18 Mar 2006
The statistics are grim; Over 180,000 people killed, two million others displaced, more than 300 villages burnt and countless number of women raped. This is what the Sudanese government and her ally (Janjaweed Arab militia) have accomplished in little over two years in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The unfolding genocide in Sudan is shocking to people that do not understand the complexity of the relationship between the black race and the Arabs. I can recall a few years ago when some armchair intellectuals were on my back for daring to mention that the so-called African Union be split into two comprising Arabs and the rest of the continent.
It must be borne in mind that Arabs started enslaving Africans at least one thousand years before Europeans initiated the Trans Atlantic Slave trade. It is more than a century since the Trans Atlantic slave trade came to an end but it is common knowledge that Arabs have not completely given up slavery as documented vestiges of it continue presently in Mauritania and Sudan. The renowned researcher Ali Mazrui had raised the question as to what ever happened to the millions of black African slaves shipped to the Arabian peninsular. According to him, there seems to be a “disappearing act” when you compare the number of black African descendants in the Arabian peninsular to those in the western hemisphere. Naturally, the number in the Arabian peninsular should have been higher but ironically the reverse is the case. I am going down the memory lane to demonstrate that it is not today that Arabs started committing ‘crimes against humanity’ against black Africans. In fact it is a practice that dates more than 1400 years beginning with the Trans Sahara slave trade. It is my opinion that discrimination of black Africans by Arabs is a cultural thing and the Darfur crisis is part of an ethnic cleansing exercise in progress. I am not alone in drawing this conclusion. This is what Makau Mutua (law professor, State University of New York at Buffalo) wrote in the Christian Science Monitor on the issue; “The Darfur pogrom is part of a historic continuum in which successive Arab governments have sought to entirely destroy black Africans in this biracial nation.” The Sudanese Arabs are Muslims as well as the black Africans of the Darfur. Religion is therefore not a factor as it was in the war with Southern Sudan that decimated over 2 million lives. Granted that the scramble over land also plays a significant role, it cannot be said that the situation of war in that region would have existed had the Darfur inhabitants been Arabs. The logical conclusion is that race is at the centre of the crisis.
At the beginning of the conflict the UN gave the Sudanese government a month to disarm the militia responsible for the carnage. Interestingly, the Arab League asked for more time to be given to the Sudanese government. We have come a long way and there seems to be no solution in sight despite the presence a 7000 man under-funded and under-equipped A.U. peace-keeping force. Already the conflict is stealthily engulfing Eastern Chad and the Central African Republic is already feeling the symptoms as well. A recent suggestion to bring in a more robust U.N peace- keeping force (to protect the unfortunate war victims) only drew threats from the Arab regime in Khartum and chants of ‘Jihad’ from the regime’s supporters. A so-called compromise was found by extending the mandate of the under-achieving A.U force. Maybe the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed prefer the A.U. force that will permit lapses for them to continue their drive for a ‘lebensraum’ (living space) for the Arab race.
As a student in Nigeria several years back, I thought that it was an exaggeration when one lecturer mentioned that there were large parts of Africa occupied by the Arabs today that were ethnically cleansed of black people. I could not figure out then how that could have happened. I now seem to have the answer from the Janjaweed militia in Sudan. What is happening in Sudan is a challenge to African historians to dig deeper and explain the historical relationship between black Africans and their Arab neighbours. This is also a lesson to black African political leaders that they should retrace their steps and see how this so-called AU can be structured to safeguard the interest of the people they represent. Some of us are of the school of thought that the only way to protect the black Africans from harassment and enslavement by the Arabs is to partition Sudan. Stability will continue to elude this continent as long as there are countries like Mauritania and Sudan with mixed Arab and black African peoples. Only a dreamer will believe that successfully integration of black Africans with the Arabs North of the Sahara is possible. The truth is that Arab cultural conservatism and the ‘slave master mentality’ are attributes that are incompatible with the rest of Africa. One thousand five hundred years of continuous evidence cannot be faulted.
Copyrightã2006 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah