Saturday, October 28, 2006

We love you Ethiopian Airlines!

Welcome Ethiopian! The news that Ethiopian Airlines will start regular flights to Juba is a welcomed news!

Juba is the capital and seat of the government of South Sudan. The signing of the CPA has opened the town to the world. Its previous links were only through Khartoum.

Few airlines serve the route, apart from small chartered flights from East Africa. Ethiopian is the only international airline that will add the most necessary international link to this "City of Dreams" as it forges its way through a hardwon peace. Ethiopian has shown its commitment to supporting South Sudan in its struggle to succeed as a nation. Ethiopian's move is also a vote of confidence in the new emerging economy of South Sudan. I hope others will follow suit.

Welcome to your new home, Ethiopian! We love you!

Monday, October 23, 2006

NCP and SPLM: strange bed fellows

The National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement (SPLM) are sure strange bed fellows. I just wonder more than once how they keep their Government of National Unity (GONU) functioning.

Now they are trading blows again. The SPLM claimed they were not consulted when Khartoum expelled the UN special envoy Jan Pronk. Being part of the government, where were the decisions made? Are there many governments in Khartoum?

Now it is Khartoum's turn to slam the SPLM. The NCP said the visit of the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to Juba was wrong. Since Sudan is still one country, any president visiting should come through Khartoum and meet president Bashir first.

Who is wrong and who is right? There are more to come, it seems.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sudan expels UN envoy Jan Pronk

Things are not getting any better in Sudan. Now it is the time of Jan Pronk.

The UN special envoy to Sudan has been given three days to pack up and leave the country. His crime: claiming in his web blog that the Sudanese army had suffered serious losses in fighting with rebels in northern Darfur. He also said generals had been sacked, morale was low and soldiers were refusing to fight in North Darfur. I am amused that the Sudanese army generals are reading his blog at all!

Cool. This man has guts. He always said the unsayable! He is feared for hi open remarks. That is why the guys in Republic Palace want him out of their backs. He just gave them the excuse to pounce on him.

Take it from me. The government will relent in the end and allow him to stay. This is high class politicking.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

HRW highest award to a Sudanese

Human Rights Watch, the international watchdog on human rights is awarding its highest award to a Sudanese from Darfur. Salih Mahmoud Osman, a lawyer who has defended and given free legal aid to hundreds of victims of human rights abuses in Darfur, Sudan for the past two decades, will recieve the award in November.

Bravo Salih. You deserved to be honored this way.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Darfur rebels demand new talks, self-determination

The time will certainly come when the cracks will lead to the collapse of the whole system of government in Sudan. The new demands of the new rebels alliance for self-determination is far from realistic, at least for now. I believe it will turn out to be a negotiation tactic: ask for the impossible and then agree on a better compromise.

Self autonomy is the answer, as I said in my last post.

Tip: Coalition for Darfur

The problem with Sudan. Part 1: the system

How do you run a country of 2.5 million square km, 33.3 million people, 7 times the size of Germany, with more than 400 spoken languages and dialects, multiracial, and with lots of resources?

After 50 years of independence from the British, Sudan has failed miserably in finding the right formula. Successful governments in Khartoum have experimented with several forms of systems, from the military to the Islamic fundamentalist ideologies.

Military regimes have not done the country any good. Sudan had seen a good share of military coups in Africa: Ibrahim Aboud (1958), Jaafar Mohammed Nimeri (1969), Suwar el Dahab (1985) and Omar el Bashir (1989). Although the country saw some semblance of calm, a war raged on in South Sudan for 40 years of the 50 years of independence.

The so called democracies had done no good either. The first president of the Sudan Ismail el Azhari failed to bring country together. Even the two times the Sadig el Mahdi ran the country as Prime Minister, Sudan was worst than it had ever been, as the rich plundered the resources and the poor get poorer.

Islamic ideological use in government was the craziest of all. Between 1966 and 1969, Sudan had a series of governments that proved unable either to agree on a permanent constitution or to cope with problems of factionalism, economic stagnation, and ethnic dissidence. The successions of early post-independence governments were dominated by Arab Muslims who viewed Sudan as a Muslim Arab state. Indeed, the Umma/National Unionist Party proposed 1968 constitution was arguably Sudan’s first Islamic-oriented constitution.Declaration of September laws by Nimeri in 1983 imposing Sharia Law and abrogating the Addis Ababa Accord with South Sudan plunged the country into deeper quagmire.

The country is at the verge of collapse and disintegration: rebel movements in the South, East and West of the country. The center is facing the greatest dilemmas as pressure mounts for solutions.

But how do you come out of the situation? Managing the huge country from the center had been one gigantic failure. What the country had never tried is federation. Give the different regions the right to govern themselves in partial autonomy, but retain important ministries. I believe it is the best solution to a recurring phenomenon. Decentralization is the answer.

