Sunday, 31 July 2011

Turabi the fanatic liberal

Hassan al-Turabi descended lately upon Egypt with his accustomed vigour. Over the past few days the veteran Islamist occupied the media with a stream of lengthy interview performances and public appearances where he effectively reinvented himself to the ‘revolutionary’ Egyptian scene. The sheikh was barred for more than twenty years from entering the country under Mubarak on the grounds of his alleged involvement in the 1995 attempt on the life of the former Egyptian head of state in Addis Ababa. Over and over again he pleaded innocent claiming that the whole episode was the making of his deputy, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, and the chief of the Sudanese security organs at the time, Nafie Ali Nafie. As is his habit, Turabi refrained from explicitly naming the two gentlemen and only referred to the posts they occupied. He categorically denied any knowledge of the plot adding that even President Bashir was in the dark about the official Sudanese involvement in the incident.
Judging by his television performances Turabi in Cairo appeared fresh and engaged. He enjoyed the publicity and overwhelmed his interlocutors with his passionate rants and his neologisms. ‘The sheikh of freedoms’ as he is described by his followers in the Popular Congress Party (PCP) presented his new liberal self in the language of Islamic reform. He criticized the standard doctrines of the Islamic movements, the jihadists as well as the reformers in the fashion of the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood, arguing that they lack the necessary figh (Islamic jurisprudence) to address the challenges of the current age, in particular the questions of governance and economic management. The liberal Turabi went to great lengths to root his rediscovered passion for parliamentary rule in the early phases of Islam claiming that the Prophet Mohamed never adjudicated against popular consent, and that the first Caliphs were actually elected by a sort of popular vote where even women took part. According to the sheikh, from that moment of primordial democracy, a Moslem ‘let a hundred flowers blossom’ if you like, the entire political history of Moslem societies is but a tale of relentless degeneration. In the same vein Turabi argued that the Medina of the Prophet united Moslems, Jews, Christians as well as disbelievers in what would be today termed a tolerant multi-cultural polity governed by a written arrangement, the Medina Document, a proto-constitution in Turabi’s assessment.  
The same Turabi had in the early 1990s claimed with equal conviction that the Moslem umma was in no need for political parties, and that partisan divides only served the interests of the umma’s Western enemies. He described the Westminster model of democracy as defunct arguing that the distinction between left and right had lost its relevance with the collapse of the socialist bloc. Turabi then chewed on Huntington and Fukuyama to pronounce Islamic liberation as the next game in town, the mirror claim of Huntington’s prophecy of an imminent clash between the Western and the Islamic civilisations.
When asked why his own attempt at forging an Islamic political order in Sudan did not meet his aspirations Turabi laid the blame squarely on the military and secondarily on the corrupting influence of power on his own disciples, the cadres of the National Islamic Front (NIF). He added however that the Islamists in power failed to generate the required figh to run a state along Islamic principles, a matter he stated that Islamic scholars had largely ignored throughout the history of Moslem societies. Turabi’s contribution to this political figh is to be found in a rather confused text he published in 2004, al-Siyasa wa al-Hukm (Politics and Government), in essence a polemic against the ‘dictatorial’ diversion of the National Congress Party (NCP) regime under President Bashir where he wrote “The organised group that plotted the military takeover in Sudan failed to open up to pious common Muslims or to follower who achieved enlightenment through the evolving motion of revolution. Instead, the military leaders succumbed to the vices of apparent revolutionary success and the lust for power. They even reneged against the guiding thinkers of the revolution, since the revolution relied on the effective power of the military not on the enlightening virtues of its direction, and on the bureaucratic obedience of soldiers rather than the response of the masses, who were to be rallied with or against their will.”
In response to the Islamic Movement’s campaign for an Islamic constitution in the 1960s the late Secretary of the Communist Party, Abd al-Khalig Mahjoub, published a pamphlet where he argued that the Moslem Brothers had no concrete project to offer in terms of political, economic and social reform, apart from the sloganeering with Islamic values. He recognized then what an attraction the reference to the egalitarian principles of early Islam would represent to the Moslem masses and advocated the counter-notion that ‘socialism is the Islam of the 2o’s century’. Separately, Abd al-Khalig criticized his own party for failing to comprehend the class origins and social configuration of President Abboud’s military government (1958-1964). He wrote that the party opposed the regime solely on the grounds of its dictatorial nature but did not develop the requisite knowledge to grasp its articulation in the struggle of social forces in the country. The same could be said about Turabi’s recent infatuation with parliamentary rule. It is but another instance of his ‘sloganeering’ in the face of a regime that represents the real of his political project. The ‘sheikh of freedoms’ has no other intellectual trick to play than to project his Islamised liberalism back to an invented Medina proto-democracy where the Moslems of the seventh century supposedly established the germs of constitutional government long before the European evolution of similar principles.  

