NEWS FROM SUDAN/DARFUR—though it applies all over

For those who have (or even haven’t seen) the little PSA/film I put together of my friend Ivan recounting his experiences in the country and Darfur—Darfur in 10 Minutes: An Overview of the Conflict in Sudan—this newspiece reiterates his first point.

It is sent via the Norwegian Council for Africa, which sends regular and useful updates on Africa:

The piece was called Presidential advisor lashes out against peace agreement, and it’s from the Sudan Tribune, March 5, 2008:

Khartoum (Sudan) — Sudanese presidential advisor has lashed out at the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) saying it ignores the real cause of the Sudanese crisis. He further said that what we need is to identify what unite the Sudanese people before to talk about democracy.

Speaking to the Sudanese press on Tuesday about the “Democracy and Benevolent Government”, presidential advisor Bona Malwal said “the real debate should be about the perpetual failure of the national political leadership” to identify what unites the people of Sudan.

The CPA “has only massaged the issues of democracy in Sudan and not really resolved them. We, are neither free from a theocratic state, as the SPLM leadership would want us to believe, nor are we an Islamic state as the NCP also would want to believe.” The prominent southern politician said.

However, he underlined that the “best we can do, is to strive to make it [CPA] work, since it has secured for us a precious peace in our country.”

The presidential advisor stressed that Sudanese need “a change of mind set” if they are really want to implement a true “democratic transformation” in the country [not to mention excessive outside greed using divide-and-disturb policies, see also Congo, Iraq and countless other places].

“If we achieve a change of mind set and the leaders of the Government of National Unity (GoNU) cooperate with one another better than has so far been the case, then we can achieve something in the remaining two years, before the people of Southern Sudan vote in their referendum on Self-determination.”

Bona said declaring Sudan as an Arab state can be considered as “a show of power by those who took over the country from colonialism.” He further added that “The idea of an Islamic State totally ignores the reality of our country.”

Asking “What democracy are we talking about therefore?” Bona pronounced a harsh verdict against the ruling party saying that the Sudanese society has degenerated into a series of tribal societies. “Tribalism has become even proudly acceptable mode of individual identification in Sudan.”

“You almost witness the pride in the face of our politicians, when they identify themselves in power as Jaaleen or Shagia or Danagla. It is as if it is some shame on those tribes who have not set foot on the Presidential Palace along the Nile as rulers of Sudan. Where is the room for real democracy or for Sudanese nationalism?” he said.

What a great question.

To know a little more about the problems (and, I guess, hopes) from oil in Sudan and Africa—which is also very important, exacerbates ethnic tensions via power, resource and environmental imbalances, and part of what is sometimes called the “Resource Curse,” and you can extrapolate to the rest of the world—check the film out to see China’s pragmatic, ugly involvement, which by definition supports and arms the Khartoum Arabic Muslim government, and by definition is a human rights nightmare by proxy.

I hope the film and these links make Sudan/Darfur/Africa/”developing” world issues slightly clearer and, as the Presidential Advisor mentioned, make the real questions, and real problems be asked.

My belief is, and assuming a worldcentric view, deeper knowledge and awareness helps deeper, more aware questions to be asked. I also try to hold two other massive factors: the colonial legacy and the ongoing misery and decimation via AIDS, malaria, malnutrition and unchecked internal and external influences etc. And yet so much strength and love prevails, against brutal odds. Remarkable. Stunning.

I’ll quote a Chomsky’s response to a question I asked relating to this (for Uganda Rising), which is inspiring and so easily forgotten by the way and nature in which “important” news is disseminated—if it arrives at all.

I love rereading this, just to feel solidarity and hope for so many peoples under the gun (or, as Woody Guthrie once mentioned, the fountain pen):

There are popular organizations all over Africa—I mean South Africa, every other country—fighting really courageously for rights against privatization which drives, say, water prices out of sight, against construction programs which are harming the mass of poor and enriching the super rich. Everywhere you look, there are union activities that are lively and exciting.

That’s going on in most of the world.

There’s a reason why the World Social Forum is held primarily in the South and not in the North. It meets in Brazil and India and there will be one in South Africa—side ones in South East Asia. That’s because that is where the major action is going on, the major constructive, progressive struggles.

The North kind of joins in so when people talk about what they call the anti-globalization movements—a ridiculous term for it—well, it’s supposed to have started in Seattle. Well, that is because Seattle is the first Northern city where anything happened.

Meanwhile it has been going on for twenty years in India, Brazil, South Africa and elsewhere. So if hundreds of thousands of people stormed the parliament in India to prevent monopoly drug pricing, well, that’s not interesting. But if people are breaking windows in Seattle protesting World Bank policy, okay, that’s exciting. So the global justice movement—as [activists] call it—is held, is started, in Seattle. Actually, it’s late.

That’s why the meetings are down South—and Africa is a large part of it.

The last World Social Forum I went to, in Puerto Alegre, had a big component of people from Africa, many of them peasants, activists. In fact, a large part of the meetings were about Africa-Brazil connections. That doesn’t get reported up here…

This has been going on for a long time. The South Commission, as it was called, represented most of the countries of the South. They published for years important detailed studies, critiques of neo-liberalism, alternative development models and so on. I have written about them but you just can’t find a word about them anywhere. They don’t exist. They are the lower breeds. It doesn’t matter what they say…

I mean it’s 80 percent of the world’s population but those people down there can’t think. We have to tell them what to think.

That’s good old-fashioned imperial tradition. Deeply embedded old centers of imperialism like Cambridge and Oxford and our counterparts and so on carried through the media. It is such a deeply entrenched perception that any accurate perception of what’s happening is almost very hard for people unless they undertake a research project.

The struggle, the beauty, the undying potential for freedom, dignity and to not be oppressed, continues, all over the world in solidarity movements. That’s worth celebrating.

Lots of love to you and yours—who are all of us, it turns out,

Pete xo


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