December 22, 2012

Display of colonial Sudan in Durham, UK

British and Egyptian flags flying in front 
0f a motor carriage used during the visit 
to Khartoum of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. 
Photograph by R. Von Slatin, 1901

A series of photographs that capture the disappearing elements of Sudanese development in the 20th Century will be on display at Oriental Museum of the University of Durham, from January 1 - March 1, 2013.

Many culturally important buildings built during the rule of the British are slowly deteriorating due to neglect of maintenance.  They have been reused for other purposes. Some of the railway buildings have been abandoned to the desert. Frederique Cuventas captured many photos during a six year period up to 2010.

The exhibit is called: Disappearing Heritage of Sudan, 1820–1956: Photographic and Filmic Exploration in Sudan. It documents the remnants of the colonial experience in Sudan from the Ottoman, Egyptian and British periods.

This exhibition has previously been shown at the Brunei  Gallery at the University of |London, UK. For a few months, starting in September 2013, it will be shown at the University of Khartoum.

December 21, 2012

United Nations urged to ban FGM

The United Nations adopted a resolution on Thursday, December 20, urging countries to ban female genital mutilation. The resolution is not legally binding.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 140 million girls and women have received this operation, which removes part or all of the external female genitalia.

At the UN, nations have been asked to approve the resolution: "take all necessary measures ... to prohibit Female genital mutilation and to protect women and girls from this sort of violence.

Egypt has banned clitorectomies, and Eritrea has too.

December 5, 2012

Tourism Festival opens in Port Sudan

The British Ambassador to Sudan visited Port Sudan a few days ago, for the opening of the Sixth Red Sea Tourism Festival based in east Sudan. Check out his blog entry. The article starts out like this...

I visited Port Sudan for a few days last week.  A 10 hour car journey that began several hours before dawn finally drew to an end as we weaved through the Red Sea hills into a Port Sudan decked out in bunting for the opening of the 6th Red Sea Festival for Tourism and Marketing and caught our first sight of the sea.

The festival was one reason for my visit. We are participating in the exhibition with a display of photos about HM The Queen’s State Visit to Sudan in 1965. It’s part of our celebration of her 60th jubilee  this year.

It seemed particularly appropriate to bring the display to Port Sudan because there is an even earlier royal connection here: King George V (the Queen’s grandfather) visited near-by Suakin in 1912.

The British Ambassador, Peter Tibber, also shared his visit with some local Beja people.

November 14, 2012

European Conference about East Sudan

Gms: Khartoum, Nov. 7 (SUNA)

Assistant of the President, Musa Mohammed Ahmed, who is currently on a visit to United Kingdom, has gotten acquainted with the British Sports Establishments as well as the British experience in terms of organization of O Sudan Olympic games, recently hosted in London, in order to be utilized in the construction of Sport City.

Meanwhile, the Assistant of the Republic met in London with the community of Eastern Sudan and Beja Tribe in order to know their visions and points of view in regard to supporting the implementation of the East Sudan Peace Agreement as well as its political, economic and social programmes in order to push forward the cycle of development in East Sudan.

The meeting agreed to organize an exceptional Conference for the communities of East Sudan in all the European countries in order to mobilize their contributions in the development and rehabilitation of East Sudan.

November 9, 2012

Herders and farmers clash in west Sudan

El-Geneina — During a meeting in El-Geneina, West Darfur on Thursday November 8, the High Committee for Protecting the Agricultural Season, headed by Abdullah Hamdan, adopted several decisions to solve the longstanding issues between farmers and herders, Radio Dabanga has learned.

The committee includes the national administration of farmers and herders, head Commissioner and Sultan of Dar-Massaliet, Saad Bahr al-Deen, as well as civil society representatives and government officials.

The decisions include prohibiting of early grazing, which will be implemented from 28 February 2013.
Furthermore, fines of 200 pounds will be imposed in case of deliberate trespassing and damaging of farms, the committee's chairman stated.

Additionally, a decision on a military or police intervention was adopted. The intervention will be requested in case of a dispute between herders and farmers that local commissions cannot resolve on their own, Hamdan added.

During the meeting, the farmers expressed their deep concern about the repeated attacks on their farms by herders and the trespassing onto their lands.

