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New Sudan Vision, Background of the Call (2-2) By: Mahmoud E. Yousif
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Aug 8, 2010 - 8:27:58 AM

New Sudan Vision, Background of the Call (2-2)

The Truth Could heal the wounds

(Towards Human Society)

By: Mahmoud E. Yousif

[email protected]/

Who were behind the White Flag League

The little information taught in schools about what happened in 1924, origin of Ali Abdu al-Latif, the consequences of 1924 revolution faced by individuals and families of disbanded army, in addition to the unwritten inherited policies, lead many to think the White Flag League was established by Sudanese of African origin, but by reviewing names and origin of the founders, we find that most of them either from northern tribes or a mixture from Sudanese fathers and Egyptians or Levantine mothers (such mixture was called Muwallad).

On May 15, 1924, five Sudanese from different racial background met in their long process of national issues deliberations and founded the White Flag, it is the same day they sent a telegram to the Governor General. This group of five, represents the markazia wahid (مركزية واحد), or the first committee, they were the founders, [3]:

1-      Ali Abdu al-Latif (Father from Nuba and Mother from Dinka) ex-army officer.

2-      Obeid al-Haj al-Amin (Mahas), Government employee- Post and Telegraph Department.

3-      Salih Abd al-Gadir (Jaali but described by Bratish as Muwalladin, because his mother was Turkish), Government employee- Post and Telegraph Department.

4-      Hassan Mohammed Sharif (Muwalladin), Government employee, Post and Telegraph Department.

5-      Hassan Salih (Muwalladin), Government employee, Post and Telegraph Department.

 

The markazia ithnain  (مركزية إثنين), or the shadow committee which can act if anything happened to the first were:

1-      Ahmed Mudassir Ibrahim, (Danagla) telephone operator for the Palace.

2-      Al-Tuhami Mohammed, (Shaigi, in other places Jaali) carpenter.

3-      Al-Imam Doleib Khalil, (Dawalib and related with al-Azhari) was a religious man, unemployed.

4-      Hamid Hussayn (Muwallad) carpenter, trained in the Gordon College Workshop.

5-      Mohammed Idris, (Jaali) telephonist at Singa.

6-      Hassan Yusif (Muwallad) owner of a small bakery, contractor for the canteen of the 9th Sudanese battalion.

As seen, out of eleven, only one of them was a Sudanese (as used to refer to African tribes of South, Nuba, Fung or Darfur), that was Ali Abdu al-Latif, regardless of his origin and color, criteria with strong weight at that time (unfortunately still at some backward societies), he was selected by the group to lead them, in a period where the slave trade was still carried out and slavery was not abolish officially, which shows the level of awareness and nationalistic attained and characterized by the whole group, in a period where some politicians were insulted the whole group by claiming, they will never be represented by dreg of the society [2].

 As the union shows nobility of those northern, it also showed ability of Sudanese to come together for a paramount values embraced by nationalistic attitudes to form a Sudanese nation.

Above all it showed the characteristic of Ali Abdu al-Latif, who according to the criteria of these days, not less than Dr. John Garang, morally, with great self esteem and dignity.

 

White Flag League Demands?

Some people claimed 1924 was not a revolution, they went further claiming it doesn’t have popular supports, but in her arguments, Elena Vezzadini managed to defend these [3], concluded the reason was due to lack of information. It was well known that many demonstrations of great mass took place in several cities showing the popular supports and depth among the Sudanese people.

But what was the principles upon which the White Flag League was based? Many factors played great roles to lead to environment which accompanied events in 1924, to proper understand these factors, a deep study of the general situations with data from many sources are required [3]

On the day on which White Flag League was formed, they sent a Telegram to both the Governor General, on May 15, 1924, in which they demand more rights, political representation and unity with Egypt, the telegram stated”

We beg the conveyance of this to deliver our protest to both the Egyptian and the British Parliaments. Our dignity will not permit to be like animals which are bought and sold without the taking of its opinion. We protest with all our strength for not giving our people the legal freedom to say their work openly and to send those who will be selected by the nation for her sincere sons to at least be aware of the true decision of the settlement of their future during the Negotiations.

