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Black and African: A Life That the World Could Care Less About

By Riang Yer Zuor Nyak

February 11, 2015 (SSNA) -- It now appears that human life is important when it belongs to certain class of people, or when it belongs to an individual coming from a certain racial group. It is a reality that cannot be mistaken, or a reality that none can deny.

As I write this piece, I have still to recover from the shock that came as a result of the African Union’s (AU) decision not to publicize the findings of the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan. What are they protecting, and for whose interest? Certainly, it is not South Sudanese interest. One can only be forced to think that IGAD and AU have suddenly realized and recalled the provisions of the Arusha Agreement, which stipulates that anyone found to have some responsibility for the violence that started in December of 2013 would not be allowed to occupy a public office in both the SPLM and the government.

Could it be that the report has condemned someone whom they want to occupy certain office(s)? Could it be that they are looking for an agreement whose content could prevail over the Arusha deal in case of any conflict before the release of the report? It shall never be known for sure.

 The World is Biased Against Africa

In following the more recent world events, one could make a conclusion that events per se are not necessary good or bad. It all depends on the person or group of people whom the event affects. It follows that if a horrendous or heinous act is committed or has happened to a non-black, non-African, it is an act against humanity and deserving of full condemnation by the rest of the humanity. But, if similar acts are committed against a black African or if a disastrous event happens to an African or a group of Africans, the world sees it as a normal thing that does not change anything as to how things should be seen and done. The following are some of the recent events supporting this contention: 

 Lampedusa Tragedy

The harrowing incident took place on October 3, 2013 when desperate Africans tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea to escape grinding continental poverty in search for a better life in a foreign continent. Out of about 500 souls, only about 155 survived after the boat sank. It was not a big thing for the so-called African leaders and the rest of the world. It was only Italy that showed sympathy with the victims and their families, and because the tragedy happened in her waters, by declaring a period of national mourning for the dead. But, it was a tragedy that anyone who cared should have questioned the legitimacy and relevancy of the African governments when it comes to serving the Africans. Not even one of these attempted to ask the question: When will European migrants ever drown in the high seas trying to cross to Africa in search for a better life?

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, had this to say about the tragedy: "There is something fundamentally wrong in a world where people in need of protection have to resort to these perilous journeys. This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call. More effective international cooperation is required including a crack-down on traffickers and smugglers while protecting their victims. It shows how important it is for refugees to have legal channels to access territories where they can find protection." I agree with Guterres that there is something fundamentally wrong in this world. But, most of the blame should go to those Africans who claim to be African leaders. There is a reason why people take these types of journeys to the world outside of Africa. It is after they show that they care about Africans that the rest of the world will begin to care.

 South Sudan’s December 2013

Beginning from December 15, 2013, Salva Kiir went on a rampage, systematically targeting and killing unarmed innocent Nuer civilians on the basis of their tribal origin. This was after he had falsely accused his political rivals of mounting a coup against his failing regime. The estimate is as high as tens of thousands exterminated in days, not weeks.

The American government and the rest of the Western Europe have joined the IGAD and the AU in referring to Salva as a legitimately elected president. It does not happen anywhere that a government and a president under whose watch thousands of people get exterminated and still be referred to as legitimate. In the eyes of the African presidents, it is legitimate because a member of the club has committed the act. In the eyes of the American, Western European and Asian leaders, it is legitimate because they were lives of black Africans which were taken by Salva Kiir (a fellow black African president).

 Ebola in West Africa

In December 2013, an outbreak of e-bola virus started in Guinea and quickly spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. As of now, the number of deaths stands around 9,177 souls. It is the worst of its kind in history. Initially, the world saw it as an African affair. It was not until Americans, Europeans, and Asians were diagnosed with the virus that the virus started getting the attention that it deserved.

 Chibok, Nigeria

On the night of April 14-15, 2014, a group of armed men entered a secondary school in the town of Chibok in Nigeria and abducted more than 200 school girls. It later emerged that they were members of the Boko Haram Islamist group in that country. The issue was not initially taken seriously, both in Nigeria and outside. The first lady was even reported to have said that the abduction was a fake one by the supporters of the group. It was later on the 4th of May that the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, spoke publicly about the tragedy.

