WITH ANTI-SPLM INTELLECTUALS
(NEW SUDAN V OLD SUDAN)
AN INVITATION FOR AN OPEN DIALOGUE:
Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shush is a Sudanese intellectual who has been writing in the past few years about the Sudan from Canada, the Gulf, and now continues to write ‘virtually’ based in Khartoum. Dr. al-Shush has extensively written about problems connected to war, but rarely did he write about peace. He represents a school of thought, which advocates the current pan-Arab move, to let the future of the Sudan be decided on that very problematic way. He writes without being replied. This absolute freedom has made Dr. al-Shush to feel that, whatever he writes or publishes can just go on unanswered. This has made him to feel tall and triumphant as an intellectual. This trend of thinking has to be faced. That is the reason, which takes me to knock the door for an open dialogue with Dr. al-Shush. Below is my first blow, to blow up the dialogue. I believe it is very important, so all are invited.
TO: Dr. MOHAMMED IBERAHIM AL-SHUSH
FM: MAJ. GEN. EDWARD A. LINO - SPLM
Dear Dr. Al-Shush,
It has indeed been a very long time since I last saw you in good health, in the last Century of the last Millennium in the University of Khartoum, 1969. I also remember you were known to be a progressive lecturer in the Arabic Department, Faculty of Arts, where you were ‘rewarded’ to become the Dean of the Faculty. You had a very live social presence. I had come to know you through our Late Dr. James Dahab, whom you supervised as a senior student, together with our Late Professor Abdalla al-Thayib. Considering your remarkably engulfing life style in those days, today and through reading some of your articles, I stand to be convinced by you, that you had no time to mix up your being an Arabic Language Lecturer with your being an Arab intellectual ‘mujahid’ like you now stand. Your current unjustified contemptuous hatred to SPLM and whatever is African or non-Arab in the Sudan is indeed amazing. That is why I humbly invite you to dialogue in such an open forum. I propose it would be useful to let it be an open discourse. I hope you will not turn down my most sincere democratic offer. Please, welcome Professor.
I vividly remember how funny you used to frown with your twisted pipe on puffing. Haphazardly kept hanging on the right corner of your firm African lips. Freely dangling between your prominent Nigerian Yoruban-like six facial marks. Three deep slashes hanging like dry irrigation channels in mid-summer when the black soil cracks, helplessly denied of Nile water, on each of your cheeks. By then, your expressive funny sympathetic posture, which habitually used to dominate your smart African face, would expose your disappointment automatically. Whenever you saw some naughty students recklessly sitting on your car, parked in the vicinity of the Faculty of Arts, somewhere in the cool shadows of those lofty mahogany trees between your offices and 102 Lecture Hall.
Forgive me for describing you thus. I do not intend to hurt your feelings, although I know truth could be very bitter indeed. Specially, to those inwardly looking ‘coconuts’ who, hate to know, to believe or to be told who they really are or how they look externally! Indeed, you were the one who knocked the door. If I am wrong, then please go ahead consult your own mirror! I take the factual reasons, which drove you to consider yourself to be a pure Arab to be cultural, religious and linguistic, more than any other consideration, although you could have been a Christian, also, from the Middle East. These are very respectable reasons, my dear Professor.
It was your being an Arabic professor and the fact, which I came to know after-wards that you do inhale from Atbara, which made me to think that you might be an Arab. I understand that, the mastering of any language cannot be taken or translated automatically to mean that a person becomes a part of that nationality or ethnicity for knowing the language. Religions and languages do not automatically authenticate ethnicities. I knew Atbara, "The City Of Workers", "The City Of Iron And Fire", from my early elementary school geography lessons in the 1950s, to be the Headquarters of the Sudan Railways. When I grew up, I got a golden chance to visit Atbara in 1966. To my amazement, I ‘discovered’ it to be a restlessly boiling social and cultural melting pot. Mixing ethnicities, melting culturally divergent communities, casting new human products, reconciling religions, forging new social relations, charting new progressive work relations, and demarcating new ways of living.
