First it was the South, then the East and then Darfur in the West. Now it’s Nubia in the upper North that’s picking up arms against the Khartoum government.
Their name is the Kush Liberation Front and they’re rightly pissed off thanks to 1) years of economic marginalization, and 2) the planned construction of dams which sparked the recent tragic Kajbar massacre.
My latest round-up post at Global Voices contains some information on one of the dams:
Little.Miss.Dalu puts the spotlight on the construction of a large dam in Sudan known as the Meroe Dam and the loss it will cause to archaeological treasures from the days of the ancient Nubian Civilization:
The Meroe Dam already poses a humanitarian crisis. It will displace more than 50,000 people who live along this isolated region of the Nile, growing dates and herding sheep and goats. But the project is also creating a cultural heritage disaster largely ignored by the international media, UNESCO, and private preservation groups. Thousands–perhaps tens of thousands–of ancient sites are likely to vanish underwater as early as next year without even cursory examination.
Tensions have been high here since soldiers opened fire on an anti-government protest of 5,000 Nubians in June, killing four young men and wounding nearly two dozen. The government has arrested nearly three dozen Nubian leaders and four journalists who were trying to cover the violence.
And out pops the Kush Liberation Front.
Now a recently formed rebel group, calling itself the Kush Liberation Front, is advocating armed resistance to overthrow the central government, which it accuses of oppressing Nubians and other indigenous peoples in Sudan.
“Our efforts will not succeed unless they are backed by military action,” said Abdelwahab Adem, a Nubian former businessman and co-founder of the Kush Liberation Front. “We need to get rid of the Arabs. Our goal is to realize a new Sudan, by force if necessary.”
Adem said the new movement would rely on “guerrilla fighting,” targeting the capital, Khartoum, and other major Sudanese cities. He declined to specify what sort of tactics might be used or how many fighters the group has.
Darfur has been continuously portrayed as an “Arabs Vs Africans” conflict. Now, this looks like it’s going to be portrayed as “Arabs Vs Nubians”. If that happens, it would be a little simplistic since Arab farmers are also going to be affected by the dams. For the government in Khartoum, it’s always primarily about wealth and power. Only after that do tribal factors come into play (which they surely do).
The spark for recent unrest was a government proposal to construct two or three electricity-producing dams along the Nile in the Nubian heartland, between the villages of Kajbar, about 350 miles north of Khartoum, and Dal, about 100 miles from the Egyptian border.
This fertile Nile River strip is home to an estimated 300,000 Nubians, many of whom would be forced to relocate if rising river waters swallowed scores of villages.
… The proposals come on top of another controversial project, the 1,250-megawatt Merowe Dam, which is already under construction about 150 miles to the east. Flooding from that project will displace 70,000 Arab farmers and engulf several hundred miles of unexplored Nubian archeological sites.
Wonderful! If you’re confused about this whole Arab/African, Arab/Nubian categorization, read this. Nubians are Africans. Ethnically speaking, the government in Khartoum is dominated by Afro-Arabs, but culturally speaking it’s accurate to say, it’s dominated by Arabs. Oh and in case you didn’t know, I come from a tribe which is mixed Arab-Nubian, so watching this unfold is kind of like a biracial kid watching his divorced parents fighting. Tribalism is a disease. As for the drowning of the ancient and valuable heritage of my people, don’t even get me started. It’s too painful. Find out more about the Ancient Nubian Civilization here.
Lord have mercy! The implementation of the North-South peace agreement isn’t going smoothly. Darfur is still a mess. And now, we have this. Sigh!
Praise be to the beloved Sudanese government.