Soon Sudan will cease to be the largest country in the continent. It won’t even be the second or third biggest. Soon the language of junubi, kaffirs and slaves in Sudan will die. Soon the newly baby born will be seen. And soon, the much ignored, exploited and looked down at will take their future in their own hands. It’s just soon and very soon.
Recent rhetoric by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, who’s also the Vice President of Sudan, that southern Sudanese have two choices come next elections-cum- referendums about the future of this biggest country in Africa. Mayardit offered his people two option for their good and peril, to vote for total freedom or to vote for being second class citizens in their own motherland. This can not be something to pooh pooh.
Mayardit was quoted as thus: “When you reach your ballot boxes the choice is yours: you want to vote for unity so that you become a second class in your own country, that is your choice,” Kiir said addressing worshippers Saturday at Juba cathedral. “If you want to vote for independence so that you are a free person in your independent state, that will be your own choice and we will respect the choice of the people.”
Mayardit aired this in South Sudan’s capital Juba recently, as his Government of South Sudan (GoSS) in it’s mission in Nairobi, spokesperson John Duku weighed in with more flavours saying categorically that they’ll boycott presidential elections. This is after the semi-Arab dominated government in Khartoum excluded countries from which Sudanese in diaspora would vote from. To make matter worse, many of these countries are neighbouring and strategical ones thanks to being neighbours hosting many southern Sudanese.
Logically, any and all sane people will vote for freedom. Mark my words. This will be followed to letters by southerners. For apart from being their leader’s vision, they are tired of thuggish and exploitative North. Though this might be seen as preemption of what is to come, the truth is, the South does not have any reason of solemnizing any marriage with the bullish and thuggish North.
However, Khartoum skeptics are wrongly thinking that if the South goes solo it will be orphaned. The fact of the matter is the South has a good partner in Kenya, even Uganda. Presently, the South is getting almost all supplies from and through Kenya. Thus, South Sudan will be more at home doing with a reliable and supportive partner than the suspicious and bully one. Being a baby in making, the South has a very brighter future in the East African Community than in Khartoum. After all, Khartoum needs the South more than the South needs it, thanks to how it underdeveloped, degraded, neglected and exploited it for so long.
When the vulture is cornered it cries wolf. There is nothing that gears the North to support the re-unification of Sudan but the South’s resources, especially oil. But will the South allow itself to be bitten twice in the same hole?
Kenya has a big chance to spoil this though not by premeditation. For it hosted Southerners since the inception of the concept of emancipation. Nairobi was a hub and bastion for leaders of southern freedom fighters. So, warm and strong relationship with Kenya, that used to host John Garang and Riek Machar will greatly add up.
The other side of the matter revolves around stinking racism and huge ideological differences between North Africans that regard themselves as Arabs and their brethren in the South. Northerners segregate Southerners for two reasons. One, Southerners are either Christians or traditionalists and two, they’re blacker than they. But as the days go, the perception of colour, though artificially conceived (for even Northerners are Africans) and influence from Arab world, the hatred between the duo is likely to go even deeper. Northerners do not like Southerners. But given that the South is awash with oil, they’ve no way. What can they do whilst they are caught between the devil and the deep sea? So incorporating South Sudan in the East African Community should be done with all assurance and urgency that it has more to offer than Burundi and Rwanda put together.
Another thing that is likely to force Khartoum regime to its knees is the whole burden of Darfur. There are fears that Darfur may team up with the oil rich South so as to circle the North and assume power of the whole Sudan, thereby the used to be dominant Northerners would end up becoming subjects of their former subjects. This shocks Sudanese dictator Omar Bashir to the bone. As the days go by, his position is tested and weakened thanks to secession and the court order by ICC.
Though separation defeats the spirit of African unity, it is better than wasting time wrangling and scheming against one another. Hither we can borrow a leaf from Eritrea. Its secession from Ethiopia enhanced peace and tranquility in the region as it will be in this case in point.
On the one hand, some people are blaming Mayardit as being myopic and a separatist different from his predecessor, the late John Garang de Mabior Atem, who wanted to take Khartoum through ballot box. On the other hand, it must be appreciated that things have changed since the untimely demise of Garang. By then it was easy to take Khartoum by the way of referendum. But currently, it is easier to take Khartoum and re-unify Sudan by going solo, so as to team up with Darfur and reclaim it. Khartoum without oil will be nothing but a sitting duck. Though many fear that marriage of convenience with China can hamper its reclamation, this is hogwash. China , just like any other money maker, will bet on the winning horse.
This being the situation, it remains to be seen if going solo for South Sudan means gain or peril.
Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.