Like Medani and Kosti after Omdurman, no person can deny the fact that Atbara has played a role, which it is still playing, in molding a sizeable number of Sudanese from all the different corners the of country into the contemporary Northern Sudanese Arab oriented cosmopolitan personality. Please, sit up and trace the roots of many of those prominent families there about, and you shall know what I want you to know. I believe, there is no shame in undertaking such an exercise whatsoever although it seems that you have been brought up in a school of thought where you have been directed to consider such an exercise as a taboo or blasphemy. Today, for instance, by pointing at a person as an "Atbarawi" or an "Omdurmani", irrespective of his/her exposure, ethnicity or origin, one can easily understand the type of social and or cultural differences such a person would have with people from the other less privileged areas, which are normally described or referred to by those from Omdurman or Atbara, as "aqaaliim" or "dhahaari", rural areas. The under-laying consideration, in which they adamantly believe, being that: The people from "aqaaliim" and "dhahaari" are normally backward and illiterate, and therefore uncultured. This is an undeniable social fact, which is negatively affecting even the completion of marriages up to this very day.
This is where they enforced Arabic to be the only language country wide, since they consider the other indigenous and historical languages, which they do not understand, to be senseless divisive vehicles of subversive gossips and plots against them in the center. Their insistence on the predominance of Arabic as a ‘national’ language becomes a paramount strategic move to take, in order to dominate the thinking of the whole nation. And in order to make this adamant move to be acceptable they took, as they still take, religion to be the most appropriate means to use to let their plans to be accepted with ease. In the South today over three Islamic universities or colleges have been opened in the same vicinities of the former primary and secondary schools, basically instructing Islamic religion supplemented with a bit of sciences, but all in Arabic. This happens in spite of the fact that religion has been one of the main issues that brought about that bloody war. There is no way whatsoever for people like Dr. al-Shush to claim innocence from the commitment of those wanton crimes committed nation-wide against freedom of thought and progress. They are the most myopic inconsiderate intellectuals who planned and advised all the successive juntas about how to implement their unrealistic divisive dreams, ideas and policies, which have plunged the whole country into war.
That is the main gate, which is normally used by "awlaad al-mudun" to drag in all types of in-considerations. More privileged than others as they are, no other people would be qualified to lead in any way. They get surprised and irritated if it so happens that any person, specially, from the South or the other marginalized areas comes up to suggest new batter ways to solve our national problems. And if a person from the North, an intellectual, happens to join Southerners, for instance, then such a ‘strange’ person would be considered as a ‘God damned traitor’! None has the time to sit, study and analyze properly in order to understand issues at depth. This is precisely when hypocrisy and chauvinism would unequivocally take the lead to adamantly destroy our social, religious, economic and cultural realities. Indeed, those sadistic self-ordained truth-masters seem to enjoy all the products of their short memories! These are the inherent notions, which push people like Dr. al-Shush and others to act, pray, sing, dance and write free, the way they do. They believe: we should take them be our God assigned masters! Mere baseless belief that they should be considered to be the only type of Sudanese to rule!
Now, would Dr. al-Shush tell us, in this multi-cultural, multi-religious Sudan, why should a person like Dr. John, Salva Kiir, Khamis Jallab, John Luk, Malik Agar, Kuol Manyang, Pagan Amuom, Mama Rebecca Nyandeng, Deng Alor, Abdel-Aziz Adam al-Hilu, Dr. Frances Deng, General Oyai Deng Ajak, Lawrence Kurbandy, Dr. Barnaba Marial, Dr. Anne Itto, Omer Abel-Rahman, Taban Deng Gai, Dr. George Bureng or Thomas Cirillo not lead the nation? Could you please, objectively tell us your reasons so that we may learn? What would be the difference between you and that former South African Pick W. Botha? Professor, the fact that you believe to be very fortunate to have been born and brought up in a privileged Middle-Eastern cultural environment predominantly Islamic in believe and Arab in culture, is the very one that intoxicates you intellectually to believe, that your life style ‘ought’ be embraced with reverence to be the only way every Sudanese should be brought up or simply never! Please, underline the word ‘never’! You have simply been culturally pulled far, far away by that geographical proximity to the north, beyond self-recognition. I really doubt if you ever know that the Sudan shares other life-sustaining common boarders with many neighbours.
I am not supposed to search any further, as to what sort of human ingredients were used by the Creator to forge you the way you look. Your exposure simply denies your being an Arab from anywhere across the Red Sea. My dear, a dot of sugar cannot sweeten a pot of water, but a dot of poison can indeed be fatal. Please, let us admit that you are a pure Arab. You could be an Azande, a Dongolawi, a Nuba, a Badaweit, a Fur, a Fertit or British. So what? No person will ever deny such a fact. There has never been any problem with regards to the reality of the composition of Sudan. Like any country worldwide, the Sudan is a country endowed with a host of cultural, social, religious, geographical and ethnic diversities. This is a very glare universal fact. Our current problems erupted when people like you, Professor, come up to preach and impose the predominance of their culture, language and religion on the other nationalities by the use of force! Non-Arab Sudanese ‘must’ accept to be Arabs, as the only to accept them to be Sudanese or they got to be exterminated. This is precisely what your school of thought is advocating, my dear.
