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Sudan: No to evacuating Africans

France, in the colonial era, had understood what Sudan represented in the occupation of Africa as a struggle between the Arab and the West.  Hence…

France, in the colonial era, had understood what Sudan represented in the occupation of Africa as a struggle between the Arab and the West. 

Hence to distance itself from unwholesome struggle, it tagged sub-Saharan Africa, from Mauritania through Mali and Burkina Faso to Niger and Chad, Western Sudan. It consolidated in appropriating them while leaving the main Sudan that borders Egypt toward the Mackreck, not the Maghreb, for the Arabs; though the British intervened.  

Even the first sultan of Sokoto understood that as intelligence report reached him, with obviously his contingent that wanted to visit Makkah, to stop in Sudan and reverse the journey. (Read Green Toby, 2020) 

The point I want to make here is that Arabs came to Africa before the West though their treatment of Africans was harsher than that of the West, and it made some intelligent Africans, then, stop their journey towards Makkah in Sudan. The Bade, Bole and Duwai people in Nigeria including the ancestors of Nigeria’s current Senate President and his Machina contender for the Senate seat, by history, know what such harsher treatment of the Arabs looked like which was recently enacted in the Maghreb –Tunisia, as they started deporting Africans who are also of Western Sudan origin.

Sudan crisis: Northern groups flay delayed evacuation of Nigerians

Sudan: Diaspora group urges FG to evacuate Nigerians

That deportation and the current incursion of the Russian mercenaries–Wagner group to be precise – are all part of the operational and tactical moves to derail failed France’s strategy of having a strong association with Africans for a better control of the world’s “arsenal-loaded” resources found in Africa, inclusive of the region of the Great Lakes mishandled by conglomerates of the “Frenches” of both France, Switzerland and Belgium. 

France, like the Africans it had intended to protect from the harsher treatment of greater sharks of this world, became also a victim trying to latch on to NATO for face-saving grace as from the Presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy who proved it was a great ally, by financially sucking up Ghadaffi and finally killing him as against Jacques Chirac’s alternative search that made him the enemy of the USA and Britain as the onslaught on Iraq took place.

Today, Macron is lost in either obeying NATO’s command or EU stability or jettisoning the African sub-Sahara for Mediterranean consolidation with the Maghrebian Arabs. And this is where the Sudanese debacle of either leaving Sudan to the Arab-Russian new ally formation as it has done in Western Sudan (Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and of course, tangentially Niger Republic with its Tuareg–Arab presidency as the majority Hausa group remain aloof). 

Sudan, whether ‘Western Sudan’ or mainland Sudan is certainly an African affair and must be treated so, unless there are divided interests in Africa struggling to align more with the new Russian–Arab ally or those who still believe that NATO strategically has a great plan that France has decided to subsume its interest in, so as to recover the wholesomeness of the Sudan for a freer Sudan – whether South, Western or Mainland – after exhaustion of Russian strength. It happened at independence when Sekou Touré of Guinea, Modibo Keita of Mali and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana followed that step. 

The current Sudan debacle requires Nigeria to plan more for intervention as it did in ECOWAS with ECOMOG than calling for evacuation. As it is now, even the President of Chad is being alerted that they are aiming at getting to Chad with Wagner in CAR. In all sincerity, a war in any African soil is a war against all of Africa just like Boko Haram and bandits have created more refugees and displaced people migrating to neighbouring countries like Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, and mind you, there are more affiliates of Sudanese people in Nigeria than elsewhere and they would be easily accepted as refugees or incorporated as Nigerians if the worse comes to worst like some Mandigo/Mandinka Liberians and Sierra Leoneans are now part of Nigerians. The same distance from Sokoto to Mali applies also from Borno to Sudan. 

As long as Nigeria is not a member of BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – it should be in a better position to mediate between a Russia-backed General and UN-backed Commander in Chief as if Russia is already exempted from the UN. General Abdel-Fattah al Burhan (C in C) and General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo alias Hemedti. Of course, Omar al-Bashir is in the image of Abdel-Fattah al Burhan while Hemedti is like a Shua Arab in the Nigerian context or even the Bade, Bole, Duwai Nigerians or Yemenites fighting main Arabs. History has it, that there are also Nigerian Yemenites. 

As it is noted, “Sudan is in the middle of a very unstable region” bordering Libya, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and northward Egypt, and sideward to Indian Ocean/Red Sea, Eritrea leading to Yemen on the other side. Yemen is cited because people who look like Sudanese – brown or black – are also there being maltreated and could be sympathetic to the Hemedt led insurgents. 

It is an African problem that must be solved quickly before it enters into conflagration dimension. And it is a lesson to Nigeria to remain steadfast as par understanding that fractionalising Nigeria between north and south as canvassed by Ghadaffi is a ploy to further encroach on African soil by the Janjaweeds. And as I have always advocated, collaborating with France or a larger NATO remains a better solution for sustainable peace in Africa than opting for Russia and China.

Not necessarily that France and NATO are good allies, but essentially to adopt the posture of the “devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know,” and, furthermore, to approach it the Japanese way by acknowledging that the perpetrator of your downfall who had made immense wealth out of it, could be more sympathetic to your being reinstated to what insurers call the “state you are in before the damage” than someone who never partook in the damage, done initially, and who could feel unconcerned; and could prefer being seen as a saviour for further damaging adventure.

It is an existentialist debate that tore apart Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre; and Camus came out better for it, which France has failed to learn from. Nigeria, nay Africa, must heed the Camus advice to avoid extinction as against operating extreme left. 

 

Ariole is a Professor of French and Francophone Studies, University of Lagos 

 

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