SUDAN: The Lion of Truth

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Rethinking the causes, situation and solutions

They are extraordinary individuals dedicated to a cause greater than themselves.

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They provide medical assistance, help supply basic needs, assist in helping improve governance and so many other activities crucial to the survival of so many Sudanese in need in the south, Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan. Their continued efforts are necessary and require support if the Sudan people are to achieve a better future. Many are true heroes whose selfless work will not receive wide recognition but to whom all are indebted who hope for a better, more peaceful, more stable and more prosperous Sudan.

Finally I want to acknowledge the contribution of the dedicated advocacy community in the United States and abroad who have kept a lasar focus on developments in Sudan and sought to ring the bell and alert those in public office to developments and hold them accountable when they felt their leaders were falling short in their responsibilities. Similarly, I believe that community of dedicated humanitarians in their advocacy will continue to play a vital role going forward. It is appropriate to celebrate this moment just as it is appropriate also to recognize the contributions of so many others.

But this is not the end of the story. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this is not the end, however, it may be the beginning of the end. And the most perilous period lies yet ahead. To have travelled so far and through such costly and treacherous waters at such sacrifice of human life, it would be unconscionable now to not see this process to its successful conclusion. A sustainable peace is achievable, we can see that now; but it definitely is not inevitable.

And the history, habits and heritage of Sudan has been vicious violence; not conciliation, cooperation and compromise. Yes, note and applaud the achievement; but we cannot lose sight that the goal was not the vote but a sustainable peace where long marginalized people can live in dignity and seek their dreams in freedom. There must be a combination of incentives and credible threats of coercive steps if negotiations are not in good faith, deals are broken or there is a resort to violence.

As Bismarck once said, diplomacy without the credible threat of force is like written music without instruments. To finish the job that has begun, we need incentives and we need steel. Extremely difficult problems, especially those that have been surrounded by a long history of marginalization, discrimination and injustice; violence and atrocities; mayhem and murder; and a path of broken promises and breached commitments are not resolved by agreements in principle, frameworks or promises to negotiate in good faith.

Detailed, specific and verifiable commitments must be reached. The five contested border areas, oil revenue sharing, the future of Abyei, popular consultations, citizenship, security, liabilities and currency are just some of the most urgent matters that must be resolved before a separation can occur with any chance of success. None of these fundamental issues is new. They have been long acknowledged. The processes for resolution of many were stipulated in the CPA. But as we meet today they are not resolved.

The uncertainty around their resolution adds to the tension and instability that lingers. They create a haunting specter that darkens the path forward and puts at grave risk any chance of real, sustainable progress.


Left unresolved, it is hard to imagine the results of the Referendum being honored and a future without a return to the terrible times of terror and tragedy in the south. To set a successful strategy, one must examine the history, heritage and habits in Sudan. And one must be mindful of past performance; promises kept and promises broken. And especially in Sudan, it is prudent to be mindful of practices used to achieve goals; including how frequently there has been a resort to violence and the particularly brutal ways in which campaigns of violence have been prosecuted. In the case of north and south Sudan, it is not a pretty story.

Going back at least to the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, Sudan has had a history of favoritism for a minority of Sudanese in the north who are Arab and Muslim, and severe marginalization of those in the periphery who are not. This discrimination permeated all areas of life.

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Power and privilege were reserved for the Arab Muslims of the north. Among the denial and discrimination of those on the periphery, such as the southerners, were in areas of education, health care, economic opportunities, political participation and justice. Tragically, this gross discrimination continued into the 20th century under the British.

When Sudan achieved independence in , the reins of power were handed over to the same minority that had held privileged positions in the colonial period. Unsurprisingly, the new government continued the discrimination. Of course, this fragmentation and marginalization have prevented the people from gaining any sense of shared community, common cause or nationhood.

This has been accentuated by periodic efforts of the government to impose Islamist Sharia law upon the south. I once asked an old Sudan hand how the government could do such awful things to their own people. His reply was instructive. The Seligmans were evidently determined to find clear example in support of theory about the killing of divine kings Their account is however unsupported by evidence of any weight As Mr Heasty pointed out to me Shilluk kings did not often get the chance to be ritually killed as they were generally killed in one way or another before questions of age or health could have arisen Hofmayr gives the traditional biographies of each of the Shilluk kings according to which all of them were either killed in battle or died of old age 20 None were killed ceremonially.

As the Seligmans could not read German translated most of Hof- book for them. The matter is explained in pp cf also 29 and 38] Pp Most of what is written on these pages about the Anuak is incorrect The authors had not themselves visited the Anuak They relied on Bacon much of whose account is sound and Heasty most of whose account is unsound It is not at all clear indeed it is very unclear what distinction if any is made between tribe and clan On page they write Many perhaps all the members of the Kiro and Ngong Nyang clans consider the fish recol We may infer that the relationship still acknowledged as existing between the fish and the members of these tribes was once the normal totemie relationship.

