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Referendum for Sudan, Requiem for Africa

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Sudan’s Best and Worst of Times

It is the best of times in the Sudan. It is the worst of times in the Sudan. It is the happiest day in the Sudan. It is the saddest day in the Sudan. It is referendum for the Sudan. It is requiem for Africa.

South Sudan just finished voting in a referendum, part of a deal made in 2005 to end a civil war that dates back over one-half century. The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) says the final results will be announced on February 14; but no one really believes there will be one united Sudan by July 2011. By then, South Sudan will be Africa’s newest state.

In a recent speech at Khartoum University, Thabo Mbeki, former South African president and Chairperson of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan, alluded to the causes of the current breakup of the Sudan: “As all of us know, a year ahead of your independence, in 1955, a rebellion broke out in Southern Sudan. The essential reason for the rebellion was that your compatriots in the South saw the impending independence as a threat to them, which they elected to oppose by resorting to the weapons of war.” There is a lot more to the South Sudanese “rebellion” than a delayed rendezvous with the legacy of British colonialism. In some ways it could be argued that the “imperfect” decolonization of the Sudan, which did not necessarily follow the boundaries of ethnic and linguistic group settlement, led to decades of conflict and civil wars and the current breakup.

Many of the problems leading to the referendum are also rooted in post-independence Sudanese history — irreconcilable religious differences, economic exploitation and discrimination. The central Sudanese government’s imposition of “Arabism” and “Islamism” (sharia law) on the South Sudanese and rampant discrimination against them are said to be a sustaining cause of the civil war. South Sudan is believed to hold much of the potential wealth of the Sudan including oil. Yet the majority of South Sudanese people languished in abject poverty for decades, while their northern compatriots benefitted disproportionately.

Whether the people of South Sudan will secede and form their own state is a question only they can decide. They certainly have the legal right under international law to self-determination, a principle enshrined in the U.N. Charter. Their vote will be the final word on the issue. The focus now is on what is likely to happen after South Sudan becomes independent. Those who seem to be in the know sound optimistic. Mbeki says, “Both the Government of Sudan and the SPLM have made the solemn and vitally important commitment that should the people of South Sudan vote for secession, they will work to ensure the emergence and peaceful coexistence of two viable states.” The tea leaves readers and pundits are predicting doom and gloom. They say the Sudan will be transformed into a hardline theocratic state ruled under sharia law. There will be renewed violence in Darfur, South Kurdofan and Eastern Sudan. There will be endless civil wars that will cause more deaths and destruction according to the modern day seers.

To some extent, the pessimism over Sudan’s future may have some merit. Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir’s told the New York Times recently about his post-secession plans: “We’ll change the Constitution. Shariah and Islam will be the main source for the Constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language.” Bashir’s plan goes beyond establishing a theocratic state. There will be no tolerance of diversity of any kind in Bashir’s “new Sudan”. He says, “If South Sudan secedes, we will change the Constitution, and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity.” Bashir’s warning is not only shocking but deeply troubling. The message undoubtedly will cause great alarm among secularists, Southern Sudanese living in the north who voted for unity and Sudanese of different faiths, viewpoints, beliefs and ideologies. In post-secession Sudan, diversity, tolerance, compromise and reconciliation will be crimes against the state. It is all eerily reminiscent of the ideas of another guy who 70 years ago talked about “organic unity” and the “common welfare of the Volk”. Sudanese opposition leaders are issuing their own ultimata. Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the Umma Party, issued a demand for a new constitution and elections; in the alternative, he promised to work for the overthrow of Bashir’s regime. Other opposition leaders seem to be following along the same line. There is a rocky road ahead for the Sudan, both south and north.

From Pan-Africanism to Afro-Fascism?

The outcome of the South Sudanese referendum is not in doubt, but where Africa is headed in the second decade of the 21st Century is very much in doubt. Last week, Tunisian dictator Ben Ali packed up and left after 23 years of corrupt dictatorial rule. President Obama “applauded the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people” in driving out the dictator. Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo is still holed up in Abidjan taunting U.N. peacekeepers and playing round-robin with various African leaders. Over in the Horn of Africa, Meles Zenawi is carting off businessmen and merchants to jail for allegedly price-gouging the public and economic sabotage. What in the world is happening to Africa?

When African countries cast off the yoke of colonialism, their future seemed bright and limitless. Independence leaders thought in terms of Pan-Africanism and the political and economic unification of native Africans and those of African heritage into a “global African community”. Pan-Africanism represented a return to African values and traditions in the struggle against neo-colonialism, imperialism, racism and the rest of it. Its core value was the unity of all African peoples.

The founding fathers of post-independence Africa all believed in the dream of African unity. Ethiopia’s H.I.M. Haile Selassie, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Guinea’s Ahmed Sékou Touré, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda and Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser were all declared Pan-Africanists. On the occasion of the establishment of the permanent headquarters of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa on May 25, 1963, H.I.M. Haile Selassie made the most compelling case for African unity:

We look to the vision of an Africa not merely free but united. In facing this new challenge, we can take comfort and encouragement from the lessons of the past. We know that there are differences among us. Africans enjoy different cultures, distinctive values, special attributes. But we also know that unity can be and has been attained among men of the most disparate origins, that differences of race, of religion, of culture, of tradition, are no insuperable obstacle to the coming together of peoples. History teaches us that unity is strength, and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity…. Our efforts as free men must be to establish new relationships, devoid of any resentment and hostility, restored to our belief and faith in ourselves as individuals, dealing on a basis of equality with other equally free peoples.