When each region runs its own affairs, none will think of breaking away as an independent state, hopefully.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sudan denies directing the janjaweed

It is always impossible to put the genie back into the bottle. Sudan's denial is not new.

Museveni and the LRA

When the goings get tough for the colonel, the general gets into the field. So it is for the stalled peace talks between the Lords Resistant Army rebels and the Uganda government taking place in Juba, South Sudan. President Yoweri Museveni has confirmed that he will be going to Juba to oversee the talks himself.

However, the rebels called his move premature. If it can help push the talks forward, what the hell!

Who killed Garang: the conspiracy theories

The circumstances which lead to the untimely death of the South Sudanese leader Dr. John Garang de Mabior in a tragic helicopter crash will never be fully known. Dr. Garang was returning to Sudan after a brief visit to Uganda where he met president Museveni when the helicopter disappeared in the mountain ranges of South Sudan on 30th July 2005.

I for one don’t like conspiracy theories, but I couldn’t help but consider all that were made around the circumstances of Garang’s death. They range from the remotely plausible to the utter ridiculous. Here is a collection of the conspiracy theories so far.

Khartoum involvement
Garang is a threat to the Islamist government in Khartoum. He is gaining support even among the Arab and Muslim northerners. People point to the fact that his reception in Khartoum drew the largest crowd ever to fill the Green Square.

LRA complicity
The Lords Resistant Army (LRA) rebels planted bombs on the helicopter. Garang had gone to Uganda to discuss ways of mopping out the LRA rebels from Sudan. The rebels used to hide in the South during the conflicts but with peace, there is no where to hide. They fear the Garang-Museveni pact could be their end.

SPLA rivalries
They say Garang was assassinated by his SPLA colleagues. Some point to the differences between Garang and his deputy Salva Kir (now the current SPLM leader Sudan VP) prior to the signing to the peace agreement. They believe this was a fight over leadership of the movement.

Congolese rebels
Museveni was fighting the Congolese rebels within Congo and they planted this bomb in the helicopter meant for him. Garang was one unlucky person to travel in Museveni’s bobby-trapped helicopter.

CIA hit
The CIA has taken Garang out of the equation. They fear his ideas about one united and powerful Sudan which can threaten their interests in the region. It was said to be carried out by the CIA’s Worldwide Attack Matrix.

The enquiry made into the accident has concluded that it was an accident with no foul play. Not many people buy this story. Months after the final report was made, Rebecca Garang, the wife of Dr. Garang called for a new probe into the cause of the accident. What am certain is that the truth about the death of Dr. John Garang de Mabior will never be known. But conspiracy theories will always be around for a long time to come.

Monday, October 16, 2006

UN could have averted Darfur catastrophe

That is what the Minority Rights Group International is saying in their report. The UN could have read the signs of an impending catastrophe earlier, the report says.

Act now, UN. Better late than never.

Wanted: a presidential advisor

Question: How many people are needed to be presidential advisors/assistants?
Answer: Infinity!
Question: How do you get appointed as a presidential advisor/assistant?
Answer: Start a rebel movement first!

That seems to be the fastest way to get into the Republican Palace in Khartoum these days. In the past opposition parties get there through coalition governments, et cetra. Not now.

The new trend is disturbing for the country, to say the least. Sudan had rebels in the east, west, south ( but not yet the north!) What is common in all these groups? Their leaders get appointed as vice presidents and advisors! Salva Kir, Mini Minawi . . .

The latest group to join this club are the eastern rebels. Welcome aboard, buddies.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Can Darfur undo the CPA?

As the Darfur conflict in the west of Sudan gains international attention, the efforts to resolve it is threatening the fragile peace in the South of the country.

South Sudan has a government just one and half years old, formed following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi on 9th January 2005. The peace agreement brought to an end one of Africa's longest conflicts, that pitted the north against the south. Slowly life is getting back to normal, as landmines are cleared, refugees return home and international agencies work round the clock to provide services such as health.

The Government of National Unity (GONU), formed between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP) is struggling along. Although there are problems with the implementation of the CPA , GONU has survived so far. All bodies want to see that the peace is maintained and no going back to conflict.

However, another conflict far away in the west (relative to South Sudan) is threatening the little gains of the peace and autonomy in the South. The issue is whether the government should allow the UN to take over from the AU. The NCP insists that the intended UN mission is a breach of its Sovereignity. The position of the SPLM on this issue is quiet different, to say the least. SPLM is for intervention by the UN in Darfur to stop the death and destruction going on.