November 1, 2012

Beja leaders meet in Port Sudan

The Central Committee of the Beja Conference Party has concluded session last Sunday [October 21] in Port Sudan under chairmanship of the party’s chairman Musa Mohammed Ahmed. The committee issued recommendations including congratulations to the Sudanese people on signature of the cooperation agreements with the South Sudan on the 27th of September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The committee members hailed patience of the two countries’ delegations to the negotiations preceded the agreement. They also appreciated efforts of friendly countries and the African Union mediators in boosting lasting peace in the two countries. Central Committee of the Bija Conference Party called for adopting dialogue as a basic means for realizing peace in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

October 5, 2012

Students demonstrate in Port Sudan at RSU

massive demonstrations in Port Sudan now
Male and female students of the University of the Red Sea out to the street shortly before ...
In the evolution of the events Red Sea University students to go out into the street Thursday afternoon [October 4, 2012] after the administration's intransigence and refusal ... to recognize the Federation of Student Unity ...... after winning the election legitimate university end of April .. The university was under forced closure after violence sparked by students National Congress five months ago after the election .. 

It should be noted that the University has opened its doors to students on September 30 and gave students manage their university 24 hours to recognize their fellow forensic, as happened at the University of Sennar ..  

And after administration silence students took to the street this afternoon and Asdmoa with police and security services in the city market after being set up to address political rallies and Htfo against the regime and high prices .. And still security vehicles and police combing the streets of the city and around the university .. The revolution continues

from facebook...

September 27, 2012

Beja complain about American politicos in Sudan

Beja citizens blasted US embassy to Khartoum for the way it handles eastern Sudan issues, reported local media. The Beja representatives to a meeting held with US charge d’Affaires Joseph Stafford last week in Port Sudan town criticized the American embassy for holding secret meetings and closed doors discussions over eastern Sudan issues. A numbers of Beja sons who attended the meeting told American charge d’ affairs that the embassy holds secret meetings with individuals over eastern issues without coordinating the matter through Sudan’s diplomatic channels, reported AL Rayaam newspaper Tuesday, 25, 2012.

Biga attendees have told charge d’ affairs that eastern case could have been disused openly without need for holding secret meetings since what had been discussed was based on justice, stated the newspaper report. Meanwhile according to the newspaper that American’s charge d’ affairs accompanied by two officials from the embassy had broken the meeting without comment on Biga criticism, stated the report.

GMS [Sudan]

August 30, 2012

Marginalized - Again!

Khartoum — A Sudanese presidential assistant representing the eastern part of the country has complained against lack of his inclusion in decision-making.

Musa Mohammed Ahmad, leader of the former eastern rebel Beja Congress (BC) and current aide to President Omer Al-Bashir, revealed his frustration while addressing the opening session of his party's general-congress held in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday.

According to Musa, whose party joined the government as part of a 2006 peace agreement that ended nine years of a low-intensity armed conflict in eastern Sudan, their participation in power is "deficient"
The presidential adviser went on to elaborate saying that he is constantly excluded from decision-making circles and his jurisdictions are limited whether on federal or regional level. He called for the importance of giving his group full jurisdictions and participation in executive authorities.

In his speech, Musa also harked back to the beginning of their armed struggle against the government in mid-1990, saying it was justified by their loss of hope for any recognition of their demands by successive central governments.

East Sudan which comprises the states of Kassala, Red Sea and Al-Qadarif is one of the least developed regions in the country along with the western region of Darfur and the southern regions of Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Musa's complaint of being sidelined in the center of power mirrors those of other rebel leaders from other marginalized regions who struck peace deals with Khartoum. Darfur rebel leader Mani Arkoi Minnawi also cited similar grievances during and after his short stint in power as a presidential assistant before re-joining the rebellion.

President Omer Al-Bashir also addressed the BC conference on Tuesday and was present when his aide complained of limited power participation.
Al-Bashir said in his address that the federal government is committed to fund development projects in the east.

East Sudan peace agreement provided for the establishment of a reconstruction and development fund to receive a total of 600 million US dollars in four years to fund development projects in the region.

Originally posted on August 28, 2012

Sourced from All Africa

July 11, 2012

Ancient Beja - The Blemmyes

Many forums that look at the history of ancient Egypt touch on the role of the people who lived on the southern border of Upper Egypt. An excellent survey of the Blemmye people is republished below, part of a longer post that included discussion about the Aksumite people. The entire thread might be worth a look.

Posted by Mace1.
The Blemmyes (Latin Blemmyae) were a nomadic Nubian tribe described in Roman histories of the later empire. From the late third century on, along with another tribe, the Nobadae, they repeatedly fought the Romans. They were said to live in Africa, in Nubia, Kush, or Ethiopia, generally south of Egypt.

