Delaney (2010). John Garang and Sudanims. A Peculiar and Resilient Nationalism
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“You, the people, in your popular uprising succeeded in cutting off the monster’s head, but the lifeless body continues to deceive you that the monster is still dangerous. No, It is not! Having cut off the monster’s head, it is your sacred duty to push down the monster’s body, not stand in fear of it.”
These are the bold words of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) in April of 1985. He is addressing the people of Sudan after the recent popular people’s uprising, which overthrew the President of Sudan, Jaafar Nimeiri. Nimeiri is seen as an oppressive dictator and is depicted as the “monster’s head” in the opening quote. However, Garang does not only call for the removal of the monster’s head, but for the destruction of the body as well. The monster’s body is Nimeirism, which is a term that describes the various policies and dictatorial, exploitative actions of President Nimeiri. Garang lists several “provocations” by Nimeiri that help give us a base understanding of the physical manifestation of Nimeirism. Garang accuses Nimeiri of
“institutionalizing corruption and bribery,” and of “dismantling” the Addis Ababa Agreement,2 and of trying to change the Southern boundaries in order to “deprive” the South of fruitful agricultural land. He also condemns Nimeiri for calling for the division of South Sudan into three “mini-regions,” and for forcing all Sudanese to abide by Islamic Shari’a law. Finally, Garang accuses Nimeiri of being a “one-man dictator who clings to power by means of use of savage repression, torture, unlawful detention, harassment and murder of innocent citizens by the security apparatus.”6 Garang resolves that he is prepared to “fight a long war” in order to defeat all “institutions of oppression that have been evolved in Khartoum to oppress the masses of the Sudanese people.” This is the monster that John Garang sought to destroy in his lifetime. Nimeirism is a model of oppression against which John Garang pitted his efforts of liberation. In defiance of Nimeirism, Garang offered a new nationalism, which he called Sudanism, which recognizes the ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of Sudan and calls for a new, uniquely Sudanese identity that acknowledges all of this diversity in Sudan. Garang’s Sudanism is therefore inherently opposed to divisiveness and separatism, and is disposed to unity. This thesis examines the wars between Sudanism and Nimeirism and Sudanism and secessionism in the context of the second civil war in Sudan starting in 1983. In the following pages I will argue that
John Garang remained consistent and persistent in heralding a new, united Sudan based on Sudanism. Sudanism was at heart a nationalist movement. Using James L. Gelvin’s model of he development and nature of nationalisms I will demonstrate that Garang’s Sudanism was a peculiar but authentic form of nationalism.