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Sudan: Northern Sudan is no less “African” than Southern Sudan

This post is part of our special coverage South Sudan Referendum 2011.

Voters in Southern Sudan will vote in a referendum that is mostly likely to split Africa's largest country into two. If Southern Sudan separates, African states will therefore increase from 53 to 54. The referendum is part the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement.

This is our latest roundup of blog posts related to the referendum.

Speaking at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, Thabo Mbeki, the Chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (AUHIP), said that should Sudan divide, it will not divide into an “African” south and an “Arab” north and that Northern Sudan is not less “African” than Southern Sudan:

In this context we would like to emphasise that should Sudan divide, it will not divide into an “African” south and an “Arab” north, still less into two states divided by adherence to different faiths. In the case of secession, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious African country of Sudan will divide into two countries, north and south, both of which are equally African, and both of which will of necessity embrace diversity.

We hold firmly to the view that northern Sudan is no less “African” than southern Sudan, and that Islam is a religion of Africa, just as the Arabs of Sudan and the Mahgreb are people of Africa. As pan-Africans we are proud of the achievements of the Arab and Muslim civilisations on this continent, which we regard as an integral part of our heritage.

Music for separation in Juba, Southern Sudan. Photo courtesy of Pascal Ladu

Pascal Ladu, reporting from Southern Sudan, says that music has become a key means to mobilise voters:

Many artists and traditional dancers across Southern Sudan, from diverse ethnic groups, are united in campaigning for separation. Just a few days ahead of the referendum, music has become a key means to mobilise voters.

Sudan365 has posted a Sudan Briefing Package on Press section of the wesbite. The information covers:

* Key facts on the referenda
* Key statistics
* Key potential flashpoints
* Key international players
* Main observation missions

Mayank Bubna looks “state security fears amid referendum hopes”:

As South Sudan rapidly approaches the referendum which will decide whether it remains with the North or becomes its own state, issues of insecurity and outbreaks of violence continue to plague the regions bordering the proposed North-South divide. This is the first of two field dispatches examining ongoing developments that threaten to destabilize Unity state, arguably one of the most strategic areas of South Sudan.

David Widgington of South Sudan Info links to online videos about the referendum and writes kenya pre-referendum information:

According to a Sudan Tribune article posted on AllAfrica, a total of 3.9 million people have registered to vote. Numbers released by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) a few days ago divide the figures into registrations in the south: 3.7 million, in the north: 116,000, and 60,000 in the diaspora: Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the UK and the USA. During the latest cencus, there is an estimated population of 8 million Southern Sudanese. For the referendum to be legimitate, 60% of registered voters need to participate in the vote.

As I follow events in Southern Sudan and add articles to my headlines timeline, people continually ask me basic questions about Sudan. Below I’ve included a few videos that have recently been posted online. They should provide a descent background for those wanting to learn more as Southern Sudanese are set to what is generally believed to choose to create Africa’s newest independent country.

Ballot symbols chosen for the Southern Sudan Referendum. Photo courtesy of maggiefick.com

Sudan Votes presents daily interviews with people living in South Sudan, who share their hopes and concerns about the referendum. This is an interview with Helen Kila Wongo, an eldrely lady with wisdom for the future and peace at heart.

In this podcast, Marvis Birungi interviews the founder of the military wing of the resistance movement Anya Nya, 79 year old Joseph Lagu, who speaks about the long march for freedom that may finally be achieved by the referendum on secession.

Kenyan TVs coverage of the referendum, according to Ombui, is simply a showoff:

Who is interested to watch Kenyan journalists burn and sweat from the scorching sunshine in Southern Sudan yet BBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Reuters and others will deliver the results? Is it cost effective to send a huge number of reporters? Does it mean since Kenya oversaw the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Naivasha in 2005, it qualifies to be story number one? Kenya host majority of Sudanese refugees, but do they out number Kenyans or supersede local issues?

I believe this explains a deeper thing too. I feel the media owners are trying to spread their corporate playing field by pushing Kenyan journalists to “irrelevant” areas as far as the Kenyan audience is concerned. What Kenyans want to know is the final result and if it was conducted in a free and fair manner. Can’t that be done by one or two reporters? How do you expand business without losing the audience?

Bankelele disagrees:

I disagree that they are showing off. For years the lack of coverage of African stories by other African journalists has been lamented, and that it still the case – where we learn about Ivory Coast, Chad, Senegal from CNN and Al Jazeera. Here in our regional back yard is a story of immense international interest for humanitarian, political, economic, and historical reasons and you any broadcaster should be there for coverage.

So does Ben:

I believe, that the Sudan referendum is quite an important event locally as well as internationally and as for the Kenyan media its a great way to broaden their tentacles in regard to going regional, and what a better place to start than Sudan.

Let us not forget that alot of Kenyans have invested alot in S Sudan, and are keenly watching events unfold there, therefore its a big plus for the Kenyan media to send and report on the unfolding events in Sudan.

Sudan Vote Monitor, an independent Sudan civil society initiative, has started the independent monitoring and reporting of the referendum using Ushahidi platform:

What to report? We want to hear everything: both the good and the bad. We want to share your experience of the referendum and the events leading up to it. Right now, for instance, you could tell us about how preparations for the referendum are going. Is everything in place? What is the campaigning like? How are people feeling? You can also take a look at the categories of reports on our home page. Every time that we receive a report – via SMS, email or online – we assign it one of these categories. How to report? For now, you can report online here or by emailing reports@sudanvotemonitor.com. Please make sure you include in your report the location from which you are reporting. We will soon be releasing a phone number so you can also report via SMS.

Jina Moore reports that The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC is hosting a conversation about post-referendum Sudan on Monday, January 10.

This post is part of our special coverage South Sudan Referendum 2011.

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