Sudanese Politics of Rage, Politics of Change
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 elements in the opposition, who oppose for the sake of opposing, and who mindlessly welcome any condemnation of the NIF government without considering the fate of the nation. Alex is right that when Save Darfur designs its messages for an American audience it makes the government more paranoid and more intransigent. At the moment Save Darfur Campaign is not helping us.
I have some recommendations for the Save Darfur Campaign:
1. Use the opportunity of the end of mass atrocities in Darfur to support the democratization process. Campaign for free and fair elections.
2. Define your objectives. There is a lot of misunderstanding and cynicism even among your supporters, and the vagueness of your aims mean that it is easy for your critics to make you out to be agents of neo-imperialism.
3. Come to visit Darfur and see for yourselves. Ask the people of Darfur how they would like your money to be used.
When Darfur was burning we needed the politics of rage. Now we need the politics of change. I appeal to Save Darfur to become part of that.