In antiquity
The Greek geographer Strabo describes the Blemmyes as a peaceful people living in the East Desert near Meroe.

Their cultural and military power started to enlarge to such a level that in 197 Pescennius Niger asked a Blemmye king of Thebas to help him in the battle against the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. In 250 the Roman Emperor Decius took a lot of effort to win over an invasion army of Blemmyes. A few years later, in 253, they attacked Lower Aegyptus (Thebais) again but were quickly defeated. In 265 they were defeated again by the Roman Prefect Firmus who later in 273 would rebel against the Empire and the Queen of Palmyra Zenobia with the help of the Blemmyes themselves. The Roman general Probus took sometime to defeat the usurper and his allies but couldn't prevent the occupation of Thebais by the Blemmyes. That meant another war and the almost entire destruction of the Blemmyes army (279-280).

In the reign of Diocletian the province of Lower Aegyptus (Thebais) was again occupied by the Blemmyes. In 298, Diocletian made peace with the Nobatae and Blemmyes tribes, agreeing that Rome move its borders north to Philae (South Egypt, south of Aswan) and pay the two tribes an annual gold stipend

The Blemmyes occupied a considerable region in current day Sudan. There were some important cities like Faras, Kalabsha, Balana and Aniba, and they were all fortified with walls and towers of a mixture of Egyptian, Helenic, Roman and Nubic elements.

Their culture had also the influence of the Meroitic culture, and so, Blemmyes religion was centered in the temples of Kalabsha and Philae. The former being a huge masterpiece of Nubian architecture, where a solar lion like divinity named Mandulis was worshiped. Philae was a place of mass pilgrimage with temples for Isis, Mandulis and Anhur, and where the Roman Emperors Augustus and Trajan made many contributions with new temples, plazas and monumental works.

- - - 

With the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC, Egypt became part of the Roman Empire. The Roman attitude toward the nomads was very different from that of the Greeks: Repulsed by their wild-haired appearance, the Romans regarded them as scarcely more than another kind of desert beast, and treated them accordingly. The nomads began raiding Roman territory and trade routes. By the latter half of the third century of our era, the Blemmyes had united sufficiently to present Rome with a challenge. According to the fifth-century Palestinian historian Eusebius of Caesarea, the Blemmyes overran the Nile Valley in 268, from Syene (Aswan) all the way to Ptolemais, near modern Sohag, and it took the Romans years of bitter campaigning to drive them back into the desert.

From the third to the fifth centuries the Blemmyes continued to threaten Roman hegemony in the region. In his De Bello Persico, the sixth-century Byzantine historian Procopius recorded that in 284, Emperor Diocletian, faced with continuous Blemmyan conflict, formally relinquished to the Blemmyes jointly with the Nobadae, their rivals, a 250-kilometer (155 mi) stretch of the Nile known as the Dodekaschoinus, which stretched from Syene south to near the present Egyptian Sudanese border. In addition, Diocletian arranged to pay annual tribute to the Blemmyes, and he allowed them access to their favored shrine of Isis at Philae (near modern Aswan), as well as the right to have their own priests in residence there.

Although Diocletian's appeasement did not end Blemmyan raids, the Blemmyes did for a time respect the border at Syene. But by the latter half of the fourth century the Blemmyes were de facto rulers of the Nile Valley far beyond that point. In a contemporary letter, Blemmyan ruler Kharachen assured his administrators at Tanare (some 240 kilometers, or 150 miles, north of Syene, near modern Luxor), "If the Romans make difficulties and do not pay the ordinary tribute, neither the phylarch nor the hypotyrannos [Blemmyan authorities—the Blemmyan language of state was Greek] will prevent you from compelling the Romans to pay it." Interestingly, although the Blemmyes controlled much of the Upper Nile for nearly three centuries, they did not become a settled people. They remained desert-based throughout, interested only in dominating their peripotamian subjects.

The situation changed dramatically in 536, when Emperor Justinian outlawed pagan worship and ordered the removal of the idols at Philae. Outraged, the Blemmyes resumed their raids. Four years later, their hold on the Dodekaschoinus was broken—but not by Rome. Silko, the newly Christianized king of the northern nubian kingdom of nobatia, led an army north, and defeated the Blemmyes so thoroughly that they relinquished all of the Nile and retreated to the desert. The end of their hegemony marked the final blow to paganism in Christian Egypt.