Pan-Africanism is dead. A new ideology today is sweeping over Africa. Africa’s home grown dictators are furiously beating the drums of “tribal nationalism” all over the continent to cling to power. In many parts of Africa today ideologies of “ethnic identity”, “ethnic purity,” “ethnic homelands”, ethnic cleansing and tribal chauvinism have become fashionable. In Ivory Coast, an ideological war has been waged over ‘Ivoirité (‘Ivorian-ness’) since the 1990s. Proponents of this perverted ideology argue that the country’s problems are rooted in the contamination of genuine Ivorian identity by outsiders who have been allowed to freely immigrate into the country. Immigrants, even those who have been there for generations, and refugees from the neighboring countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Liberia are singled out and blamed for the country’s problems and persecuted. Professor Gbagbo even tried to tar and feather the winner of the recent election Alassane Ouattara (whose father is allegedly Burkinabe) as a not having true Ivorian identity. Gbagbo has used religion to divide Ivorians regionally into north and south.

In Ethiopia, tribal politics has been repackaged in a fancy wrapper called “ethnic federalism.” Zenawi has segregated the Ethiopian people by ethno-tribal classification like cattle in grotesque regional political units called “kilils” (reservations) or glorified apartheid-style Bantustans or tribal homelands. This sinister perversion of the concept of federalism has enabled a few cunning dictators to oppress, divide and rule some 80 million people for nearly two decades.[1] South of the border in Kenya, in the aftermath of the 2007 elections, over 600 thousand Kenyans were displaced as a result of ethnic motivated hatred and violence. Over 1,500 were massacred. Kenya continues to arrest and detain untold numbers of Ethiopian refugees that have fled the dictatorship of Meles Zenawi. What more can be said about Rwanda that has not already been said.

It is not only the worst-governed African countries that are having problems with “Africanity”. South Africa has been skating on the slippery slope of xenophobia. Immigrants from Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia have been attacked by mobs. According to a study by the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP): “The ANC government – in its attempts to overcome the divides of the past and build new forms of social cohesion… embarked on an aggressive and inclusive nation-building project. One unanticipated by-product of this project has been a growth in intolerance towards outsiders… Violence against foreign citizens and African refugees has become increasingly common and communities are divided by hostility and suspicion.” Among the member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), South Africans expressed the harshest and most punitive anti-foreigner sentiments in the study. How ironic for a country that was under apartheid less than two decades ago.

Whether it is the “kilil” ideology practiced in Ethiopia or the “Ivorite” of Ivory Coast, the central aim of these weird ideologies is to enable power hungry and bloodthirsty African dictators to cling to power by dividing Africans along ethnic, linguistic, tribal, racial and religious lines. Fellow Africans are foreigners to be arrested, jailed, displaced, deported and blamed for whatever goes wrong under the watch of the dictators. The old Pan-African ideas of common African history, suffering, struggle, heritage and legacy are gone. There is no unifying sense African brotherhood or sisterhood. Africa’s contemporary leaders, or more appropriately, hyenas in designer suits and uniforms, have made Africans strangers to each other and rendered Africa a “dog-eat-dog” continent.

In 2009, in Accra, Ghana, President Obama blasted identity politics as a canker in the African body politics:

We all have many identities – of tribe and ethnicity; of religion and nationality. But defining oneself in opposition to someone who belongs to a different tribe, or who worships a different prophet, has no place in the 21st century…. In my father’s life, it was partly tribalism and patronage in an independent Kenya that for a long stretch derailed his career, and we know that this kind of corruption is a daily fact of life for far too many.

For what little it is worth, for the last few years I have preached from my cyber soapbox against those in Africa who have used the politics of ethnicity to cling to power. I firmly believe that our humanity is more important than our ethnicity, nationality, sovereignty or even Africanity! As an unreformed Pan-Africanist, I also believe that Africans are not prisoners to be kept behind tribal walls, ethnic enclaves, Ivorite, kilils, Bantustans, apartheid or whatever divisive and repressive ideology is manufactured by dictators, but free men and women who are captains of their destines in one un-walled Africa that belongs to all equally. “Tear down the walls of tribalism and ethnicity in Africa,” I say.

It is necessary to come up with a counter-ideology to withstand the rising tide of Afro-Fascism. Perhaps we can learn from Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s ideas of “Ubuntu”, the essence of being human. Tutu explained: “A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.” I believe “Ubuntu” provides a sound philosophical basis for the development of a human rights culture for the African continent based on a common African belief of “belonging to a greater whole.” To this end, Tutu taught, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” More specifically, Africa.

“Afri-Cans” and “Afri-Cannots”

As for South Sudan, the future holds many dangers and opportunities. Africans have fought their way out of colonialism and become independent. Some have seceded from the post-independence states, but it is questionable if they have succeeded. How many African countries are better off today than they were prior to independence? Before secession? As the old saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for. You may receive it.” We wish the people of South and North Sudan a future of hope, peace, prosperity and reconciliation.