Even though it was clear that the abduction had taken place, world reaction (not even action) was very slow. It was mostly some concerned citizens in Western countries and Nigeria that took to the streets to dramatize the tragedy. The rest of the world was just either silent or making lukewarm reactions.

 Kiev, Ukraine

On February 18, 2014, a peaceful protest in Kiev’s Independence Square was attacked by a riot police, which used live bullets. The citizens were simply showcasing their desire for their country to join European Union.

At the end of the attack, around 200 protesters were killed. The response by the American and Western European governments was very quick. It was a condemnation of the Ukrainian government. John Kerry, the U. S. Secretary of State, declared, and rightly, that Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovic, was no longer legitimate for presiding over such a massacre. By February 22, pressure had mounted so high on the dictator that he had to leave the country and went into exile in Russia.

Charlie Hebdo in Paris

On January 7, 2015, two Islamists stormed Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, shooting and killing 11 people. Subsequently, more people were killed, bringing the total number of dead to 17. The French government reacted to the attack in the best way it could.

World leaders reacted immediately by ensuring that they were together with the French people in their fight against terrorism.

On January 11, 2015, President Hollande was joined by more than 40 world leaders in leading a rally attended by about 2 million people. It was one of the biggest shows of solidarity with a people unjustly victimized.

Racism

Racism is an institution that does not have a particular headquarters or office in any particular country. Nevertheless, it lives. It appears that it is mostly practiced against the black race, or Africans to be specific. It is practiced either by action or omission. The examples above indicate that when an act of barbarity is committed against black or African people, it is taken as business as usual. But when a similar act, or even less in severity, is committed against white race, it becomes an outrageous act that must bring the ‘civilized’ world together to mourn and condemn.

In South Sudan, Salva Kiir murdered 20,000 souls in Juba beginning from December 15, 2013 and on. Yet, the American government and Western allies recognize him as a legitimately elected president. The same American government, in the person of John Kerry, condemned Victor Yanukovic and declared him illegitimate for presiding over the killings of 200 white souls. How does one explain such a glaring inconsistency in judging the two murderers?

In the case of Charlie Hebdo, the world basically merged on Paris to show their outrage resulting from the killings of the 17 French citizens. This same world had failed to merge on Juba when the 20,000 innocent black South Sudanese were savagely murdered by none other than their own government; this same world had failed to merge on Chibok when more than 200 young girls were abducted by an Islamist group that is not any different from the Islamists who carried out the attacks on Charlie Hebdo; this same world had failed to merge on the Italian island of Lampedusa when about 300 black Africans painfully drowned.

As to the ravages of the Ebola, the world leaders might use the excuse of health reasons for not merging on the three most affected West African countries to show solidarity with the people. But, their initial responses were clearly telling.

Concluding Remark

An African is left alone in his/her dark world. What goes on in that dark world is none of anyone’s business outside the Continent. His/her life is that which is expected to go any time, prematurely or maturely. Therefore when its destruction comes, the world sees it as normal, and, therefore, not the kind that other human beings can bother themselves with.

The problem is that some disrespectful American, European or Asian leaders, sometimes, shamelessly come out in public to make statements that they intend to be taken as showing solidarity with fellow human beings inhabiting the land that we call Africa when disaster struck. But, reality is that their statements and actions are not based on humanitarian grounds. They are in pursuit of non-African interests to be gained at the expense of the African. This is why they always stand with the one in power when a problem erupts—the person who has the power to grant them those interests in shady, under-the-table deals.

The so-called African leaders are not, really, leaders. They are robbers and murderers who see their positions as cards to loot and maim Africa as they wish, covering their selfish partnerships in criminal actions or omissions with the idea of sovereignty. Their difference with former colonial agents is that the current looters and murderers are biologically and racially black and Africans.

The AU’s decision to indefinitely postpone the publication of the report on South Sudan atrocities goes in agreement with the IGAD’s attempt to force the people of South Sudan to reach an agreement with the government without addressing the root causes of the problem. It is an inactive of their aversion to justice. Their main, and most important issue, is to see a government of national unity led by the “incumbent” president. It is apparent that presidency is more important than people. We, Africans, get it backward.