 

The Historical Great Deception

One of the reasons given by Southern to justify 1955 mutiny, was the Sudanization of more than 800 posts all of which were given to northern, except a handful to Southern [4], that trend continued, but nobody asked the most important question, “what effects does these group caused in Sudanese society?

In the third year, primary education syllabus in the Sudanese system, there is the story of the hero Abd al-Fadil al-Maz, who as mentioned, fought the British troops till his death, when the whole building was bombed over his head, he was found holding the machine gun, the story continued that, most leading members of the White Flag League were arrested and convicted.

Thus the story linked between what was carried out by the Sudanese officers and the White Flag League something the British court tried hard to prove, but why a national government, after independence is still claiming that allegations? Where is been refuted [2].

In early twentieth century, and after the collapse of Mahdist state, and with the building of the capital, and the structure of governance, there started emerged the Sudanese society that came with the Egyptian army [1], troops and civilians, who educated in Egypt, some who have been to France, and even to Mexico, they returned accumulated with wealth of knowledge, experience and above all modernity and western civilization, although with great conviction with Islamic religion, these group were been made to believe that they will form the ground for future governance of Sudan [5], these educated Sudanese group formed the bases of middle class society in the Sudanese pre-Mahdist period, in addition to the bulk labors who after two decades managed to educate their children, and by early 1920th their educated children start been recruited and joining the middle class society, in addition to retired officers who joined the civil service, like Ali Abdu al-Latif [1]. The British concentrated in raising the number of northern tribes children in newly opened schools, encouraging children of prominent figures, who studied specific subjects such as judiciary and education [3], all these graduates formed the middle class most of whom participated in 1924 demonstrations.

This middle class society with that great awareness, reflected in the widespread  branches of the White Flag League, where their branches were opened in major of northern cities. That process alerted both the colonial British administration, which was not friendly towards the WEL, due to accumulated influence of both, R. F. Wingate, the Intelligent officer of the Nile campaign, and Rudolf Slatin, who fled Khalifa captivity [1]. Salatin hate the Mahdist, and all Africans, particularly those from Darfur, for what he was subjected to, religiously and physically [6], and since Salatin was appointed Inspector General and Adviser to the governor after the invasion, and had great influenced on Wingate, and consequently on the official British administration policy in Sudan, this influence became clear from both Wingate and Salatin works to prolonged slavery in Sudan, regardless of pressures by humanitarian groups and churches in Great Britain [1]

It also alerted the Sectarian-Tribal leaders, whose defending of the superiority complex, which claimed their purified origin to rule Sudan, lead them into a fierce political fighting to represents the Sudanese society, these Sectarian-Tribal leader, who managed to established agricultural projects [7], while exploiting the slavery to gain more profits [1], while the Britain boosted their morals, by taking them to London in 1919 to congratulate King George the Fifth and Britain Emperies over victory in first World War [7], the period between 1920 and 1924 was very tense, because from Arabian prospective and cultural mentality, Ali Almergani and his groups, used to think, they have legitimacy to rule based on racial supremacy, while Ali Abdu al-Latif and his group at the White Flag League, which composed from different Sudanese tribes, thinks the core equality in Islam (for Egyptians) and democracy (for British), gives them legitimacy to represents the Sudanese people.

Of course both the Sudanese Battalion, part of which had mutinied, and one of the sectarian leader Ali Almergani, came with the re-conquest army, and both groups supports union of Sudan with Egypt, so why did both the British and later the Egyptians supported Ali Almergani over Ali Abdu al-Latif and his group? Although the officers who mutinied, were mainly because they refused the British ordered for Egyptian army to pull out of Sudan and they look Egyptians more than the Egyptian army who failed to support them as agreed, but what is the secrets behind these events?

