“When hate reigns in a family, there are a lot of dead bodies.”African proverb.
If you have the misfortune to peer beyond the surface of phenomena and can tolerate deeply puzzling issues that other mortals will walk past, it will be difficult to sleep these days. It may worry you that a country with the clout and resources of Nigeria will be reduced to begging fellow African countries to allow its citizens to cross into borders that give them relief from the nightmare that Sudan has become.You may lament the chaotic and pathetic response of the government in evacuation processes.You could agonize over the collapse of higher education that encourages well-off parents to send their children to study everything from zoology to nursing in countries like Sudan, Ghana and Benin Republic and Sudan.You may rue the loss of an Africa that once had the will and leadership to successfully engage Apartheid and its Western props, a crumbling Liberia and even the South Sudan issue.Above all, you may stay up all night if you understand the dangers of glib talk and irresponsible attitude of some Nigerians who think the military or another non-democratic contraption is a better option to their loss of political preferences and choices.
See Sudan. Here you have the largest African country whose geographical location and character forces upon it huge strategic importance in Africa and the world.With a population of about 46 million and potential wealth that should make it one of the richest countries in the world, this country has bled and agonized for much of its history.It straddles the major shades of Africa and houses major fault lines like race, religion, a weak political elite and poverty, which give it a character that is both unique and utterly predictable.It is Africa in all its potential glory, and a flash of the tragedy that it is today.It is burning, and will burn more, like Libya and Congo, because Africans have failed to adapt modern governance to values they can claim to be theirs as well: justice and respect for the human person.The rest of the world will feast on Sudan, aided and abetted by Sudanese and Africans like Nigerians who have dropped the ball a long time ago.
It is a state that is basically Muslim, which, you may think, gives it a strong cultural foundation to build some semblance of unity strong enough to avoid decades of crises, dictators and instability.The push-pull stresses between being Arab and being ‘African’ has informed much of its political dynamics, and an entire part of the country had to be forced out of it to form a new country, South Sudan, which has now fallen upon itself in endless conflicts because no one prepared it to assume responsibility for itself.Huge resources deployed for years by Africa and the global community to keep ‘peace’ in Darfur and today’s South Sudan have not mitigated a situation where, today, both Sudans are at war, not with each other, but with kith and kin.
That is what the latest conflagration in Sudan will look to most people, but Nigerians need to look more closely and worry a bit more than others.What appears as a bitter self-destruct has very deep history created by the political level taken up by a politicised military and weak civil society. Its military factions have fought each other, the civilian population in Darfur, what is today South Sudan and in the streets of Khartoum and other cities.When nations go through the spasms of failure they look very much like Sudan today.They create multiple internal conflicts which provide a profitable setting for external interests to harvest strategic advantages that compound both the situations under which civilian populations live, and resolution by external interests, which in most cases are intensely interested parties.
Today Sudan bleeds from fights led by generals, most of them nurtured under El-Bashir’s 16- year rule.They fight over issues related to political control, the wealth of the country and control over a restive civilian population ravaged by decades of brutal conflicts and corrupt,strong men.It is now the setting for expanding fronts in wars and deadly schemings involving Muslim countries and tendencies in the Middle East and the Arab world; tussles for power in the horn of Africa; potential worsening of the massive threat that is the Sahel,global competition involving very strong powers all of them eyeing every scrap of misery to capitalize upon and a civil society that lacks the means to wrest power from an incestuous military.
No one can say when this latest flare-up will subside, or how.Khartoum is gradually looking like Mogadishu a long time ago.Africa’s impotence over Sudan, both in terms of restraining a worsening of the situation and in addressing humanitarian consequences, is there for all to see.It is too weak, too poorly-led and suffering Sudan-like weaknesses in many respects to intervene.Its conflict-resolution mechanisms have been decimated by indifference from leading African countries, non-African ‘partners’ who benefit more from conflicts that peace in Africa; a global community itself lighting too many fires, and increasing internationalization of interests over who ends up winners.
Today,Sudan speaks to Africa, and we in Nigeria had better listen well. It invites attention to the fact that fights solve no problems, unless they are about resisting injustice and oppression.Yet fights are inevitable unless justice forms the foundation of all human relations, and insistence that the rule of law trumps all forms of rule.Sudan invites attention to the significance of keeping the military out of politics.Its history screams the danger of extremism in politics, of major breaches that make returns to normalcy difficult.It reminds our politicians and the millions they manipulate and buy-off with stolen money during elections of the truism in the famous saying that war is politics by other means.It could degenerate into real war when we draw lines around what is and what it is not tolerable.Desperation to capture by all means, including those means that are transparently illegal and volatile threaten the democratic system, which, unfortunately, is the only system we can practice without descending to Sudan’s level.Without consensus by an elite over where those boundaries should be drawn, it is easy to move from quarrels into real, messy conflicts.It is worse if those who should stop a conflict are its architects and champions. We are already swamped by insecurity.It can, but should not get worse. Those who manage reactions and developments around the 2023 elections, and those who will resume responsibility for our security and welfare should beware.Trust me, we do not want to be Sudan.