Bec Hamilton has run a series of posts on her blog based on her recent trip to Darfur with U.S. Special Envoy General Scott Gration. They provide an interesting, and much more nuanced, view on Gration’s efforts, than much media coverage, and also the response of the lobbies in Washington. Bec concludes that Stephanie McCrummen’s piece in the Washington Post is not inaccurate, but is incomplete. Gration is anything but naive, but sometimes chooses his words in a way that gives ammunition to his critics in Washington. Gration’s warm welcome by the SLM leaders in Ain Siro and his scrutiny of the Sudan government’s delivery, or non-delivery, on its promises don’t come through in the Post article. His “cookies and gold stars” comment will surely live on and gain a life of its own. Bec is also correct to point out the breakdown in communication between Gration and the Darfur IDPs, starkly seen in the regular condemnations of the Special Envoy by Hussein “Abu Sharati”, the SLM-Abdel Wahid mouthpiece. Abu Sharati appears to be finely tuned in to the Washington insider intrigues, perhaps better than he is to the diverse opinions of the Darfur IDPs. Nonetheless, it is important for […]
This is part two of a five part critical review of Jean-François Bayart, The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly (2009), analyzing and applying the concept of “extraversion” and examining the historicism of regional political-economic orbits. Another major element of Bayart’s analysis is “extraversion” of African states, defined as “mobilizing resources derived from their (possibly unequal) relationship with the external environment.” (pp. 21-22). According to this, external orientation, especially in the ruling elites’ access to resources, is merely the contemporary manifestation of a long history of extraversion, which dates to pre-colonial times. It arises less because of the weakness of African states vis-à-vis the external, and more because of the failure of internal consolidation in the face of factional strife—and in turn means that states do not need to exploit domestic production in order to obtain sufficient resources to rule. Pre-colonial states managed their unequal relationship with external powers in such a way that they were able to derive sufficient resources to manage their interior populations. Bayart also observes that extraversion gave particular symbolic political value to imported luxuries. While few colonial and post-colonial territories map onto their predecessors in a geographical sense, Bayart identifies a lineage of […]
When Prof. Makau Mutua suggested that the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) may have lessons for Kenya, he focused on the robust recommendations of the Commission. He did not explore another reason why Kenya might look to Liberia: the crisis of credibility that plagued the beginning of Liberia’s TRC process. This essay argues that there are good reasons to take seriously the challenges to credibility, because they often denote a shortcoming in institutional legitimacy, itself thought to influence the effectiveness of transitional justice processes.
The republication of Jean-François Bayart’s classic book-length essay, The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly, is an opportunity to reflect on the hypotheses he raises and their application to Sudan and especially Darfur. Bayart’s book mentions Sudan only in passing but the scope of his ambition is certainly relevant to Sudan in general and to Darfur in particular. This is the first part of a five part review which takes Bayart’s themes and method, applies them to Sudan and Darfur, and provides both critique and elaboration. Bayart focuses on the persistence of deeply-embedded patterns of African statecraft and insofar as he deals with colonialism and the formal institutions of the modern state, it is to the extent to which Africans shaped the outcomes and appropriated modern governmental institutions to pursue long-established strategies. (In this respect his is the antithesis of Mahmood Mamdani’s argument—and therein lies the major critique of his position. For example, while noting that colonial occupation represented a “total defeat” for Africa, he expands little on what this might entail.) Bayart stresses the ordinariness of African societies: “they are ordinary and (particularly) ordinary in their politics.” (p. 1). He sees patterns of normality where others may […]
Sudan needs its version of the anti-Apartheid movement, one that can combine both the anguished moral outcry against mass atrocities, and also a practical political programme to end them once and for all. Like many Sudanese sympathizers of the Save Darfur Campaign I am worried that the campaign will end up making things worse instead of better. In Sudanese history, progressive change has always come from within. The 1964 and 1985 Popular Uprisings came from within and even if the 1972 and 1985 peace agreements were facilitated by our African neighbours and the international community, they were negotiated by Sudanese and their implementation succeeded or failed because of Sudanese leadership. Whenever there has been an attempt to change Sudanese politics from outside it has ended in disaster, for example with blood flowing on the streets of Omdurman in 1976 and 2008. We are deeply appreciative of the American and European wellwishers who have campaigned against the atrocities in Darfur and southern Sudan. They have given hope to many people who believed that they were condemned to suffer and die without the world knowing or caring. But they have also ended up by giving encouragement to some of the most mindless […]
