Joseph Garang – The Dilemma of the Southern Intellectual (1961)

Posted: February 19, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël in History, Junub Sudan, Philosophy


By the southern Sudanese communist leader, Joseph Garang

Joseph Garang

The southern Sudanese communist leader, Joseph Garang


February 19, 2018 (SSB) — This pamphlet was written in 1961 and present the development of the views of the author up to that time. It appeared as a series of the articles in the underground paper, the Southern, which was then being published by a number of southern communities. The object was to offer to the Southern people an alternative course of action leading to the solution of their problems. In other words a tactical line of alliance with the Northern democratic movement against imperialism and for progress.

It is clear that many points did not receive sufficient treatment. South-North relations in the past still requires a thorough examination including the exact extent of the exploitation of the Southern people by Northern merchants. Owing to difficulties caused by police persecution at that time, the author was unable to complete the pamphlet and so the question on page 14, namely the Communist view as to the solution of the Southern problem, could not answered. It was only after October 1964 that the author was able to put out in greater details his views on regional autonomy. These appeared in Advance newspaper early 1965.

The author believes that the course of events since 1961 has confirmed the correctness of the tactical line suggested. Regional Autonomy is now official policy. It remains for all talented Sudanese to examine the solution in a creative way and suggest methods of practical execution in a creative way and suggest methods of practical execution. Despite all the short-comings in the pamphlet, the author believes that it should be published as a historical document without any alterations.


“Once more the southern problem has sprung into the news, and all conscious citizens are thrown into deep thinking anew. Hence our attempt view in El Rai El Am newspaper. He said; ‘Let the South be allowed to separate if it so desires’. But politics is not as simple as this, and we must look more deeply into the question.

There are three schools of thought among the southern intellectuals. These are: the extreme right-wing; the perplexed intellectuals; and the left. According to the rightists, the only solution to the southern question is immediate separation. Their hatred of the North is so great that they are blind to any alternative. They proceed from the premise that the root of the southern problem is racial, i.e. the fact that the southerners are Africans while northerners are Arab, and they say that since one cannot change Negro into Arab, nor Arab into Negro, then it follows that the two must separate from each other.

Two questions naturally arise from the rightists’ premise: are the rightists correct in conceiving that the southern question is racial in essence? What will be the future of the southern people if they separate?

“The racial thesis”

In our opinion the rightists are mistaken in believing that the difference in race constitutes the essence of the southern question. If the decisive factor in the southern question is racial, then how do the rightists explain the disputes between East, West and North Nigeria? Or the North-South struggle in Ghana? Or Buganda demand for a separate state? Or the quarrel between Iraq and Egypt? In the early nineteenth century Liberia was established as a state for freed Negro salves who were collected there from America and Europe; then how do we explain the fact that these ex-slaves began taking the indigenous Negroes of Liberia into slavery until as late as 1939? Conversely, how is it that different races are living happily on the territories of the U.S.S.R.? There you find Russians, Americans, Georgians, Tartars, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Mongols. Does not this clearly show that the difference in race is not the decisive factor in the southern problem? Racial differences cannot and have never been the decisive factor.

Even in Southern Africa the essence of the question is not racial. One must not be misled by the appearance of things. Racial prejudice is a result, a manifestation of a more hidden factor. In order to understand the nature of the southern problem we must therefore look elsewhere, and this we shall do later.

“The strategy of separation”

Next, if the southern people secede, as demanded by the rightists, then will the people find democracy, and develop their languages and customs? ‘Yes,’ say the rightists; but they are mistaken. Until the end of the Second World War, the imperialist powers dominated and exploited most of the world. In the post-war period, however, the territories under the direct and indirect domination of imperialism are steadily shrinking, owning to the onslaught of national liberation movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The constant shrinking of the imperialist world market and of the sources of cheap raw materials has deepened the general crisis of the imperialists, and has rendered them more bellicose and more desperate.

Africa, with its fabulous wealth, is the only continent still under direct domination of the imperialism. As, such, the struggle for liberation in Africa will therefore be more fierce, more bloody, and more agonizing than elsewhere. Recent events indicate that imperialism means to fight, fight and fight again in Africa, if necessary by war, if necessary by new forms of domination. If the South were to separate today, then tomorrow it would be an imperialist colony. There is no doubt about that, and yet the rightists have failed to take this circumstance into account.