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The season of al-Intibaha

Formally speaking, only the Just Peace Forum (JPF) among all the Sudanese political forces, North and South, has realized its prime objective with the partition of the Sudan into two countries, the Republic of the Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan. Neither the National Congress Party (NCP) nor the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) actually ever committed themselves openly to the secession of South Sudan. To both political hegemons partition is on the face of it the consequence of the failure to make unity attractive in the jargon of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), i.e. a by-product of their political wrangling but not an objective as such. The JPF and its mouthpiece, al-Intibaha, Khartoum’s best-selling newspaper, are both birth associates of the CPA signed in 2005. While both structures, the party and the paper, basically voice the ideological ‘visions’ of one man, al-Tayeb Mustafa, the popular appeal of his arguments deserves an attentive and nuanced investigation beyond the cheap criticism to which the man is permanently subjected by Khartoum’s liberal intelligentsia.
Mustafa’s essential claim is that the divergence between the Moslem Arab North and the Animist, Christian Black African South is so great as to make shared existence in a unitary state impossible. On that basis he argued for a homogenous North Sudan where the majority of the population is Moslem, and of Arab stock. He thereupon came to the conclusion that only partition can resolve the pernicious conflict between the two entities. To market his views Mustafa borrowed heavily from the chauvinist dictionary of riverain supremacy, and developed in a stream of lengthy editorials a history of the Sudanese civil war as a tale of Northern benevolence and sacrifice opposed to Southern betrayal and treachery. His strategy met with success since it reflected at a certain level a popular angst in the Sudanese heartland of an imminent takeover by the militarized peripheries, foremost the South and its allies in the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile, and the insurgents of Darfur. With that in mind the separation of the South was perceived by the Intibaha public as a moment of ‘liberation’ from the Southern threat, and correspondingly a signifier of the demise of the all Sudan encompassing ambitions of John Garang’s SPLM. Rid of the Southern menace al-Intibaha campaigns today with extra gusto for the ultimate prohibition of the SPLM’s associate organisation in (North) Sudan and expectedly for nothing less than a military settlement of the crises in the three areas to use the CPA’s term, Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile.
In its frantic search for a political constituency Khartoum’s anti-NCP petty bourgeoisie, literary and modern, feigns excruciating abhorrence at al-Intibaha’s rhetoric in association with a self-indulgent passion for the plight of the marginalized. At the root of this passion however is the failure to recognise that al-Intibaha did no more than phrase the quiet convictions of their very effendiya class in the language of the masses. In a sense al-Intibaha exposed the original racist sin in the making of the petty bourgeoisie ideology. Ever parasitical, Sudan’s effendiya, the heirs of the colony, could only sustain their political hegemony through alliances of convenience with the conductors of power. Since the emergence of the mainstream nationalist movement in Sudan under the aegis of the Graduates’ Congress in the late thirties the effendiya clamoured for the political patronage of the two main mass politico-religious brotherhoods in the country, the Ansar and the Khatmiyya. The joint ties of petty bourgeoisie ambition however led them at a later stage to seek the political muscle of the officer corps and shed the shackles of sectarian dominance, a dream realized under the regime of Colonel Nimayri. With the Islamist counter-bloc in power the effendiya proper precipitately reinvented their political mission to fit the ‘New Sudan’ wave backed by the military might of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Instructed by convenience rather than insight the post-Cold War effendiya sought to recapture Khartoum with the ethnic firepower of the ‘marginalized’.  It is however in al-Intibaha that they counter their vindictive double.  

Sunday, 24 July 2011

What’s wrong with Pagan?