Today, the descendents of the ancient Medjay are part of the Muslim Beja nation.

July 6, 2012

2012 - Looking back, last six months

July 1 marks Canada Day [previously Dominion Day]. Canadians celebrate the independence of our country, in 1867, from England.

Thanks for visiting this blog, and supporting The blog is assembled from Canada.
Just thought I'd share some statistics with you.

Now, over 400 posts online.

Total posts on this blog in the past six months [January - June]  2011 - 65 posts

Most posts in a month:  February, 2011 - 17 posts

Most popular posts in the first six months of 2012
#1   Short news- mid January
#2   Beja Cultural Day Report
#3   Disillusion and poverty in Sudan's east
#4   Four Free research papers about the Beja
#5   Beja activists arrested

Best post this year. [in my humble opinion] Enjoy!
Over 8400 views since uploading. About 140 per week.

Daily page views run between 40-70/day.

Location of readers in the last month [June 2011]
#1 United States
#2 Canada
#3 Germany
#4 Sudan
#5 Russia (?)

I hope you'll continue to read  for the rest of the year. Come along on the journey as we learn more about current events and the Beja people. Make sure you've bookmarked this page, or added it to your RSS feed.

We posted some statistics about 2011 in January, 2012.

July 5, 2012

Oil exploration deals signed

Sudan has signed agreements with foreign oil companies that will allow them to search and produce oil on Sudanese territory. Though agreements cover areas in much of the country, except Darfur, several blocks are in east Sudan.

Reuters reports [in]  that, "Seven blocks were awarded for the first time, while some companies joined previously awarded contracts for two other blocks, [Egyptian State Oil Minister Ishaq Adam] Gamaa said. Some of the blocks are near the northern border with Egypt, some are offshore and others are near Kassala in eastern Sudan and in Khartoum state.

""The initial investment needed for these blocks is $1 billion. It will not be cash given to Sudan, but money that will be invested by those companies," Gamaa told Reuters.

"Gamaa said there would be no production at the new blocks for several years while companies carry out magnetic surveys, seismic data and drilling of exploratory wells.

Another article at AllAfrica

June 29, 2012

Beja fundraising for water wells launched

Why should children drink this way?

Sanaba is a new aid agency based in Houston Texas, USA. They have put together a fundraising page to help provide clean water in rural areas of the Red Sea State in Sudan. They hope to raise $15,000.
In an effort to encourage hygienic practices and to reduce the incidence of water-related illnesses, SANABA plans to acquire and install portable water filtration systems in rural areas of Sudan. From these wells, clean drinking water will be made available to students attending the community center, as well as to members of the public at large.

Our initial plan is to create a means of distribution of clean water in specific locations for the people in the community near our educational center. The first major consideration is a strategic plan to lay the ground work for wells to be identified, maintained and secured. The plan extends to educating the people in the community about the project, and is vital to any program.

Read about the fundraising program.

June 18, 2012

Kassala students protest higher prices

Police walk on the street as the rally is broken up in Khartoum.

Students in Kassala demonstrated on the streets yesterday, and the police were called out to suppress the public display of frustration over the federal government's planned austerity measures.

Protests also took place in Khartoum and Shendi. The students called for the downfall of the government. In Khartoum, about 200 students participated.

The protests come ahead of plans by the government to end fuel subsidies as part of what officials describe as drastic austerity measures need to fill a budget gap of 2.4 billion USD.

Sudan's economy has been grappling with soaring inflation and a depreciating currency since the country lost three quarters of its oil production with the secession of South Sudan in July last year.

Inflation jumped to 30 percent in May, mainly on food prices, as the Sudanese pound continues to reach new lows in the black market for hard currency.

Allafrica source.
Photo via [Sudan Revolution-facebook] 

June 16, 2012

Aid improves Kassala water supply

 The June 2012 edition of JICA's World points out
that 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency has been active in east and central Sudan, and South Sudan for some years. It is not clear if their work has recently been suspended by government order.

In Kassala, the JICA has been working on three projects:
 a Capacity Development Project for the Provision of Services for Basic Human Needs in Kassala/ 2011.5-2014.5
The Project for Urgent Improvement of Water Supply Facilities at Kassala City/ 2011.4

The Project for Improvement of Water Supply System at Kassala City (Detailed Design)/ 2011.8
In 2010, Japan granted aid worth $92 million US to Sudan, and provided almost $26 million US in technical cooperation.

