Urbanization and Exploitation
Asif Faiz claims that Khartoum resembles capital cities in “virtually every” developing country. In the sense that, for the first, time the majority of people in the world now live in cities he is correct. However, this claim is at a level of generality comparable with the equally correct statement that Khartoum is similar to other cities in that its inhabitants have to eat. If one looks at specifics of history and politics, however, it is very different. Urbanisation in Sudan cannot be disconnected from the exceptional way in which Khartoum governs its rural hinterland. There is nothing natural about his process. Moreover, it means that Sudan — and present day Darfur is a good example — has never been a “rural Shangri-la”. While there is some substance in Asif’s claim that the urban poor enjoy more “opportunity and enterprise” than the rural poor, they also fated with a common burden; both are expected to be self-reliant interms of meeting their own basic economic and social needs. If one adopts a high level of generality and mix this with the naí¯ve optimism of development policy, it is possible to see a positive outcome in the most difficult of circumstances. A dash of realism, however, and some attention to history and politics, might urge greater caution.