Sudan border dispute: Where does the South stop and North begin?By DAVID K. MAFABI | Friday, April 27 2012 at 10:48
Tension has been escalating rapidly between Sudan and South Sudan, with all attention focused on the situation in and around the oil-rich town of Heglig.
Further, bomber incursions into South Sudan from Sudan have reportedly taken place, and lives lost. The United Nations and the African Union have both called for cessation of hostilities, etc. All reports indicate that both Khartoum and Juba have been mobilising heavily.
The main question now is what can Africa and the international community do to stop an all out war? Where are the so-called friends of IGAD, etc - who were so visible during the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)? In the meantime, President Omar al-Bashir has declared that South Sudan understands only “the language of guns and bullets”!
During the armed struggle in the Sudan, the late African revolutionary and leader John Garang de Mabior used to pose an intriguing question: “Where does the South stop and North begin?”
In posing the question, he was stating his ideological conviction regarding the perceived South/North divide - reflecting the scientific and geographical truth that any point on the globe had simultaneously within itself South, North, East, West, etc.
More specifically, up to his last breath, Garang was a unionist - his struggle, unlike the majority of his countrymen from the South, was not about breaking up the Sudan. It was about building a new, united, democratic and just Sudan.
He said there were no Arabs in the Sudan- what you had were in fact Arabised Sudanese, not Sudanese Arabs. Garang argued that the entire Sudan up to Egypt was the heritage of the black African Sudanese, why would anybody settle for only part of what was rightfully theirs?
Addressing the 7th Pan-African Congress in Kampala in 1994, Garang reminded his audience that the Sudanese were a proud, ancient, and black African people. He pointed out that there is no book of antiquity in which Sudan - also known as Cush, Nubia, Ethiopia - is not mentioned.
'Make unity attractive'
The problem was not, however, African versus Arab, Christian versus Muslim. It was unequal development - with an enclave of dubious prosperity at the centre. In the North, just like in the South, lived marginalised African people. What was required was to build a new fundamental unity of all the marginalised peoples of the Sudan (North and South) who, using the vehicle of a national liberation movement, would together build the New Sudan.
Even with the signing of the CPA, he remained certain that the New Sudan was attainable. He assured this writer then, that the CPA could deliver the New Sudan. He, however, had no illusions that the road would still be strewn with thorns and obstacles of all kinds. In which case, he declared, the SPLA would remain the main guarantor of the implementation of the CPA.
Now, a new conflagration between North and South threatens - on the surface of it, about where to locate the border! A new war, which should never be fought, looms!
War, even when it is unavoidable, exacts a heavy toll on the people, their lives and entire existence. The protagonists should therefore think very carefully about all the consequences of their actions.
Garang had several times called upon the government in Khartoum “to make unity attractive”, i.e. address all the issues that made the Sudanese people in all their diversity, unhappy. That this was not done, or that there was no will to move in that direction, explains why the South had to vote for independence.
He had also predicted another scenario - where all the marginalised peoples in the North took up arms against Khartoum: the Fur, the Nuba, the Angesena, the Beja, etc. This scenario is starting to unfold in earnest, and threatens to blow the rump Sudan into one thousand pieces!
Our point is that we cannot afford to be “neutral” about all this! The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was right in at least one thing he said: there is no half way house between justice and injustice!
Under its Constitutive Act, the African Union can intervene in member states under circumstances of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, etc. The African Union, in the immediate instance, must speak very plainly and strongly to the protagonists, instead of apportioning blame for the deterioration of the situation. It can, and must act.
Mr Mafabi is the private secretary/political affairs- (Uganda) State House.
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