I am no longer sure if Afri-Cans are able to “unite for the benefit of their people”, as Bob Marley pleaded. But I am sure that Afri-Cannot continue to have tribal wars, ethnic domination, corruption, inflation and repression as Fela Kuti warned, and expect to be viable in the second decade of the Twenty-First Century. In 1963, H.I.M. Haile Selassie reminded his colleagues:

Today, Africa has emerged from this dark passage [of colonialism]. Our Armageddon is past. Africa has been reborn as a free continent and Africans have been reborn as free men…. Those men who refused to accept the judgment passed upon them by the colonisers, who held unswervingly through the darkest hours to a vision of an Africa emancipated from political, economic, and spiritual domination, will be remembered and revered wherever Africans meet…. Their deeds are written in history.

It is said that those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. I am afraid Africa’s Armageddon is yet to come. Africa has been re-enslaved by home grown dictators, and Africans have become prisoners of thugs, criminals, gangsters, fugitives and outlaws who have seized and cling to power like parasitic ticks on a milk cow. Cry for the beloved continent!


12 thoughts on “Referendum for Sudan, Requiem for Africa

  1. Very Well said… May we have the ears and heart to listen and understand, Thank you Professor Alemayhu, and please keep writng these great op’ds, the time is ripe and people will read you and listen and then one day sure enough will hear you and will respond. Keep doing what you are doing and may the will of God help you in your mission to save us from us.

  2. It is a case of a “chicken coming home to roost.” Sudan has been arming the TPLF and EPLF so that they destroy Ethiopia, now it is their turn to be destroyed. I don’t believe it is going to stop with the Southern Sudan. I think Darfur and the historical Sennar are going to follow. Sudan is going to be 4 or 5 countries in a few years.

  3. I think it is a great article by the good Prof. But pan-africaism is a dead idea, unlike Ethiopians almost all other countries in Africa are narrow and uncivilized, I am sorry to say that. We need to be concerned for us, Ethiopians and the Ethiopian people, we as Ethiopians have become the victims of our unlimited generoicity, our inclusivness and our ability to reach out to fellow Africans, thanks to our civilzed cutlure. H.M Emperor Haileselassie as well as Mengistu Hailemariam helped a great number of African countries for their independence from colonialism and look what countries like South Africa, Sudan, Kenya and Egypt are doing to our country as mercinaries and to our people, to our dignity and our heritiage. I think we need to go back into our history books re-read and learn that we are a civilized nation that servived on its own for far too long and came strong and can do the same in the future. We need to look into the civilized west for science and technology and try to build a nation that can creat an indiginious modern civilization free from african and arab afiliation. Abolish Organization of African Union now !!

  4. Degazmatch if you re read what you have written than you will realize how your thinking is shallow and self centered. The regime we have in power is the same if not worse than what is taking place in the rest of Africa. Wake up and use the brains that God gave you instead of misinterpreting what Prof. AL Mariam is presenting in his piece. Re read HIM’s speech and then you will understand that only together can we make a difference under a true democratic governence that is of the people and for the people and not the thugs that are sujugating the people of Africa.




  6. As usual,it’s well elucidated. After reading through the long but entertaining article I felt as if I was watching a blockbuster film.
    I was impressed by the speech of our last emperor.The good old days are gone for ever.We can not reverse the past.
    Indeed Africa has become a meadow for home grown dictators who want to rule by force of arms till the end of their lives.Some stayed in power for four decades,others for three and two decades with no record of sucess.They are vampires.
    The beloved professor has cited the struggle of the people of South Sudan which took half a century.We should not loose hope.We are also following the Tunesian Flower Revolution with keen intrest.Did we envision such a dramatc change? So it is a time to cheer up too.

  7. It is international dichotomy to me. Europe is uniting. American has been united for all most over 200 years. Russia went to war to keep the Kazaks together. And the Arab League is striving to become one.

    I feel I am very glad that the war in Sudan is finally ended. But the Bashir seems to wanting to continue the devastating war in the rest of the Sudan. I do not see wisdom in his politics, he and Nemery and Socialist Party of Sudan are the cause for the separation of the southern people. They have been the great causes of the war and the initiators of harmful actions of the northern government since 1972. I also blame the Arabs who stop at the great gate of the African jungles. But the unlucky Dinkas have been the targets for the Arab Slave Trade. I say Turkish and all Arab State must pay millions of money for the crime that were committed by their ancestors. I also suggest that British and Americans who have been a partial reason for the bloodshed should put in enough fund to rebuild the south and give them a decent living standard.

    I salute them for their achiements but I strongly advise them sometimes freedom and independence in Africa is intosticating. I do not want them to sip too much of it without restraining themselves from corruption and power mongering. Most of African states that constituted the membership of The OAU were liberated within one decades but they had not reached any significant development achievements. The dictators such as Id Amin kicked out the intellectuals and killed more than 120000 Ugandans. The pride of African universities University of Makarare lost hundreds of intellectuals. Chaos took over and disorder, belligerency reigned in the country. Be aware of the traps that are readied for you in your future joinery
    to freedom.

    I pray for the Sudanese people and Southern Sudan not to repeat mistakes that have been committed by most of African countries. Just look across the mountains of Ethiopia into the coast of the Indian Ocean and you could see the Legacy that has been left for Somalia and African people by Sergeant said Bare who was an Italian colonial soldier.

