Archive | July, 2011

On Secession: The 5 Stages of Grief

6 Jul

With the independence of South Sudan fast approaching, North Sudanese citizens are coming to terms with the biggest change in the history of their country. For many, supporting independence is bitter-sweet, or tinged with retrospective regret. Others are unconflicted and happy about independence, although the happiness could sometimes be a result of a ‘good riddance’ attitude towards secession. I have observed many emotions and reactions to the independence of South Sudan amongst North Sudanese citizens, and based the following observations on the famous Kübler-Ross model for dealing with loss, commonly known as ‘The Five Stages of Grief.’ These observations are from the perspective of North Sudanese people only since I am assuming that the near unanimous vote for secession by South Sudan is enough proof that they are not considering this a cause for grief–

1- Denial — “Sudan will never separate. The South needs us and we need them.” “They can never run their own country, they have so many tribal issues” “Separation plans are just rumors by outsiders who are trying to destroy Sudan”
This stage sadly lasted from independence, throughout most of the war, until the signing of the CPA agreement when some people’s perception of a unified Sudan was rattled. A pivotal point was the death of John Garang, where the vision of unity for many people died with him.

2- Anger — “Why do they(the South) want to separate from us (the North) they are traitors!” “Why do they think we treat them badly?” “They are destroying our country and being very unpatriotic and selfish.” “Let them go to their country, they were depleting our resources and taking our jobs anyway.”
I believe this stage actually lingered quite a bit for most Sudanese people, ultimately causing feelings of resentment towards the South, which only acted as a catalyst to the South seeing the necessity of indepenendnce, evident by the referendum vote for secession. Anger, bitterness, and feelings of betrayal caused many to look for ways to justify the impending division of Sudan. I have heard everything from African Union conspiracy theories to the usual and necessary ‘blame it on I-I-I-Israel!’

3- Bargaining — “Parliamentary seats? Here South, take these 40 extra seats”; “Power of veto over constitutional changes? You got it!” “Let’s not discuss Abyei right now, it’s going to be alright, we promise”
Some, namely Sudanese politicians, reached this stage months if not years before the referendum, when many were still in denial. They knew what was coming and began utilizing every propaganda tool to make unity appealing for all. Suddenly we began to see more South Sudanese representation on Sudan TV, billboards calling for a United Sudan popped up all over Khartoum, and many promises were made for the improvement of conditions of South Sudanese citizens. However, not all bargaining efforts were necessarily positive or advantageous for South Sudan, as there were some brinkmanship attempts and political pressure. Needless to say, all efforts proved ineffective.

4- Depression — “This is very disheartening, I’m losing my country, my people” “John Garang died and so did a united Sudan”; “I have always loved the South and I am so depressed over losing them”
The silence of many Sudanese might have been interpreted as apathy, but many of them were in fact simply dismayed and severely hurt not only because they are losing Sudan as they know it, but because they felt too helpless and powerless to do anything about it. Many Sudanese people completely disconnected themselves from the issue in order to cope with the grave reality of their beloved country falling apart. (I sincerely hope that no one felt this depression about the economic shock Sudan will endure as a result of $2-$3 billion annual oil revenue losses. Really guys, it’s no big deal. I’m fine without that money. Whatever, no biggie. No really…. who cares? *cries my capitalist self to sleep*)

5- Acceptance “The South deserves a shot an independence.” “I am happy for them and truly wish them the best” “Regardless of my stance on secession, I will support their decision”
This is the last stage of dealing with bereavement. At this point, nothing can be done, we can’t reverse the votes, we can’t change their minds, all we can do is respect their wishes and support them in the development of their new country.

Personally I think I went through the five stages a bit out of order. Whatever stage you’re on, please make sure you strive to reach acceptance by July 9th, 2011, at this stage, I think the best Sudan can do is wish South Sudan all the best and promise not to rain on their independence parade.

