One day some years ago, before the latest civil war began in earnest, a Sudanese boy named Logocho peeked into the entry of his family's grass hut. His father sprang out and grabbed him, and then, with an older boy, pinned him in the dirt.
A strange boy, Logocho. Above him, his father's shoulders and chest rippled with welted tribal scars. A Morse code of dots and dashes crossed the father's face and forehead, signaling to any potential cattle raiders—the Dinka, the Nuer—that he, as a Murle, would defend his stock with spear, knife, fists, and teeth.
The article went on to an analysis of the problems that lead to the war and the peace, which is threatened by the upcoming referendum. Another excerpt:
The origin of tensions in Sudan is so geographic, so stark, you could see it even from the surface of the moon. The broad ivory of the Sahara in Africa's north set against the green savanna and jungles of the continent's narrowing center. A great, grass-stained tusk. Populations generally fall to one side or the other of that vegetative divide. Which side, north or south, largely defines the culture—religion, music, dress, language—of the people there. Sudan straddles that line to include arid desert in its north and grasslands and tropical rain forests in its south, and the estranged cultures on either side.
In Sudan, Arabs and black Africans had met with a clash. Islamic conquerors in the seventh century discovered that many inhabitants of the land then called Nubia were already Christian. The Nubians fought them to a stalemate that lasted more than a millennium, until the Ottoman governor based in Cairo invaded, exploiting the land south of Egypt as a reservoir of ivory and humans. In 1820 he enslaved 30,000 people known as Sudan, which meant simply "blacks."
Eventually global distaste for slavery put the slave traders out of business. The Ottomans retreated in the early 1880s, and in 1899, after a brief period of independence for Sudan, the British took control, ruling its two halves as distinct regions. They couldn't garrison all of Sudan—it's a massive country, ten times as big as the United Kingdom—so they ruled from Khartoum and gave limited powers to tribal leaders in the provinces. Meanwhile, they encouraged Islam and Arabic in the north and Christianity and English in the south. Putting effort and resources into the north, they left the south to languish. The question all this raises is: Why? Why was a single Sudan created at all?
Why indeed! Read the full article HERE and see some of the photos HERE.
Source: November 2010 Issue, National Geographic Magazine