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Sudan’s Defence Minster: How Racist Can He Be? By Abdullahi Osman El-Tom
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Mar 19, 2008 - 9:11:19 AM

Sudan ’s Defence Minster: How Racist Can He Be?

By Abdullahi Osman El-Tom

March 19th 08: Sudan ’s Minister of Defence, Abdel Raheem Mohamed Husain is not new to controversy.   However, his recent revelation touches on a sensitive nerve among all Sudanese who have opted for building a new Sudan clear of racism; racism that accords supremacy to Sudanese Arabs, hybrid or otherwise, over the majority Sudanese who celebrate their African descent.   Indeed rejection of this type of racism represents a hallmark of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between north and south Sudan and is central to the current war in Darfur .  

But the predicament of the Sudan is that it is ruled by the worst, if not total idiotic tranche of its people.   These words might harsh, alright but they are well earned by our Minister for Defence.   In one of his routine public appearances, Minister Husain addressed an open gathering at Sudan ’s Embassy in Riadh , Saudi Arabia , February 13th, 08.   An opponent of Kajabar Dam challenged the Minister about rumours regarding proposed settlement of 5 million Egyptian farmers in the newly irrigated land.  

Kajabar Dam is currently under construction on the River Nile in the Northern Region.   So far, the Dam failed every test you can think of: economic, environmental, archaeological as well as human rights considerations.   All reports indicate that local people in the area will lose most.   While the Dam will undoubtedly produce more energy, the local people will either lose their lands to water or end up as agricultural proletariat in the very land that they now own.   The fear of the locals being displaced by Egyptians has its reasons.   Under the Four Freedoms Agreement between Sudan and Egypt , Egyptians have the right to own land at Kajabar area.   This is the concern that was raised to the Minister in the debate.   Let us turn to the Minster’s response to his fellow northerner which is of prime concern to us.   Thus the Minister said, and I translate:

For the sake of debate, let us assume that the government is intending to resettle 5 million southern Egyptians (Saaida) in the northern Region of Sudan .   So what?   There are now 8 million people in Darfur , all of them are Africans and coming from abroad.   Would it be better for you to have those coming into you from Egypt or those who are coming from West Africa ?”  

Reporter Adam Elhilbawi is right to declare the statement as insulting to Darfur people who are effectively banished from Sudan and reduced to a bunch of incoming foreigners. But the statement goes much further than that. In its stigmatisation of black Africans, the Minister’s statement amounts to a blatant racist revelation that offends the absolute majority of the Sudanese people, or at the least over 60% of Sudan’s population who celebrate and take pride in their African origin.   Much more, the Minister seems to be oblivious to his partners in the Government of National Unity and who make no claim to Arab ancestry.


Embarrassing as it may be, Mr Husain’s statement is informative regarding the Arab racist ideology which we have been exposing for long; the same ideology which has precipitated the current genocide in Darfur .   This ideology calls for banishment of all Africans, and at all cost, from the Sudan and for their replacement with so-called Arabs, irrespective of where they come from.   The desire to displace African Sudanese in favour of imported Arab foreigners was chillingly reported by the UN last July 2007.   In its report, the UN confirmed arrival of 75,000 Arabs into Darfur , only to be housed in same villages of West Darfur whose original inhabitants had been cleared away by government army/Janjaweed.   This incident is also clearly in line with the policy of the clandestine Arab Congregation Movement and which calls openly for what they ridiculously termed “restoration of Arab balance in Darfur ”.  


The minister’s statement is not a casual slip of a tongue.   Rather, it is part and parcel of racist Sudanese policies pursued by some Arabized ruling elite in the country.   In that, the Minister is aided by many others in the pinnacle of power in the Sudan .   Not so long ago (2005), Mr Atta Almannan, the Ex-Governor of Darfur declared in a public rally in Sheiriya town that “the Zaghawa of Darfur had to look for another planet to line on”.   Not surprisingly, the Janjaweed proceeded to implement the Governor’s ruling.   They went into ethnic cleansing clearing the Zaghawa from their villages.   In their war against their African neighbours, the Janjwaeed would echo their war cry: “Whoever dies, goes into martyrdom, and whoever survives, gets the wealth of the slaves”.

But the Minister has other supporters from far afield.   Abde Rahim Hamdi, the economic guru of Albashir proposed to the General Convention of the ruling Party, NCP, (December 2005) to focus future investment in Sudan in what he called Dongola-Kordofan-Sinnar triangle.   This is what Hamdi sees as the Arab part of the Sudan which is worthy of investment.   The rest, destined to be Africans have to go without the very wealth which they helped to produce.  

Professor Hasan Mekki, the racist bigot of the regime also counts as a staunch supporter of Mr Husain’s slave trader mentality philosophy.   Lamenting presence of impoverished Sudanese of non-Arab origin living and/or squatting at the outskirts of the capital Khartoum , he wrote: “ Khartoum is besieged by a black belt (Africans) filling it with flies during the day and tormenting it with house burglars at night”.   May Allah help the white city of Khartoum , I may say.

I am an indigenous Darfuri and an African but equally a Sudanese whether Mr Husain can stomach that or not.   And as such, I must declare that Mr. Husain’s statement filled me with deep sense of shame; that we in that country would opt to allow the likes of Mr. Husain to occupy a position of authority and leadership.   One of our many crises in the Sudan is that our leaders can be openly racist and yet expect us to allow them to retain an aura of respectability in the nation. No wonder we are where we are at the present time! Famines, extreme destitution, civil wars, Janjaweedism, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide have all become trademarks for Sudan .  


Mr Husain has now put his relative and confidant Albashir in a difficult position.   Albashir can keep him in office and risk indicating that he is happy with his thesis.   Or, he can sack him and look for a better person to take over his portfolio. Mind you, Albashir has lost a golden chance to sack Mr. Husain before when he was serving as Minister for Interior.   The opportunity came when the Minister granted a construction contract to a firm owned by him to build offices belonging to his Ministry of Interior.   His firm took a short cut and as a result, the building collapsed leading to several fatalities.


As the history of Darfur conflict shows, Albashir is notorious for being a slow learner who has consistently failed to take note of his mistakes.   Had he not been so, he would not have ended up with a shadow of ICC over his head.   Now is a chance for him to start the march towards his redemption.   Here is a lesson for him from the USA , and I apologise for his Excellency if he finds the source somewhat unpalatable. Samantha Power was a member of the campaign team of US presidential candidate Barak Obama. In an unguarded interview, Ms Power said: “ Clinton is a monster who will stoop to anything to win” . For that wrong word (monster), Ms Power had to resign.

Hilary Clinton too had a similar stumble.   Ms Ferraro, her campaign assistant said: If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position".    She too had to go.   While mistakes have been committed by both, Ms. Power and Ms. Ferraro, their statements were nowhere near Mr Husain’s of Sudan .  


Well Mr Albashir: history is no place for mercy and the choice is yours.


Abdullahi Oman El-Tom is Head of the Bureau for Training and Strategic Planning, JEM.   He can be contacted at email: [email protected]



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