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5 Ultimate Solutions That Could Have Saved Sudan

5 Jul

After much deliberation and game theory analysis of the political, cultural, and economic situation in Sudan, I have deemed the following five points to be the only possible (read: remaining) solutions to solve all Sudan’s problems and disputes. These five solutions, when used together, shall be regarded as the ultimate panacea for Sudan. Now these solutions might seem eccentric at first, but who are we kidding, was there ever a ‘realistic’ solution to problems in Sudan? Was it ever used? No? Okay then try this: (warning, severe logical fallacies and several made-up words ahead)

1- Borrowed President
Once upon a time the most powerful country in the world was headed (and eventually beheaded) by a ridiculously incompetent president by the name of George W. Bush. After 8 years of embarrassing foreign policies, two wars, and an economic meltdown, the US was fed up. As we all know, the United States is secretly run by a group of expert politicians with a sinister world domination agenda (i.e Illuminati, Jews, and/or Pinky & the Brain) This secret group realized that if citizens see one more president with any resemblance to George Bush, the population will migrate back to Europe and Africa and call it a day. Sensibly, the furthest thing from a George Bush was a black president. Oprah was busy eating, and Jay-Z had better things to do so long story short, the US borrowed a black guy from Africa, gave him a fake McLovin’ Hawaii birth certificate, et voila! Enter the most inspiring president in United States history. And the US lived happily ever after, or at least better than before.
Moral of the story: We should’ve borrowed Mandela.

2- Gentrification
You can’t say the term gentrification these days without starting an intellectual riot with ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Chicago’ being brought up a thousand times per minute. Whatever side you take in regards to the issue of gentrification, please consider that when dealing with North and South Sudan, nothing has worked at all for over twenty years. The root of the problem is, well, lots of roots, but at least one of those roots is the lack of contact and mixing between North and South Sudanese. Most North Sudanese, myself included, have never been to South Sudan. Most Sudanese can’t even name all states in Sudan. This is an enormous cultural problem that we don’t want to address and we want to jump right into the solution. It’s like insisting a 20 year that has never been educated should be in college and refusing to put him through elementary education first. Similarly, I think unity would not have been realistic had North and South Sudanese cohabitated in their own country. The least we, or our government, could have done was to promote tourism within our own country. Property prices are ever rising in Sudan, what if we could have promoted living in the South? What if the upper echelon of Sudanese society had summer homes in South Sudan and promoted tourism there?
Moral of the story: The country that lives together, stays together.

3- Arab Rehab
Slowly but surely, I can sense the Sudanese population weaning itself off the addiction to ‘Arabness.’ Not only has the Arab vs. African become tiresome and trite, but it has also become irrelevant. I am hearing more and more people denounce such identity definition in lieu of focusing on defining and epitomizing a ‘Sudanese’ identity. This is especially relevant post-secession as we will at least have a more unified intra-Northern culture (this is relative to the vast differences of the larger Sudan of yesteryear.) The further we move away from the confusion of whether or not we are Arab, the closer we become with ourselves simply as…Sudanese. This rehab, had it been done 20-some years ago, might have been an anchoring point in support of unity. Too little too late now!
Moral of the story: Our inferiority complex inferiorized ourselves.

4-Inter-Inter-Marriage
I truly believe that Sudan had no shot at staying united so long as the segregation in marriage of North and South citizens remained socially acceptable by both sides. I am not sure how it is for Southern Sudanese, but as a Northern, I was told from a young age that marriage between Northern and Southern Sudanese is a social taboo. The mere mention of such a thing is near blasphemous. Forget marrying a full-blooded Southern Sudanese, marrying a Northern Sudanese with any Southern roots or Southern ‘blood’ is even considered unfathomable, especially amongst ‘big families’ in Sudan. I can’t continue discussing this point, it makes me sick to my stomach, onto the next one…
Moral of the story: Love em or leave em (literally)

5- Cuisine Change
There is no way Sudan can move forward (or move at all) given the current intake of Sudanese cuisine which consists of pure carbohydrates. I’ve never heard someone say after devouring a plate of kesra bilmula7: “now I feel fully energized to make positive changes.” The only change you can think of after eating Sudanese food is to change from a vertical to a horizontal position immediately. I am convinced that our cuisine, a product of a conspiracy theory by the Brits to put us through reverse evolution, is what is holding us back, and ultimately caused us to lose the South. Alternatively, I recommend that we inject our food with nootropics, and mandate daily Red Bull drips for all citizens of working and voting age.
Moral of the story: I just finished a plate of foul biljibna and lost the ability to conclude this post…

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