The fate of the prominent Pagan Amum, a man who earned the reputation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) most ardent politician during the six years of the CPA’s interim period, became lately the focus of great speculation both in Khartoum and Juba. Amum reportedly failed to show up on 10 July to take his oath of office as Minister of Peace in President Kiir’s caretaker government. According to a press statement released by his office the Secretary General of the SPLM handed in his resignation from the ministerial post which he assumed last year.  Speaking on 22 July Amum stated that he had also resigned from his post as Secretary General of the SPLM.  The explanation he gave for the decision was the usual claim of sacrifice. “We have just achieved the dream of our people for freedom. For me, it was not about the power but it was all about liberation and freedom” declared Amum.
To no great surprise the big man reportedly recoiled from the resignation on 23 July. Garang Deng, the Minister of Oil in the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), told the press that Amum will lead the delegation of the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) to the next round of talks with the Khartoum government on 29 July in Addis Ababa. Deng explained that President Kiir had rejected Amum’s resignation and Amum had reconsidered. “I have just taken an oath of the office presided over by our presidential comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit for appointing me once again as caretaker minister in the ministry of peace. This is the same ministry you all know to which I was appointed” said the disciplined Pagan Amum after his swearing in ceremony on 23 July.
Lately Amum got embroiled in friendly fire with Lual Deng, the SPLM’s Minister of Oil in the CPA’s pre-secession Khartoum Government of National Unity. Amum accused pro-unity Deng of betraying South Sudan and the SPLM by agreeing to grant Khartoum a 40% share of the oil revenues for July despite the fact that the CPA and with it the oil sharing formula between the central government and the GoSS expires on 9 July. Deng responded to Amum’s allegations with the claim that the Secretary General had embezzled three million dollars and illicitly profited from the sale of the telecommunications provider VIVACELL in South Sudan. Moreover, Deng argued that the July 40% arrangement was concluded with the knowledge and consent of President Kiir himself.
Whatever the background for Amum’s flash resignation, the lesson is that it was not a resignation but the coded courtesy of a weakened politician. The analogy I presume is the apology between apparent friends. A hurt friend responds to the ‘sorry ‘of another with the courteous phrase ‘Really no problem! There is really no need to apologize!’ Kiir answering Pagan was possibly saying ‘Really no problem. There is really no need to resign’. What the problem is though, I suppose, is already included in Pagan’s “This is the same ministry you all know to which I was appointed”. 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Citizenship dispensary

