Garang's and Turabi's Sudan
A critical challenge to Turabi’s Sudan
By Bor Gatwech *
June 13, 2006 — The year A.D. 2009 is the ultimatum for the al-Turabi’s Sudan to prove to Garang’ s Sudan that it is a ‘unionist’ and not a ‘separatist’ Islamic fanatic. It is the time tentatively agreed by the SPLM and NCP for national presidential and parliamentary elections at different levels of governments across the Sudan.
Paradoxically, though, it seems much more interesting to define the word ¡§Sudan¡¨ according to gospel of the two great men of the Sudan: al-Turabi and Garang. What is Turabi’s Sudan and what is Garang’s Sudan? Nonetheless, the author cannot deny the fact that there are other more gospels envisioned about this term el Sudan by others such as Machar, Bashir and the like. However, in this article, the author is relentlessly compelled to argue on agenda ‘unity achievable’ only by shading light on two gospels.
Having been the prime architect of National Islamic Front, a modern Islamic party known as Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Turabi engineered a military coup to overthrow the elected government of Prime Minister Sadig al-Mahdi in June 1989 with Omar al-Bashir as a figurehead. The purpose of the unprecedented move was to indiscriminately put el Sudan according to his fanatical Islamic ideology.
According to his rhetoric belief, al-Turabi dreams of a Sudan as a country literally found in Africa, but an Arab state like the Egypt. Having misapprehended the existence of a huge African un-colonized population in the Sudan, he rushed to overthrow his brother-in-law just for him to realise this wild dream of turning the over sixty per cent of the African populations into black Arabs and the vast land of African and Christian religion into an Islamic world.
As people alive now, we can judge Turabi’s Sudan as a country severely shattered. Though yet claimed an independent state, it doesn’t run its affairs any longer as a sovereign country. Currently, Sudan is occupied by 10,000 strong UN troops in the south, and 7,000 AU troops in the west, meanwhile wrestling with world powers to still allow more troops to protect the non-Arab Africans from wrath of Turabi’s Sudan.
As Dr. Garang used to put it “elmeshkele de ma meshkele jinup, de meshkele Soudan”, it is true. The problem in the Sudan is not a southern born problem, but a northern born problem. Simply, this could be paradoxically restated that the south is a unionist and the north a separatist. Having asserted this claim, it could be supported with tangible evidences.
While in Juba University in 1998, I happened to coincide with a political debate at a corner in the university between disciples of Garang, and Turabi. The topic was as usual, the term unity. The Garang’s disciples asserted that unity couldn’t be attractive if other marginalised people are not equal with the ruling elites; if the south cannot be developed; if a marginalised person cannot be allowed by Islamic constitution of the Sudan to lead.
Unexpectedly, one strong lad seemingly from ‘Ansar al-Suna’ as they are called jumped up and sweared in the name of Allah and said: an infidel can never rule an Islamic state and the south will never be developed unless you become Muslims and rhetorically concluded, you’ll be allowed to die of flies and mosquitoes in the south until you accept Allah as your only God.
Nonetheless, let try to reverse the history of the country Sudan and assume that it was the Christian Africans of the Sudan who took over the country from the British. What would you predict to have happened...Unity of the country Sudan from Nimule to Wada Alfa? Or separation within the week from independency then over fifty years? Or more suicide bombings in Khartoum and other southern capitals???????? Think of this notion of Arabs unity when they control every aspect of this country from a tiny atom to a giant mountain in Nubia??? Are southerners and other marginalised people unionist or separatist? Answer for your self!
As a result, however, its patriotism and love of the people of the Sudan that inspired men like Dr. Garang to still cry of making the country one from Nimule to Wade Alfa though his own family in the south is still dying of flies and mosquitoes which aren’t any much hazard in other parts of the world since independent from the hand of Turabi’s Sudan.
Garang’s Sudan is a new Sudan of hope, love and trust. It is a country of ballots not bullets, nor marginalisation and intimidations. It is a country where the people not religious fanatics decide its future. It is a secular, united and democratic Sudan with balanced progress, equality and unity through the will of its citizens.
Conversely, it could be argued that Sudan has got only a very limited time to remain as it is. According to CPA, the Turabi’s Sudan is sentenced to death. However, it is allowed to lodge an appeal within six years to either get clemency from the south or remain defiance and receive its crucifixion.
The south is waiting for the north to make unity attractive not only for these coming five years, but it has been unionist for half a century. I personally refute the claim that northerners are unionist. They are not, but assimilators and these two terms are completely different.
The south remained patient for centuries in all those marginalisation, manipulations, murder, intimidations, and forceful assimilations. Having not been quest for love of the country Sudan, the south namely three regions like Upper Nile could have walked to Ethiopia and be part of it, Equatorial to Uganda, and Bhar al-Gazal to Central Africa. Nonetheless, this tortured and marginalised part of the Sudan remain quite and resilient waiting for Sudan new with hope, trust and equality.
Succinctly, it is now a final chance once more for that young man who cursed us in Khartoum University political rally to denounce his rhetoric and to be a unionist, rather than assimilator. No bullets here, but only ballots. To stop the south from voting for separation is to accept Garang’s Sudan. A Sudan of ballots to determine whom to lead. A Sudan of democracy of majority rule and minority rights, a new Sudan.
Turabi, having currently become a liberal figure than a religious fanatic, must persuade his disciples to accept African majority rule and Garang’s disciples will address Arabs minority rights. Then the Sudan will be like the modern South Africa where Black and white man shall live for eternity and democracy and development flourishes like a fountain of natural spring.
Otherwise, my riverian brothers from the north will find themselves isolated in a hot dry desert of the Sudan with no resources to sustain their material needs or a chance to find willing new converts to Islam- for we believe that Islam is a religion as Christianity and adherents to them should be as a choice of an individual, not through jihad or crusade.
* Bor Gatwech is an undergraduate student in Monash University in Australia. He can be reached via emails: firstname.lastname@example.org