Interview with Safa'a Fadl Rahamtalla

By Nanne op 't Ende
April 7, 2006

Safa'a is from the Missirya. She is a member of the South Kordofan Legislative Counsel. She talks about the causes of the war and the way forward.

Safa'a Fadl Rahamtalla

I am Safa'a Fadl Rahamtalla, I'm 32 years old. I am a member of the Legislative Counsel of Southern Kordofan for the National Congress Party (NCP), representing the western area of Al Fula.

Al Fula is my native area, I grew up there. Life was very happy. The relationships between the Missirya, the Nuba and the Dinka were peaceful; the social fabric was very strong. That was before, but when the war came it was a big problem. The war destabilised the life, it damaged the trust in the community. Now, with the peace, life is starting to return to its natural situation.

The Missirya were in the middle between the Nuba in Lagawa and the Dinka in Abyei. They had social relationships, they intermarried: the Missirya Zuruq intermarried with the Nuba, the Missirya Humur with the Dinka.

Who was responsible for the war? Well, it was Yousif Kuwa of course. Hahahaha. [To appreciate her remark: Ummassar Ali Juma'a, widow to Yousif Kuwa and also a member of the Legislative Counsel for the SPLM was present as an interpreter.] Frankly, in full truth: it was the feeling of injustice of the people in the area over wealth distribution. There is no difference between Kordofan and Darfur. These things created mistrust between the citizens and the officials. So the citizens can blame the officials: it's because of the officials that the citizens don't have their share.

Other factors also contributed. Some people from out of the region have created disunity between the people here, and we have nothing to say but the devil just entered between us. Before there were no racial problems, the society was united, and we all felt that there was injustice in distribution of power and money. Everyone expressed himself in his own way. And in the end the war broke out.

It wasn't a racial war: in the SPLM there are Nuba, Arabs and Dinka. In the NCP there are Nuba, Arabs and Dinka. It's a partisan war. The two parties expressed themselves in a different way. We thought we could come from within; to bring our people our rights by participating. The others thought that they should be on the other side, and that they could get their rights through war. Some people want to solve a problem by speaking, some want to pick up the gun.

[Remark from Ummassar which made everyone laugh: "Anyway: we started the war!"]

The NCP appointed me to represent the women during [the three years leading to General and State elections]. The Parliament [normally] is representing different constituencies, and the population of every constituency should elect their own representatives. But the CPA had some clear articles that every party should nominate its own members. The SPLM holds 45% of the seats, the NCP has 55%. The political bodies of the respective parties sat together to elect their Members of Parliament. So I came to be an MP through the choice of the NCP.

From the NCP we are only two women. We think we should be more, but we are just coping with the given circumstances that all the positions: political, executive and legislative are through appointment. We accept it for now, but women should have a larger share in representation; at least 25% of the share of the party in all executive and legislative positions. We hope that we can have more seats for women through the elections.

There is some delay in the Parliamentary work, but it's hardly worth mentioning. Any joined work starts slowly, with problems. Even the married life is that way: when it starts there are always some troubles and problems; it's a natural thing. The delay is only because of trying to make the work perfect.

We are just coming out of war; we want to get this constitution away from the emotions. We want to perfect this work, because the interest of the whole region depends on this constitution. So the delay is very natural. We are now working for a unified stand; we think that the differences are over, and we are going to endorse the constitution when we meet on the 18th of April. [At publication of the interview the State Constitution was still not endorsed by Parliament, NotE]

I am very sure the different tribes will live together harmoniously again, like before. Absolutely. Now we have started with very firm steps towards unity. We move towards unity, unification, the restoration of the social fabric; the peaceful coexistence and alliances. I don't think there will be problems; we just understood wrongly that the ways of demanding [our rights] were different. Now we're unified and we are going to ask for development for the people of South Kordofan.

Everybody has his own party but it should only serve as a home to the political work: for the common interest we are unified in solidarity. The Government, the Legislative and even the party organs are coordinating; we are all working together and this will reflect on the citizens. Maybe the grass roots didn't pick it up yet, but we are keen to form joined committees to address the grass roots about the CPA, so the people will be unified. We will go forward.

Yes, I'm representing the NCP, but I want to speak as an MP and a citizen of South Kordofan only. We, from within the Parliament, vow to work as one hand for the development of South Kordofan: health, education, water and electricity. We vow to unify the State; we vow to get rid of the bitterness of the past. We will turn over this page of war, and start a new chapter of rehabilitation and development.

We are especially keen about the women: we are keen to give them education and capacity building; to see them rise; to give them health care and assistance in motherhood. We are focussing on women and children, regardless of SPLM or NCP, and we call upon the NGO's to stand by us to make our work successful.

Interviewed in Kadugli on April 7, 2006.

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