June 14, 2012

Historic description of Bisharin tribes

From The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan: a compendium prepared by the officers of the Sudan Government. Edited by Count Gleichen  Volume 1, 1905

Text was originally scanned- some spelling mistakes may exist...

The Bisharin

The Bisharin inhabit the desert bounded on the north, roughly, by the Alagi and its tributaries, on the south by the Atbara, on the east by the Red Sea from Shalatein to J. Asotriba, and thence by a Hne joining Mitateb or Umbeiba on the Atbara, and on the west by the Nile from the mouth of the Atbara to Abu Hamed, and thence by the old trade route from Abu Hamed to Korosko.

The Ababda and Bisharin formerly lived a good deal further south in the districts now occupied by the Hadendoas; both tribes moved northwards probably about 100 years ago.

The Ababda by their move north, came into a more civilised country. Their Sheikhs, through the transport needed on the Korosko—Abu Hamed road, came into touch with the Government and acquired at this time great wealth, and with wealth, their numbers increased, whilst the Bisharin of the hills, left far behind as regards progressiveness, soon came to be despised by them.

The Bisharin claim descent from Bishar, the son of Kahl, who was also the father of Abad and Amar, from whom the Ababda and Amarar are said to have sprung.

Kahl is said to have been descended from Zubeir Ibn El Awam,* whose wife was a sister of Abbas, uncle of the Prophet. They maintain, therefore, that they are descended from the noble Koreish Tribe. In the genealogy of the tribe, the three principal ancestors are Kahl, Bishar, and Ali Jalan; on this all accounts seem to agree. The present generation of Sheikhs is generally said to be the ninth or tenth from Ali Jalan.

The descendants of Kahl most likely originally inhabited part of the district now occupied by the Hadendoas, the Bisharin, and Ababda, as stated above, having latterly moved northwards.

The Bisharin are divided into two great families, the Um Ali and Um Naji. The former live in the north, the latter in the south, of their country. Both sections are named after the wives of Ali Jalan, the great grandson of Bishar, who had the following sons :—

Ali .. Shanatir Amer . Hamedor Aliab. Shantirab. Amrab. Hamedorab. Hanr . Eira . Nafi . Mansur
Hanr. Eireiab. Nafab. Mansurab.

Boundaries of Bisharin.
Aliab.— The Aliab, who are far more numerous and wealthy than any of the Um Ali or Um Naji tribes, are divided into the following sub-tribes : Koatil, Mallak, Hamedomerab, Kurbeilab, and Balgab.
The first three named are sometimes classed together and known as the Sararab, on account of their near common ancestry.

The Sheikh of the Koatil has for two generations been the representative Sheikh of these three families ; before this the Sheikhship was with the Hamedomerab.

Sub-tribes of the Aliab.
Koatil.— The Koatil, under Sheikh Isa Abdalla, are a small tribe, and poor. They live at Meshushenai and Terfaui.

Hamedomerab. —Sheikh Mohammed Wad Kurab. This, again, is a small tribe, owning few camels, but good flocks of sheep and goats.  Wadi Meisa, at the head of which is Bir Meisa, is where most of the tribe are to be found during the summer. Their two wells are Meisa and Didaut, close together in the small hills north of the Elba red granite range.

Mallak.— Sheikh Isa Shingeirab. The Mallak, the third Sararab tribe, is by far the richest, and own many camels, and of a breed which is famous among all the neighbouring tribes. The Mallak own many wells.

Balgab.— The next of the Aliab tribes is the Balgab (Isa Abdalla), who live in the hills about Is. They have never, since the time of Abdalla, the father of Isa, had a representative Sheikh, but have always been represented by the Sheikh of the Sararab. They have good herds of camels, sheep, and goats. They do not frequent the Aswan market as much as the other Aliab sub-tribes, but they sell a great deal to merchants who come from there, and buy much of their corn in good

* In spite of their claim to be of Semitic origin, the Bisharin are not true Arabs and are of Hamitic descent,...

Compensation for murder or wounds.

The traditional "diia" or compensation for loss of life among these Arabs is: for a man, 50 male and 50 female camels; for women or children, or loss of legs, arms, eyes, 25 male and 25 female camels.
Wounds are assessed according to their gravity. The cause in which murders are committed, or a wound is received, is always taken into consideration. The above amounts are the limit of compensation.