The NCP dominated government and their SPLM colleagues are on a collision course. Recent utterances by senior NCP officials like Ibrahim A. Omer does not seem peaceful at all. Saying that if the SPLM support the deployment of UN troops in the country, the NCP will cancel the CPA (i.e. the CPA will cease to exist) is naive, if not utterly rediculous.

This is not a simple statement. It represents the thoughts of the NCP high command. They seem to think the CPA is an SPLM document which can be pushed under the carpet anytime. The NCP wants to threaten the SPLM, a partner to the government with lame threats of jettisoning the CPA. I believe it is an irresponsible remark and should not be left unchallenged.

The CPA had the gurantees at the UN Security Council. It is not that easy to undo an agreement, like what Numeri did to the Addis Ababa Agreement of 1972. This is 2006. It will be the worst mistake that the NCP will make. What will become of the heavily armed SPLA soldiers present in Khartoum today? Do you think they will just surrender their weapons? Khartoum can become another Mogadishu or Bagdad.

Darfur is another matter and must be handled separately from South Sudan. Tampering with the CPA is not a good idea and will bring more disaster than Darfur is already causing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

New UN chief elected

Congratulations to the new UN Secretary General , the South Korean Ban Ki-moon, 62.

The new UN chief is inheriting a very tough job. The UN is under a lot of stress these days. North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Darfur, terrorism, you name it.

I am particularly concern how he will handle Darfur. It seems the international pressure aimed at making Sudan accept the UN forces for Darfur is not strong enough. The coalition showed lots of cracks over the issues. If the problem is not solved by the end of the year, he is in for a really tough New Year party.

Hard luck.

It's Friday 13th!

How superstitious are you?

Most cultures have superstitions. My humble little tribe in Soutn Sudan definitely has lots of that. You don't whistle at night, or look at yourself in the mirror, or many other stuff. An owl cooing on your roof top is a sign of evil to come, a bad omen.

I guess nothing beats the age old Friday 13th fear in the Western world. It is called paraskevidekatriaphobic (I will excuse you if you cannot pronounce it. I couldn't the first time myself!)

I found it hilarious. Read for yourselves, folks.

A Nobel prize for poverty busters!

Thumbs up for the Nobel Committee for their choice of awarding the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to the least expected groups. Awarding it to the Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank shows théir recognition to efforts in fighting poverty.

Poverty remains the root cause of the problems in the developing countries. At least countries can now see that micro-credit schemes are worth the sweat, for they can help pull poor communities out of their quagmire.

Again, it has gone to the third world countries, not the first world! Bravo, Muhammed!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Remembering Dr John Garang de Mabior

“In the cabin of the giant Boeing 747, the lights were dimmed as the “fasten your seat belts” and “No smoking” signs lights came on. Then the metallic voice of the captain came floating over the intercom: “ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts. We are now starting our descent to the John Garang International Airport in Juba . . .”

How charming. But not yet. What better way to remember a hero of the Sudan by naming an international airport after him. It will join a hosts of other airports named after heroes such as: the Jomo Kenyatta International in Nairobi, the Murtula Mohammed International in Lagos, the J F Kennedy International in New York and the Charles De Gaulle in Paris. It is the best manner to keep his memories alive from one generation to the next. We will not only make sure his legacy lives on, but also that he is remembered every day. His vision will be kept alive from dying or disappearing with the setting sun.

This is not a strange phenomenon. In many parts of the world, Africa included, there have been struggles for justice and equality. The marginalized and the oppressed masses in the world have led resistances, both peaceful and violent to change the status quo. In most instances, these liberators never lived to reap the fruits of their efforts. They fell in the struggle, so that others can have the best that the world and their countries can offer.

There are other ways we can keep his legacy alive. A John Garang Memorial Center can be built in Juba where he was buried. I suggest a huge park be built in his memory where visitors can see the tomb. It can also double as a memorial for all those who died in the struggle for freedom and justice, by putting up the names of all the fallen heroes in templates around the park. The center can also be made an Institute for Peace and Development Studies.

Wait. There is another way too. Let us rename the big Africa Road in the heart of Khartoum the John Garang Highway. John Garang loved Khartoum. It is his rallying cry for a new Sudan that won him hearts in Northern Sudan. It is the capital that he had fought for 21 years to make as inclusive of all the peoples of the Sudan as possible.

So next time you fly into Juba, don’t think you are landing in another country. It is the John Garang International Airport. Heroes never die.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sudanese national anthem: the call to arms

The Sudanese national anthem is a call to battle. Most anthems praise the beauty of the land and its resources etc. Not the Sudanese. Here is what it says:


Nahnu Djundullah Djundulwatan.
In Da A Da Il Fida Lam Nakhun.
Natahaddal Maut Endalmihan.
Nashta Ril Madjd Bi Aghlathaman.
Hathihil Ard Lana! Falyaish Sudanuna,
Alaman Bayn Al Umam.
Ya Benissudan, Hatharamzukum;
Yah Miluleb, Wa Yahmi Ardakum.


