Nubians in the Diaspora: We have Project for Peaceful Solution to Nuba Mountains Issue

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM, May 16 (SUDANOW)—The issue of the Nuba Mountains has preoccupied the government and the Nubians at home and in the diaspora as well as those who are concerned with politics, especially after the second war which erupted on 6 June 2011 following the supplementary elections which were conducted in South Kordofan after the secession of South Sudan. Many Nubians have described this war as futile, though failure was the fate of all negotiations, particularly the latest one which was close to reaching agreement.

SUDANOW had a protracted conversation with Ustaz/ Adam Jamal, a fervent Nubian leader in the diaspora, on a number of issues relevant to the Nuba Mountains.

The conversation follows:-

SUDANOW:- Could you give us an idea of the Nubian leaders in the diaspora?

Jamal:- We are a group of leaders who are not affiliated to one political organization but, rather, to several organizations- some are members of the National Party, others are from the National Umma Party, some belong to the SPLM-N, others are not affiliated to any political party. They have come from different countries such as America, Australia, the European Union and Egypt. We got together and established a platform concerned with the issue of South Kordofan and Nuba Mountains region that was inflicted by a war that destroyed everything in the state. They are historic leaders who took part in the last democratic government and were members in the parliament, some were elected ministers in the democratic government, mandated by the people. An elected mandate cannot expire by time. We do not need anyone to mandate us to speak about our cause; after all, we are Sudanese from the Nuba Mountains. It's we who are concerned and hurt by the problem and the one who is harmed is the one who takes action. We have come and have mandated ourselves and we are capable of speaking out about our problems. We have made substantial steps, both inside the country and abroad. Our goal is to stop the war and achieve peace in the Nuba Mountains as peace is a strategic goal because if the war stops , development and stability will be attained and so are the other requirements and the humanitarian assistance.

Q:-How did those leaders coordinate amongst themselves despite their arrival from different countries?

A:-We constantly contact and acquaint with each other and know our locations. After occurrence of the war on 6 June 2011, we formed the Nuba Mountains Democratic Forum that brought together all of the political spectra and made studies for stopping the war. We made use of the social media for connection and unification of the different groups and laying down a program for achievement of peace and security in the Nuba Mountains region.


Q:-Do you contact any influential Nubian leaders, particularly the officers, fighting on the battleground?

A:- We can't give names. Before arrival in Sudan, we used to contact leading Nubian figures in Juba, Kampala, Nairobi, Kauda and Julud and Timah in the western region. After our arrival, we made mass briefings for the Nubians on the outskirts and some residential quarters of the capital Khartoum to explain to the people the adverse effects of the war and to persuade them to rally around the call for peace, a call which was acceptable to the layman. We went to South Kordofan State where we made similar campaigns of awareness of the need for peace and the people there also responded in favor of peace, and stability. We found out that the ordinary people were not interested in money or power but were only concerned with peace and stability and in having their children go to school and in having hospitals, clean water services and freedom of movement, but, unfortunately other objectives have surfaced. Some of us went to Addis Ababa and others to Nairobi where many families of the leaders reside.

Q:- Are you in contact with the Trio- Yassir Arman, Abdul Aziz Hilo and Malik Agar?

A:- We have since 2012 written a 29-page booklet containing our political vision which we called the project for just peace and peaceful solution to the Nuba Mountains issue. We handed this political vision over to the three leaders but they were not satisfied with it because it was not up to their ambitions as it addresses the Nuba Mountains issue and provides for stopping the war in the region. We met them several times and the last one was in Addis Ababa where we also handed them the vision and asked for a chance to discuss the issue. Arman promised to go through the vision and sit down for discussion but he did not meet his promise, apparently was not interested and evaded meeting us. We met all the political groups, international representatives and international community organizations and the various opposition and armed groups which were astonished with evasion of the SPLM-N members to meet us. A number of our group met with Malik Agar, had a sharp discussion and reached an impasse. Their evasion and disinterest was because they know that they are not the genuine stakeholders of the issue and because they pursue a line of policy which we do not accept.

Two months ago we asked the representative of the US embassy to Khartoum to arrange a meeting with the Trio whom she met in Addis Ababa and suggested that they meet the real stakeholders of the Nuba Mountains issue but they apologized because they were busy all the time.

Q:-What are the main features of your vision for a fair peace in the Nuba Mountains?

A:- It provides for stopping the war, opening safe access for humanitarian assistance deliveries, then finding a political settlement, security arrangements and power- and resource-sharing. The educational, health and other social services will be made available when peace is reached.

Q:-How do you, as leaders, evaluate the problem of South Kordofan in view of failure of the efforts exerted by the government and other informal parties to find a settlement for it?

A:- There is a great misunderstanding of the issue by the politicians and the military-men. We have to identify the issue and decide whether it is political or tribal. Whether it is a case or a problem, if it is the latter, then it is a military one of two armed parties fighting against each other. If it is a case, then it is a political one that must be discussed in a political framework. What is going on in South Kordofan is a political case; it is a case of people who took up arms in defense of their land which was usurped from them and given to aliens and owners of the lands turned into tenants and, moreover, having no share in power.