Professor, let us accept to be what we are. Unless you want to tell us that God was mistaken when He the Omnibus created us! Let us recognize the fact that there are others, from different ethnicities in this very Sudan of ours. The question or rather, the issue, which we have to settle, is the simple fact that, now that I am a non-Arab but Sudanese and you are an Arab but Sudanese, both of us joint by the very soil we on which we live, should we not ‘think’ about what do we do together in order to live together and prosper together in peace? There is no way for me to compel you to be like me. And you have no way to compel me to be like you. We must amicably and soberly meet somewhere in the middle to safeguard our common existence. This way of doing things is simply the very way, which Dr. John and Dr. Mansour have taken. What wrong have they done?
The most important thing to me is that you are a Sudanese. And we, as members of the SPLM, have no problem whatsoever with your being a Sudanese. I had respected you as a sound Sudanese intellectual. Since the time I used to see you in the Faculty of Arts, University of Khartoum, I had always been proud of the fact that you were quite knowledgeable in the field you mastered so well. Permit me please to say it, although I am completely not qualified to say it. I hardly believed that ‘time’ could adversely disorganize even sound intellectuals to take such a sharp about-turn! But given the way in which things turned up side down countrywide, I now believe that miracles, like the very one which happened to you should be expected. You are not the only one who has turned his back to all what he use to see in an objective way. Indeed, people can change, and out there in that harsh wilderness of life, there are many reasons that compel people to do so. Many of them can be excused.
I have recently came to know that you have totally sharpened your pencils, your quills, your ballpoints, your fountain pens and your markers and directed them against whoever, whatever and whomever has any thing to do with the South, with the SPLM, with the SPLA and with the notion and vision of the New Sudan. Your ill-selected intellectual casualties are our prominent un-surmountable national personalities like our great visionary revolutionary Leader, the Late Dr. John Garang de Mabior Atem and our Learned Sudanese intellectual pillar, Dr. Mohammed al-Mansour Khalid Abdel-Majid al-Saawi, among many other sound Sudanese nationalist intellectuals. Look at them to see and visualize how the Sudan we spire for can stand together. I believe you started to attack them with your in-born intellectual hatred before giving yourself enough time to understand the message they jointly stand to give. You should have looked at the facts, which brought and kept those two Sudanese intellectuals together. We know you are being at least morally sponsored by an old school of thought, which dominates the media, which they have turned to be one of the deadliest weapons directed against all those who cherish the vision of the New Sudan.
The vision of the New Sudan is a simple equation, which states, that if things go on the way things were directed since the dawn of that badly directed independence, then it would be very difficult, if not impossible for the Sudan to be one again. The Sudan can only remain united under new basis. And this is a fact, which is well contained in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the CPA. Do you as a person, and as a school, recognize this fact? What do you sincerely think should have been done? I believe you have every right to write whatever you think. You are free indeed.
The only thing I want to ask you, is that: Up to this time in your entire life, you did not come up with any slightest useful dream, notion, suggestion or idea pertaining to how best we can resolve our chronic national problems. Do you know that? You have never even suggested a one little useful thing, even as to where best we can locate a taxi park! All what you have written about and against Dr. John Garang, Dr. Mansour Khalid, Pagan Amuom and the SPLM is rubbish! Simply because, all your arguments, jargons and gibberish mimics written is real profound classical Arabic are in fact, mere slogans geared towards the intellectualization of your subversive racist concepts. Period! You have been simply writing against what you believe to be right in essence. You refrain to write objectively, because you feel afraid and ashamed to admit the truth. This is one of the symptoms of an inherent intellectual confusion, which dominates and directs people like you to write the way you write. Professor, I believe, now time has come for you to liberate your mind.
When an intellectual writes to incite the maximum usage of all the tools of oppression against some of his own compatriots, in his own country, how would he or she ever be qualified to interact globally? One cannot stand against apartheid in South Africa and bless the same inhuman principles in his or her own country. A person cannot migrate that far to a save-heaven like Canada, for that matter, and continue to support and praise the very oppression from which he ran away from a distance! Have you ever been to the South, to Dar Fur, to Southern Blue Nile or to the Nuba Mountains in the last thirty or forty years? Why would you feel so free to give yourself an absolute right to write analytically about places you never saw or issues through which you never lived?
The first thing to consider, when bent to resolve our problems, nation wide, is to sit, study and analyze all the issues at hand objectively. And the best approach would be to sit together very soberly. When dealing with issues connected to our Sudanese reality, we have to rise far beyond your immediate cultural and social surroundings. That was what Dr. John Garang did. He had to cut through all those ill-imposed economic, racial, religious, social and cultural hurdles to reach you on the other side of those unrealistic inhuman divides, which your school of thought has decided to impose on the Sudanese peoples. It is the same hectic and demanding journey, which Dr. Mansour has taken with pride.
The two great humble Sudanese intellectuals, who inhale from two different geographical, cultural, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds met, and together, proceeded to think together about how best to resolve our national problems. The two were firmly united by concern, as to how best shall people come up with the most viable ‘formula’ to avert our national conflicts in the most amicable way, and rise to prosper on equal basis. So, our concern, as the SPLM, is nothing other than how best to ascertain, implement, secure and develop as a people. How best to work together for our national good. You have to widen your scope in order to enrich your vision. You have to examine each and every issue accordingly, driven by concern to be objective and truthful through out the process of learning. Never can a person be objective and useful to himself, to his family, to his community and to his country, if he allows himself to grow inwardly obtuse. Such are the people who see things one-sidedly. That is why you do see things up-side-down!
As a Professor, when you talk or write about serious issues pertaining to race, culture, language or religion in the context of a long devastating conflict, like the one we have in the Sudan, and how to direct or redirect ourselves to interact positively with the aim of creating a conducive atmosphere in which to exist, develop and prosper in peace, in this very changing world; then we shall be required to go further and further, beyond what we normally know. This approach would be very vital to take, in order to be able to see what others have. Below are some interesting questions, which I have put to help us go ahead with the discourse. I stand to suggest that such a global approach would better save us from plunging into the usual one-dimensional rhetorical way, which puts the blame on one side of our national table.
The first thing, which we have to consider, would be to pause some of these questions to ourselves, like:
How many are we in this ‘house’ who take this or that belief or way of doing things to be the best way to keep the family together?
Go out of your fence where you may find others with different ways of doing things. Now, should they all do things the way I do?
Do I have to force them to do things the way I do?
If I decide to force them to do things the way I do, what would that mean?
From the way I deem those over there to be so backwardly inferior, I better force them to do things my way. Am I right to do so?
Are there others who do their things the way I do my things?
What would others tell me about the way I do my things>
But, do I really have a right to force them to do things my way?
If I force them, how long would it take to have them to be subdued up to the point in which they should forget to do things the way they used to things in a way I do not like?
My God! If they continue to refuse to be like me, should I go on to force them to be like me?
But suppose they overwhelm me, shall I ever see them again, shall they ever accept me in the first place?
I admit I did not force them to do things the way I do. This is the reality, which the other side knows equally. Then what next?
Would it not be better to open a new phase based on this very reality, that we can respect one another, share the means of our livelihood together, defend our resources together, therefore, defend ourselves together?
To co-exist in order to share our common means of livelihood together, will it not be better if we recognize each other?
Since we recognize each other, would it not be better to know how people on the other side do their things, so that I may not misunderstand how they do their things the way I want them to understand how I do my things?
Mine you they have some useful things, as they equally know we also have some useful things. Would it not be better to exchange them for our common good?
Now that we genuinely recognize each other, share many things together and defend them together, is it not far better to live and prosper together than to kill each other for nothing?
Professor, all the above questions are my humble suggestions to be taken as a set of mind-opener. They are intended to help us continue the dialogue. Indeed, I have been very frank in this letter of mine. I suggest we better invite other writers to join us in the process. As I suggested earlier, please, let us address ourselves in an objective manner, so that we might be useful to ourselves in the first place, before others. As an old school of thought, I might have incited you to be heated up more than what you expected. That is what I expected. That is what normally happens to a person who plants deadly landmines, but had never been exposed to cross the very minefield he laid. Crossing minefields could really be dangerous, specially, when one decides to cross during a stormy night! Please, receive my thanks and appreciation for your meaningful endurance. Good luck!!
Maj. Gen. Edward Abyei Lino