As things stand right now, there is still a state-inspired violence going on; life is no longer a right; people are being killed by the state security organs. A culture of impunity is acutely entrenched. These things demand that people should be held accountable for their contribution to these unfortunate destructions. It had been hoped that the AU Commission’s report who pave the way in resolving the current war by exposing who did what at the outbreak of the war and who has continued to do what after the war had broken out. It is after this that reconciliation, healing and forgiveness could start.

Now, who could reconcile with whom? Who could forgive who, and for which specific act (acts)? And without reconciliation, healing and forgiveness, how could these warring parties peacefully co-exist in a government of national unity without having addressed and resolved what took them to war in the first place?

IGAD and the AU must begin to stop their insensitive arrogance and start to recognize the compelling need to publicize the findings of the report before any peace deal is signed. Otherwise, any forced deal will only be a postponement of the violence to another time in the near future.

The world outside of Africa, for the sake of humanity and justice, must place enough pressure on the IGAD and the AU—enough to force them to do the right thing, publication of the report and addressing the root causes of the war. Otherwise, they should just admit that they are racists and indifferent when it comes to Africa going down the drain.

The author is a South Sudanese. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Face of War in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan: The death of "Yusef," father of three young children

By Eric Reeves

February 9, 2015 (SSNA) -- On February 3rd, I published a brief introduction to a set of gruesome photographs taken by Dr. Tom Catena, the only surgeon working in the Nuba Mountains (http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ak). I posted the photographs of bomb victims separately from the introduction, given their extremely graphic and disturbing nature. In the interim, Dr. Catena has given a very moving and powerful interview to Radio France Internationale, which I urge all to listen to carefully (seven minutes | http://goo.gl/WqMXNV). I conducted my own interview with Dr. Catena in March 2013 (http://wp.me/p45rOG-Zw), since the larger news organizations he approached showed no interest his extraordinarily courageous work.

Yesterday, Dr. Catena sent me one more photograph, and I believe I understand why he sent it alone. For there are all too many opportune moments for such photographs following the constant bombing raids in the area of his Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel (near Kauda in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan), but this photograph stands out. It came identified only in terse terms— "Antonov Bombardment. February 7th, 2015. Near Tess, Nuba Mountains. Civilian 28 years old, father of three"—but it requires little imagination to imagine the impact of his death on his three children, likely all under ten years of age, and his wife, if she has managed to survive the past three and a half years of assaults on civilian lives and livelihoods in the Nuba. Their chances for survival have been dramatically reduced.

This unnamed man is one of thousands of such victims. Dr. Catena alone has treated more than 1,700 such patients at his hospital alone since the outbreak of violence in June 2011, and this represents only the population close enough to travel by foot to Gidel---if they have not been killed outright or died of their wounds on the way to the hospital.

We have known that attacks such as the one that killed this man have been ongoing for more than three and a half years (let us call him "Yusef" to spare him the utter anonymity that is the fate of most victims). The Khartoum regime deliberately sends Antonovs and advanced military jet aircraft to inflict precisely such civilian casualties. We know from the minutes of an August 31, 2014 meeting (http://wp.me/p45rOG-1tC) of the most senior military and security officials of the regime that their goal is to "starve" the people of the Nuba into submission by disrupting agricultural production. This year's promising sorghum crop—the staple grain of the region—was targeted for burning as part of this starvation campaign ("starve" accurately translates the Arabic original in the minutes).

People live in terror because of the death of people like "Yusef," often fleeing to caves, ravines, or other countries. And this photograph suggests why terror is a predictably human response:

And yet the international community remains unwilling to do anything to halt such attacks as killed "Yusef" and threaten his family and indeed all in the Nuba Mountains,; the international community is also unwilling to compel Khartoum to permit a humanitarian corridor to reaching the more than one million human being in desperate need of relief aid in the Nuba and Blue Nile. Condemnations of Khartoum's actions, when they occur, are meaningless: nothing attaches to the dismay that comes in unctuous and inconsequential form. The impunity felt by the regime is correspondingly increased.