Over the past ten days or so the government in Khartoum has taken a series of steps to translate its consequently racist nationalism into law. The National Assembly approved in principle a set of amendments to the Nationality Law that strip any South Sudanese in the North of the nationality of the rump Sudanese state. The legislators of the National Congress Party (NCP) more or less challenged each other in their demonstration of chauvinism. One of them demanded that the amendments clearly refer to the Referendum Law, the article of legislation that governed the referendum on the future of South Sudan in January 2011, as the basis to define who is a Southerner.
The Referendum Law, arguably the most reactionary piece of legislation that came out of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, defines an eligible voter in the referendum, i.e. a South Sudanese, as an individual “born to parents both or one of them belonging to one of the indigenous communities that settled in Southern Sudan on or before the 1st January 1956, or whose ancestry is traceable to one of the ethnic communities in Southern Sudan, or a permanent resident, without interruption, or whose any of the parents or grandparents are residing, permanently, without interruption, in Southern Sudan since 1st January 1956”.  The open bias, to put it mildly, towards an ethnic basis for citizenship in the Referendum Law at the time was perceived as an asset since it allegedly empowered each and every South Sudanese, irrespective of her place of residence, with the right to cast the historical self-determination vote.  The anchoring of citizenship in ancestry, celebrated as a virtue at the time, is now unfolding its lethality in full. Khartoum arguing with the same article of the Referendum Law is now in a position to disenfranchise all South Sudanese resident north of the 1956 border. The novelty is not the act of disenfranchise as such but the fact that it is now pursued with the support of legislation.
Significantly, the amendments under discussion include an article that grants the Ministry of Interior, the authority that issues nationality cards, with the capacity to revoke nationality once it establishes that it was unrightfully acquired, a capacity that was hitherto restricted to the Presidency. To understand the ramifications of this apparently benign amendment one has to consider the political gunpowder that it dispenses to the bureaus of the Ministry in Sudan’s hinterlands. In Darfur, for instance, the local authorities will potentially be in a position to tool with nationality in an inflamed context where many contenders and proto-contenders, entire communities for that matter, could be dismissed as ‘foreigners’. The same is true all over the rump North. The Fulani who have settled in various parts of the Sudan over centuries, largely as a docile workforce in the agricultural schemes of Gezira, Gedaref, and the White Nile, provide an illuminating example of these politics of nationality. With the outlook of beefing up its electoral support in insecure constituencies the Umma Party reportedly made it a habit to extend the Sudanese nationality to the perpetually disenfranchised Fulani whenever the occasion demanded. Likewise, the NCP sought to contain or fragment politically toxic areas in the Southern Blue Nile and in East Sudan through the conditioned entitlement of the Fulani to the Sudanese nationality as well as ‘tribal’ land and political representation. With these considerations in mind the Fulani do not feature in the inventory of the ‘marginalised’ in Sudan. They are either frowned upon as allies of the regime or excluded as outright foreigners.
The amendments to the Nationality Law supplant another novel administrative procedure, the Civil Registry, which one government official described as superior in significance to the Merowe Dam, the NCP’s great fairy tale. This registration procedure, and the identity card which a registrant acquires on its basis, is planned to replace the current Sudanese nationality and identity documents. Digital and supposedly immune to counterfeit this new ID will provide the basis for access to government services as well as the exercise of political and economic rights in the rump North. The Ministry of Interior repeatedly stressed the stringency of the procedure devised to establish eligibility for registration as a Sudanese citizen, and demanded from the public equal vigilance to protect the identity of the nation from subversion by unwelcome elements. One official actually stated that those who fail to register will be stripped of their nationality.
The mainstream opposition in Khartoum, true to its embarrassing mediocrity, reacted to the malevolent chauvinism of the NCP with the demand of extending the four freedoms between Sudan and South Sudan. Some meekly demanded dual nationality for South Sudanese resident in the North. None however opted for the categorical necessity: citizenship on a territorial basis. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sudanese predicaments

On 9 July South Sudan was announced an independent republic in a joyous ceremony in Juba, and thereby the modern Sudan of colonial Anglo-Egyptian descent ceased to exist as one country, its territory divided between two states, the Republic of the Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.  The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that made this partition possible was probably Sudan’s best opportunity to question its colonial making and reconfigure itself anew. Short of that the political capacity of the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), the two signatories of the CPA, faltered at the now sacred 1956 border between the North and the South, 1 January 1956 being the date of Sudan’s independence from its colonial engineers, Britain and secondarily Egypt. Among the more daunting tasks of the post-partition Sudans will be the actual demarcation of this mythical border dotted on maps by a series of British commissioners but never actually ‘grounded’. Mythical as it is the 1956 border evolved to become the Sudans’ most pernicious political instrument.
Apart from this border South Sudan and Sudan share common predicaments that have defined their history as one state, precarious and violent as it has been, and are very likely to imprint on their future evolution as two separate entities.
The politics of Sudan the post-colony have largely been defined by the politics of its army, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Less than three years after the declaration of Sudan’s independence the SAF staged its first coup, the November 1958 takeover by General Abboud and his fellow officers.  From then on the army’s incursions into political life, regularly in cohabitation with this political organisation or the other, became the permanent exception so to speak. In essence, Sudan’s one ruling party is its army. As things stand, the SPLA in South Sudan and its political machine, the SPLM, is unlikely to surrender to alternative civilian designs, or to put it clearly, even allow their mere mature emergence in a territory it considers its own by right of liberation. No wonder all challenges to the hegemony of the SPLA/M are military in nature, and the government of the new republic is already in a state of undeclared civil war with a plethora of armed movements who all argue with the language of ‘marginalisation’.
In the Sudan of old marginalisation featured as the catch all term with which many a contender of the central government phrased the much more complex relationships between the locus of power in Khartoum and Sudan’s rural hinterlands. The partition of Sudan is in a sense a consequence of these asymmetric relationships.  Symptoms of the same urban-rural divide are already perceptible in the new republic of South Sudan. Like Khartoum, Juba to the majority of South Sudanese is but “where the president sleeps and the aeroplane takes off”, a centre that sucks off the wealth of the country and siphons its resources to the benefit of a minority. How this minority is perceived and identified is a matter of political contingency if not convenience, in the old Sudan habitually described in racial terms as the riverine Arabs; and in South Sudan collapsed into a tribal denomination, the Dinka.
To sustain its dominance Sudan’s ruling elite invested ideologically into a combination of political Islam and chauvinist rhetoric fused with the promise of modernisation. In the (North) Sudan of today the separation between state and religion could without exaggeration be described as politically unthinkable. It must be stated though that the lure of religious politics is organic to Sudan’s statehood and not a pathological feature introduced into the body politic by the Islamic Movement as such. Ismail al-Azhari, Sudan’s first prime minister and the man who raised the independence flag in 1956, was mesmerized by the lure of religious politics and toyed rhetorically with the rule of shari’a in the context of his presidential aspirations as early back as 1968. The May 1969 coup put an end to al-Azhari’s drive for religiously justified power in juxtaposition to the authority of the sectarian leaders. The office of the president however could not do without it. President Nimayri announced himself Imam and President Bashir rules as one. In South Sudan symbiosis between the church and the state is likely to prove challenging in its own terms. President Kiir, for all obvious purposes, does not shy away from the pulpit as a political platform.  

