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War and Slavery in Sudan

War and Slavery in Sudan

Jok Madut Jok
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    War and Slavery in Sudan
    Book Description:

    Slavery has been endemic in Sudan for thousands of years. Today the Sudanese slave trade persists as a complex network of buyers, sellers, and middlemen that operates most actively when times are favorable to the practice. As Jok Madut Jok argues, the present day is one such time, as the Sudanese civil war that resumed in 1983 rages on between the Arab north and the black south. Permitted and even encouraged by the Arab-dominated Khartoum government, the state military has captured countless women and children from the south and sold them into slavery in the north to become concubines, domestic servants, farm laborers, or even soldiers trained to fight against their own people. Also instigated by the Khartoum government, Arab herding groups routinely take and sell the Nilotic peoples of Dinka and Nuer. Jok emphasizes that the contemporary practice of slavery in Sudan is not the result of two decades of civil war, as conventional wisdom in the media would have one believe. Instead he revisits the historic hostilities between the Islamic world to the north and, to the south, the Black African peoples, many of whom are Christian converts. For Arab traders "the nation of the blacks," or Bilad Al-Sudan, has traditionally been the source of slaves. When the slave trade developed into corporate enterprise in the nineteenth century, the slave-takers articulated distinctions based on race, ethnicity, and religion that marked the black, infidel southerners as indisputably inferior and therefore "natural" slaves. Such distinctions have survived for decades and have fueled various forms of oppression of the black south, even during those periods when slavery has not been authorized by the government. When it is authorized, as it is today, slavery then becomes the extreme form of this systemic oppression. War and Slavery in Sudan exposes the enslavement of black peoples in Sudan which has been exacerbated, if not caused, by the circumstance of war. As a black southerner and a member of the Dinka, a group targeted by Arab slave traders, Jok brings an insider's perspective to this highly volatile subject matter. He describes the various methods of capture, explores the heinous experience of captivity, and examines the efforts of slaves to escape. Jok also assesses the efforts of Dinka communities to locate and redeem, or buy back, slaves through middlemen, a strategy that has been supported by Western antislavery groups and church-based humanitarian agencies but has also been the subject of great moral debate. Throughout the book, Jok stresses that the search for settlement of the north-south conflict must be made in conjunction with a campaign to end slavery. He challenges the international community to move beyond diplomatic measures to take more coordinated action against the slave trade and bring liberation to the people of Sudan.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0058-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xv)
  4. [Maps]
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  5. Introduction Slavery in Sudan: Definitions and Outlines
    (pp. 1-18)

    Many decades after independence from Britain in 1956, Sudan, the largest country in Africa, continues to make news headlines for calamities such as its war-ravaged lands, bankrupt economy, violent Islamic militancy, cultural and religious conflicts, and killer droughts and famines. But the disaster that has most engaged the attention of the Western world has been the revival of slavery and the slave trade, aided by the indifference and complicity of the Sudanese government. The successive Khartoum regimes since the start of the current civil war between the North and the South in 1983 have been notorious for encouraging enslavement of...

  6. Part I The New Slavery in Sudan

    • Chapter One The Revival of Slavery During the Civil War: Facts and Testimonies
      (pp. 21-41)

      The roots of Sudan’s unresolved civil war have a long history, hut the modern context relating to the current wave of slavery was set in times of alien intrusion, starting with Turco-Egyptian rule in the nineteenth century (1821–81) through Anglo-Egyptian colonial rule (1898–1956).¹ By providing an overview of the current Sudanese conflict, I will analyze the causes and consequences of the ongoing slave raiding. There is concrete evidence that slavery is not buried in the past, especially since one still finds today the conditions that allowed it to flourish in the nineteenth century. For example, those Dinka areas...

    • Chapter Two Slavery in the Shadow of the Civil War: Problems in the Study of Sudanese Slavery
      (pp. 42-65)

      Studies of human rights in Sudan since 1983 have blamed the resurgence of slavery in Sudan solely on the civil war. From raids in 1986 to the famine of 1998 in Bahr el-Ghazal, an estimated two million died in the South and four million were displaced.¹ These deaths, unprecedented in number in Africa and the most since World War II, were caused by both famines and genocidal practices of the government of Sudan. As a result the UN and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) established Operation Life-line Sudan (OLS) in 1989 to provide humanitarian assistance.

      This war has blighted the central as...

    • Chapter Three The Suffering of the South in the North-South Conflict
      (pp. 66-84)

      “It is unfortunate that you did not arrive here four days ago before the escaped slaves were finally dispersed,” remarked Geng Deng, the Aweil West representative of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA), the humanitarian wing of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M). As we walked to his compound from the airstrip where I had just landed in a UN plane, Geng Deng explained to me the fate of some Dinka women and children. They had just been freed from enslavement by paying an Arab middleman a fee to locate them and purchase their freedom from the Dinka’s northern...

  7. Part II Underlying Causes of the Revival of Slavery in Sudan

    • Chapter Four The Legacy of Race
      (pp. 87-106)

      The relationship between race and the institution of slavery has been neglected in the study of slavery within Africa. Historians acknowledge the existence of individual slave traders’ racial sentiments but tend to overlook the strong racial foundations upon which the institution of slavery is built, especially the way in which racial ideology was so instrumental in the persistence of the slave trade between North Africa arid sub-Saharan Africa. Neglected as well is the way race continues to fuel new forms of slavery. Detailed studies have shown that the Arabs and Muslims were involved for centuries in trading Africans. These studies...

    • Chapter Five The South-North Population Displacement
      (pp. 107-130)

      One of the most puzzling issues in Sudan’s conflict is the displacement of South Sudanese to the North. The number of displaced South Sudanese in the North begs the question as to what prompts them to migrate to what is supposedly an enemy territory. There are no easy answers to this question. But despite the prevalent sense among the southern population that the North is a hostile environment, many factors have forced the people of the South, particularly the Dinka and the Nuer of Bahr el-Ghazal and the Upper Nile, respectively, to brave the North over the past four decades....

    • Chapter Six The Political-Economic Conflict
      (pp. 131-152)

      The Baggara-Dinka conflict is a microcosm of the overall North-South confrontation. The national-level issues underlying Sudan’s civil war are clearly displayed in the way Baggara-Dinka strife has evolved over the past two decades. Admittedly, the war between North and South was broadly responsible for both the more voluminous resurgence and concealment of slavery in the 1980s and 1990s. But in the same manner that the northern effort to exploit southern resources has caused the war, it was the economic and political desperation in Kordofan and Darfur that can help account for the sharpening of the Baggara assault on the Dinka....

  8. Conclusion Has No One Heard Us Call for Help? Sudanese Slavery and International Opinion
    (pp. 153-180)

    In describing his experiences during his explorations in southern and central Africa, David Livingstone once wrote: “The strangest disease I have seen in this country seems really to be broken-heartedness, and it attacks free men who have been captured and made slaves.”¹ With these words Livingstone may well have been talking about South Sudanese slaves in northern captivity today. One might find some similarities between the experiences of African slaves in the hands of the Swahili traders of the nineteenth century that Livingstone was writing about and the lives of Dinka slaves in the hands of North Sudanese at present....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 181-196)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-200)
  11. Index
    (pp. 201-211)