Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Compass Still Has an S on it, Or: Between The Drink and The Delusion of Directions

“Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too”
- John Lennon

I've started writing something a while ago, in an attempt to materialize my “serenity towards Secession versus Unity” as my last attempt entitled “Otherology”(1) stated. The one I ended with “I’ll finish this January 2011”. But between October, 2010 -which is the date I scrambled Otherology- and today, I’ve torn several papers to pieces, and I came to believe I’ve torn more than just papers in the process.

“Just see these superfluous ones!
Sick are they always; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper.
They devour one another, and cannot even digest themselves.”
- Thus spoke Zarathustra

I’ve never been a patriot; and I don’t appreciate the concept of patriotism very much to be honest. The sloganeering that accompanies it disgusts me. And recently, in the past 5 days a new type of patriotism emerged, at least it’s new to me. It’s most likely inspired by the whole referendum issue which is ironically 5 years old, but I don’t remember seeing a status mourning the loss of the “biggest Arabic country” also, some statuses express the joy that “a thorn on Sudan’s side is finally removed” which is obviously a joy inspired by the despicable Sudanese Just Peace Forum Party (SJPF) and its scumbag of a chairman Al-Tayeb Mustafa who gave up his membership of the ruling party, the National Congress Party (NCP) to establish the SJPF and a newspaper called “Al-Intibaha” to promote his “secessionism”, and suggesting we cast away all those who do not fall under his definition of “The North” –using not only his newspaper, but also a bunch of fancy well printed banners that you’d find scattered around Khartoum-.(2)

Let me leave aside the president’s uncle and his superfluous secessionism, for it’s based on –according to the man himself- “major differences in culture and identity: The north is Arab and Muslim and yearns for its Arab and Muslim surround” because this sick concept of patriotism has one word to describe it, bigotry.

“Flowers only die in a vase
A heart only dies encased in a lie we call race”
- Brother Ali

On the other hand, there are those patriots, who mourn the secession -even though it didn’t happen yet- and who have “become aware of the misfortunes of their homeland suddenly, and decided to adopt a melancholic pattern of publicized activism” as a friend suffering a writer’s block described them last night. Not that I’m against their freedom of expression, freedom of timing their expression that is.

Three years ago, I would’ve been writing this under the spell of “mending my broken country”, hell... three weeks ago I was under a similar spell, I used to be touched by the creatively designed pictures that flooded the Internet showing Sudan being intimately held by a person, being the broken heart of Africa, showing faces pained in Sudan’s flag colors, showing it as a sad face with a crack resembling the sad mouth and the south etc. I would be on my homepage and read the words “Fulan and 11 other friends changed their profile pictures”, and without clicking on the link, I can see the pictures most of the 12 friends deemed as Profile Pictures and they’re all, well, “Patriotic Pictures”.

“You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions, or its office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags--this is loyalty to unreason.”
- Mark Twain

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate those PPs at all, nor do I judge its users intentions in any way, but the effect they had on me before I tore the last paper is long gone now, I’m happy that a part of Sudan gained an opportunity to win its independence from this fascist regime that has drugged the Sudanese people by means meaner than a banner held by a group of Dinka in Juba written in Arabic saying “bye, bye Khartoum”.

Sudan, the Land of the Black, a name equivalent to the name Ethiopia in meaning is engraved in the minds of Sahara dwellers (Morocco, Tunis, etc) as the regions of Senegal, Mali, and Nigeria. Historically, the area south of the Sahara extending from The Red Sea east, to the Atlantic Ocean west has been known as Al-Sudan(3), Islam and Arabic Language has spread in those regions long time ago, and co-existed alongside with the native religions and languages and were -Arabic, and Islam- naturally, affected by them. After their independence, the countries of the area known as Al-Sudan adopted new names drawn from their heritage, history, geography, etc, except for Sudan, and Ethiopia, their names were chosen by the ruling elite in both countries, and so were their flags, anthems, and constitutions, years later, in 1993 Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in a scenario similar to the one we have in Sudan.

“Al-Rujal Mato Fi Karari”
- A Sudanese proverb meani ng (Men died in the Battle of Karari)

After Sudan’s independence, the Sudanese ruling elite defined the new born state as “Arab” and “Muslim”. The new constitution was silent on two crucial issues for southern leaders - the secular or Islamic character of the state and its federal or unitary structure. However, the Arab elite of Khartoum promised the southerners to create a federal system, which later led to a mutiny by southern army officers that launched the civil.

