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Viewpoint from Sudan – where black people are called slaves

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Ali al-Nayer

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Reem Khougli and Issam Abdulraheem faced abuse for marrying each other

In our series of Letters from African journalists, Zeinab Mohammed Salih writes about the horrific racial abuse black people experience in Sudan.

Warning: This article contains offensive language

As anti-racism protests swept through various parts of the world following African-American George Floyd’s death in police custody in the US, Sudan seemed to be in a completely different world.

There was little take-up in Sudan of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Instead many Sudanese social media users hurled racial abuse at a famous black Sudanese footballer, Issam Abdulraheem, and a light-skinned Arab make-up artist, Reem Khougli, following their marriage.

“Seriously girl, this is haram [Arabic for forbidden]… a queen marries her slave,” one man commented on Facebook after seeing a photo of the couple.

Facebook Live from honeymoon

There were dozens of similar comments – not surprising in a country where many Sudanese who see themselves as Arabs, rather than Africans, routinely use the word “slave”, and other derogatory words, to describe black people.

Sudan has always been dominated by a light-skinned, Arabic-speaking elite, while black Africans in the south and west of the country have faced discrimination and marginalisation.

It is common for newspapers to publish racial slurs, including the word “slave”.

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Universal History Archive

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Sudan was a major slave-trading area in the 19th Century

A few weeks ago, an Islamist columnist at Al-Intibaha, a daily newspaper supportive of ex-President Omar al-Bashir, who does not approve of women playing football, referred to the female football coach of the Gunners, a well-known youth team for girls, as a slave.

And almost all media outlets describe petty criminals in the capital, Khartoum, as “negros” as they are perceived to be poor and not ethnically Arab.

When I asked Abdulraheem for his reaction to the racial abuse hurled at him and his wife, he said: “I couldn’t post more pictures on my social media pages for fear of receiving more [abuse].”

Instead, the 29-year-old and his 24-year-old wife did a Facebook live during their honeymoon, saying they were in love and their race was irrelevant.

Few black faces

In another recent instance, the head of a women’s rights group, No To Women Oppression, commented on a photo showing a young black man with his white European wife by saying that the woman, in choosing her husband, may have been looking for the creature missing on the evolutionary ladder between humans and monkeys.

Following an outcry, Ihsan Fagiri announced her resignation, but No To Women Oppression refused to accept it, saying she did not mean it.

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Getty Images

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There have been some small anti-racism protests in Sudan

Racism is insidious in Sudan, historically and since independence when most senior positions have been filled by people from the north – the Arab and Nubian ethnic groups.

Almost all senior military officers are from these communities, which has also allowed them to use their influence to dominate the business sector.

Today if you go into any government department or bank in Khartoum, you will rarely see a black person in an important role.

There are no reliable statistics on the ethnic breakdown of Sudan’s population, let alone their relative wealth, but a Darfuri-based rebel group fighting for the rights of black people estimates that 60% of Khartoum residents are black.

Slave traders ‘glorified’

The racism goes back to the founding of Khartoum in 1821 as a marketplace for slaves.

By the second half of the century about two-thirds of the city’s population was enslaved.

Sudan became one of the most active slave-raiding zones in Africa, with slaves transported from the south to the north, and to Egypt, the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions.

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DEA / BIBLIOTECA AMBROSIANA

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Al-Zubair Pasha Rahma was a powerful slave trader

Slave traders are still glorified – a street in the heart of the capital is named after al-Zubair Pasha Rahma, whose 19th Century trading empire stretched to parts of what is now the Central African Republic and Chad.

Historians say he mainly captured women from the modern-day Sudanese areas of Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains, as well as South Sudan and Ethiopia’s Oromia region. He was also known for his slave army, made up of captives from South Sudan, which fought for the Ottomans.

Another street is named after Osman Digna – a slave trader and military commander, whose lucrative business was curtailed by the then-British colonial administration when it moved to outlaw slavery.

The practice was only officially abolished in 1924, but the decision faced strong resistance from the main Arab and Islamic leaders of that era, among them Abdelrahman al-Mahdi and Ali al-Mirghani, who many believe had slaves working on the vast tracts of land they owned along the Nile River.

Zeinab Mohammed Salih

BBC

The superiority complex of many Arabs lies at the heart of some of the worst conflicts in Sudan”

They wrote to the colonial administration urging them not to abolish slavery, but their request was ignored.

The two men, along with their political parties – Unionist and Umma – continued to wield enormous influence after independence, entrenching notions of Arab superiority in the new state by reserving almost all jobs for Arabs and failing to develop areas inhabited by black people.

Mahdi’s grandson, Sadiq al-Mahdi, served as prime minister from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989, when Mirghani’s son, Ahmed, became president in a coalition government the two men had formed.

Two Sudanese academics, Sulimen Baldo and Ushari Mahoumd, publicly alleged in 1987 that they had uncovered evidence of some northern-based Arab groups enslaving black people from the south. They say these groups were armed by Sadiq al-Mahdi’s military – and were the genesis of the Janjaweed militias, which were later accused of ethnic cleansing in Darfur.

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Getty Images

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Sadiq al-Mahdi has been on the political scene for more than 50 years

The slave-raiding allegations were denied at the time by the government of Ahmed Mirghani and Sadiq Mahdi, who remains influential in Sudanese politics and is close to the current government, which took power after the overthrow of Mr Bashir in 2019.

21st Century slave raids

The superiority complex of many members of the Arab elite lies at the heart of some of the worst conflicts to hit Sudan since independence, as black people either demand equality or their own homeland.

The southern slave raids were widely reported to have continued until the end of the civil war in 2005, which led to the mainly black African South Sudan seceding from Arabic-speaking Sudan five years later.

The women and children abducted by Arab groups to work for a “master” for free often never saw their families again, though in some cases their freedom was controversially bought by aid groups such as Christian Solidarity International.

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And since the Darfur conflict started in the early 2000s, the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias have repeatedly been accused of arriving on horseback in black African villages, killing the men and raping the women.

Little has changed there in the last year, with reports of rapes and village burnings continuing despite the peace talks organised by the power-sharing government, which is leading the three-year transition to civilian rule.

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AFP

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Mass atrocities have been carried out in Darfur

The transitional government was formed by the military and the civilian groups that led the 2019 revolution, but it is unclear whether it is genuinely committed to tackling the structural racism within the Sudanese state.

The Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), a key member of the civilian arm of the government, says that a law has been proposed to criminalise hate speech. Under the proposal, the punishment for using racial slurs would be five years in jail, SCP spokesman Mohamed Hassan Arabi told me.

But many black people are uneasy about the military’s role in government, given it was part of Mr Bashir’s regime.

One of the few black ministers, Steven Amin Arno, quit within two months of taking office, saying in a resignation letter which appeared on social media that nobody was listening to him.

The government did not comment on his allegations, which he says proves his point.

“What happened with me shows the marginalisation and the institutional racism in the country,” he told me.

More Letters from Africa:

Follow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica





Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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