The Case of Transitional Areas and Independence of South Sudan

By James Okuk

Nairobi, Kenya
Nov. 16, 2008 (SSN)

The case of Transitional Areas is very clear in the CPA and Interim Constitution of the Sudan but still some dull opportunists would want to mix it with the case of the Independence of South Sudan in 2011. Of course the people of Southern Sudan will remain grateful to the comrades of the Transitional Areas (Nuba Mountains or Southern Kordofan State, Ingassina Hills or Southern Blue Nile State, and Abyei Area) but not the extent of risking the dignified destiny of Southern Sudan.

The Nuba and Funj people took arms under SPLM/A leadership and fought Sudan government not because of self-determination for Southern Sudan but because of the delusive Vision of New Sudan and its marginalization connotation. Late Cde.Yousif Kuwa, Cde. Abdel Aziz Adam Hilu, Cde. Daniel Kote, Cde. Malik Aggar and etc. mobilized their people to rebel against Khartoum not because they wanted to help Southerners to separate from the North but because they wanted a black man/woman from pure African origin to become the President of the Sudan instead of a brown man with curl hair from Arab origin. In this regard if the Nuba and Funj politicians are not happy with the CPA deal, then they should blame themselves for having rallied behind the New Sudan delusion whose direction was unclear until it was buried in Machakos and Naivasha in Kenya.

Also some gentlemen of Abyei Area joined Southerners in their struggle against Khartoum because they found their people (the Nine Ngok Dinka Chieftaincies) threatened and humiliated by some primitive nomadic Arab origin Misseriya and other inhabitants in that Area. It is well-known in the history of Southern Sudan that the grandfathers of Ngok Dinka of Abyei sold out their birthright by abandoning their own brothers and sisters in Bahr El-Ghazal and taking new brothers and sisters in Northern Kordofan, the Misseriya. It is said that their Chiefs cut their hands with knives and joined them with the cut hands of Misseriya Chiefs as a sign of new blood fraternity between the two communities. From then they intermarried and lived as one people of Abyei Area; a move that made the British Colonialists to annex Abyei to Northern Kordofan Province for administrative purposes. It is known that there was no protest by Abyei gentlemen and chiefs about this new Dinka-Arab Fraternity and government annexation. But now when Southerners become seriously determined to go their way, the gentlemen and chiefs of Abyei Areas comes up to pretend to be more Southerners and with useless statements that there will not be South Sudan without Abyei. But why was there Southern Sudan when Abyei Dinka ran away to the North?

In Machakos-Kenya in 2002, the problem for negotiations was identified to be that of the South with the North and not the problem of marginalization in the whole Sudan. Thus the results of the negotiations were Power Sharing, Wealth Sharing and Security Arrangements between the South and the North as stipulated in the CPA. The Nuba Mountains (Southern Kordofan State), Abyei Area and Ingassina Area (Southern Blue Nile State) were identified not to be part of Southern Sudan and so were granted special protocols, which have nothing to do with the South as an entity but only with the SPLM and NCP as political parties.

In the CPA Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile States were granted the right to Popular Consultation only with the exception of Abyei Area, which was granted simultaneous self-determination to decide whether to break their being a bridge between the South and the North under the Presidency of the Sudan, and re-join the South or remains in the North as part of Northern Kordofan State. This is very clear in the CPA and there is nothing much vague about it as some people think. The only difficulty here is that the Nine Ngok Dinka of Abyei Area will not be the only community to decide the destiny of Abyei in the simultaneous referendum for self-determination; other residents of Abyei will have their votes in the referendum ballots boxes there too. The critical question here is who will be the majority in the two boxes? This is an important question all the Dinka of Abyei will have to answer before it is too late.

The fact that Nuba and Funj people fought along side with Southerners does not make them Southerners, likewise the fact that Ugandans, Ethiopians and Eritreans fought also along side with Southerners in some instances and they still remain Ugandans, Ethiopians and Eritreans with gratitude from Southerners. Hence, the big contribution of Nuba and Funj communities in the SPLM/A struggle with governments of Khartoum should not be used as a blackmailing tactic to distract Southerners from pursuing their independence self-reliantly.

Though Nuba and Funj people have been in the SPLM/A, geographically Nuba Mountains and Ingassina Hills remain in the North and there is nothing Southerners can do about this because it was not their own making. If Southerners had powers to draw borders of the Sudan, surely they would have included Nuba Mountains and Ingassina Hills in the Territory of Southern Sudan. Alas! The Map of the Sudan was drawn and adjusted by the oppressive Turko-Egyptian and Anglo-Egyptian colonialists and slave traders till it was handed to Sudanese on 1st January 1956. And the CPA says this is the only legitimate map for demarcating the borders between the South and the North.

Therefore, if the Nuba and Funj do not want to be part of the North, then this is a separate case that should not be mixed with the case of Southern Sudan. If they decide go to war with Khartoum because of desiring to be part of the independent South, and then it should be their own war and not the war of Southern Sudan. Let them decide their destiny alone but not in the expense of the destiny of Southerners because the people of Southern Sudan are tired of war and would want to break a bit before they decide to declare war (perhaps) if their independence is blocked by Khartoum. Let the Nuba and Funj peoples also remember that South Sudan is not going to be a heaven with everlasting sweet glories because it will have its own problems and weaknesses like the current disquiet about Dinka domination in the public affairs of the South.

The comrades from Nuba Mountains and Ingassian Hills should understand that at this critical time Southerners have no time and resources to waste on non-southerners before they have achieved their independence in 2011. Notwithstanding, Southerners will remain grateful to whoever has helped them during their struggle with Khartoum (Nuba, Funj, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Ugandan, Americans, etc.) but shall not go beyond this gratitude until they are done with the tough journey and challenges of the long-awaited independence for re-gaining the dignity of South Sudan. I hope I am very sincere and straight forward here to our unforgettable comrades in the Transitional Areas.

James Okuk is a PhD student in the University of Nairobi,


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