Monday, 4 July 2011

Nafie the traitor!

Nafie Ali Nafie

In an editorial published in the 30 June edition of al-Guwat al-Musalaha (the Armed Forces), the official newspaper of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), a publication on demand so to speak, the editor in chief of the paper aggressively blasted the NCP for the 28 June accord signed in Addis Ababa between the Northern Sector of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) and the central government in Khartoum to address the situation in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, in the SPLM-N’s newspeak the New South in North Sudan. Brigadier-General Mohamed Ajeeb Mohamed described the accord as “a betrayal of the nation and the faith”. He was particularly annoyed by the recognition of the SPLM-N as a legitimate political force in the North. Addressing the NCP he concluded “We do not understand a lot of what you say, and among us we perceive you as weak. And was it not for a remaining hope we would stone you since dear to us you are not”. No wonder President Bashir picked up the SAF line in his address to worshippers in a Khartoum mosque on 1 July. The President told his audience that he had instructed the SAF to continue its operations in South Kordofan until the “rebellion” is crushed and the “rebel” and “criminal” Abdel Aziz el-Hilu is captured and brought to justice. President Bashir made no reference whatsoever to the deal negotiated by his senior aide, Nafie Ali Nafie.  
Once President Bashir’s favourite and the celebrated strongman of the NCP, Nafie Ali Nafie, who signed the 28 June agreement on behalf of Khartoum in Addis Ababa, chose to avoid the storm and reportedly flew off to London on 2 July for talks with senior British officials, while President Bashir headed to Addis Ababa the next day to take part in an extraordinary summit of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the regional broker of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), where he is to meet with President Kiir less than a week before the declaration of the independence of South Sudan on 9 July. Expectedly, Nafie’s reputation as a committed hardliner did not save him from the insults of al-Intibaha’s chief, el-Tayeb Mustafa who went as far as accusing Nafie of outright treachery. Nafie who headed the meeting of the NCP’s Leadership Council that discussed the 28 June agreement on 1 July had according to Mustafa plotted to gain the approval of the Council at a moment when President Bashir, recuperating from his troublesome excursion through central Asia on the way to China, could not attend, and both Qutbi el-Mahdi and Ghazi Salah Eldin, expected to disapprove of the deal, were out of the country.
Rather confused and unable to interpret the new signs the NCP’s official paper, al-Raed, tried its best to charter a safe space between Bashir’s war proclamations in al-Nur Mosque and the conciliatory passages of the 28 June accord signed by the ruling party’s Deputy Chairman, Nafie Ali Nafie, and the SPLM-N’s Chairman, Malik Agar. Rather than defend Nafie’s deal as it was named the paper’s columnists argued vigorously that where the ill-willing saw a contradiction the well-meaning could perceive a continuum.
Others in Khartoum’s press suggested that a second Ramadan was in the making, reference being to the Ramadan of 1999 that witnessed the fallout between President Bashir and Hassan el-Turabi. The fact that the SAF had come out openly against the “betrayal” of the NCP was considered by many a marker of a chronic and a recurring division between the military and the civilian blocs in the regime. Some argued that President Bashir may already be considering the option of seriously inviting the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) into the post-secession government in the North at the expense of an unreliable NCP. Well history does repeat itself but as Marx famously stated in the Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte the first time as a tragedy and the second as a farce. The farce of a repeat 4 Ramadan may paradoxically cost President Bashir even the loyalty of the very SAF he seeks to appease. Nafie, why hast thou forsaken me?