Other important question, which need to be answered is, did Ali Abdu al-Latif really knows and supported that mutiny? Or it was only a pretext orchestrated by those in intelligence office to breack progress of the Sudanese people?

Revolution lists of 1924, from right:

Thabit Abdul-Raheem: Hanged, Abd al-Fadil al-Maz: Martyr, Salih Abd al-Gadir: Fled to Egypt, Mohamed Suliman: Hanged [8].

The Black Block

Ali Abdu al-Latif was arrested with many of his group, and many Sudanese of African origins, they were imprisoned and discharged from the army and civil services. We can imagine what our grandfathers had paid of dear price (lives, prisons, exiles, offices, social statues, famileiy future, children education, etc …), all these for this dear motherland and fatherland.

Latter in 1942, the Sudan United Tribes Society was formed by the ex-Sudanese soldiers, later in 1948 it was transformed into the Al-kutla al-Sawda (the Black Block الكتلة السوداء) headed by Osman Mutawali, originally from Daju of Darfur, and the vice president Zayn al-Abden Abd al-Tam, who was a retired officer and member of White Flag League, from Dinka, and the Treasurer was the famous Dr. Muhammad Adam Adham, a medical doctor graduated from Kitchener School of Medicine and from Daju [1]. They opposed British policy in South Sudan and to raise the level of Southern, it took that name to show the Blackness of Sudanese people [2], and the African origin of the Nation.

Due to common ground of calls for independence of the country, lack of financial capabilities and supports, the group started cooperating with Umma party, which caused division among themselves [1]. The strength of the al-Kutla al-Suda in the capital at that period was demonstrated by the people attended the general assembly in Omdurman, they were four thousands (4,000) [2].

In early 1950, several attempts were made by the Black Block and others to formed wider alliance with Southern, but it failed, as Southern accused them of allied to Egypt [1], although many Southern joined National Union Party [4].

Due to reaction of northern society, lack of organizational skill, and financial capabilities, the organization went into underground, some of its leaders later formed regional organizations, such as Nuba Mountains General Union, Beja Union an Darfur Renascence Front [1]. 

I am sure most Sudanese now don’t know about that events, although everybody knows about the graduates conferences and the formation of the two parties. The Black Block issued newspaper by the name “Africa” [2], due to many reasons, until mid fifties their influence and momentum started diminished, particularly when the general trend felt the danger it may cause on the line taken by the northern religious sectors and traditional leaders, but on what base dose the line taken by those leaders was based upon?

The emancipation within Sudanese society, which practiced enslavement based on ethnicity, had formed ideology that was the backbone of northern Arabs mentality, difficult for non Sudanese to understand it, particular the Africans, who were shocked with the Darfur tragedy. But scholars such as Dr. Ahmad Alawad Sikainga [1], griped background behind Muslim societies ideology, in areas where enslavement was justified on religious and ethnic bases, expressed by the followings:

During the last two centuries, the Arab speaking northern Sudanese have developed genealogies upon which they claimed Arab descent, and created ideologies that defined who is free and who is enslave able. Accordingly, Arab ancestry became the main criteria for freedom while animism and darker skin were associated with servility and hard menial labor. These perceptions were adopted by British officials, who brought their own conceptions, framed by the Western European intellectual tradition and the experience of slavery in the New world. From the beginning, British officials in the Sudan conceived of labor in ethnic terms, with certain perceptions about the working capacity of each ethnic terms. Central to these perceptions was the notion that slavery made the Arab-speaking slave owners lazy and averse to manual work while it made slaves unwilling to work unless they were forced” [1].

The New Sudan

The events that ended in fifties, represent great tragedy for what is termed at that period as the “Ex-Slaves” or the “Negrid but De-tribalized Origin” [2], they were the origin of marginalization within the Sudanese society, where other from marginalized area increased their numbers in the capital but never understood their cause.

