Articles and Analysies
The Politics of Marginalization in South Sudan BY; Urbano Tipo, SUDAN
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Jul 26, 2009 - 5:01:16 AM

The Politics of Marginalization in South Sudan

BY; Urbano Tipo , SUDAN


'Marginalize as defined by Oxford Dictionary is to make a person or group feel less important or powerful. If that is the case then let us look how the south has been marginalized, when and by whom.

Marginalization is a process when certain communities are deprived of the basic rights in terms of development, economic and political power in their country. They can not participate in the structures of their government. Therefore south has been deprived of these rights for long time.

To develop the topic further, let us look at the past history of the Sudan from the condominium role. Due to Closed Areas Act, South Sudan was left to the missionaries for their activities. Mission schools mainly elementary levels were offering vernacular, English and Arithmetic to meet their needs such as spreading the bible in local languages and helping the foreign missionaries in translation and writing narratives and wild stories about the natives.

The British Administrative asked the missionaries to expand education to intermediate level in order to produce junior level clerks. It is worth noting that education to African tribes was a taboo and any child going to the mission or town was spoiled. Children were conscripted for education and chiefs will choose only children from poor communities to appease the British Administrator.

Unlike the South Sudan , the north was a different situation. During the invasion by General Kitchener to oust El-Mahdi from Khartoum , northern tribe’s men of Danagalla, Shegeyia, Ja’aliyeen joined the invading forces. As a reward for their support, they were recruited in all government structures such as army, police and civil servants. Schools were established from elementary to secondary school levels and consequently Gordon Memorial College . Education in the north progressed faster than the south which created disparity until to-day.  The north formed political parities like DUP, UMMA, Sudan Communist Party and Islamic Front.

The north under the British was more advanced than the south. They acquired wealth and power which are necessary for nation building. Since economy, military and politics were monopolies by the north, they were able to suppress the rest of the country including the south.

The north parties started to grumble for the British to leave while the south was still a closed area. As a result, Juba Conference was organized in 1947 to sort the opinion of our forefathers. Southerners were very honest when they requested for a federal system if Sudan was going to be a united country when the British leave.

The two delegations were unbalanced. Southern delegations were composed of tribal chiefs and some junior officials from by then British administration while the north delegates were presented by political parties. In the course of the conference, the northern political parties lobbied some chiefs from Bahr el Ghazal to let the federation be deferred until after the independence.

No one anticipated that this request would be dishonored after the independence. Prior to independence, mutiny sparked off in Torit in 1955.  Southerners knew only they were being oppressed by northerners and they began to have deep distrust about the north. All the government structures in administration, such as civil servants, army and police in the south were occupied by northerners after the independence in 1956.

Long period of suppression leads of course to people to feel they are being marginalized.

Marginalization has become instituted per government practice by the minority clique in Khartoum . Any uprising against them was considered racial. When Field-Marshal Numeiri abrogated Addis Ababa Agreement in 1983, Southerners found themselves again returning to the forest to take up arms for total liberation from the Arab North. They went to form Anyanya 2 or Southern Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A).

But because of interference from Ethiopian Marxist Government, Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was tailored and formed of course with the lobby of some communist members from both South and North Sudan . Their influence generated the SPLM Manifesto based on Marxist principles.

Although Southerners join the movement in great numbers, they did not like the naming of SPLM. But other nationals from the north who considered themselves marginalized saw SPLM as their liberator and joined.

Marginalized and Marginalization is a popular slogan used by Marxists to attract people who are oppressed. These lower and oppressed classes are the proletarians while the ruling upper classes are the bourgeoisies.

Any system based on Marxism is dictatorial and ruthless. Many free thinkers in the movement and intellectuals lost their lives because for trying to correct the system. SPLM was managed in a dictatorial manner by the leader and who was absolutely everything.  There were no democratic structures in SPLM as members were usually hand-picked. This is an indication marginalization already existed within the system.

When SPLM and NCP reached an amicable solution to resolve the conflict and end the war, CPA was signed in 2005. Now the southerners were granted right to rule themselves until referendum in 2011 to choose either to secede from the north or remain in a United Sudan. Here there is no question from this date that the south is being marginalized by the north since they have their own government.

SPLM had a rush to form a government in which they did not take into consideration that by their deeds they will marginalize others or the masses which they claim to have liberated. Once the government was formed, it was not representative. The chunk of positions went to Bahr el Ghazal marginalizing the other states and tribes. Recruitment to civil service was based on tribalism or nepotism.

The most interesting part is the SPLM leaders transformed themselves from proletarians to bourgeoisies. This in itself is a paradox when SPLM did claim to bring down the bourgeoisie ruling class in Khartoum . They soon accumulated wealth to buy houses abroad and have children go to expensive schools in East Africa .

Now, the southern masses are the ones suffering because of marginalization by the government which they thought was theirs. Even the youth of tomorrow are being marginalized when the SPLM leaders initiated a project called Youth empowerment.

The youth from Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states were given almost 4 Billion Sudanese Pounds to purchase food as part of food security in their states. These youth did not meet their obligation, instead hunger is now looming in their states. The youth from other states are systematically being marginalized.

If southerners took up arms against the north for what they considered was because of marginalization, what about when marginalization is being practiced by the same leaders who claimed to have liberated the south?

Do we need to take up arms against our current leaders since they are re-enforcing the policy of marginalization?

SPLM did not have a clear plan, vision or policy on how to rule the south after CPA was signed. Other able learned, professional southerners were left out either because they are not from a favored ethnic group or just simply they are not wanted. It is unfortunate that appointments were not based on merits or qualifications. Some Para-medics are now classifying themselves as doctors and even allowed to run hospitals in some states because of their ethnicity.

Southerners have to acknowledge their failures or otherwise run a failed state that will eventually collapse in the near future. We need to change our behaviors and try to come back on track. Figure pointing will not help.

All we need is a democratic change!


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