rengo, JR, UGANDA
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Jul 19, 2009 - 9:43:53 PM

No Renaming Southern Sudan if it chooses to Secede

BY: Rengo Gyyw Rengo, JR, UGANDA


In response to an opinion article published on Friday June 26 2009, in Kenyan Daily Nation in which a Ukrainian Geographer Mr. Alex Dobrovolsky called for renaming of Southern Sudan if it gains her independence in 2011, it would hurt Southern Sudanese people if we let his opinion go unanswered.   

First of all, we appreciate his advocacy for total independence and full sovereignty of Southern Sudan to the Africans and outside world, Europe and Latin America inclusive as he said. “It is necessary to advocate the idea of complete independence and full sovereignty of Southern Sudan among politicians, diplomats, journalists and scientists in Europe and Latin America

Secondly, it seems he advanced a certain concealed interest because he left a gap between the first and second paragraphs in which he referred to unexplained statement he drew from Africa Insight, “why South Sudan wants Obama to lose White House bid?” This position affects the second paragraph and it stands to taint the relationship between USA and Southern Sudan !

The gap seems to imply a chasm unspecified and asked Southern Sudan , Uganda and equatorial Africa to forge strong relation with Europe and Latin America , and probably not with USA , China due to the above-un-demystified reason. How is the world dichotomised, before we ally with A or B?

Here I quote him, “In my view, Southern Sudan, Uganda and the rest of equatorial Africa should forge strong relations with Europe and Latin America”. What Mr. Alex meant by strong relations with Europe and Latin America is a subject of its own. To seek alliance in this world takes two aspects, economic and political as it was between the communists and capitalists blocks.

The collapse of Communism during the period from 1989 to 1991 led to the breakup of the USSR into 15 separate republics. More recently, Serbia ’s southern province of Kosovo (then administered by UN) secceded and gained her full independent. Economy of Latin America marches almost at the same pace with that of Africa . Both Europe and Latin America have traces of communism. Whatever is between Southern Sudan and USA is I guess the disparity in interests and opinions towards the independence of Southern Sudan . I'm not opposed perhaps to the   above two perspectives which you fogged and insulated.

What I am opposed to is the call for renaming Southern Sudan . Renaming Southern Sudan does not make sense to Southern Sudanese people because in the first place the name Sudan or belad al Sudan means “land of the black people”.

Proposing to rename ourselves Nilotia, Nilotland, Nilotie, which Mr. Alex claimed are derived from River Nile does not bring out who we are. “Should the south choose to break away from the north in the 2011 referendum, how should the inhabitants of Southern Sudan name their state? I propose two variants of the name for the new Southern Sudan : Nilotia, and Nilotland, which are derived the name of River Nile ”.

This makes little sense to majority of us in the South. We are not the only Nilotes in Africa, some are in West Africa, Uganda, DR Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Djibouti etc. Agreeably, you may have called Southern Sudan Nilotia in your research publication but that is not adequate enough for us to change the name Southern Sudan .

Mr. Alex argues that some Southern Sudanese preference to use Cushitia or Azania is undesirable because Kush corresponds to contemporary northern Sudan from Khartoum to the Egyptian state border and Azania embraced the coasts of modern Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. Again, we are going too far.   First, Egypt , and Northern Sudan were our cradle lands before we withdrew to the South due to various factors including external invasion and aggression from people who are now occupying those parts.  

Digging into the remote past guarantees us accurate information. Let’s give examples, 1 chronicles1:1-10, Ham is referred to as the first apical ancestor to the modern black people. Ham, in Genesis is the second of the three sons of Noah who after the deluge fathered the present humankind. Drawing from the pedigree presented in Genesis, Ham fathered four sons: Cush , Mizraim, Phut and Canaan , the progenitors of the Southern peoples of the earth. Cush became the ancestor of the ancient Ethiopians [Sudanese]; Mizraim of the Egyptians {Bantus] who later emigrated to West, Central and Southern Africa; Canaan of the Canaanites, the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine; and Phut of an African people inhabiting Libya (see Genesis 10:1, 6-20).   

Egypt is referred to several times in the Psalms as the “ land of Ham ” (see Psalms 105:23, 27; 106:22) other Psalms 105:23 say, ‘then Israel arrived in Egypt ; Jacob lived as a foreigner in the land of Ham .’ Verse. 27, ‘they performed miraculous signs among the Egyptians, and wonders in the land of Ham ’. Psalms 106:22 says, ‘such wonderful things in the land of Ham , such awesome deeds at the red sea’

2 chronicles 21:16 says, ‘then the lord stirred up the Palestine and the Arabs who lived near the Ethiopians to attack them’. It was recounted that king Shishak of Egypt led a combined force comprising of Libyans, Sukites and the Sudanese against Judah and Jerusalem during the reign of king Rehoboam. (2 chronicle 2: 1-12). King Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt was marching out to fight him’. (2 kings 19: 9(a))

Cush gave birth to Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. Isaiah 18:1 calls the rivers, The Rivers of Cush, where envoys are sent by sea in papyrus boats over the water. Pihon and Gishon. Genesis 2:10-14, says a river watered the Garden and then flowed out of the Eden and divided into four rivers. The first branch, called the pishon, flowed around the entire land of Havilah , where gold is found. The gold of that land is exceptionally pure, aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there. Descendants of Havilah are the plain and highland Nilotes who went through Ethiopian highlands into East Africa .   The second river, called the Gihon, flowed around the entire land of Cush . The third and fourth are Euphrates and Tigris Rivers .

 You went further by stating, “In scientific ethnographic literature Southern Sudan is often named as Nilotic Sudan therefore, the names Nilotia and Nilotland are historically well-grounded and sound more solid. Besides, it is necessary to introduce the words Nilotic and Nilotian everywhere as Southern Sudan takes new adjectives. Think of the Nilotic nation, Nilotian people, Nilotians, and the Nilotic University of Juba, Nilotian Electricity Corporation, Nilotian Gas Company etc. In any case, the word Sudan should not appear in the name of the new state because the reputation of Northern Sudan is terrible as to cause a negative reaction by many Americans and Europeans” We were not just born out of the Nile.

I hope names such as South Africa , South Korea , North Korea are beautiful for their countries. Eritrea maintained her name when it gained independence. Arabs in the Sudan have always wanted to shift their identity to the Arabs world and called Sudan an Arab Islamic state in 1950s according to the country’s constitution.   That is why the country’s secular constitution of 1973 was changed in 1980s to include Arab identity and controversial Sheria laws. Sometimes Sudan is referred to as an Arab republic. It is rather high time for the north to look for an Arab name to call their country. Besides that, we do not name areas or nations to please Americans and Europeans. Names are objects of identity and are not subjected to outside influence.

You need to be informed that not all people in Southern Sudan are Nilotic. Zande, the third largest ethnic group in Southern Sudan are Bantus. I do not know where to categorize the Blandas, Fertit, Maban, Uduk but I guess slightly they do not fall in your so-called Nilotia Nation.

In addition, a name promotes a nation, its sound, semantics and philology are considered which I believed Southern Sudan possesses. Some names such as the ones you have proposed are pathetic and can diminish a nation when they do not sound well to the world.   Moreover, we are Southern Sudanese because there are also blacks in the north such as   the Nubians, the Beja, the Fur, the Blue Nile people whose fate is not yet decided politically.

The name Southern Sudan is appropriate and wonderful. First, it is historical. It has seen us through the torpedoes and bad political weathering in which Sudan went through. We have fought by it, we have been heard by it, people have shed blood because of it and therefore there is no point, absolutely no point in proposing in changing such beautiful name for rather unsound names. The north will have a choice to change her name or become Northern Sudan .   But I know they would want to add something Arabic and Islamic! Calling everything Nilotic looks parochial, chauvinistic, and poor in all descriptions. Not even a word Cush or Azania can replace Southern Sudan because they are lost into oblivion. They point at our past rather than the present.

When you say that “in many countries people refuse to buy the commodities labelled “made in Sudan” to protest Khartoum government‘s complicity in the bloodletting in Darfur”. Europeans and America did not stop extracting oil in Southern Sudan or dealing with the Arabs north during the war despites wanton killings this brought about against the citizens of Sudan . There is no point in that.    

The South has enough resources, work force and wisdom to transcend the tainted image of the old Sudan . We can as well build our image if the fear is associating ourselves with the tainted image of the Sudan . Each will construct or destruct its own parts of Sudan .

The name Southern Sudan cannot be overshadowed by any other name and it will permit us to outdo the North in the race to fame and development.

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