Sudan: Diversity And Identity Crisis

Many of the posts on the Sudanese blogosphere during the past 2 weeks discussed Sudan's diversity and also revolved around the issue of identity. Sudanese Thinker had an interesting post entitled “Sudan: Arab or African?

He was responding to a question posted on Sudan Watch:

Since Sudan belongs to both the African Union and Arab League, I wonder if Sudanese women see Sudan as an African or Arab country.

Sudanese Thinker argues that Sudan is an Afro-Arab country:

Is Sudan an African or Arab country? In other words, are we Sudanese, African or Arab? It’s a tough question to answer for the simple reason that I’m only given the option of choosing between “Arab” or “African”. I don’t see Sudan as being either one or the other. There are about 600 tribes in Sudan. Yes, that’s right, 600 tribes! Ethnically, some are African, some are Afro-Arab and the few remaining others are Arab. Therefore Sudan is an Afro-Arab country.

He concludes, however:

As I’ve presented, ethnically speaking we Sudanese are mainly African but culturally we’re more Arab than African (thanks to Arabization). So, which one do we belong to more? Which one do we choose? In order to give an answer, I have to ask another question. Which one plays a bigger role in forming one’s identity? Would that be ethnicity or culture? For me, the answer is ethnicity.

Daana Lost In Translation wrote a post about her experience of trying to deal with her own identity crisis:

Being born in UAE and having lived there pretty much most of my life I was brought up around a lot of people from many different backgrounds, especially Arab countries.

…I didn't know who I was and never completely felt the security that stems from the sense of belonging

throughout my life I hated labels, stigmas, and stereotypes people tend to create about each other

I hated having to classify myself as one thing and one thing only and how could that be when I am a variety of emotions, experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs

I hated to define myself based on demographics that I hadn't chosen for myself

and I most definitely hated how some people think that they are superior to others

Hipster then wrote a powerful poem in relation to Daana's post:

Ever since I was young I was being singled out
Situation dramatized black is wats its all about
Hated my race cuz they had me locked out
Assumptions had me blinded to the natural facts
But I'm all grown now I can finally see
You and me are one we share the same reality

…He di-ver-sified to beautify our land
Why y'all letting grass grow under your feet?
Help the Muslim cause (pause) by following its creed
Supercilious superficial that's how you proceed ?
Is that how you live? (Pause) by seeing us bleed !!
Yea I'm irate hate I try to mitigate
Unlike you I aim to strive to elevate
I was taught to respect n appreciate
My brothers n sisters for the love they generate
Like the Roman Empire nothing great lasts
You reap wat you sow karma wat you sow will blast
Your lack of understanding is how you'll collapse
Help yourselves grow before your perilous crash

Someone by the name of CommonSense commented the following on Hipster's post which sums up what many Sudanese feel:

Sudanese people always delving into the identity issue. On top of defending themselves from racism….they are trying to find out who they are…whilst at the same time being racist to each other..that to me looks like a national issue not just one person.

Black Kush on the other hand explored the issue of Sudan's national dress and food and whether it is representative of the whole of Sudan or not:

I once had a discussion with a colleague from North Sudan about the question of national dress and national food in Sudan. It was interesting how he feels strongly about it.

The way the discussion went, if you asked a person from North Sudan what is considered the National dress in Sudan, (s)he will automatically say “Jallabiya” and “Hima” for men and “Tob” for women! But I find the argument not quiet right. I feel Sudan doesn't have one!

On the other hand, Nomadic Thoughts blogged something slightly different. She wrote a post about interracial adoption:

Adopting a child of another race means that you're consciously embracing a new culture (with all that entails) and new way of life.

There are millions of orphaned children all over the world. When you get down to it, all they really want and need is a good home and a dream of a bright future. Should we leave these children grow up in institutions simply because they're from a different race? Who is to judge?

Last but not least, Mimz thinks Valentines Day sucks!:

I've always hated valentine's day.