Q:-The Nubians, led by late Yusuf Kuwah, took up arms in the 1980s and fought strongly for their cause but after the Naivasha agreement, some leaders adopted the Nuba Mountains issue and there some people who say the cause was robbed and was fostered by other people. What do you think of this?

A:- Our viewpoint is that the Nuba Mountains cause is very clear. The people took up arms for specific goals: the land problem and that of non-participation in power at both the national and state levels. Add to this the non-participation in the under-ground resources and unbalanced development. The services were absent all over the region. This was why they resorted to arms, but the SPLM has passed through several phases. One of the historic mistakes was that Yusuf Kuwah chose to be a fighter in the ranks of the SPLM, instead of an ally. Afterwards, some officers and politicians like Awad al-Kerim Kuku and Yusuf Fadul, decided to correct the situation and stated that they had joined the SPLM they intended to have a training on using arms and that they had a cause that differed from that of the south. Yusuf Kuwah thought they would mutiny against him and therefore all of them were executed and thus the Nubians had no leadership and blamed Yusuf Kuwah and others for this situation. The cause was then robbed and took another course and there emerged leaders with agenda that is not relevant to the original cause which has turned into a Trojan Horse controlled by the Sudan Revolutionary Front and the Communist Party and linked it to a comprehensive national settlement, once linking it to Darfur question and another time linking it to the Manaseer problem but never speaking about the very cause of the Nuba Mountains. In view of this confusion of understanding, we have diagnosed the issue and decided to look into the root causes because it is a historic issue which did not begin during the present regime but, instead, survived all successive governments in the Sudan, beginning from the Turkish rule, through the Mahdist, the British and the national governments. All those stages have resulted in grievances but those grievances cannot be resolved by the gun which cannot express your opinion. You have to sit down for negotiation to reach your goals. Our blind following of the Southerners has eclipsed our cause and our real demands and at the end we gained nothing and the problem has remained unresolved. We believe that the problem cannot be resolved by the security grip, military force and armed forces concentrations. It must be settled by political means by pinpointing the causes of the problem, solving it and meeting the demands of the people.

Q:-Was there a defect in the Naivasha Agreement?

A:-Yes, there was a very big defect. It was the last nail in the coffin of the Nuba Mountains issue. That agreement squandered the rights of the Nubians and paved the way for secession of the South. It was a big mistake consented by the government; and besides seceding the South, it has created sources of sedition in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan which may erupt at any time.

Q:- You have participated in the recent negotiations between the government and the political opposition parties and the armed movements, including the SPLM-N. How do you assess your participation as a third party and how do you evaluate those parties? How do you view the future of the Nuba Mountains issue? Are there parties which obstruct those negotiations?

A:-We have taken part in those negotiations which were described as a consultative and strategic meeting, as a third party so as to exert pressure on all participants for positive negotiations in the future. Whether formal or informal, it was the 13th round of talks. The negotiating parties could not over five years reach a ceasefire decision. We believe that through sincerity and will-power and through the road-map, a settlement and peace can be reached in the Two Areas. But there was insincerity and lack of will-power on both side as the SPLM-N falls under the influence of South Sudan and the international community while the government is not serious and looks at the issue of the Two Areas in accordance with its political gains. Even chief African mediator Thabo Mbeki seemed like a person who lost his way in a desert and could reach anywhere. He admitted to us his failure in reaching an end to the war in the Two Areas over five years and in finding solutions to the various problems of Sudan.

Q:-Don't you think the government has displayed sincerity by signing the road-map?

A:-The government has smartly scored a goal against the SPLM-N and the opposition. Our analysis is that, being besieged from all directions, it planned to embarrass the international community and the opposition which believes that the government was not serious about signing a peace deal but the latter outwardly welcomed the peace deal. The envoy will subsequently submit his report to the African Union which will in turn submit same to the UN and we will wait and see whether there will chapter 7 of foreign intervention will be imposed, something which bring the government into dilemma. You may have noticed that the international community has not until now issued any statement neither supporting nor denouncing the SPLM-N and its allies, which seems that they are contemplating something (the interview with Mr. Jamal was conducted on May 10). An outstanding insincerity of the government is that it started a powerful military offensive so as to compel the other side to sign the road-map, but this will not lead to peace.

Q:- Which parties did the Nubian leaders met in Addis Ababa?

A:- We first met the African mediation and the African Union Chairman, Abu-Bakr Abdul Salam, twice, the first meeting was on our request and the second was requested by him. After they had drawn up and signed the road-map we met with them. We also met the government's chief delegate Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, then JEM's leader Ibrahim Jibril and separately SLM leader Minni Minnawe, Ibrahim al-Sheikh of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, Sadek al-Mahdi of Umma National Party and Ghazi Salah al-Dinn Atabani of Reform Now in addition to international representatives and other parties which took part in the meeting.

Q:- The roadmap included at least four issues which were contained in your vision, have some of the Nubian leaders participated in drawing up this document?

A:- We have concentrated on the issues which serve the Two Areas such as the humanitarian aid, a ceasefire and a political settlement.

Q:- What is your final message to the Nubians, whether within the government, inside Sudan or abroad?

A:- We say to them that enough of the war which has shackled us for long years and we call upon all peace-supporters and all parties in South Kordofan to stop the war and sit down together for reaching peace and stability in the state.



Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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