The Nuba Vision

Volume 1, Issue 1, June 2001

By Dr Hunud Abia Kadouf

Let me begin by telling you a very short and a common story that we learnt long ago while we were very young in the elementary school. I still remember it as most of us certainly do because the story itself is very 'prophetic'. We were told that 'there was an old wise man who was very rich with many wives and children. When he was about to die he asked all his children to gather besides his dying bed. Near him there was a number of arrows tied up in a bundle. When the children came the old man asked the oldest and the strongest to pick up a single arrow and try to break it. The son took one arrow as ordered and did break it quite easily without any effort. The old man then asked him to increase the number to two arrows and try to break them. The son did break the two arrows but with a little extra effort. Each time the father kept asking the son to increase the number and each time it became harder and more difficult for the son to break. The exercise continued until there was a point at which the arrows had formed a bundle and thus became impossible for the son to break.

It was at that point that the old man straightened his weary body and then drew a meaningful smile on his pale dying face. He was satisfied and sure of the effect of the lesson he wanted to pass it through to his children. He then turned to the rest of his children and reminded them of the importance of being united among themselves. That: similar to those single arrows they would easily be broken and be taken advantage of by any body while if they stood together as a bundle of the arrows then there is no power on earth that could break them. This story, as simple as it appears, is reminiscent of the importance of 'unity'. 

This story has now become more 'visionary' than ever.  It also reminds us of a common saying that: “United We Stand and Divided We Fall!”  The practical demonstration by the old man, teaches us a lesson in the importance of 'unity'. Speaking of 'unity' is not a new thing. But the time and the situation calling for such unity is indeed something that we especially the Nuba need to view with serious concern. I mean look around you and you will discover, perhaps to your amazement, that locally, regionally and globally everyone, except the Nuba, is talking about unity and unification. The norm of the day is that 'Unity is Mightiness'. In order for one to survive in this harsh world, one has to join forces with others, either within one's immediate community or even outside of one's own community particularly against the common enemy.  

This reminds me of instances that took place in the days bygone. It was after the overthrow of Nimeiri's dictatorship in 1985. Divisions crept into the lines of the Nuba politicians. The 'conventional wisdom' was calling for the importance of the Nuba unity. The general outcry for a united Nuba political action was high.  The Nuba simply lost a great opportunity to do so. I still remember the Sudanese National Party (SNP), the General Union of the Nuba (GUN) and the assumed Labour Party together with some petty first-timer Nuba politicians bustling around pretending (except perhaps for the leaders in the GUN who genuinely believed in a united Nuba political action) that they were for unity while each had its own hidden political agenda. 

I remember this, because a good number of these meetings took place in my office at the Faculty of Law, University of Khartoum where I was lecturing. I was by then still holding my judicial post, and since as a judge I was not allowed to participate in any political activities I had to play my role discreetly behind the curtain. Because I was all out for the Nuba unity it did not matter to me who attended these meetings. But I knew off hand that all of these parties were fused with members from clandestine Nuba societies such as: komolo and Nahnu Kadugli. Some of the Nuba youth were strangely enough with the Arab socialists etc. For me all that did not matter so long as they were in for the Nuba cause. But perhaps I was wrong as it was proved later that some of these young Nuba intellectuals were blinded and thus were driven more by their own political ideologies than by any common Nuba political interest.  

It was indeed a sad thing to note how all were scrambling around trying in vain to come to terms with their unfounded political differences. All other Sudanese political parties, big and small, Northern and Southern alike, kept fuelling the differences amongst the immature Nuba political leaders. All, except the Nuba, knew well that the unity of the Nuba would certainly give birth to a giant political body that should be reckoned with great care. By then the Nuba alone were unable to foresee the importance of unity as a determinant factor in their participatory role in the Sudanese mainstream politics. They lost the battle, which they could have won it very easily.
It is unfortunate though to note that the same scenario is being repeated now though with different players. What took place recently between the Nuba Leadership in the SPLA/M and Suleiman Musa Rahhal tells another sad story about the old quandary creeping back again into the Nuba politics. It tells that we have not learnt the bitter lesson of disunity as yet. In as much as I am against any idolisation of personalities I am also much against unfounded accusations and character assassination such as practised lately by the SPLA's Nuba Leadership against Suleiman Musa Rahhal.

The removal of Suleiman Rahhal from the general editorship of Nafir Newsletter and from the Board of Trustees of NRRDS was a grave blunder and a serious set back to our common Nuba cause. We have always objected to the dictatorship of Fr. Philip Abbas Ghaboush since he was put at the helm of the Nuba politics in the mid-sixties. We now likewise object to any form of one-sided decisions taken or exercised by the Nuba leadership in the SPLA/M to determine the faith of the Nuba political future. 

All the facts show that Suleiman Rahhal was the man who dedicated his time, money and health to the Nuba cause. He was instrumental in displaying the Nuba problem to the international community. Just peruse quickly any of the Nafir previous issues and you will find that the man was one of the strongest advocates of the Nuba cause. He stated crystal clear his conviction that the Nuba problem should be discussed either independently or parallel to the Southern issue. That was the only crime he committed and as a result of which he was quietly disposed of.  

What he did was simply pose some legitimate questions about the Nuba future in the light of the new political developments that are taking place nationally, regionally and internationally. In all of these situations the Nuba issue seems to be relegated into forgetfulness. He started to rock the boat by pushing forward the issue of Nuba self-determination similar to that of the South. Instead of being hailed he was simply rewarded by being sacked. To whose interest? Nobody knows.  

I believe it is high time for all the Nuba people to come together to face the challenges for now and the future. They should now join forces with Suleiman Rahhal and others for the common Nuba cause. To do so few facts should, however, be noted here as a reminder to all Nuba whoever they be and where ever they are. 

1. The majority of us have kept silent for the sake of preserving unity among the Nuba and not because we were in agreement with the government policies. 

2. That the fact that some Nuba have chosen military means of resistance does not in itself give them the sole right to direct the Nuba politics the way they choose and any way they want

3. All Nuba have a right to know what is happening within the quarters of the SPLA/M Leadership of the Nuba as they have similar right to know what has been done thus far by our political parties within or outside the Sudan to solve the Nuba problem. Don't we agree that the Nuba have a right to know?

Our call for unity at this moment is for the Nuba to sit down together to articulate their position and look into their political future in the Sudan. The political future of Sudan is about to be written, but we are not being given our full say. At this crucial turning point in the history of Sudan, the Nuba need a solution to their long history of oppression. We must make sure we achieve that together and that will be achieved only if the Nuba are united. I am not referring only to the silent majority of the Nuba people. My call is directed as well to the Nuba in the SPLA/M, those who support the government, the Nuba intellectuals, and the politicians and those who live in exile. It is my conviction that the different views of all these parties should be considered seriously in order to achieve the dream and the desired goal of every Nuba which, I believe, is no less than the total freedom and complete emancipation from all sorts of socio-political and cultural as well as economic enslavement.

We now listen to speeches by leaders of the NDA and the Government who made no reference to the problems of the Nuba people and the fact that Nuba have been at
war for over 15 years. Until this moment  the Nuba issue is ignored by Sudanese political leaders, why? It is therefore important that Nuba should unit to face
these challenges together. 

We need to articulate our position and decide our future by ourselves and this will not be achieved if we do not unite. Therefore our unity at this stage is of significant importance. 

Please write to 'The Nuba Survival with your views.