Get your own copy of this 412 page book.
This book is available for about $20.00 CAN from the University of Toronto print on demand book publishing program. Search here to order... Or get it for about $10 from the University of Pittsburgh.

June 8, 2012

More electricity projects in eastern Sudan

Kuwaiti Extends $200m Loan for Electricity Projects in Eastern Sudan
Khartoum - The Executive Director of the Fund for Rehabilitation and Development in Eastern Sudan, Engineer Abu-Obieda Mohamed Duj, has announced completion of studies and designs on electricity projects in eastern Sudan, praising the State of Kuwait for its commitment during the Donors Conference for Eastern Sudan Development.
Engineer Duj affirmed during a meeting at his office Monday with the visiting mission of Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development that the work in the project would begin before the end of the current year, asserting the full coordination between the fund and the parties concerned with implementation, supervision, operation and maintenance.
He touched on the positive impact of the project and the development progress that would be realized following establishment of the lines carrying electricity and connecting them with the lines coming from Sinja, Siteit and Meroe Dams, in the fields of housing, agricultural and industrial sectors in the three states of eastern Sudan.
Meanwhile, member of the mission and the Legal Advisor of the Fund, Nawaf Abdallah Al-Mahal, announced completion of the administrative procedures for the initial signing of the loan agreement for financing of electricity project for the eastern Sudan scheduled for next week at 57 million Kuwaiti dinnars (about 200 million dollars), praising the high professionalism of the staff of the Fund for Rehabilitation and Development of Eastern Sudan in preparation for feasibility studies and engineering designs.
Sourced from prolific blogger Lady Gaga at Skyscraper City.

In other news,
Kennan Sugar Company and ERIDANIA one of the biggest Italian sugar companies will sign soon an agreement to erect a Sugar Refinery in Port Sudan for export, an investment that is estimated to reach about $130 million and considered one of the biggest European investments in Sudan...

June 7, 2012

Analysis: Aid NGO expulsion

Further discussion has been posted at   [Khartoum’s Pattern of Neglect Continues in Eastern Sudan as Government Expels Aid Groups  June 5, 2012]

The decision last week by the Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Commission, or HAC, to suspend projects in the deeply impoverished East is yet another example of Khartoum’s continued pattern of obstruction and neglect of peripheral areas.
Though rarely in the international news headlines, the East has been plagued by similar patterns of discrimination and disenfranchisement as the other peripheral areas of Sudan. The East has shockingly poor humanitarian indicators, largely the result of Khartoum’s sustained neglect.
Until a comprehensive strategy to promote inclusive constitutional reform and democratic transformation for all communities within Sudan is adopted Khartoum will continue to use humanitarian aid, and the lives of those dependent on it, as a political tool.

Read the complete article, it's not too long.

June 6, 2012

Video: Americans try camel racing!


Compare with this one...

June 5, 2012

New regional map available

New cover! 2012.

Michelin has just published an updated map for the region [April 2012]. Some new highways have been constructed, and South Sudan is another country so borders have changed. Great for a wall poster since it opens up quite large. The previous edition dates from January 2003.

Here's a supplier in the United Kingdom. And another one. Make sure to ask for the latest edition.

In the USA try

Maptown, in Alberta, Canada...

This is what the old cover looks like. Don't get this one, the map date from 2003...

old cover from 2003

old inside 

June 3, 2012

Beja Congress deplores explusion of aid agencies

The Beja Congress has responded to the federal government of Sudan. Seven NGOs have been told to stop work in east Sudan for 30 days, as reported yesterday on the blog.

Here is the Press Release from the Beja Congress as found on sudan eyes. Originally available at Sudanese online .

= = = = = = =
The so called Humanitarian Aid Office (HAO) in Khartoum announced the expulsion of seven humanitarian aid organizations from eastern Sudan, claiming their violation of the obligations of voluntary work. These includes Save the Children of Sweden, the Irish GOAL, Accord and NATs Roche and the Japanese Plan Sudan.

The HAO has threatened that the government would not tolerate any slip of the organizations to the security laws.

This is not the first time that the authority expels humanitarian organizations from rural areas of the East, it has already expelled all aid organizations in its early years of its seizure of power in 1989, and during and after the war of liberation.

But under strong pressure from the international community, the government allowed the return of these organization. It is known that these aid organizations work to provide primary health care and the provision of food aid in the far remote rural areas, where there is no trace of any governmental care.

These organizations submit their reports regularly to the authorities, as agreed upon.

But the reports indicate that the humanitarian suffering continues to increase. Diseases like TB, anaemia, malnutrition and diarrhea are rising, which results in the increase of mortality, especially among children and women.

The decision to expel humanitarian aid organizations from the states of the East, is highly irresponsible, and would result in the increase in humanitarian sufferings in the remote areas of eastern Sudan, which are particularly impoverished, poor and underdeveloped.

The government is not even putting in consideration to access these regions for inspection, not speak of development. They are beyond its scope of horizon.

The expulsion of the aid organizations that only operate in eastern Sudan, where they are dearly needed, amounts to genocide through starvation.

Beja Congress deplores and strongly condemns their expulsion and calls upon all the activists in the health services, clergy, community leaders, students and all youth organizations and members of political organizations to enforce the return of these humanitarian organizations.

Beja Congress appeals appeals to the international community and especially to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Organization of African Unity and all democratic organizations to exercise the necessary pressure on the government of Sudan to allow the return back of these organizations.

Dr Abu Amna
Beja Congress leadership

Alternate source of press release on Sunday, June 3, 2012, at

The BBC article linked above reads, in part:

At least four aid organisations have been banned from working in the deeply impoverished eastern region of Sudan, sources have told the BBC.

An official at the Humanitarian Affairs Commission (HAC), who asked not to be named, told AFP the non-governmental organisations being told to stop working in the east were Save the Children Sweden, GOAL of Ireland, a Japanese humanitarian group and another Irish organisation.

"The HAC decided to expel four international NGOs working in eastern Sudan because they failed in their planned projects," the HAC source told AFP.
The head of one of the organisations concerned told the BBC he was intending to appeal against the decision.

An unnamed Sudanese official told the AFP news agency the aid groups had "failed in their planned projects".

A BBC reporter says Sudan has in the past restricted the work of foreign humanitarian agencies, accusing them of working to destabilise the country.

Fears of fresh rebellion
The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says eastern Sudan is a particularly sensitive subject for the Sudanese government at the moment because there are fears that a rebellion could break out again. The area is made up of Red Sea, Gedaraf and Kassala states. But the region is particularly poor and underdeveloped region.

In 2010, donors and investors pledged more than $3.5bn (£2.2bn) to eastern Sudan at a conference in Kuwait - but frustration is growing because many of its people say they have not seen the benefits of that pledge or the peace deal, our correspondent says.

The activities of the aid groups elsewhere in Sudan have reportedly not been restricted.

In 2009 President Omar al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes allegedly committed in Darfur, in the west of the country.

The next day 13 aid organisations were expelled from the country. Senior Sudanese officials often accuse aid workers of collaborating with the ICC, and unnamed "foreign powers", our correspondent says.

June 2, 2012

Aid agency work halted in east Sudan

Seven foreign aid agencies working in east Sudan have had their operations halted for 30 days by the federal Sudanese government.

The aid and development groups concerned by this decision include Accord, Goal [Ireland], Triangle, save the Children [Sweden], Plan Sudan, Malo, a British demining group, and a Japanese aid
group. Several other non-governmental organizations [NGOs] are not affected.

Sometimes feeling threatened by the activities of NGOs, Sudan has a periodic history of ill-will toward aid agencies, having previously kicked out agencies in the east, and in Darfur. They are currently preventing aid agencies from delivering food in southern Kordovan, near the border with South Sudan.

Sudan faced international condemnation when it expelled 13 leading aid groups including Oxfam and the U.S. branch of Save the Children in March 2009, accusing them of passing information to the International Criminal Court.

From allafrica...

Khartoum — Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) has ordered seven foreign aid groups to suspend their humanitarian activities in eastern Sudan following the findings of an assessment study reporting infractions they allegedly committed.

Sudan's Humanitarian commissioner Suleiman Abdel Rahman on Thursday issued a decision ending the humanitarian activities of the seven aid groups in the three states of Eastern Sudan region: Kassala; Red Sea and Gadaref states.

The ban was based on a report prepared by a federal committee that conducted a field assessment of the projects implemented by these groups.

The aid groups concerned by this decision include Accord, Goal, Triangle, save the Children, Plan Sudan, Malo, a British demining group, and a Japanese aid group.

