I know a little bit about the history of Sudan and Sudanese – Egyptian relations. I’m also honored to have Sudanese friends of various ideological orientations and different levels of education and culture. We also have common things allowing us to be sheer frank and exchange jokes over the contradictions in the behavior of some Egyptians and Sudanese. I also understand the reservations some Sudanese have over some policies and stances of the Egyptian governments, also regarding how the Egyptian intellectuals perceive the mutual relations with Sudan and its reality.
Despite all that and although I’m always keen on understanding what happened and is happening, I can hardly understand what is happening now and what has been happening for several years, as it’s like a logarithm for me unable to decipher and is getting more and more complicated. As I can see a zigzag wiggly graphical line representing the mutual relation between the two countries with tops affirming the eternity and depth of relationship between the two countries or one can say the one people distributed between north and south and who have one common history; past, present and future, also strong connections in affinities and blood spilt in field battles against the Zionists and before this against the British occupation. Then suddenly and unexpectedly the line drops to bottoms telling of a strained present full of all kinds of problems and alerting of a gloomy future
My Sudanese friends used to criticize us, Egyptians, for using a feminine form when talking about Sudan like we do with Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. And also because we talk about it as if it’s the backyard of the River Nile valley or Egypt, moreover, because our movies and TV series in the past used to cast dark-skinned people in roles personating characters of inferior jobs or works, hinting that they are Sudanese or Nubian. Also, some of my Sudanese friends used to trace history back to the time of slavery and how some Egyptian traders were involved in such thing, and that many Sudanese houses still keep the robes, shackles and stakes hanged on its walls. In addition, some other friends used to talk in pain about how the Egyptian intellectuals and politicians are ignorant of the Sudanese cultural, ethnic and demographic composition… etc.
In return, my Sudanese friends did not hide their ridicule over that, as they regard the Egyptians as the ones with the “fair complexion” whom al-Mahdi rejected. They also call the Egyptians “Halab”, meaning thieves that do not live up to the Sudanese race. I used to always share the joke they tell describing the Egyptians’ ignorance of Sudan saying that: “a Sudanese man once asked his friend an exclaiming rhetorical question: Why do the Egyptians not understand the situation of Sudan and are always mistaken in their policies towards us despite their ancient civilization, modernization and pioneering in more than one field starting from music and singing and not ending by literature and arts? His friend answers: It’s very simple; some Sudanese pee in the Nile and Egyptians drink its water!”
However, the behavior and stances of the ruling regime in Sudan towards many issues, most importantly the relations with Egypt, are really hard to understand as the Sudanese leadership is deliberately angering its neighboring country to the north by allowing the Qatari and Turkish existence on its lands, the thing that reached to what we knew about Sawaken island and the military coordination with Egypt’s enemies. Before Sawaken there was that thing of the Ethiopian dams, atop of them is the Renaissance Dam, and the Sudanese situation siding with Ethiopia to the detriment of the deal that is not only guaranteeing Egypt’s share of the Nile waters, but it also has to do with Egypt’s life!
Faced by this dilemma or entangled roll of thread, we should start away from the concerned Egyptian official institutions and entities and launch a popular initiative to try to catch the beginning of the thread and detangle it bit by bit until we get things right once again. There are preliminary things to start with, for example, to start talking about Sudan as the Arab country heading the Arab nation towards Africa and not the backyard of Egypt. Also we can help broaden circles of Sudanese – Egyptian communication so that ordinary Egyptian people can taste and listen to the Sudanese music and singing, read the Sudanese literature written by great eminent writers, know about the cultural, political, demographic and geographic composition of Sudan even if just broad lines… etc. We should also widen the scope of studies specialized over Sudan in specific and over Africa in general.
Before ending my article, I call upon any entity keen on maintaining the relationship between the two countries, in light of what that means regarding the danger threatening Egypt’s life and security, to start by organizing a series of seminars with Sudanese figures of academia, intellectuals and artists in the first place participating, hoping that with enlightening popular efforts we can find solutions to what the official policies on both sides complicated. I wonder if Almasry alyoum institution can adopt such initiative?!
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
This article was published in Almasry alyoum newspaper on January 3, 2018.
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