Northern Sudan has never, will never and can never treat Southern Sudan even-handedly, i.e. with fairness, justice and equality in a united Sudan. They are culturally constrained to accept the principle of equality. A few glimpses of the history of our relations with Northern Sudan since the dawn of the so-called national self- government in 1954, eloquently affirm this thesis.
But, first, I wish to make quick reference to statements made by Northern political party leaders in our modern history which underpin the nature and the extent of the underlying prejudices, thereby giving expression to the cultural constraint I have alluded to, above.
1.In the aftermath of civil uprisings of 1955, the leader of the defunct Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), then Minister of Interior in the coalition Government with the National Unionist Party (NUP), Sheik Ali Abdel Rahman, made a statement in parliament after the Sudan Army had burned down to ashes some 700 huts in Yei District, resulting in the citizens of Yei fleeing to Uganda and to Congo. Astonishingly the Minister told parliament that he was not so much interested in the fleeing people but in the land they had left behind.
2.In October, 1966, the current leader of the Umma Party, Mr. Sadig El Mahdi, told students at Khartoum Technical Institute (K.T.I) in a political lecture that Southern Sudan was important as it would serve as a spring board into the heart of Africa for their mission to spread Islamic Arab culture.
3.In the same month and year, in the political parties conference at Khartoum University Examinations Hall, the leader of the National Islamic Front, Dr. Hassan El Turabi stated that Southerners were people without culture and that Northerners had a moral obligation to avail Arabo-Islamic Culture to the Southerners.
4.In December, 1994 in the Iggad Peace Talks in Nairobi with the SPLM, one of the NCP leaders, Ghazi Salah El Din, leader of the NCP to Peace Negotiations, stated that whereas European Christian colonialists took control of, and converted, Africa into Christianity in the last century, Salah El Din asserted that it was now time for Islam to take over control of Africa. Of course, this was meant to take control and convert Southern Sudan into Arabo- Islamic Culture.
I can now move on to deal with the matter of other historical glimpses significantly affirming this thesis:-
i.The distribution of 800 civil service jobs vacated by the Anglo- Egyptian colonial officials went to the Northerners, with exception of four (4) junior administrative positions which went to Southerners. Correct my arithmetic as I think that this appears to be no more than .5%
ii.The period prior to the so- called national independence (1954-1955) witnessed massive influx of Northern Sudanese administrators, law enforcement personnel, merchants and others, whose attitude and behavior towards Southerners became unbearably overbearing; in stark contrast to the treatment and behavior of the British colonial masters before them.
This was one of the immediate causes of the 1955 uprising, sparked off by the military disarming of Southern soldiers in Torit garrison on 18th August 1955 and rapidly spread throughout Southern Sudan in that year.The uprising led to and resulted in immediate occupation of Southern Sudan by the Northern Army, the police and the Prison warders.
In addition, more Northern Sudanese administrators were brought in as well, to replace the few Southerners who were either killed or imprisoned. A few surviving Southern administrators and other law enforcement personnel were immediately exiled to Northern Sudan.
At that point in time, we became an occupied Country and a conquered people. A reign of terror was unleashed throughout Southern Sudan from August 1955 to the early years of the 1960s, resulting in what could appropriately be described as genocidal massacres by all organs of the state, including the normally more dependable justice organ- the Judiciary.
This inhumane colonial- like situation was resurrected in the worse ways possible in the years beginning from 1963 to 1966 or thereabouts. To prove this point, the Juba massacres of July 8th 1965, where some 1,400 Southern Sudanese citizens were killed by the army; the Wau massacres of July 11th, 1965 where over 72 Southern Government officials were massacred by the army in a marriage (wedding) party, among other killings in other towns of Southern Sudan, spring to mind. The heightened level of political persecution coupled with police and military repression, not to mention all forms of service and economic deprivation, characterized this period, extending until the mid 1969.
This was the period when the Southern demand for federal rule was rebuffed by the North on the basis that Southern Sudan was too poor to run its own affairs. Some southern Sudanese politicians were sent to long prison terms for articulating the said demand. It now appears that this poverty argument no longer hold water. It has now been substituted with two new arguments:
i.Northern Sudan now opposes the separation of Southern Sudan because Northern Sudan cannot survive economically: see Uztaz Ali Mahmoud Hassanein and group in the recent London Forum.
ii.The second argument is that the South, if allowed to go its own way, cannot survive because they would kill themselves and cannot manage their own affairs.
The question arising is why would Southerners kill themselves and cannot manage their affairs? Did Southern Sudan not manage its affairs in the bush during the twenty years of war? How have we managed ourselves during the last five years? Is Southern Sudan not in a much better shape now than at any other time in the past? Have we not managed to survive as a people and as a Government in spite of machinations orchestrated from the North to promote and arm the militias to fight proxy wars in Southern Sudan?
Personally, I think that our last fifty years of unity, have cost us millions of lives of our peoples; billions of material resources were wasted and without the benefits of socio-economic development despite the massive oil resources which should have made development abundantly possible. On the contrary, we have only ensured economic stagnation and underdevelopment up to now. If, at this critical stage in our history, we do not rise to the challenges we now face, then we will find ourselves continuing with the cycle of wars between us.
This cycle of wars must go away. There is no reason why we must continue to expensively pay the price of senseless wars when we can, through the roadmap we already have, settle our problems and live in economic cooperation and good, neighborly relations; as Northern Sudan does with Egypt and as we do in the South with Uganda, Kenya, among others.
The fact of the matter is that we have not lived up to the letter and spirit of the C.P.A and the Interim National Constitution. We have failed to make unity attractive and we have failed to redress the imbalances in development and resource allocation, to breach the gap between the North and the South, as per Art. 82 (c) and (g) of the Interim National Constitution. This is the table on which the unity of the Sudan finally died.
Similarly, we have failed to follow the provisions of Abyei protocol and the Hague International Court of Arbitration decision of April 2009 on Abyei boundaries.
Finally, we have equally failed to learn from available lessons of history and the repeated problems we have faced in our fifty years of turbulence. We have squandered every opportunity that has come our way. For similar reasons, the unity of the remaining Northern Sudan will now be threatened yet again.
It is therefore inconceivable that our Northern Sudanese Compatriots, who are largely people of above average common sense, do still think that the people of Southern Sudan can, in this referendum, act otherwise than to follow their best interest so that they become first class citizens in their own country than to vote for unity so that they remain 7th class citizens in the united Sudan. Does that sound reasonable to you? For me, I shall vote in the best interest of the future of my people- you, and of my children.