    Learn from our mistakes and build a new beautiful Southern Sudan. Nature has given you everything and you people live in the new EDEN. I hope you will be a new symbol of African Renaissance. My last words for Sudanese people, do not discriminate against any race or religion. Both Islam and Christianity are not African religion we should live in peace together but give each other a chance to worship our God according any choice of an individual.
    Finally I thank Professor Alemayehu for a very beautiful article. I am very proud that we have you. I said international dichotomy because I want the realization of African Unity and creation of an African juggernaut otherwise we may be re colonized again; it is not a joke.

    Do not depend on the Oil revenue for the future of your new generation, build you human power and rebuild the great civilization of the Cush and ancient Egypt; you were the ones who had created history in Nubia. And repeat it again for all of us and for Africa. Show us and tell to the world that you are a great nation who had build the great pyramids of Nubia. I know you can do it. Protect the great Nile basin and it environs. It is for all Africans.

    As to the involvements and initiatives taken by late emperor of Ethiopia in the creation of OA U , we all Africans appreciate, indeed it was a great historical moment for the country and the continent. But Haile Selassie was a hypocrite who subjugated and repressed his own subjects to death while advocating freedom and independence for other African people. The repression was so awful that the people of the nation went to armed struggle as consequences we ended up in having so many liberation fronts including EPLF, TPLF and EPLF and OLF. In fact in l976 the whole nation erupted to be engulfed by revolution where the military took power and Mengistu became a dictator. International diplomats and expatriates and African intellectuals knew accurately that Haile Sellasie was not a genuine Africanist who advocated for Pan Africanism rather for the safety and security of his power and his throne . Despite the adorations and admirations from African presses for him the truth about his rule came out clear and the king lost his masquerade and finally disposed forcefully and killed by his own soldiers.

    It was not only the king who was a hypocrite, the elites of the empire were the most untrhruthful when it comes to solving the nations internal problems. Moral reductionism and twisting of the truth and logic is abundant in the analysis of the political situation of the people of the Empire. That I would not go to the detail, but I could tell you right from the tip I could smell it whenever I read about the issue of democracy and freedom, equity and equality in the Ethiopian empire. Who ever comes to comment about the repression the people of Ethiopia most of time runs away from the truth. And that does not help to solve the chronic problems of the country. We can take Mengistu and Melese Zenawi for that as examples. They both supported the liberation of the southern Sudan while killing their own subjects when they were demanding freedom and democracy for others. The best example would be the Oromos, the Ogden and the people of Gambela and the whole people of the Empire.

    I am hopeful the African intellectuals and modern leaders of the world take a good look at our problems and the hypocrites from the Ethiopian Empire learn hard lessons from Eritrea and South Sudan. We are surrounded by truth born out of great popular struggles. If there is not true democracy and independence people will revolt and topple a system and rock it to its demise. That is what the South Sudanese people had done. It is a historic, heroic, popular, gallant, admirable, enlightening and liberating lesson for all of humanity. It is a demise for hypocrites and sycophants and disingenuous intellectuals of the Ethiopian Empire. For others it is a wake up lesson. Jarringly awakening. I praise Doctor Grang who had given up his life for the freedom of his people and beloved country, he is a larger-than-life African hero of the new Century. I salute all unnamed soldiers of the Sudanese movement- men and women and educated and commoners. The freedom of Southern Sudan will amalgamate African Unity.

    Sabataa Dubbii

  8. I agree with much of the Professor’s analysis but i dont share his pessimism concerning Pan Africanism.

    Quite the contrary, this South Sudan separation could lead to the growth of Pan Africanism among the “true” Africans as tensions between Africans south of the Sahara and north of it increase, for example concerning the Nile waters.

    I would not also blame Africans alone for the problems of post-colonial Africa.When we consider the role of former colonial powers and USA in Africa, and international institutions like IMF and world bank it would be even justified to ask if Africans are primarily responsible for what happened on their continent after independence.
    Let us take the case of Ethiopia for example, does the Professor really think that Meles and his regime could stay in power for 20 years without the support they get from the West ?

    The Professor should not underestimate external factors and rush to conclusions and blame Africans.

