Okello Oculi writes that the people have lost faith in the military

Television pictures showing lanky and skinny young men and young women punching fists and addressing rallies have long histories of strong female ancestors and mass uprisings and wars for freedom and sovereignty. Murder with military bullets also hide records of civilian mass protests inciting the military to overthrow oppressive rulers.

In 1811, the Ja’alin, a mixed people from Black Nubians and Arab immigrants, massacred Egyptians who sought to impose their rule over northern banks of River Nile. This legacy would be followed by followers of a Mahdi whose popular uprising massacred Ottoman Turks and their British and other European mercenaries who ran brutal economic exploitation in the fertile alluvial plains of the Gezira.

The majority of Mahdist fighters came from Darfur where the leader came from. Professor Mahmud Mamdani has claimed that after 1920, British colonial officials engineered tribal conflicts to erode the nationalist solidarity which the Mahdist war had generated. However, in 1958 students and politicians united on the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman and drove General Aboud out of power.

Active interference by Egypt’s spies in Sudan’s electoral and parliamentary politics led to unstable alliances and rises and falls of governments. In 1989, Omar Bashir, a top military intelligence officer, evolved the use of claimed devotion to Islam to draw people’s political loyalties around dynasties of the Mahdi and Khatmiya electoral families. Bashir used his training as intelligence operative to build lists of critics and potential opposition for arrests, torture in prison, humiliation and termination.

His party followers exploited injunctions of Sharia Law to target educated women for harassment: grabbing and dragging them to Police Stations and charging them with ‘’indecent dressing’’ in public. As a people associated with a legacy of Mahdist revolt, persons from Darfur became targets for hostile treatment. A 2018 Report stated that ‘’Darfuris’’ who managed to get government jobs are often denied promotions; their businessmen ‘’must pay ‘extra levies’, ‘’while those in security forces are likely to remain in the lower ranks’’.

Students taking part in demonstrations were likely to be shot, arrested and tortured in detention; while most Darfuris did menial jobs and live in slums outside the outskirts of Khartoum and Omdurman and other major towns. They share poverty and shanty areas with other people who have migrated from periphery regions into Khartoum, Omdurman and Khartoum North – located in the centre of the country. The Ja’alin elite have concentrated services in this central zone; becoming targets of hostile protests against discrimination, inequality and impunity.

The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) focused on the Zhagawa, Masaalit and Fur peoples of Darfur with a policy of burning their villages, massacres and occupation of their land by Janjaweed Arabised cattle and camel herders. These internally displaced peoples (IDPs) have become dependent on international ‘’humanitarian aid agencies’’. This governance with permanent violence against targeted populations became the core of political idiocy.

In the history of Britain, France, China and Japan, the idiocy of ruling elites was terminated by chopping off heads of kings and their aristocratic allies. Mao Zedung’s army chopped off heads of cruel landlords; Japan’s Meiji reformers chopped off heads of corrupt, predatory and cruel Tokugawa rulers, while Britain’s business classes chopped off the head of their greedy King Charles for progress into codes of democratic governance. Sudan has not resorted to regicide; not even against the murderous military dictator General Jaafar Nimeiry.

Nimeiry and Bashir led ruling elites much blinded by political idiocy. Both turned to war against opposition in South Sudan to divert failures and corruption by their governments. They aroused racist and religious hatred against a resilient liberation movement led by a charismatic and highly educated former military officer, John Garang. Almost blind by interest of multinational corporations in mineral resources across South Sudan, the Ja’alin elite in Khartoum indulged in massacres of over three million peoples in the region for over 30 years of armed struggle led by Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The collective humiliation of 2011 when South Sudan became a separate country marked the peak income of this political idiocy. Mass protests in 2018 and 2021 have been fuelled by anger against three decades of failed, oppressive rule and underdevelopment. The emaciated youths who bleed from military bullets while refusing to accept defeat are fuelled by a long glorious legacy of fighting for freedom, sovereignty and justice. Their example joins the river of wars for liberation in Tunisia, Algeria, Southern Africa and Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.

The ‘’Million Mass Demonstration’’ on 30th October, 2021 chanting that people ‘’don’t want the military to take over power and rule’’; with worker paralysing Port Said – the country’s trade window; raises doubt about the NATIONAL character and legitimacy of the military.