Sunday, 19 September 2010

Abyei takamul

The NCP lately raised the suggestion of declaring Abyei an integration (takamul) zone whose inhabitants enjoy dual citizenship, i.e. of both North and South, and where an algorithm of rotational posts between ethnic Dinka and Misseriya constitutes the format for government.  In other words, the NCP is here suggesting overwriting the Abyei protocol in favour of an ethnic division of power rather than the feared Abyei referendum.
The notion of takamul complements the earlier two notions of tamas (frontline) and tamzuj (intermixture) with which the NCP has tried to grabble with the problem of it’s southern frontier. The triad is interesting in the sense that it somehow reflects the quest for an Aristotelian balance between two extremes, confrontation and harmony, settling in finally for integration. Now, despite the wise allure of the suggestion it is nonetheless a repetition of the same false opposites. Conceptually, the NCP remains trapped in the cliché notions of the ‘Southern Problem’ that have not only precluded its resolution in the favour of nation-building but also arrested the imagination of nation-building in the fractionating quagmire of race and religion, whereby an extremely chauvinist definition of what is ‘North’ is excluding even al-Fasher, Kassala, and Wadi Halfa from the national repository.  The NCP’s governing fantasy of a Southern ‘cultural’ threat, generally an amalgamation of the Graduates Congress effendiya ideology, sways between fear of absorption into non-Arab Africa and a romantic obsession with the ‘lost’ South snatched away by the aliens, and long due back, as so well phrased by Abdel Wahab El Affendi in his article ‘Discovering the South’. It is this imagery that supports NCP El Tayeb Mustafa’s anti-South venom and NCP Ghandour’s unity tears. As chronicled by El Affendi is his article, the early Islamic Movement had only ‘domestic’ solutions to offer for this conundrum. Ali Talb-Allah, the first leader of the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood married a Southern Sudanese woman as a token of commitment to the cause of unity. A contemporary repeat of the same, as rumour had it, is Bashir’s suggestion to Ali Osman Taha to marry John Garang’s widow, since he was already occupied with two.
Anecdotes aside, the NCP’s takamul built on the essentialist opposition of North and South offers but statist algebra as a medium to address burgeoning historical baggage. Instead of shifting borders, what the NCP seems to have in mind is shifting populations. According to news reports contingents of Misseriya have been mobilised by Khartoum to seek permanent residence within Abyei Permanent Court of Arbitration boundaries. The takamul move I suggest targets not ‘integration’ in any reasonable sense, as long as ethnicity overdetermines citizenship, but signals an attempt by the NCP to reign in the Misseriya leadership, freaking out already over the Abyei referendum.  A Misseriya-SPLM rapprochement, improbable as it seems now, could eventually tilt the balance along the tamas line.          

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Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.