If people want to celebrate the love they have for one another they could very much do so on any day of the week.. I don't get the point behind inventing a day where in alot of cases one of the two lovebirds feels forced to express what feelings he/she already has. Why program someone to do something that's best done in a spontaneous fashion? I really don't get it.


  • abdalla al hilo

    Drima stole fluent sudani ideas. shame on him

  • Lago Gatjal Riaak

    Sudan is an African country geographically. Countries are geographically label based on their locations and not their cultures. This is the biggest problem in the Sudan’s civil wars. Sudanese are caught in between trying to define what Sudan is or what Sudanese mean in reality. As a southern Sudanese, I don’t label myself Sudanese because someone else think that he is more Sudanese than me. In Sudan, Arab descents label Sudan as an Arab country or Islamic one. That’s why Sudan has an ambassador to the Arab League. Why would Sudan have an ambassador to the Arab League when its population is not homogeneously Arab populated country. I don’t see Sudan as an Arab country but African. Just because there are a percentage of Arabs population in Sudan doesn’t make Sudan an Arab country. But, Sudan will always remain African. The Arabs in Sudan have wrong misconceived Sudan’s identity. Another issue we are facing in Sudan is who is Arab? This question becomes one of the challenge when people talk about Sudan politics. To my understanding and many others, Arab in Sudan is an ideology and a cultural mind set inflicted into Sudanese mind. Those who are Muslims even though are blacks see themselves as Arabs compared to those who keep their African cultures. Becoming Muslim in Sudan make an individual gain an access to the Sudan’s economic and political status. This is a mindset that need to be change so that Sudan gains her African ism.

  • zak

    there are two types of sudanese arabs in the north blacks in the south it simple and they hate each other thats why the have a war going on right now thats life.

  • Saga

    Peace be you, I would like to say I am proud to be Sudanese, as much as I despise my government I love my people. But most of all I love my UMMAH. Thus I am Muslim (alhamduliah), I don’t think it matters whether you are dark skinned or fair or in between or what race etc.. We were taught by our prophet peace be upon him to travel, marry and learn from people who come from different cultures or ethnic backgrounds in order to realize that we bleed the same same blood; for the color is always red and we were born from the same father and mother which are Adam and Hawa who were the first human beings on this planet. Our prophet said so in order for us to live together and raise our children together just how people used to do in the holy land ages ago even if we do believe in different things that doesn’t mean we cant live in peace together! Why? Because the highest law is the moral law. Nonetheless culture brings a big role on how children are raised, that’s why we have so much racism going on because our parents, grandparents and their parents probably taught the next generation that they are the best tribe or they’re the best race cause they’re African or Asian or Arab or blah blah… But back to the question concerning Sudanese women; Sadly most Sudanese women believe that they are Arab and I’m saying this out of experience, even though they don’t talk about it but they can hint it if you have good perception. Sadly I really don’t blame them because they were taught like that, I think the fault is within the men who forget what our prophet said. So its our job to show the next generation that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, its your deeds and words that define you as a human being. Hope this can answer your question and peace be upon you all.

  • When you get down to it, all they really want and need is a good home and a dream of a bright future. Should we leave these children grow up in institutions simply because they’re from a different race? Who is to judge?

  • Melih

    Oh my god its just funny how all you folks dont know any shit about Sudan. Sudan is a multi-ethnic country so basically you have there Arabs, Nubians, Nilotes etc. And the arab population is NOT arabized. Nearly all arabs in Sudan belong to a tribe that shows their forefathers and proves their arab lineage. This is a basic issue in the last remaining parts of the arab world where tribalism exists. No lineage proof, no arab ancestry. So therefore the Arabs of Sudan are more ”Arabs” than the ”Arabs” of the Levant. Most people who live in the Levant got neither a tribe nor a lineage proof. And also the culture of the Levant differs strongly from the one of the Arabian Peninsula while the indigenous arab culture of Sudan has more similarities.

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