This “Afandi” mentality replaced the colonial mentality of the British and created a barrier of civilization between the governor and the governed. Those “Afandia” who occupied small administrative jobs under the British colonial government, viewed the Sudanese society in the same way the British viewed them, a primitive society, thus alienating themselves from it, and after independence those Afandia inherited the government, neglecting the various cultural aspects of this society and this neglectance can be observed in the dominance of Odurmanian Music (also known as Hageeba Music) over the other musical styles for example. This perception of inferiority is what controlled the official media since the independence.

“Marisa”, a brewed drink (some sort of a beer), indigenous to the Nuba mountains and considered a basic breakfast meal for the locals of who sip it before heading to the fields to work the land, it is not intoxicating unless consumed heavily and made from the very same ingredients they use to make another breakfast meal which is “Asida”. It was deemed “Haraam” after the Islamic Sharia Laws were applied in Sudan based on the Islamic doctrine of “ma askara kathiroho, fa galiloho haraam” (What intoxicates in large quantities, the little of it is forbidden). Government carried out the laws against this drink with no regards to its role in the native culture of the Nuba Mountains, although the carriers of the law were a minority of believers in its prohibition, but their faith being perceived through the Ideological and political dimension of the regime.

“Men feared time, yet time feared the pyramids”
- Vinnie Paz

It is said that Islam was introduced to this part of the world known today as Sudan through a man named Abdullah Ibn Abi Al-Sarh, who waged war on the Nubians in the North of Sudan, coming from Egypt, Nubians being the fierce fighters they are, the war ended by signing the longest treaty man ever known, The Baqt Treaty, lasted over 700 years between the Christian Nubians and the Muslim Arab rulers of Egypt. Its major provision was that 360 slaves per year are to be sent to Egypt and the rulers of Egypt would send goods down south including wheat and legume. The treaty also obliged the Nubian kings of Al-Mukarra Kingdom to maintain a mosque for Muslim visitors and residents. Another theory argues that Islam was introduced peacefully through western Hajj passages, however, over a period of over half a century Islam infiltrated the Sudanese societies. A system of disperse emerged as the Arabs who fled the Mamluke Dynasty’s rage in Egypt declared themselves as “Ashraf”, associating themselves to the Mohammadean bloodline, therefore guaranteeing a position in society very effective and altering to the societies they found. The maternal system of Nubians and Beja people is but an example of the aspects that almost perished under this caste system.

When I first visited Al-Bagarwya in 2008, I noticed the structural similarities between the Nubian pyramids and the Islamic Gubba (Sudanese shrine), of course the cultural similarity is obvious, both, the pyramid and the “Sudanese” shrine are used to host the body of reverend figures after their death. Sudanese people incorporate elements that are neither Arabic nor Islamic into their identity, if any indication, this clearly indicates that we’re more “Sudanese” than Arabs or Muslims, and by Sudanese I refer to The Sudan the continent not the country.

“Have you ever seen a government pray?”
- Dr. John Garang

A friend asked me, what side am I with. The South and The North are mere directions to me, I’m no longer a victim of the delusion of directions. The same delusion that caused the death of men in Karari and the fall of their Mahadian State, that their leader being an Ashraf who descend from the east will gain them victory. Ibrahim, a fellow member of Sudan Unite Group(4), was asked by Al-Arabia TV if the secession of the South will put an end to the SUG, he replied “Intellectual battles do not end by political defeats”, I couldn’t say it better. If secession becomes reality next week, I wish the country number 193 will flourish and becomes the new heart of Africa and its people will be healed and rewarded for all the years they’ve suffered because of the delusion of directions. After all, all the borders of the world are ought to fall. I’ll finish this by finishing the Lennon’s quote I started with: “You may say that I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us. And the world will be as one”.

“The rights of southern citizens in their country are not provided for in Sharia but rather in Islam at the level of fundamental Quranic revelation”
- Mahmoud Mohammed Taha from his “Either this or the Flood”



ras babi abdalla babiker said...

You are not the only one.
much respect

Ceris said...

Excellent post.

Basma said...

I don't know what to say. Only that we have troubled times ahead of us.

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