Then again on page they speak of the Thany clans Jakcir and Culil from whom have strung settlements which in turn have given rise to other villages whose inhabitants together constitute the Kiro tribe all the Kiro clan revere Dek. This is not just matter of nomenclature The fact that they did not see the difference between political and local group tribe and descent group clan makes good deal of what they say about Dinka social organization mean ingless For Iwak read Iwek Hearths are made surrounded by dry wood and uprights to which the cattle are tied at night.

The photograph on plate XV shows the kraal to be studded with pegs presumably for tethering cattle We are told that the word gol means among other things cattle-enclosure would query this Then on page we read The word for clan varies from tribe to tribe e. Not only does the meaning of these words appear to be identical but among the cattle-owning tribes they are all used for the byres and cattle hearths of their clans or local groups and also to signify homestead doubt whether the meaning of these words is identical or whether among the cattle-owning tribes they are all used for byres or cattle hearths and homesteads Clans or local groups conveys no meaning at all at any rate to me The Atwot Dinka if one wishes to be precise the Atwot are not Dinka On the plate opposite Dinka huts with Lwak -but where Iron ore is collected from the hills to the west what hills The Adjong Dinka do not make pots.

On page we read Pottery is made by the coil process by women but not every woman has this art. This apparently refers to the same people We are also told that the Adjong get pots as well as other things in exchange for spear-heads and other iron objects with whom The diagram on this page seems to be almost meaningless since the Seligmans had no idea of what was and what was not clan Also what are J etc huts suppose so since we are told on page that the Cic Dinka have no cattle byres Where do they tether the cattle Why do some sections have pens and not others How can there be only one cooking-house whatever that may mean The diagram on page also seems to have little meaning Where are the villages located Wbat is the relationship between the persons living together What in dry season camp is hut Each tribe is divided into number of exogamous totemie clans with descent in the male line.

Divided into is mean ingless There are in each tribe number would make little sense but not much Gol Mariak has as totem the snake niel Long ago one of these snakes came into the hut of one Mariak and there gave birth to its young.

Niel must think be the python am not convinced that gol here means clan as the Seligmans supposed they were very muddled about what constitutes clan among the Nilotes. It takes lot of hard work to unravel this sentence See the next entry for increase in the confusion Wanmath is the term used between children born of one mother without regard to the identity of the father. On the next page we read woman calls her wife tingawanmath lit wife of.

Surely this is contradiction Tingawenanyankai is given as wife of my son though it must on the contrary mean wife of my son On the same page it is said that woman calls her wife tinga wanmath wife of son but in their list of terms son is given as wenawa and it is the son who is wanmath tinga being wife On the same page The anomalous use of certain terms by woman among the Shilluk is not found among the Dinka.

This is possibly because they have not recorded them e. On the previous page we are told that man practises ceremonial avoidance towards those relatives of his wife whom he terms thundia and dhumdia.

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  7. There are other ambiguities on these pages The children of the walen brother may be called or uwalen thus recognizing clan brotherhood as among the Shilluk. What does this mean Uwalen is not given in the list of kinship terms on pages EVANS-PRITCHARD This marriage does not separate her the wife from her own clan as may be seen clearly in the example of illness being due to the jok of the family Far from being clear this is most ambiguous for on pages we are told that the illness was caused by the jok of the mother There is no avoidance between man and his sister.

    On page we are told that man however practises ceremonial avoidance towards those relatives of his wife whom he calls thundia and dhumdia. Then page we learn that dhumdia is the term for among others the sister Though man cannot marry any of his female cousins he does not avoid them ceremonially Thus Tir stated that he did not avoid Pot see table because she happened to be his wenamanlen but had Manya his brother married anyone un related to himself Tir must have treated her with ceremonial respect. It does not seem to me that in the table Pot is cousin Then as far as can ascertain from the list of kinship terms wenamanlen would mean son i.

    The word pater nity is perhaps unfortunate here when what is meant is irrespective of who is the genitor After sacrifice the clan are said to take one hind leg and the clan of the deceased the rest What is here meant by clan think the Seligmans were not able to distinguish between clanship and kinship Purchased girl what they want to say is that the girl was married with cattle In the next paragraph wife was bought for him the same comment.

    Dinka homesteads have no wall Male twins we were told would be called Did and Lual both names of birds. Did is presumably the Dinka word for bird not the name of bird What lual means is guess Pp There is muddle here about ox-names Boys may be called after maceng if one formed part of the bridewealth or even after cow from that herd.

    What herd The names of oxen are names which they share with all other bulls and oxen of the same class the class being commonly determined by colour and skin pattern often considered to resemble that of some kind of vertebrate likeness which to the white man frequently appears fantastic and far-fetched It never struck me that there was anything fantastic about Nilotic ox-names The maceng of page is pre sumably the muor cien of page Is majok ox really only one with particularly coloured red with white belly muor den7 doubt it And what does may on black ox with white face mean Lith being the word for grey hawk suppose the kestrel It is probably correct to say that no boy would be initiated until his forehead had been scarred.