  9. January 18, 2011 – The New York Times

    A Sniff of Home Cooking for Dogs and Cats


    ORION’S appetizer was a giant carrot. The Alaskan malamute, a 12-year-old who bounced into the kitchen like a puppy, followed that with a main course of ground raw chicken necks and livers, red cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, berries, garlic and parsley, formed into tidy patties. He licked it off a plate embellished in blue and green flowers. Like nearly everything else Orion has eaten for most of his life, this meal was prepared for him by his owner, Barbara Laino. Her standard recipe, which will feed Orion along with the other dog and the three cats in her house for around 10 days, calls for grinding 40 pounds of pasture-raised chicken necks with another 20 pounds of chicken giblets. To this, she adds five pounds of carrots, a whole cabbage and several other fruits, all from the organic fields of Midsummer Farm, Ms. Laino’s farm in Warwick, N.Y. Finally, she blends the mix with herbs and supplements. Ms. Laino, 39, demonstrated her technique at a workshop on homemade pet food that she gave in her kitchen in July. In addition to the workshop, which she has led regularly for the last four years, she also coaches human clients who want to eat seasonally and organically. And in fact, her philosophy for the two classes is not all that different. She says she wants for her pets what she wants for herself: a healthy diet of unprocessed organic foods. “We know processed foods are wrong for us,” Ms. Laino said, scratching behind Orion’s ears as he licked his nose and paws clean. “It has to be wrong for them. If you can feed yourself healthily and your children, then you can feed your pets healthily, too. It really isn’t that hard.” According to many veterinarians and pet food producers, it can, in fact, be quite hard to formulate an animal’s diet at home. But Ms. Laino, the students in her workshop and others say they have reasons for taking on the challenge. Many of them say they made the switch out of desperation after their animals had lingering illnesses that resisted medicine and other remedies. With home-cooked meals, they say, those health problems cleared up. But they also say it’s hard to justify dumping a can of mystery meat for Bo while the rest of the family is sitting down to grass-fed osso buco with a side of biodynamic polenta. As people eat more sustainable seasonal produce and meat raised and butchered outside the industrial system, so do their pets. And as do-it-yourself hobbies like canning, gardening and raising backyard chickens have taken off in recent years, grinding 40 pounds of pet food starts to look like another fun weekend project. “The dog has always been a mirror of the human style of life,” said Cesar Millan, host of the television show “The Dog Whisperer.” “Organic has become a new fashion, a new style of living,” he said. “And if the human becomes aware, if he eats organic, he wants everyone around him to be healthy, too, especially the one that is always there for you.” Mr. Millan was referring to the family hound, of course, but cat owners are also far from immune to the impulse. Only a fraction of American pets are lucky enough to have a live-in cook. But millions have gone organic in recent years. Sales of organic pet food were $84 million in 2009, and have grown more than tenfold since 2002, according to the Organic Trade Association. The group reported a sales increase of 48 percent in 2008, the year after several brands of cat and dog food were recalled for melamine contamination. “There is a general distrust in the food supply at the moment,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and the author of “Feed Your Pet Right.” In addition, people who have chosen to eat food grown on small, sustainable nearby farms, she added, want to apply their dietary choices to their pets. Rachael Scot Lingerfelt, a 25-year-old freelance writer in Bozeman, Mont., said the only meat she eats is either raised by an organic farmer or hunted by her boyfriend. When she began cooking for her beagle, Maddie-Sue, two years ago, she researched dogs’ dietary needs before coming up with a recipe of brown rice, cooked ground beef or chicken, peas, green beans, yams, dry milk and Tums tablets for calcium. Most of the ingredients are organic. All are bought at a food co-op nearby. “The aroma is a little interesting,” she said. “You usually wouldn’t combine those ingredients.” But each batch lasts about three weeks and costs from $10 to $12, she said, around the same price as inexpensive commercial pet food. Since the fall, the butcher shops Marlow & Daughters in Brooklyn and Avedano’s Holly Park Market in San Francisco have been selling pet food made from grass-fed meat raised on nearby pastures. Melanie Eisemann, an owner at Avedano’s, said the store’s custom mix of ground meats, organs, vegetables, garlic, eggs, parsley and yogurt sells for $3.25 a pound. Avedano’s also reports a robust trade in marrow bones, many of them bought as snacks for dogs. Ms. Eisemann said customers say that they like knowing the source of their meat, whether it will ultimately be served on the table or on the floor. Entering the pet food market has also been a boon for the business, since Avedano’s, like Marlow & Daughters, is a whole-animal butcher where no part of the beast goes to waste. Joshua Applestone, an owner at Fleisher’s, a butcher shop in Kingston, N.Y., specializing in nose-to-tail butchering and grass-fed meats, said that he started making patties of beef offal and whole ground chicken for about $2 a pound for dogs and cats in 2004. At the time, he sold about 20 to 30 pounds a week. Now, the shop has to run 250 to 300 pounds through the grinder each week to keep up with demand. “We had to get a designated freezer chest because it sells so well,” he said. He also said more customers were asking for cuts like chicken backs and organs to make pet food at home. Many converts said their new food choices quickly resulted in healthier animals that no longer required endless trips to the vet. Charlene Smith, a project manager in publishing who attended Ms. Laino’s workshop last year, said that one of her two cats, Polly, had been on a steady diet of antibiotics to treat urinary tract problems before the switch to home cooking. Ms. Smith said that her other cat, Esther, “was angry most of the time” when she ate commercial food, and has a much better temperament now. Some pet owners also credited better ingredients with helping their animals live longer. Randy Klein feeds her cats and dog a mix of cooked chicken or turkey, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and zucchini, supplemented with vitamins and minerals. She sells this preparation for $8.95 a pound at her pet store, Whiskers, in Manhattan. She believes the diet is one reason two of her cats are 25 years old. But Ms. Nestle said that she has heard the same claim from people who feed their pets commercial food. “It’s hard to sort out because there is no research on it,” she said. Manufacturers of store-bought pet food are skeptical of the do-it-yourself ethos. Nancy K. Cook, the vice president at the Pet Food Institute, a trade association for commercial pet food makers, cautions pet owners that it is hard to create a balanced diet at home, since dogs and cats have specific nutritional requirements. “When you open a bag or can or box of pet food, you know that every kibble or food in the can is going to be formulated to meet the nutritional needs of the animals according to the feeding directions on the bag,” she said. Joseph J. Wakshlag, a clinical nutritionist at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University, said that if pets are not fed the correct balance of proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, they can experience several health disorders, including anemia, broken bones and loss of teeth from lack of calcium. Korinn Saker, a clinical nutritionist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University, who treats animals at the school’s teaching hospital, said she was not against people cooking for their pets. In fact, she said she prescribes such diets for some of the animals she treats. But she cautioned that if it was not done correctly, the consequences could be harmful. She has seen several dogs with adverse effects from unbalanced homemade pet food diets, including a German shepherd puppy “who was walking on its elbows because it had no strength in its bones,” she said. The dog, it turned out, was not getting enough calcium. Dr. Saker, asked to analyze the recipe from Ms. Laino’s workshop, found that it was lacking in a number of nutrients recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Ms. Laino said she rejects the standards recommended by the feed association, and suggested that her recipe might be richer in certain nutrients because the ingredients are organic. “Homemade pet food is not about recreating the same thing you could get in a high-quality can of premium organic dog food,” Ms. Laino said. “It is about providing your animals with variety and the full gamut of nutrients, antioxidants, micronutrients and a variety of types of fat, et cetera.” Dr. Wakshlag, who feeds his English mastiff, his Stabyhound, his seven Alaskan sled dogs and his two domestic short hairs various commercial foods, said that any diet must meet the caloric requirements of the individual animal, which varies according to weight. And there are differences in dietary requirements for cats and dogs. Though Dr. Wakshlag said that protein should come from animal meat, some pet owners apply their personal dietary choices to their pet’s food. Anastasia St. John, a vegan in Ithaca, N.Y., who works as an administrative manager, makes vegan food for Hazel, a 15-year-old greyhound, and Dixie, a 16-year-old beagle. “The important thing for me is feeling good about giving my dogs the best thing I can,” said Ms. St. John, 38. “And it’s in line with my values, as well as being healthy.” She feeds a mix of lentils, rice, kale, carrots, apples, oats, tofu, vegetable oil, a textured vegetable protein (a soy-based dehydrated product used as a meat substitute) and mineral and vitamin supplements. The dogs, fed on this diet since 1999, appear to be thriving. “No one would think they are as old as they are,” she said. “The beagle — we call her the Tank because she is so energetic.” With dogs, veganism may be a fairly new occurrence. But the care and attention of animal lovers like Ms. St. John have been going on for ages. “One of the ingredients missing from pet food is the love and energy you put in by cooking it,” said Mr. Millan, the television host. “It’s that essence that you can’t purchase anywhere in the world.”