As seen the Africans and national Arabians, in their various attempts to establish national unity, as written, said and seen in the photos of 1924 heroes, and seen in Dr. John Garang, human dignity was the axis of their interests, and bases in their directions and hopes towards others, they were driven by nationalistic attitudes in response to major Sudanese questions of identity and destiny. That trend was emphasized by a conflict established between Ali Abdu al-Latif and Suleiman Ksha who used the phrase “The gracious Arabic nation” in 1923 as introduction to a book he issued on behalf of the White Flag League, containing poems recited during celebration of the Prophet birthday, Ali Abdu al-Latif opposed that saying, instead it should be “The gracious Sudanese people” [2], that difference was the start of a major conflict within the Sudanese society, forming two lines of odds, one is aiming at creating human society, while the other aiming at preserving the Fundamentals (or dominant Arab culture), it also explain how the current difference between the two main lines in Sudanese politics started, the line which finally represented by SPLM and headed by Dr. John Garang de Mabiour, and his alliances from individuals to parties on one side, and the NIF-NCP and it is alliance on the other side.

Realizing the nature of that struggle, NCP diverted the whole debates to North verse South question, unfortunately drifted with that, SPLM got itself entered into closed circle conflict, the radius of which is in continual reduction. The question is, what is the final logical conclusion of African Union process? In that context, what was Europe after the second world war? Do we really understood the concept of the New Sudan?

Two days after the death of Dr. John, I was sitting in the SPLM reception room with Dr. Samsong Kwage (Let his soul rest in peace) and Kosti Maniba, then came two Southern who were in America, one whom I don’t know at that time, but prominent figure currently at GoSS, he was weeping in a strange manner and said, “they are the one who killed him, didn’t you see they were raising the photo of the dead man Abdu al-Latif” we were astonished, none of us said something, but these are the one with louder voices now!

Dr. John Garang, whom we commemorate his five years, was a genius, he understood the Sudanese tragedy and raised the call for the New Sudan, based on human values of freedoms, justice and Equality, which becomes norm in present human society, for us in Sudan we were still imprisoned in that historical year of 1924, through a victory attained by some sectarian groups, through British intervention, and developed by cleaver second generation who manipulated everything to preserved status cue.

But does that justify dismantling these good people and beautiful country? Can we charge children what done by fathers? What sample we required for the Sudanese state, and Sudanese people?

We can see this in our second article title “African Thoughts, Between Political preconception and Human Consciousness – The Sudanese Unity”

Mahmoud E. Yousif

Former SPLM member

[email protected]/

 

Reference:

1-      Dr. Ahmad Alawad Sikainga, Slaves Into Workers: Emancipation and Labor in Colonial Sudan, University of Texas Press, Austin,  1996.

2-      Dr. Yoshiku Korita, Ali Abdu al-Latif and 1924 Revolution, Research in Sources of Sudanese Revolution (Arabic version), Sudanese Studies Center, Cairo, 1997. تقرير لجن

3-      Elena Vezzadini, The 1924 Revolution, Hegemony, Resistance, and Nationalism in the Colonial Sudan,

at: https://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/3065 

4-      Report of the Administrative Investigative Committee in 1955 Events in South Sudan, Sudanese Studies Center, Second Edition, 2005, Arabic.

5-      Two discussion with the late Pan-Africanist Deng Ajack Deng, between 2008/6, Nairobi and Juba.

6-      سلاطين باشا، السيف والنار في السودان، ترجمة محمد المصطفي حسن، دار عزة للنشر والتوزيع، الخرطوم، 2008.

)Rudolf C. Slatin, Fire and Sword in the Sudan, London 1896(.

7-       د. محمد سعيد القدال، تاريخ السودان الحديث، مركز عبدالكريم ميرغني، الخرطوم، 2002.

Al-Gadal, Mohammad Saied, Modern Sudan History 1882-1955, Beirut, 1993.

8-      http://www.alrakoba.com



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