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Sudan: Diversity And Identity Crisis

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan, Ethnicity & Race, History, Language, Religion

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? [1]

He was responding to a question posted on Sudan Watch [2]:

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 [3] 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 [4] 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 [5] 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 [6] 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 [7]:

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 [8]!:

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.