  10. Letter from Sudan: The Gold of Kush
    Volume 62 Number 6, November/December 2009
    by Geoff Emberling

    As dam waters rise, archaeologists salvage the remains of a great kingdom When frequent ARCHAEOLOGY contributor Andrew Lawler reported on the construction of Sudan’s massive Merowe Dam on the Nile River at Hamdab, some 220 miles north of the capital Khartoum (“Damming Sudan,” November/December 2006), innumerable ancient sites were about to be flooded. The disastrous situation also posed a humanitarian crisis, as those in the water’s path were systematically forced from their homes. The following year, University of Chicago archaeologist Geoff Emberling joined an international salvage effort to document sites before they disappeared… I remember standing in the warm late afternoon sun on a barren hilltop in the Nubian Desert of northern Sudan in March 2008. The orange sand stretched away to the green fields and palm trees lining the Nile River in the distance. My colleagues and I had just completed a successful second dig season and we were packing finds and taking our final notes. I went for one last visit to the ancient cemetery where we had been excavating burials of people who lived on the outskirts of the early Kingdom of Kush (roughly 1700-1500 B.C.). The graves and a nearby gold-mining site, littered with ancient grinding stones, had told us a great deal about these people, including something about their kingdom’s relationship with Egypt, hundreds of miles to the north. After making an exploratory trip to Sudan in the winter of 2006, we recognized how our excavations could contribute to the emerging picture of Kush as a powerful kingdom rather than a remote Egyptian outpost, as was once thought. But we were in a race against time. The construction of the Merowe Dam, some 25 miles downstream from where we were to work, was about to flood the Fourth Cataract, a 100-mile-long stretch of the Nile that passes through a narrow valley with islands and rapids. The area had scarcely been documented before archaeological salvage work by teams from Sudan, Poland, England, Germany, and the United States started about 10 years ago. So we joined an international effort to recover what we could before the dam was completed. Over the past decade, work by these teams in the dam area had suggested that the influence of Kush may even have reached beyond the Fourth Cataract, perhaps as many as 750 miles along the Nile–making it a worthy rival to Egypt indeed. In just two excavation seasons–roughly 16 weeks–we gleaned a remarkable amount of information. Our excavations showed that the power of Kush rested in part on its ability to extract gold from the sands and gravels of the Nile Valley. We also unearthed evidence that has begun to illuminate the connection between Kerma (the capital of Kush) and the distant and peripheral Fourth Cataract, some 130 miles as the crow flies, across particularly harsh desert terrain. Kush had been mentioned in ancient Egyptian texts and depicted in artistic representations as both a trade partner and enemy of the Egyptian state, beginning around 2000 B.C. In later periods, gold from Kush was sent as tribute to the pharaohs, as in the painted scenes from the walls of the tomb of Huy, the Egyptian governor of Kush during the New Kingdom (ca. 1330 B.C.). The Kushites, like other people from Nubia, a culturally diverse region that spans what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan, were known to the Egyptians as excellent archers and even served in the Egyptian army. Excavations at Kerma by American archaeologist George Reisner in the 1910s had revealed a town, which we now know was walled, surrounding a monumental mud-brick temple. In a royal cemetery to the east, four massive grave tumuli contained as many as several hundred human sacrificial victims. The remains were surrounded by thousands of cattle skulls, important symbols of wealth to many contemporaneous sub-Saharan people. Reisner originally proposed that Kerma was an Egyptian outpost because of the statuary and scarab seals found there. Excavations over the past 35 years at Kerma, and over the past 10 years in the Fourth Cataract, began to suggest that the early Kingdom of Kush was larger than previously believed, and that its raids into Egypt in about 1650 B.C. were a serious threat to the capital at Thebes. Compared with other civilizations of the region, such as Mesopotamia, early Kush controlled a vast area and was able to amass significant military power. Yet Kush seemed to lack some of the characteristics of other civilizations: it had only one city of any size (Kerma), did not leave any trace of writing, and did not make extensive use of administrative tools such as seals. Only in the kingdom’s latest period were inscribed Egyptian scarab seals used in administrative contexts in the region of the capital. The expedition was a significant departure for me professionally. I had been trained in Mesopotamian archaeology and had directed excavations in Syria. More recently, I had supervised the installation of an exhibition at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, where I am the museum director, on ancient Nubia. I was fascinated by the beauty of the region’s craft traditions, especially its extraordinary handmade pottery, which can be eggshell thin and beautifully burnished, or made in shapes imitating natural forms such as gourds, or covered with geometric designs. I was inspired to learn more about the people who made it. Our team of about a dozen archaeologists and students traveled to the Fourth Cataract in the winter of 2007 and again in 2008, planning to work in a “concession” assigned to us by the Sudanese authorities, an area that stretched 10 miles along the right bank of the Nile and included a large island called Shirri. The group included codirector Bruce Williams, who has published nine massive volumes on the Oriental Institute’s previous contribution to salvage archaeology in Nubia–the Aswan High Dam project of the 1960s–as well as students from the University of Chicago, New York University, and the University of Michigan. It turned out, however, that our concession was within the territory of the Manasir, one of three tribal groups living in the Fourth Cataract. The Manasir were actively resisting the Sudanese government’s plans for resettling people living in the region, and refused to allow archaeologists to work in their territory. So we had to move to a backup plan, which was to work within the large concession of a Polish team from the Gdansk Archaeological Museum led by Henryk Paner (whom I came to call “Papa Henryk,” not for his age, but because he was so knowledgeable about the area and so generous with that knowledge). The team had been working there for almost 10 years, documenting well over 1,000 sites and excavating sites of all periods. However, the researchers knew there were sites they would not have a chance to excavate, and so they allowed us to work within their concession. As a Mesopotamian archaeologist, I was used to working on settlements–the large mounds called “tells” that mark ancient villages and cities. It turned out that the Gdansk team had a settlement site to offer us near the village of Hosh el-Guruf, and we went to inspect it together. By Mesopotamian standards, it was not much to look at–a small, mounded, and remarkably rocky four acres, with a scatter of pottery that extended over 25 more. I knew from visiting other sites in the Fourth Cataract that it was a remarkably dense accumulation of cultural material by Sudanese standards, and we were happy to start working there in 2007. After a few days of collecting pottery from the