It said that the south can appeal to the United Nations for help. But look at what happened in the Congo. Others say: ‘We will unite with East Africa’. But can’t see that East Africa is unliberated? And even after her independence that will not be the end of imperialism there. Our Sudanese experience since 1956 shows that political independence in itself is no guarantee against imperialism. It is a mere beginning of the real struggle. Moreover, the anti-imperialist forces in East Africa are weaker than the Sudan. We do not believe that transfer of South from an area where the struggle against imperialism is more advanced to an area where it is just beginning amounts to the liberation of the South. It appears to be that the rightists are mere political adventurers.

“The school of perplexed intellectuals”

But besides the rightists there is another and larger group of southern intellectuals. For want of better world we have described them as the perplexed school of southern intellectuals the main feature of this school is that it is living in a dilemma. On the one hand its members hate the North and would prefer separation. But on the other hand they are a wake to the danger of imperialism (particularly after the lessons of the Congo) disillusioned with the United Nation. So they are afraid of consequences of separation. Hence, their dilemma. Some of them suggest that the South should separate and immediately turn communist so as to avoid imperialism and receive Soviet aid. But precisely how this is to be possible they cannot say.

Nevertheless, whatever may be their confusion, they are definitely more advanced than the rightists. But is their dilemma real or justified? No, it is not. They arrive at a dilemma because in approaching the southern question they start from mistaken premises. There are two principal contradictions at work in the southern provinces and in fact in most African countries. By a contradiction we mean a struggle for supremacy between two opposing forces.

The first contradiction is that between the Sudanese people (and all African peoples for that matter) on the hand, and imperialism on the other. This is the most important contradiction because without it being resolved there can be no talk of real popular advancement for the masses of the people. All this includes the solution of the southern problem. Those who think that the southern problem can be solved with imperialism still in control of our country, both economically and (through its puppet rulers) politically, are mere dreamers. Hence, in order to solve the southern question, say the general minorities in the Sudan, the first task is to defeat imperialism.

The second contradiction (which, however, is minor to the first) is that between the southern people on the one hand and the northern exploiting classes on the other. What is the nature of this contradiction? It would require much more space to make a full analysis and appraisal of the South-North issue. Therefore, only the gist of the problem arises from the attitude of the northern exploiting classes-namely the feudal landlords and bourgeoisie (middle-class) and their intellectual and bureaucratic representatives in the state apparatus. The exploiting classes (who have controlled a policy of economic and social advancement in the southern provinces) have continued certain features of British policy, including the poll tax, cattle fines, forced labour, inequality of wages, restrictions of education. More important, they are attempting to impose the Arabic language and Islam (or bourgeois culture) upon the southern people.

This attitude has naturally met with resistance from the southern people and this resistance is answered by the bourgeoisie with further acts of repression and deprivation of civil liberties. Why do the exploiting classes do these things? The reasons behind the exploiters’ activities are in essence economic. The northern bourgeois, like any bourgeois in a colonial or semi-colonial country, entertain dreams of one day growing rich like capitalists of imperialist countries. They hope to become great manufactures, bankers, fabulously rich merchants, farmers, etc. in order to fulfil these dreams they will need a market for their goods, cheap farm and factory labor, raw materials, etc. they look to the backward areas like the South ideal places for obtaining these requirements. Hence their tendency to stand in the way of the development of these areas and to bring the local people under their cultural and ideological influence.

“Danger not grave”

Does this mean that the northern bourgeois oppression of the minority groups (or nationalities) is so grave as to be greater than the imperialist danger (as the rightists maintain) or at least equal to it (as the perplexed school maintain)? No, it is not, nor can it be, for the following reasons:

(1)The bourgeois dream will remain, in the main a dream, and later turn into disillusion. It is a fact that the northern bourgeoisie is economically very weak. It has so far been unable to go beyond small trade, establishment of small urban and rural estates, small control of public transport, cinemas, small manufacture of consumer goods, tailoring, etc. this is because of imperialist capital is constantly squeezing national capital out. Look at our economy and you will see that foreign firms control most of the big business. The chief enemy of the development of national capital is imperialism, and as long as imperialism is around, the Sudanese bourgeoisie will have to content themselves with picking up crumbs from the imperialist table. This explains why intellectuals and political representatives of Sudanese bourgeoisies (the N.U.P) oppose imperialism, while at the same time entertaining the dream of exploiting the masses.

(2) When imperialism is removed from the scene, the bourgeoisie will obtain a chance to develop, but never to the extent of growing will obtain a chance to develop, but never to extent of growing great or fully and dangerously exploiting the minority nationalities. The reason is that growing simultaneously with the struggle against imperialism in our country is the spread of socialist ideas among the Sudanese masses, the call for justice, and an end to inequality, the spread of mass democratic organizations e.g. trade unions, student bodies, peasant associations, and above all the growth of Sudanese

Communist Party, which is taking the lead in the struggle against imperialism. Thus, the struggle against imperialism. As is at the same time the struggle the bourgeoisie. As every thinking Sudanese is realizing every day, the Sudanese bourgeoisie has proved impotent in its leadership of the struggle against imperialism. This means that the leadership must fall into the hands of a more revolutionary class led by the Communist Party and in co-operation with the minority peoples. Thus, when imperialism will have been removed from the Sudanese scene, the bourgeoisie will discover itself surrounded everywhere by a people hostile to capitalism. It will be too late for the bourgeoisie; and capitalism will be assigned to the museum of social history.

(3) Another factor working towards the solution of the South-North contradiction is the active resistance of the southern people themselves. Bourgeois attempts at the suppression of the minority people are still in embryo and will remain like that for a long time.

Since 1950 there has been a political movement in the South, but it has no made progress. Why? Precisely because it has been dominated by rightists’ concepts. The mistake of the rightists lies in ignoring the major contradiction (the struggle against imperialism) or at best subordinating it to the minor contradiction, namely the South-North differences, while the mistake of the perplexed intellectuals lies in their putting the two contradictions on an equal plane. Hence, their dilemma. Thus in order to succeed, one must subordinate the struggle against the northern exploiting classes to the struggle against imperialism.

Two question, however, remain unanswered;

(1) What are the mistakes of the rightists? And (2) What, in the opinion of the Communists is the solution to the South-North contradiction?

To look for the origins of the rightists’ line means to survey the history of the southern political movement. In this way we will also be able to prove these two contradictions and their relative strength and urgency.

In 1821 the Sudan came under Turco-Egyptian rule, and remained so until Mahadist national revolution in 1881. It was an era of gross misgovernment, as is well-know. Its main feature for the South was the introduction on a big scale of the infamous salve-trade, mainly conducted by members of the northern Arab tribes. Whole populations were uprooted and carried away into the salve markets of Elobeid and Omdurman. The salvers encouraged inter-tribal war and made alliances with the local chiefs for the supply of salves. The constant harassing of population by the salvers prevented a normal life; severe famines, disease, epidemics, etc., reduced the population. Added to this was the Turco-Egyptian extortionate taxation system. Salve-trading formed the main obstacle arresting the development of the southern peoples and the contradiction between the South and the salvers therefore constituted the foremost problem of the day following the Mahadist revolution of 1881 the Sudan was independent for thirteen years but the salve-trade continued to flourish.

The salve –trade contradiction was eliminated by the British colonialists who occupied the Sudan in 1898, smashing the Mahadist administration and exploitation. The main reason for this move was that as an advanced capitalist power, Britain stood in no need of free salve-labour which would only hinder the market for her goods. Accordingly she abolished the salve-trade.

Southerners, however, attributed the abolition of the salve-trade (which was carried out in favour of British capitalist interests) to British good morals. Herein lies one of the misconceptions upon which the rightists’ line is built. The morals of British imperialism, however, proved to be like the morals of a shepherd who rescues a ram from a lion, not in the interest of the ram, but in that of the cooking pot. For it soon became clear to the southern people that the British imperialism in the Southern Sudan was utilized to its maximum.

British colonialism set up a militarist administration all over the Sudan, re-introduced the Turco-Egyptian semi-feudal poll tax system, forcing the southern people to make annual cattle, grain, and later, cash deliveries. They also weakened tribal leadership; instance they broke up the Azande kingdom and smashed the power of Avungura princes and other tribal chiefs, generally turning them into puppets.

With the passage of time the weight of British colonialism increased upon the shoulders of the southern peoples, especially after the introduction of notorious Southern Policy. By this policy the South was cut off from the civilized world, degrading public service scales and wages were introduced for the southern officials and worker; and relations between North and South were cut. Education, which was not allowed until 1924, was very limited and was put under mission control for the purpose of introduction, instilling an inferiority complex into the people, preaching anti-Arabism to divert attention from colonialism, and turning out no more than a few clerks, book-keeper, dressers, village school-teachers time-keepers and persons of that class. Meanwhile, British rule is well-know and there is no point in saying more here.

British colonialism proved to be the new obstacle standing in the way of the development of the South. The contradiction between the South and Arab salvers had died, and was superseded by a more powerful, more menacing contradiction, which entered all spheres of life, breaking up families and destroying traditional values in addition to its concrete oppression. Hence the origin of the contradiction against imperialism.

Considerable sections of the southern people did not fail to see this menace and they took up the struggle against it. Thus, as early as 1901 the Azande launched a revolution under the leadership of their last king, Budwe. 1902, the Lau Nuer launched another rebellion. This was followed by the Aliab Dinka uprising of 1919, the Malual Dinka revolt of 1922 (under the able leader Bol Yiel), and finally the Nuer war of 1927-1929. All the rebellions were drowned in blood; nor could they have succeeded under the conditions prevalent at the time, including the fact that they were isolated, sporadic, badly armed, and spontaneous. They were, however, a good lesson from which the magnitude of the task could be assessed. Under the economic and social conditions of the time it was not possible to wage a successful struggle against colonialism.

Imperialism, however, unconsciously breeds the seed of its own destruction. The same is true of British rule in the South. Slowly and imperceptibly the desired conditions began to appear in the southern (Sudan) provinces as well as outside. The commercial exploitation of the South, as well as the efficient functioning of the colonial state machinery, necessitated the building of good roads, the development of river and air transport and telecommunications, thereby breaking down territorial and tribal isolation and bringing the southern people closer together, further, the development of trade and the setting up government development etc., brought about the growth of towns and the appearance of detribalized urban population and a working class. As a result of wholesale expulsion of the Egyptian personnel from the Sudan in 1924, as well as the expulsion northern officials from the South, following adoption of Southern Policy, the colonial administration was left in great need of law class officials (clerks, book-keepers, etc.). to recruit them from aboard would have been expensive as well as politically unsafe. The British were, therefore, compelled to open schools solely for the purpose of turning out that class official. The task was entrusted to the Christian missionaries who opened a number of elementary schools and later three intermediate schools. Thus a strata of southern intelligentsia sprang up.

Further, as a result of World War, British imperialism was very much weakened. National liberation movements began sweeping Asia and Middle East, including Egypt and Northern Sudan, for the war accelerated the principles of liberty and self-determination throughout the world. In the North a demand for the end of colonialism had arisen, political parties had sprung up and attacks were being leveled upon the Southern Policy and British colonialism was put on the defensive. It took to panic and was, therefore, compelled to relax the ‘closed districts’ policy and hurriedly began to set up government schools in the South. Charged by the national liberation movements in the North with planning to separate the South, the British were compelled to issue denials to such a design and to say that it was southerners themselves who wished to stay apart.

Meanwhile, condemned to low wages and intolerably low standards of living, the southern intellectuals began to stir against the British and demanded to be treated in the same way as northern officials. It was in these conditions that Juba Conference was called in 1947. The agenda before the conference was to decide, in effect, whether Southern Policy should continue to prevail or not. Despite the undemocratic atmosphere in which the conference was called, and the prevalence of reactionary elements therein, the decision of both northern and southern delegations was unanimously against the colonialist Southern Policy and for the entry of the southerners into the Legislative Assembly in Khartoum at along with the northerners. Great credit must to be given to Stanislaus Paysame, Clement, Mboro, Siricio Iro, and other southern nationalists for the success of the conference in favour of the national liberation movement.

Following the conference, its heroes –i.e. Stanislaus, Clement, Rodento, Siricio and others-took up opposition action. They proceeded to organize a para-political organization, the Southern Official’ welfare Committee. This organization began to demand the fulfillment of the decisions of the equal work. The call for these demands spread among the people, and in the Spring of 1948 a crippling general strike of all southern officials and workers took place all over the South. The strike achieved its demands as far as officials were concerned, and the workers also got a wage rise.

Meanwhile, in the political field, thirteen southern representatives entered the Legislative Assembly in 1948. The Southern Policy was dead and with it the many restrictions by which it had fettered the development of the southern provinces. The southern people had won a great victory against colonialism. What does this historical survey show? It shows the following:

(1) That the chief enemy of the southern people was British imperialism.

(2) That by allying themselves with the national liberation movement in the North, the southern people could, and were able to, deal telling blows to imperialism and for democracy as well as social and economic improvement.

Thus, until 1948, the strategy of the southern political movement was against imperialism, while its tactic was one of alliance with the national liberation movement in the Northern provinces. The success of this strategy and tactic in 1948, as well as the historical conditions we have outlined, proved that the southern political movement was proceeding in the right direction. Whence, then, the rightist line, which while choosing an alliance with imperialism, or at best ignoring it, pursues a course principally directed against the North?

In the first part of this pamphlet we stated that imperialism remains the main enemy of the advancement of the South, while the role of the northern propertied classes in checking this advancement is only secondary. In the second part we traced the course of the southern political history; from 1821 the main obstacle was the salve-trade; from 1898 to 1948 it ceased to be the said evil trade and became British colonialism, and the course taken by the conscious political struggle of the southern people in the latter period corresponded to the main contradiction.

How can we explain the fact that after 1948 the rightist line came to predominate in southern politics? In other words, has there been any fundamental economic or social change whereby the northern propertied classes have become the chief enemy of the southern people, in place of imperialism? Hence, this continuation of the historical survey.

We have noted the general direction of the Juba Conference in 1947 and the welfare movement which followed-namely the line of anti-colonialism and alliance with the national liberation movement in the North. But conditions were not ripe for the progressive and steady development of this anti-colonialist line. The terrible economic, social and cultural backwardness of the South imposed by British colonialism, the exclusiveness of tribal life, the almost complete absence of a working and a bourgeois nationalist class, isolation of the South, etc., as well as the comparative weakness of the left forces in the national liberation movement in the North- all these smothered healthy southern thinking. The Welfare Committee Movement consisted almost entirely of government officials. There were no professional politicians. They, therefore, experienced organizational difficulties. Besides, their political consciousness was low and they could not strip themselves of British nominees. It was in these circumstances that the rightist line was born.

Following the general strike, the British became aware that, if not brought under control, the Welfare Movement could develop into a wide popular movement. It was, however, too late to suppress it. So the British decided to adopt a cleverer plan of diversion. The more conscious and active leaders, being officials, were transferred to remote districts. Opportunist Gordon Ayom was skillfully smuggled into the leadership of the movement, while in the Legislative Assembly, Sir James Robertson began to groom Buthian line.

From 1950 to February 1953 the activities of Buthians centered around the blocking of constitutional reforms. On December 9, 1950, the Legislative Assembly passed a resolution demanding the setting-up by the Governor-General of a ‘Constitutional Amendment Commission’ to re-examine the Executive Council Legislative Assembly Ordinance of 1948 and to make such recommendation for its amendment as they considered would increase the value and enhance the efficiency of the Assembly and Council as a practical instrument of democratic self-government with a full measure of parliamentary control.

Buth was nominated by the Governor-General to serve as southern representative on Commission. From the onset Buth played the role of obstructing the Commission. He proposed (with the support of his followers, of whom the writer of this pamphlet was one) that as the South was backward she could not enter into self-government along with the North economically, socially and culturally. Alternatively, the Buthians proposed to the North to drop all claims to self-government and wait for such time as the South should have advanced.

When these demands could not make headway, the Buthians demanded, under the proposed constitution, a special Minister for Southern Affairs; he should himself be a southerner with veto power in Council of Ministers and responsible not to the Council but directly to the Governor-General. This demand was rejected by the leaders of the national liberation movement as the functions of the special minister would mostly have been engineered for deadlocks in the government and bring about a constitutional breakdown and the loss of all constitutional gains of the people.

The February Agreement of 1953 between Egypt and Britain also came under fire from the Buthians. By this time the Buthian line had assumed predominance in the South. In 1953, however, a number of anti-colonialist intellectuals appeared in the South. Among them were Bullen Aleir Bior, Dak-Dei, Santino Ddeng, Thorn AterBar, Vincentio Bazia, Sirici Iro and Rodento Ondzi. The reasons which at first prompted these (official) intellectuals were narrow and, in some cases, personal. That was to be expected. Soon, however, it became clear to them that their problems were part of the vast issue of colonialism which they realized had to be tackled.

The bullenites (if we may so call them) issued the slogan of ‘Down with the British’ and ‘For the alliance with the National Liberation forces in the North’. But beyond the slogan they had no detailed program, nor did the totality of their views coincide. They were isolated by long distances from one another; they were not organized and were not informed of the different currents of the national liberation movement in the North. As we shall see later, all these facts proved to their disadvantage. But none the less they won some mass following, especially among the Nilotes, and secured about six parliamentary seats. The emergency of Bullen group was of decisive importance as it was only with their help that Azhari was able to set up the first nationalist government in January 1954. True to the bourgeois tradition, the bourgeois Government of Azhari betrayed the Bullen group. The bourgeois Government forgot most of promises they had made to the Bullenites and the southern people during the election economic construction, the principle of equal pay for equal work, abolition of poll tax, raising the standard of living of masses, adequate share in the state apparatus, etc.

This failure provided golden propaganda opportunities for the Buthians. In reply, the Government dismissed the southern claims as agitation by ‘mission boys’, ‘half-educated elements’, ‘British agents’, etc. When; later, the Azhari regime realised the wide extent of Buthism it did not correct its position but merely more people to the Buthian camp. The failure of the bourgeois ministry naturally resulted in the rapid isolation of the Bullen group and the group’s final capitulation early in 1955.

In October 1954, the Buthian called a political conference in Juba which was attended by a number of members of parliament, chiefs, and local politicians. It was at this conference that federation was made the official policy, while the alliance with colonialism against the national liberation movement of the North was lifted to the heights. In January 1955, another conference at Juba confirmed the resolution of the October Conference. By this time Bullen and some of his followers had jointed the Buthian opposition, as a result to their disappointment with the National Unionist Party and at the instigation of Salah Salem. These conferences frightened the bourgeois regime the more. The situation became tense, especially after Azhari’s visit to the South in early 1955. More repression followed; among them were the Elia Kuze trial, in the intimidation of chiefs to issue pro-government declarations and the Nzara in Juuly 1955. Matters were coming to a head.

On 18 August, 1955, the southern disturbance broke out. The responsibility for the disturbance must rest upon the British and Buthians’ shoulders, but the bourgeois Government of Azhari cannot escape blame either. If the British and the Buthians supplied the explosive, the Azhari Ministry provided the match which detonated the bomb. The detailed causes of mutiny require greater explosion, which cannot be done here for lack room. What is important, however, is that those who had led the rebellion had counted on British military and political aid. Buth himself deserted to the Government. The result was a disillusionment with the British, loss of faith in the Buthian leadership, a blow from which the Buthian members of parliament never recovered. At the same time the southern people were thrown into confusion and did not know what to do. Instead of taking advantage of this situation, the Azhari Government cruelly suppressed the rebellion. Nor were the left and democratic forces in the country strong enough to supply new leadership for the South. It was an opportunity lost.

Unable to find a way out, the southern people soon fell prey to a number of a number of neo-Buthians led by Ezboni Mondiri. Hatred of North became very great, a fact which was most favourable to the neo-Buthians came out with a program which on the one hand emphasized antinorthernism and on the other was completely silent on the other words it was a Tshombe type of program.

Thanks to demagogy, the neo-Buthians won twelve parliamentary seats (of which Ezboni’s was lost) and thanks to their organizational talent they quickly seized the leadership of the Liberation parliamentary block with Saturnino and Joseph Oduho as their key men.

When parliament convened in March 1958, Abdullah Khalil won the Premiership, thanks to the People’s Democratic Party and old Buthians who had become out-and-out Umma and P.D.P. but Khalil’s Government was weak and its continuance in power depended on the most crucial question of the day- the question of American Aid. The majority in the Liberal block stood with opposition (Anti-Imperialist Front, National Unionist Party) against American Aid and determined to bring down the Khalil Government on the issue.

A considerable number of P.D.P. leftist M.P.s were prepared to vote against Aid and bring down the Government, if they could receive assurance that the Liberal block would not take their place in coalition with the Umma Party. Such an assurance was not forthcoming, as the eleven members of the neo-Buthian-Saturnino group insisted on the Aid. In this they were in agreement with the old Buthians. They voted for American Aid and thereby prolonged the life of Khalil Government and gave it time to engineer the November military coup.

Now when things are hot it turns out that it is the neoButhian leaders who are the first to quit the country. How strange! But side by side with neo-Buthians were the majority in the Liberian block (seventeen at American Aid vote). These included Stanislaus Paysama, Elijah Kuuol Mayyo, Franco Garang and others. These called for federation. They were, in general, a revival of the Bullen group and the Welfare Movement. Such, very briefly, is the outline of the history of the southern political movement up to November 17, 1958.

* * *

It remains now to draw some conclusions as to the objective direction of that movement. Is it a genuine national liberation movement away from the northern exploiting classes, or a movement against imperialism? That is the main issue demanding an answer.

Before proceeding to attempt an answer, however, we must summarize the policy of the Abboud dictatorship towards the southern national groupings. In our opinion it was a policy of national oppression in earnest, aimed, in the main, at the assimilation of those nationalities into the Arab nation. Hence, the regime’s intensification of suppression of the peoples democratic rights, the imposition of Arabic upon the national groupings and exclusion of their languages from school curriculum, the imposition of Arab bourgeois (Islamic) culture and barefaced economic exploitation of the population, e.g. by unwarranted cattle fines, seizures, etc. Such, in brief, was the character of the regime’s southern policy.

Now we proceed with our conclusions. Our somewhat long survey indicated that there are two lines in the southern movement. First there is the Buthian line-originally championed by Buth and followers. It was continued by the Benjamin Lwoki wing of the Liberal Party and polished by Saturnino and his followers.

Ideologically Buthism remains the predominant line. Its main features are two: namely, alliance with imperialism and local reaction; and spearheading of the southern movement against the Arab nationality as being the principle adversary of the southern people. The second line we shall call after Bullen. Originating from the Nuer-Zande-Dinka armed struggles against British colonialism, it re-appeared as the main southern line at Juba Conference in 1947, continued as the Welfare Movement, entered the first parliament as the platform of the Bullen group of M.P.s and later revived as the standpoint of the Stanislaus-Franco-Elijah wing of Liberal parliamentary block.

The question is which of the two lines is better? First we take the Buthian line. There is no justification for its tactics of alliance with colonialism and reaction. For fifty years the British oppressed the South and one would have expected that movement in the South and one would have expected that movement in the South would foremost be directed against imperialism. Yet it is not so, precisely because the Buthian line has its origin in the bosom of Sir James Rebort son and Governor B.A. Lewis. It follows that the Buthian tactics can only be explained on the basis of opportunism.

It is precisely for this reason that every time Buthism reached a peak, the country has been beset with catastrophes. Instances are the southern disturbances of 1955 and the advent of the Abboud dictatorship to power, for which the Saturnino group were in no small measure responsible.

It is said, by certain persons, that while the Buthian tactic of alliance with imperialism is wrong, one the less the spearheading of the southern political movement against the North is correct. In other words Buth was right in singling out the North as the chief enemy of southern people.

In the first place Buthism arose as early as 1950, and by the beginning of 1954 it had become the dominant line. Yet the northern bourgeoisie took political power effectively only at the end of 1954 and particularly at the beginning of 1955, that is when Sudanization was accomplished. In other words, oppression of the South was impossible before the beginning of 1955. Does this not show that Buthism did not arise out of northern oppression? First you must have oppression then opposition thereto.

In the second place, before independence, there was no economic exploitation of southern people by the North. True there were the Jellaba or northern traders, but the capital in their hands was very small-a case of the pettiest of petty trade. Certainly the Jellaba trade could not have given rise to such a degree of exploitation as to justify turning the North into the chief enemy of the southern people. No opposition developed against them.

Thirdly, it is argued that the Buthian line arose out of the salve-trade of olden times. This argument is incorrect. True, in the nineteenth century, i.e. when that evil trade was current, it would have been proper and understandable for a national movement to arise against the North. But slavery died in 1898, and, as is clear from history, the southern people directed their energies against colonialism. How then does it come about that a national liberation movement should arise out of social grievances buried fifty years ago? That cannot be. True, memories of the salve-trade still persist, and no doubt are accompanied by suspicions. But that is all. Mere suspicions have never given rise to a national liberation movement.

Conversely, the rise of national liberation in the North-a movement in which the bourgeoisie took a prominent part resulted in great democratic gains for the South. The South broke out of the ‘closed districts’ cage in which the British had confined it and gained parliamentary democracy, civil rights and liberties. Southern government officials gained parity in wages with their northern opposite numbers, and the terms of service of southern workers improved; also the South won more schools, hospitals, and other social services.

Further, history shows that alliance with the northern national liberation movement is not only useful but necessary; for progress in both South and North took place precisely at the point when this alliance was strong and the converse is true. It is also said that the large following of the Buthian line proves its truth. What nonsense! Whoever heard of the correctness of a principle? It follows that the Buthian line opportunist.

