Sitting by the sidelines and watching the escalating exchange of fire between Northern and Southern Sudanese forces….and the international community’s response has been appalling in the days leading to S. Sudan’s independence. The selective reporting that pitted the “evil”, genocide-inducing National Congress Party of the north against the perpetual victims and valiant rebels-turned politicians of S. Sudan was at times too much to handle. In no way am I making excuses for the governing northern regime, they have dug their grave so they must lie in it, but the uneven and blatantly bias rhetoric was splattered across most major international news outlets and echoed by foreign representatives across “Western” nations, made me seriously question their agendas and intentions. Sudanese Allied Forces’ (SAF) re-entry into the disputed area of Abyie a few weeks back created a media outcry, with UN agencies citing “war crimes”. These same sources failed to mention that this entry into Abyie was a direct retaliation to an attack on SAF by SPLA as they were withdrawing from the region with UN escorts. For news outlets, trying to capture an audience, even for a few seconds in digital world where we are constantly bombarded with blaring headlines from famine-stricken babies to the rampage of drug addicted superstars, the narrative of good vs evil set against the backdrop of war-torn nation is an a quick, eye grabbing fix. A fix that completely over-simplifies the context and reduces the struggles of either sides to good and bad, omitting key elements in between.
Let’s be very clear here in pointing out both sides north-(NCP) and South (SPLM) have blood on their hands and are far from innocent bystanders. Both have actively and systematically used deceitful tactics that have put their own citizens in harm’s way for the sake of their self-interest. As the international media went on and on to highlight the atrocities of the governing northern, regime, they painted a very rosy picture of the new media darling and the president-elect of S. Sudan, Silva Kirr. At times I found myself feeling some sort of sympathy for the way the North was being portrayed. Its people were simply lumped under the actions of the government (NCP). In wide-sweeping assumptions across news feeds, the people of the North were portrayed as supporters and perpetrators along with the governing regime. Silva Kirr was using some lessons he picked up and has begun systematically disfranchise the people of the South. There are several armed struggles that are waging war against Silva Kirr/SPLM. In the past S. Sudanese untied against a common enemy; an enemy that fine-tuned the British mentality of divide and conquer to consolidate wealth and power and leave the vast majority of the population in the dust; now the S. Sudanese government is doing just that. I can’t blame the British or any colonial power but ourselves. At the hands of autocratic leaders, the diversity and beauty of Sudan’s peoples, cultures and religions was lost in a war that sought to highlight their differences rather their centuries of co-habitation and integration.
Now it seems that history may repeat itself in this newly formed nation.
Although the plight of S. Sudan was always at the forefront, many regions of Sudan suffer from the same treatments. I cannot deny that there wasn’t a strong element of racism propagated by the northern regime that added to the complexity of S. Sudan’s problems. But looking to the east, west or even far north of Sudan, there are many who are fighting for development and improved access to basic services (schools, health,etc). In some parts of the country, where relatively high numbers of individuals immigrated early on, mainly to Gulf countries; they have provided the life-link that supported families and communities back home–not the government. So as some outsiders might see development in some regions and attribute it to government support, in reality it is the collective effort of communities and the remittances received from brethren abroad that has helped in providing schools, health clinics, electricity, etc.
As the both Bashir and Kirr gave speeches that struck conciliatory tones of peace and harmony, both have failed to hone the diversity of their land and peoples constructively. Sadly it is the people of Sudan and South Sudan who are left between a rock and a hard place. Struggling to cope while their leaders, seek to maintain their strong grip on power and wealth.