Friday, 1 July 2011

Benjamin Basara: the Zande communist

Last Sunday the Sudanese Communists organized a farewell ceremony for their South Sudanese comrades in the headquarters of the party in Khartoum, one of them, Abraham Ngor, survives since three months the hospitality of the Southern security forces in Upper Nile state.  
In Lenin’s depiction states are tools of class domination, and as such are instruments of the structural violence that fractures the social body, the claims of national cohesion notwithstanding. In the new state of South Sudan, baptized as it is with the blood of a recently officially mythologised struggle for independence stretching back to the ‘Turkiya’, the sanctioned lines of division are ethnic or tribal in nature. The communists of the new South face the duty of coaxing the Marxist overdetermination, to use Althusser’s terminology, and the nature of its articulation in a socio-economic field sustained by the ideology of ever re-invented tribal communities. In its leftist heydays the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) phrased its war against Khartoum in the language of domestic liberation from a class enemy that justified its domination with the claim of cultural and racial supremacy.  These two elements in the discourse of the SPLM, class and race, translated in immediate political terms into the choice between the struggle for a ‘new’ united Sudan or an independent South Sudan respectively. The twist however is that the SPLM viewed South Sudan as an essential whole, safe from Marx’s economic determination in the last instance, and unvisited by the ghost of class differentiation. Even Joseph Garang, the Communist Party’s Southern hero, glossed over such a possibility. While he did identify the client capitalist class in the North, the grand Jellaba of the modern age, in alliance with imperialism as the enemies of South Sudan, and thereupon suggested that the liberation of the South should be pursued in common struggle with the working class of Sudan at large and its vanguard, the Communist Party, Jo, part from his criticism of the “perplexity” of Southern intellectuals, made no attempt at conceptualising the social divisions within the South. According to Jo there are two contradictions at work in “the Southern provinces”, a primary contradiction between all of the Sudanese people and imperialism, and a secondary contradiction between the people of the South and the Northern exploiting classes.
Unwelcome as it may be today in the fever of a new state Jo’s primary contradiction freed from the mystification of the second deserves to be revisited to account for the forces that drive the integration of South Sudan, as a territory and a political entity, into the global capitalist reactor. The praxis of one particular South Sudanese communist, Benjamin Basara, may serve to illuminate such a purpose. Basara joined the ranks of the Anti-Imperialist Front (AIF), by all means the most successful organisation that the Sudanese communists had ever forged, back in the early 1950s during his service as a health inspector in Maridi. Basara refashioned the agitation of the AIF against the poll tax, cattle fines, forced labour, the inequality of wages between Northerners and Southerners and the restriction of education in the South, all hallmarks of the British policy in South Sudan that the post-colonial state largely approbated, in the Zande vernacular. The combination of bicycle and Zande pamphlet in the hands of a dedicated Basara soon became a force to reckon with. Almost singlehandedly he managed to organize a cell of militant workers in the gins of the Equatoria cotton schemes in Anzara. On 26 July 1955 the Anzara workers went on strike; a fierce confrontation ensued between the forces of the state, at the time run by the first Sudanese self-rule cabinet but still under British governorship.
While few recognize Basara today as a figure of South Sudanese liberation the commission of investigation into the 18 August 1955 rebellion in Torit did not fail to identify the Anzara strike and its prominent agitator, Benjamin Basara, as a warning instance of the “troubles” to come. The report stated that communist elements led by an Egyptian physician and a Zande health inspector distributed subversive pamphlets written in the Zande language. The physician, wrongly identified as Egyptian by virtue of his light skin colour, was the Sudanese Mustafa el-Sayed, and the health inspector according to el-Sayed’s account of the period in his recently published biography was Benjamin Basara.  
Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.