The Europeans in general prefer to discuss trade and development rather than halting carnage in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Darfur. There have even been suggestions from senior officials in countries such as Germany, Holland, and France of the possibility of debt relief for Khartoum, despite continuous profligate expenditures on advanced weapons and the hugely expensive conduct of three wars. The security and military budgets together represent at least 50 percent of national budget expenditures; estimates range as high as 70 percent. It would be hard to imagine a worse candidate for debt relief, especially given the extraordinary levels of corruption that have long prevailed within the regime. Transparency International ranks Sudan 177 out 179 countries surveyed in its annual corruption survey (http://www.transparency.org/country#SDN).

The UN is hopeless, as is the African Union. Although a humanitarian corridor was first proposed by the AU three years ago, Khartoum has agreed and the balked, agreed and the balked...and is prepared to continue this absurd diplomatic dance indefinitely. The pre-condition is unconditional surrender by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North. The UN Secretariat is paralyzed, unwilling even to speak honestly about Sudan's crises, and the African Union Peace and Security Council is far too cozy with the Khartoum regime to play any effective role in halting or diminishing aerial attacks on civilians.

The Obama administration sees Khartoum primarily through the lens of counter-terrorism intelligence, even as the regime boasts of how little it actually gives the U.S. In the August 31 minutes, Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein comments:

“America is facing the crisis of the ISIS and the other Jihadist movements that are newly formed and can move freely outside the traditional surveillance networks. Currently, there are twenty thousand (20,000) Jihadists and fifteen (15) newly formed Jihadist Movements who are scattered all over, from Morocco to Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, all the Gulf States, a wide presence in Africa and Europe and nobody owns a data-base on that as the one we have. We release only limited information to the Americans according to request, and the price is the armed movements file."

No one in the Obama administration has commented publicly on this or other extraordinary revelations in the August 31 minutes; and a State Department official made it clear to me that there would be no comment, even as we may be sure that the administration has certainly ascertained that the minutes are authentic (see http://wp.me/p45rOG-1w5). To do so would be highly inconvenient for a Sudan policy that allows the lust for counter-terrorism to distort broader Sudan policy. It would certainly be more than inconvenient if the Obama administration were to explain exactly what Hussein means when he speaks about the "price" for the counter-terrorism intelligence as being "the armed movements file." Has the Obama administration actually given the regime intelligence assistance in its campaigns against the broad Sudan Revolutionary Front?

There are many questions the Obama administration has avoided, or not been compelled to face. Why has allowed Foreign Minister Ali Karti been given a multi-year, multi-entry visa to the U.S.—even as U.S. special envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth, can't secure a visa to Sudan for himself? Why has Ibrahim Ghandour come to the U.S.? (See http://wp.me/p45rOG-1AY.) Why can't Foreign Minister Karti handle whatever bilateral negotiations are underway? Does it not matter to the administration that Ghandour is revealed in the August 31 minutes as the point-person in rigging the April 2015 "re-election" of President Omar al-Bashir?

The truth is that the revelations of the August 31 minutes are too embarrassing of U.S. policy, still guided as it is by the assertion by former special envoy for Sudan, Princeton Lyman:

“We do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Asharq Al-Awsat, 3 December 2011 | http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=3&id=27543 )

This is simply preposterous, as National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, certainly knows full well. Where is her voice in challenging the absurd premise represented in Lyman's remarks? Or in condemning the atrocities that are accelerating in Darfur? And what of U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power? Why is she not an "upstander" in the face of the vast suffering in Sudan, the direct result of actions by a genocidal regime?

Unwilling to hold Khartoum accountable for it countless atrocity crimes, the U.S., the Europeans, the African Union, and the hopelessly compromised UN Security Council are all ensuring that there will be many more "Yusefs"—in the Nuba, in Blue Nile, and in Darfur.

Eric Reeves is the Author of Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007-2012 (www.CompromisingWithEvil.org).

Have we accepted our fate?