surface of the site, we began digging. Unlike Mesopotamian tells, where excavation trenches can reach a depth of 30 feet or more, Sudanese sites generally do not have deep deposits of cultural material. At Hosh el-Guruf, we dug no more than two feet before we hit the bedrock, and most of our trenches were even shallower. We found that the site had three major occupations, in between which it had been abandoned: the later Neolithic period (ca. 4000-3000 B.C.), the early Kingdom of Kush (ca. 1700-1500 B.C.), and a smaller occupation during the early part of the Napatan period (ca. 750-600 B.C.). While we still don’t have a clear understanding of the Fourth Cataract during the Neolithic period, it is possible that the people were pastoralists and were sedentary only part of the year. The Napatan period, on the other hand, marked the rise of a later dynasty of Kush that began building pyramids for elite burials and ruled Egypt as its 25th Dynasty. The most interesting single discovery from our surface collections was a clay seal impression of a Napatan queen, which suggested some level of royal contact with inhabitants of the site in that period. We began digging trenches where we had unearthed concentrations of Kerma-period ceramics during our surface collections. Rather than the stratified remains of buildings, we excavated mostly jumbled potsherds of different periods all mixed together, and almost nothing that was clearly left in place. We may have had a fragment of one building–three stones in a kind of curving alignment–and that looked pretty good after three weeks of digging. Yet we were fortunate to have on the team another expert from the Oriental Institute with long experience working in the area: Carol Meyer, who had directed excavations on a Roman-period gold-mining site called Bir Umm Fawakhir in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. She and Bruce Williams pointed out that there was an interesting pattern across the surface of the site–an unusually large number of big grinding stones, all broken but each originally about three feet long and several hundred pounds. As Carol looked more closely, she found that there were also clusters of smaller handheld stones used for bashing and grinding. The grinding stones were not the kind that would have been used by a family to grind grain; we unearthed fewer, much smaller stones for that purpose. Rather, they were the type discovered at sites in the Eastern Desert of Egypt and Sudan, where gold was mined. Those stones were thought to be remnants of ancient Egyptian gold mines of the New Kingdom (about 1550-1150 B.C.), but here we were amazed to have the first clear evidence that they were not Egyptian in origin, but had been used earlier by the Kingdom of Kush. We were also lucky to have a geologist with us, James Harrell of the University of Toledo, who works on archaeological projects in Egypt and Sudan and specializes in identifying quarries. He suggested that the most likely source of gold here was Nile River gravels, worn off the bedrock formations in the middle Nile Valley and deposited across the site during the annual floods. Support for this interpretation of the site came from the widespread knowledge of gold-mining techniques among the people living in the area today. Although gold mining is not a formal industry, we met many who knew how to mine and pan for gold in the Fourth Cataract. As we developed the gold-working hypothesis at Hosh el-Guruf, some members of our team began excavating a contemporaneous cemetery site at Al-Widay, next to the village where we were staying, which was a two-hour drive from the nearest paved road. The villagers not only worked for the excavation, but provided fresh bread daily, delivered water for washing and cooking, and showed us genuine hospitality. The cemetery at Al-Widay was interesting in part because it presumably contained the burials of the people who mined the gold at Hosh el-Guruf. When we returned to complete the excavation of more than 100 burials in the cemetery in the winter of 2008, we found the graves were simple pits with piles of stones on top of them. Each of the dead was buried with a standard set of three vessels–cup, bowl, and incense pot–and sometimes with additional pots and beads made of locally available carnelian, ostrich egg shell, or faience. This pattern turned out to be fairly typical of Kerma-period sites throughout the Fourth Cataract. One thing that was striking about the cemetery was the scarcity of gold–for a community that was connected to gold mining, those who lived there did not appear to have kept much of what they found. There was one burial with 101 tiny gold beads, made from a gold sheet that was rolled and cut into small rings; another contained a single gold bead. A number of the graves had been plundered in antiquity, perhaps by people looking for gold, but others were unlooted, and there was still very little gold in those burials. In fact, very little gold has been found in any of the Fourth Cataract excavations. At the same time, there were clearly imported items in the cemetery, such as Egyptian ceramics, scarabs, and some distinctive, polished, black-topped redware vessels with a gray band that were likely made in Kerma itself. One particularly interesting find was a scarab inscribed with the name of an Egyptian army officer, Nebsumenu, found in the burial of a young girl. We do not know how the scarab ended up in this remote area, but its presence raises questions about the connections between cultures at this time. One possibility is that Nebsumenu dropped his seal in battle or in flight from the fortress in which he served. The seal would have become part of the spoils taken by the army of Kush back to Kerma. It could then have been sent by the king of Kush as a gift to a local leader in the Fourth Cataract. Another possibility is that Nebsumenu lost his seal to the Medjay, a well-known band of nomads, whose routes would have taken them to the Fourth Cataract region. In this scenario, the scarab would have been a symbol of success in battle. Our research seems to have illuminated two ends of an exchange network: gold moving from the Fourth Cataract to Kerma, and a small number of objects moving from Kerma to the Fourth Cataract. It appears to have been an unequal exchange: those at the center of the kingdom were hoarding wealth, while those at the periphery were exploited. But without direct evidence that the gold was moving from this site to Kerma, it remains a hypothesis that attests to the abundance of information that still lies beneath the rocky earth. As I stood on that hilltop, I thought about the way many of the burials had been disturbed in antiquity, apparently by looters in search of gold jewelry. In our two seasons, we carefully excavated the looters’ holes first, and then investigated what remained of each original burial. At the bottom of each robbed grave, we found a stone not bigger than my fist. I imagined, at the time, that the looters ended their violation of the tombs by placing a stone at the bottom of their pits, as if to keep the spirit of the dead in its place. As I stood there, I decided that this might not be such a bad idea. So I placed a stone in each of the excavated burial pits, to honor a sense of close connection with the past, and as a sort of offering to help the dead rest in peace. When we left Al-Widay, we dreaded the day that the dam would be completed, the area inundated, and our hosts forced (finally) to move away. And so it has happened. Our entire excavation area, so scarcely documented, is now under water. Geoff Emberling is the museum director of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