    But surely this is the initiation Cf also 34 pp ]. Did they ever meet Nuer And so much for the Muslims of the North Cic Dinka noticed an unusually large pumpkin in his. Also on page It was clear that the spirit of the ancestor of clan was considered to be embodied the totem animal further ancestral spirits would often take the form of the totem animal All this was definite.

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    This is meaningless to me Though the Seligmans do not say so Archdeacon Shaw was their escort and interpreter on this occasion as no doubt on others Shaw told me that Wal was most disturbed by Seligman peering at him through high-powered lenses Medicine fire what is this In theory and no doubt generally in practice the author ity of the Dinka rain-maker is absolute.

    Surely this statement requires some evidence in support of it find it difficult to accept Pp Without holding that rain-makers may not in some way be killed when near to death anyhow it should be pointed out that as is the case with the killing of the Shilluk king the evidence is hearsay No European has witnessed the killing or has been able to cite incontrovertible evidence that it ever took place Also when the Seligmans write that if it was thought that the ny rain-maker was seriously ill he would be killed even though he was quite young Actually this had never happened we might well ask whether no young ny ever gets seriously ill It seemed that when rain is wanted i.

    Whatever that is locally regarded as specially concerned with rain may mean cannot say but from the white stand point seems to me to be strange thing to write Is it suggested that the Dinka who after all are the ones who have to survive in their environment do not know when the rainy season is approaching Also think the Seligmans have not at all understood this business of so-called rain-making It is not really matter of the rainy season approaching The trouble arises when rain has fallen and then ceases after the grain is sown and has sprouted Presently the bullocks are killed by the rain-maker who spears them and cuts their throats.

    This may be correct but to me it conveys no picture of what happens Pp These pages are good example there are many others in the book of the Seligmans misuse of information Clearly they knew almost nothing at first hand about the Nuer and they do not claim otherwise They were mainly dependent on my notebooks but unfortunately they would interpolate information derived from other sources and sometimes worse still their own inferences Con sequently it is often impossible for the reader to know on whose re sponsibility statement is made We are told that Gau had two sons Gaa and Kwook and number of daughters and that as there was no one with whom these could marry Gaa assigned several daughters to each of his sons and to avert the calamities that follow incest he performed the cere mony of splitting bullock longitudinally decreeing that the two groups might intermarry but that neither might marry within itself.

    To make sense out of this account we would have to accept that it was Gau and not Gaa who assigned the daughters to the sons The account continues Gaa being the elder son took the right side of the bullock i. They are generally taken to pasture between 7. Driven out does not very well describe what happens the cattle leave quietly of their own accord In the footnote to this page we read The word gol is commonly used to signify village or and probably has these meanings Miss Soule tells us that it only means clan in com bination with the name of the head or founder of the clan.

    Naturally were the word so used it would certainly not probably have these meanings but in point of fact gol is never used to denote village nor does it ever in my experience refer to clan Miss Soule knew the Nuer language well and think that the Seligmans may have misunderstood what she told them Cattle are eaten both when killed for ceremonial purposes and in times of severe hunger when blood may be taken from the neck Apart from these occasions young men at times kill beast and eat it. Pp Although the solidarity of Nuer tribe is ulti mately based on its clans..

    This has no meaning The sentence continues the structure of the tribes and their relations infer se appear more complicated than among the Dinka our impression being that there has been far more segmentation and reintegration than among the latter. For generally read invari ably Local groups from other areas makes no sense to me To such an extent have foreign elements been assimilated in some clans that perhaps 80 per cent of tribe may be ultimately of foreign origin. It is not at all clear from the context what is meant by foreign also what is meant by clans Rul are folk who are not members of the dyel often husbands of the women of the clan who have not left the home of their fathers on marriage.

    Home is very ambiguous word here The text continues Since marriage with clansman is not permitted girls must marry rul or Dinka who will probably come and live in. It would have been better to have used the word deng village instead of wee camp significant difference between the Nuer and Dinka at any rate the western Dinka is that the Nuer tends to speak of his local community in terms of wet season residence deng whereas the Dinka tends to speak of his in terms of dry season residence wut This relates to their different forms of transhumance does not seem to us necessarily to imply Dinka origin for we consider that the similarity in totemie beliefs is best explained by the origin of the two peoples from common stem or stock.

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    Our South Sudan travel guide unveils the newest country in the world. Calling us from outside the UK? Toggle navigation. South Sudan holidays guide Our South Sudan travel guide unveils the newest country in the world. South Sudan holidays guide. Holidays to South Sudan are a rollercoaster ride. Cheer from the sidelines as you watch Mundari men wrestle with their neighbours. Learn the truth behind the scarification rituals of the Toposas people.

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    SUDAN: The Lion of Truth SUDAN: The Lion of Truth
    SUDAN: The Lion of Truth SUDAN: The Lion of Truth
    SUDAN: The Lion of Truth SUDAN: The Lion of Truth
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