The Bullen line is the better policy as it corresponds to the objective historical situation. But to condemn Buthism and prefer the Bullen line does not mean that genuine contradictions do not exist between the Arab nationality and the southern people, nor does it mean that the Bullen line is free from serious mistakes and short-comings.

While the old salve-trade cannot now give rise to a national liberation movement against the North, none the less it was a horrible practice which the southern people have not forgotten, nor will they forget it for a long time, as national animosities die hard. This ill-feeling certainly has left a mark on the southern movement.

Again, since Independence, economic exploitation consists in part of the increased enrichment of the Jellaba who have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the northern bureaucracy in South. They have now taken numerous trading licences, seized upon a monopoly of government contracts, the grain trade and meat business. There is also exploitation through the bourgeois state; for example, direct taxation, cattle fines, forced labour and the inequality of wages. One must also mention bourgeois investments in agriculture, particularly in coffee and cotton schemes which rely on cheap southern labour. More important is the migration of cheap southern labour for exploitation in the North.

No doubt this economic exploitation forms a basis of genuine contradictions between the southern people and the Arab exploiting classes; but having regard to its small scale the contradiction engendered by it should not be antagonistic. One must also take into account northern claims that more is spent in the South than is being taken out of it- claims which we can neither accept nor reject pending a through statistical study of the southern economy as a whole. Our economic arguments as to exploitation should, therefore, be taken with reserve, pending proof. Contradictions also arise from the policy of suppression applied in the South particularly by the present dictatorship.

Thus, there is definitely a case for southern outcries against the northern exploiting classes. The point is that one must not exaggerate the extent of this case as the Buthians do, nor pretend that the South-North condition does not exist, as most middle-class northerners thinks. The mistake of Bullen parliamentary group (1954-1955) lay precisely in the fact that they failed to notice the possibility of a South-North contradiction and gave their whole hearts to their bourgeois allies (i.e. the N.U.P.).

Why these South-North contradictions? We have stated repeatedly that their origin lies in the dual nature of the Arab bourgeoisie. As a semi-colonial bourgeoisie, they inevitably have two faces. On the one hand they feel the oppression of imperialism which is constantly washing them down the drain out of the market. So they find common cause with the people. To this extent they are really willing to mobilize the people against colonialism, put forward democratic and nationalist slogans and point fingers at imperialism with cries of ‘wolf’. On the other hand they dream that after the imperialist wolf has gone they will seize the market, exploit the people to enrich themselves and become the new ‘wolf’. This explains why the bourgeoisie are always wonderful ‘boys’ when they are in the opposition but soon show teeth when in the saddle. Herein lies the weakness of Bullen parliamentary group, who could clearly see the rusty side of the coin.

Bullen’s failure was inevitable because he failed to rely on the broad, democratic, and, particularly, working-class movement in the North. The working-class is also exploited by the bourgeoisie. The workers have no capital with which they can exploit the national minorities. Their desire is for a better life; hence their slogans for independence, democracy, equality, etc., are genuine. The northern working-class is, therefore, the best ally of the southern people, while the bourgeoisie can only be allies to certain limit-the limit of the struggle against imperialism. Without a firm alliance between the southern people and the working-class, there can be no talk of victory by the southern people.

We are now in a position to summarise the whole of our discussion so far.

(1) If the southern political movement is not objectively directed against the Arab nationality, and if the objective conditions in fact suggest an anti-imperialist movement, then it follows that the southern political movement is a wave against imperialism despite all Buthian appearances.

(2) The spearheading of the movement against Arab nationality arose not out of a genuine national liberation movement against the later, but out of British machinations injected into the movement via the Buth-Saturnino opportunists. As such Buthism is bound to be washed away by history and will disappear.

(3) At the same time contradictions exist between the southern people and the Arab exploiter-classes but these contradictions, while they will certainly increase to some extent, nevertheless are not likely to develop to an antagonistic stage, for reasons stated earlier, namely: the extreme economic and political weakness of the Arab bourgeoisie; the ever-widening mass democratic movement in country led by the working-class and its vanguard, the Communist Party; the resistance of the southern people themselves, and finally the worldwide upheaval of the mass of people who are demanding democracy, a better life and peace.

(4) The task of our democrats is to eliminate the South-North contradictions in interests of further advance of the whole of the Sudanese people towards progress, democracy and peace. Such an elimination is impossible without an alliance between the southern national groupings and the working-class, led by its political organization-the Communist Party.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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