Are there any hopes for a Sudan peace brokered by the U.S? A focus on the historically hostile trio of Sudan: Susan Rice, Roger Winter, and John Prendergast gives us the answer for what will happen if their views prevail. Reading the Washington Post interview with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, Ms Susan Rice on Tuesday, September 22, 2009, has triggered different feelings and memories to me with regards to the potential of having any lasting peace in Sudan based on U.S efforts. In her answer to a question on U.S. approach to Darfur, Susan Rice said: “I think I’ve been very, very clear about the concerns that the US has had and continues to have about the situation in Darfur and indeed Sudan overall. It’s a very important priority for the president and we’re all spending a good deal of time both on the policy formulation and on its implementation now. [Ret. Air Force Maj. Gen.] Scott Gration is doing the very practical nuts and bolts work of trying to push implementation of the CPA which is vitally important and to try to respond initially to the outrageous decision of the Government of Sudan to kick out the international […]
The Save Darfur campaign has been compared in size and impact to the Anti-Apartheid movement. Certainly there are comparisons. But South Africa was fortunate that the Anti-Apartheid movement displayed a level of political maturity that is absent from the leaders of the broader Darfur campaign. The end of Apartheid demanded a grand political compromise by both South Africa’s political leaders, and the world, which would not be possible with an agenda determined by the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Enough campaign and its ilk. South Africans were lucky: they could chart their own history and not be hostage to others’ theologies. The Anti-Apartheid movement was honest about its intent: it opposed Apartheid which it saw as morally repugnant and an offence against humanity. The Save Darfur Coalition, Enough and their ilk are an anti-Khartoum movement. They excoriate the Sudan government but offer only mild criticisms of the opposition, especially the SPLM and SLM, mostly because they are not tough enough on Khartoum. The Anti-Apartheid campaign was a movement of solidarity with a domestic political force, headed by the African National Congress and others, that was seeking a national political transformation. Anti-Apartheid had no blueprint for what it wanted and […]
Today, the report of the AIDS, Security and Conflict Initiative is launched. Almost ten years after the UN Security Council first discussed HIV/AIDS as a threat to international peace and security, the agenda has moved on. Rather than projections made on the basis of alarm, anecdote and surmise, there is now solid evidence on which policy can be made. Early fears that the epidemic heralded political and social collapse have not transpired. But a sense of alarm was not misplaced: there are many reasons for worry. Ten years on, the issue has matured, and evidence demonstrates that with good policy and appropriate programmes, the dangers posed by the epidemic to peace and security can be successfully overcome. Two sets of challenges are especially relevant to Sudan. One is the risk of HIV transmission during post-conflict reconstruction and security sector reform. The other is the need for strong HIV/AIDS policies among peacekeeping forces. The ASCI report addresses ten specific challenges for how peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian response efforts should be better attuned to the risks of HIV/AIDS. Among them are the following: • How to make the military preference for excluding HIV positive soldiers from demanding operations compatible with human rights […]
During 2010, two important centenaries in the history of Sudanese nationalism occur—dates when armies from Darfur resisted colonial occupation. But, these anniversaries have never been commemorated before, and the historical significance of the dates may pass without mention. The dates in question are two battles in which Darfurian armies fought against colonial invaders. In one battle, they scored a decisive victory, and in the second, narrowly lost. Both were commanded by Masalit generals, at the head of forces that included Arabs and non-Arabs alike. Both were against the French, invading Darfur from the west. Unlike the Mahdi’s campaigns against the Egyptians and British in the 1880s, and the valiant defeat of the Mahdist armies at Omdurman in 1898, these exploits of resistance are rarely mentioned in histories or known to Sudanese schoolchildren. A rare account of the two battles is contained in Lidwein Kapteijns, Mahdist Faith and Sudanic Tradition: The history of the Masalit Sultanate, 1870-1930 (London, KPI, 1985) (and sadly out of print). On 4 January 1910, a Masalit army headed by the Masalit Sultan Taj el Din, ambushed a French force at Kirinding, near today’s el Geneina. The French were routed, leaving 280 dead—nearly half the force—including five […]
When a Kenyan Cabinet minister suggested in early 2007 that perpetrators of corruption be pardoned if they confessed their guilt and returned the spoils, there was surprisingly little public reaction. This was perhaps taken with a pinch of salt given that Kenyan politicians are good at talking but then doing nothing. But when former anti-corruption chief John Githongo (accused by some of behaving like a drama queen and self-appointed high priest), made a similar statement in mid August 2008, his view made headlines that drew sharp reactions.