The Nuba Mountains region is situated in the geographical centre of Sudan and lies between latitudes10-12 degrees north and between longitudes 28-30 degree east. Its area about 50,000 square miles.
The region is inhabited by Nuba people who are the domain. They share the land with other tribes such west African people known as Fletta and they are coming mainly from Nigeria. Other tribes are Dajo came from Darfur, Funj from Blue Nile and Dinka (in Abyei). These tribes have settled in various parts of the region. For example the Fellata settled in al-Bardab in north Kadugli working in agriculture. The Dajo and Massalit are farmers and they have other jobs.
Next in population, to the Nuba are the Bagara Arab tribes. The majority of them live in western part of the Nuba Mountain, concentrating around Mojlad and Lagawa areas. These Arab tribes are cattle herders. They move around in the Nuba Mountain particularly during the dry season looking for water and grazing for their cattle. The other non-Nuba groups who live in the area are the Jellaba (merchants from the north) and they are either traders or professional people. Some of these people have been residing in the areas for many years. These non-Nuba tribes form about seven percent of the total population of the Nuba Mountains.
The Nuba themselves form many different tribes which are more than fifty tribes. They speak more than forty dialects which are grouped into ten main languages.
They have rich cultures and traditions involving various forms of social organisations. The majority of Nuba usually live in villages on the plain and on the top of the Mountains. Some of them live in the cities such as Dilling, Kadugli and Lagawa.
For many centuries the Nuba have shared their land with the nomadic Arab Baggara tribes namely, the Messiriya, Humur and Hawazma who migrated to the area with their cattle and settled in the plain among the Nuba.
Early during the last century, the Nuba resolved their disputes with their neighbours and began living together side by side in relative peace, and harmony. The relations between the two communities developed into mutual trust, with intermarriage and cultural exchange. This was due to the wisdom of the Nuba chiefs and Arab sheikhs who were wise enough and had succeeded to resolve their disputes without resorting to violence. This was also helped by customary laws, which had more respect for the individual than today’s civil laws.
However, more than a decade ago, the conflict developed between the two communities immediately after al-Gardoud incident in 1985. This was during the Government of the former Prime Minister al-Sadig al-Mahadi, which was held responsible for arming Arab militia in the area and set them against the Nuba. Infact the process of preparing the Arab tribes for war against the Nuba started in early 1970s. The Government began arming a small group of Arab tribes known as "Murahleen" who are affiliated to Messiryia al Humur Arab tribes living in Western part of Nuba Mountains.
The relation deteriorated badly when the NIF began its Islamic programme, declaring ‘Jihad war’ in 1992 against the Nuba, using the Arab militias in their war. A scorched earth policy which mount to ethnic cleansing was committed by the Government armed forces against the Nuba with complete impunity. Many Nuba were forcibly removed from their homeland to areas in Northern Kordofan, such as Sodori, al-Muzroub, umm-Qwawa and Shikan.
It is believed that the deterioration of relations between these two communities was due to political manipulation by the central Governments. The fact which Baggara tribes come to know recently and that they have been used in this war by the NIF regime in Khartoum.
They now believe that their interest is with Nuba rather than with Khartoum. For this reason they signed a number of peace agreements with Nuba community leaders (Buram agreement 1993, al-Ragafi Agreement 1995 and Kahein Agreement 1996). And more recently peace agreements were signed between Hawazma and Nuba and between Nuba and Rawouga Arab tribes.
The reason behind these peace agreements is because the Arab have lost most of their cattle and some were forced to leave the area. They also come to learn that the Government had used them in their war against SPLA in Nuba Mountains.
The Nuba from their side had assured them that they are not fighting the Baggara tribes but they are fighting NIF regime in Khartoum and they need to maintain strong trade with the Baggara and live in peace with them.
The peace agreements are perceived as threats by the Government who tried to prevent the on-going trading between the two communities. We believe that these agreements are genuine as the two communities had come to learn that they need each other which is a sign of hope for peaceful co-existence between the two neighbours. They have shown at some distance in the history that they can live together in peace and harmony if they were left alone without interference from the government or political leaders, particularly the Umma Party leaders.