Posted on behalf of Munzoul Assal Sudan is one of the fastest urbanizing countries in the world. Population figures show that the country was already 40% urbanized in 2005—and that figure excludes the displaced of Darfur and the large numbers of unregistered migrants and squatters in Khartoum. Darfur today is approximately one third urban, one third rural and one third displaced. Even with the most optimistic scenarios for peace and stability, the majority of Sudanese—including Darfurians—will soon be living in cities. This is a pathological urbanization—it is occurring without social integration. This essay asks, what does this entail for the future of Sudan? Despite decades of war, Sudan‘s population has been growing at about 2.8% per annum. That population growth is fastest in a few urban centers, with Khartoum having the biggest share. The capital’s population grew from just 250,000 on the eve of independent to an estimated 2,831,000 in 1993—a year when the census estimated Sudan to be 25% urbanized. By 2005 Khartoum was estimated at 4.5 million officially and more than 7 million unofficially—with 40% of the country urbanized, and fully half the urban population in the capital. This makes Khartoum a primate city, not only in terms […]
Two new scholarly books help us understand how people in Sudan’s peripheries survive—or don’t—and place the frontierland governance in a deep historical context. One is Wendy James’s ethnography of the Uduk people of Blue Nile during the last two decades of war and flight, and the other is Martin Daly’s history of Darfur. Wendy James‘s three books on the Uduk people of southern Blue Nile, a frontier area of northern Sudan that abuts both southern Sudan and Ethiopia, describe not only how the Uduk people have been transformed by war and forced displacement—and yet have retained and even rediscovered important parts of their collective identity—but also how discipline of social anthropology itself has been transformed over the same time period. When Prof. James first worked with the Uduk in the 1960s she wrote ethnography in the classic style. The third part of her trilogy, War and Survival in Sudan’s Borderlands: Voices from the Blue Nile, is a mixture of ethnography, contemporary history and rapportage, exploration of historical sources, and humanitarian engagement. War and Survival recounts in vivid depth the ordeals undergone by a small community that found itself in the frontline of Sudan’s civil war, whose members were scattered north […]
“The issues you raise are serious and deserve a serious response. Your critique of my position is, to my mind, the most thoughtful and incisive that I have encountered — as well as the most civil. Our starting point for our shared concerns as well as our differences is outrage at what is happening to the people of Darfur and a determination to make sure their suffering is ended and their injustices righted.”
Alex de Waal responds to Jeff Weintraub in part 2 of their online debate on activism and the Darfur crisis.
“I have continued to follow your writings on Darfur with keen interest, if not always with total agreement…”
Jeff Weintraub opens a debate with Alex de Waal on activism and the complex politics of the Darfur crisis.