We are the army of God and of our land,
We shall never fail when called to sacrifice.
Whether braving death, hardship or pain,
We give our lives as the price of glory.
May this Our land, Sudan, live long,
Showing all nations the way.
Sons of the Sudan, summoned now to serve,
Shoulder the task of preserving our country.

For many it may sound more approriate now than ever before! With the government raisng the banner of defending the land, the call to arms 'and giving our lives as a sign of glory' is rather worrisome. We are defending our land (Darfur) from invaders (sic!) The anthem sounds great as a rallying call for battle!

The spirit with which the writer of the Anthem wrote may defer, but it has rather bad image for Sudan. The anthem was written by Sayed Ahmad Muhammad Salih and adopted in 1956. It just shows how much we love to fight each other, in the name of 'preserving our country'. Every time I hear the anthem, it is like being called into battle. Maybe it is time we have a new anthem!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kush: the African Civilization

The first African civilization after Egypt was built by an Egyptianized people who lived between the Nile River's first and third cataracts and spoke Nilo-Saharan languages. This region around the first cataract, called Nubia, had been conquered and colonized by Egypt in the fourth millenium BC. Because of this, Egyptian civilization diffused southward and a new African kingdom was built up in the floodplain around the Nile's third cataract: the Kush. Their capital city was Kerma and it served as the major trading center for goods travelling north from the southern regions of Africa.

Kush attained its greatest power and cultural energy between 1700 and 1500 BC during the Third Intermediate period in Egypt. The domination of Egypt by the Hyksos allowed Kush to come out from under the hegemony of Egypt and flower as a culture; this period ended, however, when the New Kingdom kings, having thrown the Hyksos out of Egypt, reconquered Kush and brought it under Egyptian colonial rule.

However, when the New Kingdom collapsed in 1000 BC, Kush again arose as a major power by conquering all of Nubia. The conquest of upper Nubia, which had been in the hands of the Egyptians since the fourth millenium, gave to Kush wealthy gold mines.

Following the reassertion of Kushite independence in 1000 BC, the Kushites moved their capital city farther up the Nile to Napata. The Kushites by and large considered themselves to be Egyptians and the proper inheritors of the pharoanic titles and tradition. They organized their society along Egyptian lines, assumed all the Egyptian royal titles, and their architecture and art was based on Egyptian architectural and artistic models. Their pyramids were smaller and steeper and they introduced other innovations as well, but the Napatan culture does not on the surface appear much different than Egyptian culture.

The Kushites even invaded and conquered Egypt in a magnificent irony of history. The Napatan kings formed the twenty-fifth pharaonic dyansty in the eighth century; this dynasty came to an end with the Assyrian invasion of Egypt in the seventh century BC.

The Assyrians, and later the Persians, forced the Kushites to retreat farther south. This retreat south eventually closed off much of the contact that the Kushites had with Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe. When Napata was conquered in 591, the Kushites moved their capital to Meroe right in the heart of the Kushite kingdom. Because of their relative isolation from the Egyptian world, the Meroitic empire turned its attention to the sub-Saharan world. For most of its prosperous life, the Meroitic empire served as the middle term in the trade of African goods to northern Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. While it still continued the cultural traditions of pharoanic Egypt, the Meroites developed newer forms of culture and art because of their isolation from the northern kingdoms.

Many of these innovations occurred in the realm of government. Unlike pharoanic Egypt, the king ruled through a customary law that was established and interpreted by priests. The king was also elected, but he was elected from the royal family. As in Egypt, descent was reckoned through the mother's line. Eventually, however, this descent model produced a series of monarchs who were women, an innovation not seen in any other major civilization.

The Kushite religion closely resembled Egyptian religion. It was polytheistic and contained all the major Egyptian gods. Amon was the principal god, but as in Egyptian religion, Meroitic religion involved regional gods which were served as principal gods in their region. There are some non-Egyptian gods, such as a lion warrior god, which the Meroites probably derived from southern African cultures, but these gods were few.

The Meroitic Empire thrived throughout the last half of the first millenium BC. After three centuries of decline, it was finally defeated by the Nuba people. It's commercial importance was replaced by Aksum to the east.


Black Kush, a new awakening!

I have been away and very busy that blogging my site had been a big problem. I am happy to be back. To signify this new awakening, 'Juba Blog' has changed its name to Black Kush. The URL remains the same, though!

Why Black Kush? Well black because am a Sudanese and Black African too. Do you know that more than 60 % of the Sudanese are blacks? Kush is the ancient Sudanese Kingdom that I will be telling you more about in times to come.

So here comes Black Kush . . .