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Secessionists in North & South: one goal, different thinking - Part 2

Hassan Faroog
Separatists in the North and the South may have one common goal, which is the independence of each part of Sudan from the other, but they are so much different in their thinking background:
A poll worker in Omdurman, Northern Sudan, explains the ballot to a South Sudanese voter on the first day of the referendum.
A poll worker in Omdurman, Northern Sudan, explains the ballot to a South Sudanese voter on the first day of the referendum.

The present period of Sudan's history has witnessed an unprecedented increase in the calls for separating the South. On both sides the voices of secessionists have become the loudest and prevailed over those calling for unity. With some differences here and there, but in both cases separation has become now an inescapable reality.

I spoke with two advocates of secession in the North and the South: Nhial Bol Aken, owner of the English-speaking newspaper The Citizen, and retired Brigadier Dr. Sati Sorkati, a prominent leader in the Just Peace Forum Party, in the first face-to-face confrontation of its kind. I asked both of them about their respective foundation of thinking, their views on secession and how they view one another.

This is the second interview with Dr. Sorkati, following up on the conversation with Nhial Bol.

Hasan Farouk: What do you say about separatists in the South?


Dr. Sati Sorkati: The separatist scheme in the South is based on certain goals that are different from ours, and some of their demands are based on objective grounds and some are not.

The objective perspective is related to the differences between the North and the South and the not-so-objective perspective is related to the fact that they blame everything on the North, which filled them with hate towards the North.

This hate should have been directed to the British who created this mess and raised the Southern mentality to be hostile to the North. It was fed with lies that made it a stern anti-North mentality.

From this logic we can understand the hatred towards the North, which is manifested in expressing SPLM policies and attacking the facts, interests and history of the North.

Hence we call for separation to be an acknowledgment of the exiting difference, which is a political truth, but their call for separation is prompted by ethnic and racial considerations and they accuse the North with things that don’t exist.

Therefore our separation will lead to a just peace but they want their separation to intensify the conflict between the North and the South.

Is it safe to say that both sides have something in common: hate?

We don’t hate them at all, on the contrary we say that they are the passive side and they are still Sudanese up to this moment.

Our calls for separation have no ethnic background because we are all Negro Africans and we are against any ethnic division and one of our major objections on this stage and on the current situation is the regression to tribal and regional affiliation after Sudan was a country for all its children and a homeland for all Sudanese in which all tribal and regional sentiments are melted into a sublime form of belongingness: nationalism.

Click here for a map of ethnic subdivisions in Sudan by the Columbia University, NYC.

Don’t you see a contradiction between what you say and between what the President said that there is no ethnic or racial diversity in Sudan and that Arabic is the basic language?

There is no contradiction between Arabic and Africana because Arabic is a tongue since Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) said: "verily, the Arabic language is a tongue".

Race is one thing and culture and religion is another thing and people are not distinguished by their race and Allah said that He created mankind as peoples and tribes in order to get to know one another and this is the point of difference between us and SPLM because the pretext of the Zionist scheme to trigger the struggle is based on this racist literature.

It stays a pretext and not a cause because we are Africans from the root of history and if you look at the figure of King Piankhy you will see that the color of his skin is black and the color of the skin of my brother is also black and if you compared it with the color of the skin of Riak Machar [the Vice-President of the Government of Southern Sudan] you will find that the color of the skin of my brother is darker than that of Machar.

They only see the racial side while we see the culture, conscience and mind.


The logo of Intibaha newspaper, symbolising the demand for separation. It is headed by Al-Tayeb Mustafa.

Al-Tayeb Mustafa said that you will celebrate the true independence of Sudan after separation. Does the picture seem opposite now since separation is the choice of the South, and what is meant by an independence that only exists in the North?

What is meant by that is that the civil war existed before independence in 1955 and the colonialist were satisfied that it left a bleeding and depleting wound in Sudan.

Indeed, from the date, the war has been depleting the resources of the North and that of the South and it has been shaping the country's policies ever since.

The war also made the Sudanese sociopolitical reality in the North and in the South a hostage of the requirements of war.

This is why we say that extinguishing this war is the true freedom and the ultimate independence of Sudan.

After separation, and all indications confirm that it will occur, and after both the North and South live this experiment, can the idea of unity be put on the table again if needed or will you stick to separation no matter what?

When Southerners and Northerners live in their respective independent states, the smoke of the conflict that used to hide the facts will disappear and people will go back to the facts of geography, history and sociology, which will remain the core of the North-South relationship.

This relationship is dictated by the necessities of life and politics of both Northern and Southern communities and I believe that the two sides will go back together regardless of the type or political formula of this relationship.


Al-Tayeb Mustafa

The high voice of Northern separatists is that of Al-Tayeb Mustafa, which is the one and only voice. Some say that the reason is personal bitterness caused by the death of his son in the civil war in the South. What can you tell us about that?

These claims are absolutely groundless for the following reasons: the stand of the Just Peace Forum Party is explicit as I explained before and we do not follow an individual and the Just Peace Forum Party is not the property of Al-Tayeb Mustafa and the ideas and convictions of the Forum are clear and have nothing to do with the death of Al-Tayeb Mustafa's son.

You have to know that Al-Tayeb Mustafa called for separation many years before the death of his son and those who are unable to respond to the ideas and notions of the Forum tend to insult the Forum and its members with such provocative claims.