By: Cde. Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

February 7, 2015 (SSNA) -- Once upon a time, an African story goes, Tortoise fell into a deep pit latrine. For 10 years he lived in there and gave up any hope of rescue. But one day he heard voices passing by. “Get me out of here!” he shouted at the top of his voice, “I can’t stand it any longer!”

Imagine how Tortoise survived those 10 years in a deep, dark and filthy place. He got used to the stench of human waste and all that comes with it. He got used to the darkness.

He most likely survived on the filth. He very likely began to eat the filth itself and the low life that thrives in filthy places such as worms and algae. How else could he have got his daily sustenance?

It was, therefore, quite dishonest of him to claim he couldn’t stand it any longer.

South Sudanese have lived in a deep, dark and filthy place for a long time. Some were able to escape; we call them the south Sudanese Diaspora. But the majority were not able to. They didn’t have a choice, so they chose to get used to their place.

There are many things that South Sudanese have chosen to get used to; so many bad things they now take as normal. These have now become so much a part of their day-to-day living that anyone among them who tries to point them out is taken as someone who has been smoking something.

They have even fashioned a catchphrase to go with it. They cynically say "a goat tethered to a tree must survive with what it can get around the tree" justifying their inertia.

South Sudanese have forgotten what democracy is, so they remain quiet when their civil liberties are trampled upon. They have accepted they have no power to demand accountability from their government.

So when they see all the corruption, the nepotism and the tribal killings that goes with our daily living, they take it as normal.

They have been made to forget all the important pillars of democracy. When they see their leaders removing an elected official for self-interest and looting government funds, they are not moved. In fact, all they say: "who are we to talk."

All those women who agree to be abused by singing the praises of despots at political rallies; all those opportunists who bribe people to forget their direction and intimidate them into toeing the party line — they are all a sign that some people believe it is all right to live in filth.

We have accepted mediocrity. Our leaders don’t have to be achievers; all they need do is sing the loudest slogans, pummel into submission anyone who raises an eyelid and use State organs such as the police to keep people on leash.

The state of our hospitals is of no concern to them because they and their kith and kin get preferential treatment getting access to medicines that the ordinary people are denied. If they can’t get these, they have the wherewithal to go anywhere on the globe to access world-class healthcare.

Our education system continues to decline because of poor priorities; the ratio of textbooks to pupils is a joke.

Schools in some communal lands look like pigsties. The children don’t have the most basic of resources.

Needless to say the majority of our children do not have a chance in heaven to succeed.

But the state of our roads is the most glaring example of national failure.

The scale of road carnage shows just how primitive our transport system has become. But it seems our government thinks that declaring one traffic accident after another a national disaster is an achievement.

Government ministers seem to even cherish the occasions where they have to dish out “help” to bereaved families. This they do, not because of their compassionate nature, but to entrap people into their scheme of things – it’s a show of artificial benevolence meant to dupe people into supporting them during election time.

Analysts from across the globe are agreed the trouble with South Sudan is its leadership. Granted, politics is about contestation for power; one group fighting another or others to lay its hands on the reins of power. But when such contestation becomes an end in itself it becomes destructive and, therefore, fails to move the country forward.

In the past 9 years South Sudan politics has been about holding on to power by a ruling elite that feels a sense of entitlement that it has to hold on to the levers of power to eternity. This became its only motivation even when it became clear the country was going to be fragile because of it.

In the period of old Sudan, South Sudanese have seen how politics is not a life-giving force. The most disillusioned have begun to compare the present and the past and have yearned for a bygone era when, in spite of the political oppression, they seemed to thrive better. Of course this is a result of the irony that their liberators have often behaved worse than the oppressors of the past.

This feeling is now almost all-pervasive and has deadened the people’s political consciousness. When people cease to believe in hope they reach a stasis that enslaves them. Some who seem to succeed in the cocoon give the others a false sense of optimism that all will be fine when it is clear the only way to move forward is to break out.

Do South Sudanese need a passing voice to remind them they can’t stand it any longer?

Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut is a writer and commentator and He is the Chairman of SPLM Youth League Chapter in Egypt he can be simply reach through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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