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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #46 of 54: South Africa | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #48 of 54: Swaziland »

August 13, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #47 of 54: Sudan

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
Flag of Sudan

Formal Name: Republic of Sudan.

Term for Citizens: Sudanese.

Capital: Khartoum. Population: 2,853,000.

Date of Independence: January 1, 1956, from Britain.

Major Cities: Khartoum, Omdurman.


Sudan is in Central Africa. Sudan is the largest country in Africa with a total area of 967, 498 square miles. Sudan is bordered by Ethiopia, Egypt, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Libya. The country is predominantly plateau and plains, with mountainous areas around the red sea coast, in the far south and far west. River Nile cuts through the country. Rainfall is rare in the North and very frequent in the south. Drought is very common in the central and northern sections of Sudan.


The population is estimated at 33, 610,000. About 25% of the population is urban, concentrated around the capital area: Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North.

Ethnic Groups: It is estimated that over 400 ethnic groups live in Sudan, the major ones are: Africans who call themselves Arabs, though they look as black as other Africans 40%, Nubians in the North, Beja in the Northeast, Fur in the West, Dinka 10%, Nuer, and several Nilotic and other ethnic groups.

Languages: Arabic, Bedawiye by the Beja, and various dialects of Niger-Kurdufanian and Nilo Saharan languages.

Religion: 50% Muslim, primarily in the North; 50% Christian, and African indigenous beliefs in the South of Sudan.

Education: Six-year primary education, not free, rare. Estimated adult literacy rate is 61.1%.

Economy: Mixed economy, government dominated. Subsistence agriculture. Livestock, fisheries are the features of the economy. Oil production is increasingly becoming an important sector of the economy. GDP estimated: $52.9 billion; Per Capita GDP: $1,420. Monetary Unit: Dinar (SDD)

History and Government:

Sudan is where the Arab world and the African world meet. Some Africans, who call themselves Arabs, even if they are blacker than blacks in Ghana, dominate the government. The “Arabs” and Africans have been at war for the control of South Sudan since the 1950s. At present, the two are at war in West Sudan, Darfur province. The military and variations thereof rule the country. Perpetual war between the arabised Africans and others. The country is divided into nine states and the later subdivided into provinces, then districts and local government areas. The South of Sudan has waged a war with the North for several decades, and recently reached a power sharing arrangement with the North. The West, Darfur erupted in ethnic cleansing with the arabised Africans killing non-arabised Africans. Sudan’s political future has not been worked out yet and more violence may breakout at any time. Arranging the polity so that all members of the ethnic groups participate in their governance has not been achieved.


Sudan is where black Africa meets the Arab world. In the ancient world, Sudan, called Nubia, was where the Semitic civilization of Egypt met the African world of Nubia.

Arabs conquered northern Sudan and Africans live in Southern Sudan. The Africans of Southern Sudan are not the Bantus Africans found in the rest of Sub Saharan Africa but Nilotic Africans.

In 1820 Sudan was acquired by Egypt. When Britain became involved in the affairs of Egypt and under the pretext that Egypt was unable to pay her debts seized Egypt, it inherited Sudan.

In 1898 the local Sudanese freedom fighters that fought under the banner of religion and called themselves Madhist were overwhelmed by the superior fire power of Britain and Sudan was finally colonized for Queen and England.

It was clear to the British overlords that the north and south of Sudan were two different countries and Britain managed to run the two regions as if they were different countries. Christian missionaries, for example, were permitted in the South but not in the Muslim north.

In 1956 Britain gave Sudan independence. Immediately the North- South issues came to the fore. The South did not want to be ruled by Muslim north, who had the majority of the people of Sudan. A war ensued. For ten years the North fought the South. Some peace was found, and then it was back to more war.

The North South wars finally concluded (?) in 2005 when the North agreed to give the South semi autonomy. But, then, the leader of the South, John Garang, mysteriously died in a plane accident?

The peace treaty called for a referendum in six years to determine whether the South would separate from Sudan or permanently stay as part of Sudan.

In the meantime, the Arab north, actually Arabicized Africans for some of them look as black as the darkest Dinka, turned their attention to Darfur province.

In 2003 the Arab Janjaweed militia started raiding Darfur villages, chasing the people off their farms and taking the lands over, as they used to do in the South. Refugees poured into Chad, the neighboring country, and Darfur Africans formed their own militia and another war is on. Sudanese troops often chase these freedom fighters into Chad and the later declared a state of war with Sudan.

As if that was not, in Eastern Sudan, by the border with Eretria, Arabs began doing the same thing to the African population, chasing them off their lands, and another war is brewing in Eastern Sudan.

It seems that Sudan would know no peace until the Africans who call themselves Arabs learn to live in harmony with those Africans who do not call themselves Arabs.

Sudan is divided into 26 states and further subdivided into 133 districts.

Oil was recently found in southern Sudan. This complicated matter(s) for the north, apparently, would not like to let go of money from that oil. The current peace treaty specified how revenue from oil would be shared between the north and south.
The problem of Sudan is how to get two cultures, Arabic and African, to coexist? Needless to say that the answer has not been found?

Posted by Administrator at August 13, 2006 10:34 AM


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