  11. Letter From Sudan

    by Raymond Bonner July 13, 1992

    Lorem Ipsum (Abstract)

    In June, 1989, a coup brought down the government of Sadiq al-Mahdi, which was corrupt but highly democratic. It was initially unclear what Brigadier General Omar Hassam Ahmad al-Bashir and his fellow-conspirators had in mind. In Dec. 1990, Bashir declared Sudan an Islamic state, and the government is effectively controlled by the National Islamic Front, a fundamentalist organization. Sudan aligned itself openly with Iran. Recounts the 19th & 20th-century history of the country. The North is predominantly Arab and Muslim; the South is largely African and either Christian or pagan. Interviews Hassan al-Turabi, 60, who, though he does not hold office, is the most powerful man in the country. He speaks of his goal of making Islam the world’s major political force. Describes unsubstantiated rumors of international terrorist camps in Sudan. There is concern that Sudan’s Islamic fundamentalism may spread to Ethiopia and Eritrea, but it is unlikely to spread farther south. Discusses U.S. Ambassador James Cheek and his principal deputy, Joseph O’Neill, who are nearing the end of their term in Sudan. The new government is extremely repressive. Amnesty International and Africa Watch have reported people being picked up by security forces and held in “ghost houses,” and widespread use of torture. Interviews university students, who are required to attend political indoctrination camps run by the Popular Defense Forces. The fundamentalists have only minority support, and the students are proving resistant to indoctrination.

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