The officer of voluntary activities, at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Ammar Bachari stated Thursday that foreign aid groups in eastern Sudan exceeded their license and roles. He further expected a decision by the Presidency of the Republic to expel it during the next few days.
However, HAC chief in his decision gave these groups one month to reconcile their position. If they fail the authorities will not renew their licenses and they have to stop their activities.

Earlier in May, addressing a rally organised in Port Sudan to provide support to the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Sudanese presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie denounced call for the return of NGOs to South Kordofan and described them "trumpeters of conspiracy".

"Those who covet that foreign aid groups have a foothold in the East (Sudan) they should know there is no place for them," he further said.

Another article from Reuters.
Some agency sites with information about their work in Sudan...

June 1, 2012

PICTURES: Suakin from the air

Been collecting these for a while, and wanted to share them with you. A selection of items found on the internet, to show you about the building structures on Suakin, from the early 1900s onwards. All photos will enlarge when you click on them.

Location of Suakin, south of Port Sudan   (1958)

Location of Suakin, south of Port Sudan   (1958)

Suakin 1981. looking northwest. Photo by Daniel Seerberger.

Suakin close-up 1981. looking southwest. Photo by Daniel Seerberger.

 Suakin looking northwest. Photo by pomkomGRB

Local fishing boats on the island south of the causeway. Photo by pomkomGRB

Looking east toward shipping channel from minaret?.
Article and photos about restoration of Suakin at International Business Times. October 2011.

Looking southwest from the minaret? on the island. 
Article and photos about restoration of Suakin at International Business Times. October 2011.

Looking east from mainland to the channel to the Red Sea.
Source unknown. Date 1930? WWII-1942?

Looking west. Photo by Colonel Hubbert. August 17, 1930. [More info]

Aerial photo uploaded at Beja Tribes of East Sudan. No date. 1930?

Undated, found at the rich photo site Skyscraper City.
Looking southeast - Red Sea in distance.

Modern satellite view, from google maps. May 2012. Large 1 megabyte file.

The Cousteau ship Alcyone picks her way through treacherous reefs to the abandoned port of Suakin, a city built of the same coral that guards her entrance. Uploaded August 2008. Aerial photo looks old, from an earlier era.

Movie made by a tourist. Includes historic illustrations. Uploaded January 2011.


Photos of buildings in Suakin. [in English at Skyscraper City.]

Website about Suakin, showing black and white photos of buildings and giving a very short history of the place. Exciting!

May 29, 2012

Video: Eritrean independence day celebration

Filmed in Tesseney on May 25, 2012 [?]. Include some Beja style dancing.

May 28, 2012

Excellent analysis of situation in east Sudan

Conditions in rural east Sudan are very poor. Why are other Sudanese and those in the international community unaware of such conditions?

[We think] that near-complete lack of media coverage and documentation, high illiteracy rates in rural areas, and lack of skills among newer generations due to low levels of education, are all factors contributing to this obscurity and lack of information.

Furthermore, the rapid expansion and development of the larger and central cities of the East reflect a false impression about the actual situation in the region. Port Sudan is an ideal example of the blatant contradiction between the city and the huge surrounding tin towns the margins, and the rural areas of the Red Sea in general.

Thus, the goal of this article is to draw attention to what many are oblivious to in East Sudan, and to provide a database that will serve to direct research efforts towards these issues, with the main target being civil society as well as media, both inside and outside Sudan.

The article is divided into a prelude followed by nine points which are as follows:

1.    Threats to stability in the East
2.    The implementation of the East Peace Agreement
3.    Human rights in the East
4.    The main active powers in the region and their influences
5.    The tribal system
6.    The Egyptian and Ethiopian invasion of Halaib and Al Fashqa
7.    The case of East Sudan in the context of Sudan’s other crises
8.    The relationship with neighboring Eritrea
9.    Recommendations for the national and international civil society, and media in dealing with East Sudan’s Crisis.

Read it all.

May 25, 2012

VIDEO: Summary of the Beja world

Uploaded about a year ago. Almost 8,000 views. Enjoy.

May 23, 2012

Beja houses knocked down

Ten houses of block concrete have been knocked down by officials. Over sixty people are now homeless. Last week many houses were also knocked down, and reports that over 200 houses have now been destroyed.

Apparently the people did not have proper identification or permits for the house construction, though they did have ownership of the land. The inhabitants were displaced from the South Tokar region because of war.

A few years ago, Tokar area was managed by Beja Congress and Eastern Front forces, which lead to a blockade by Sudanese Armed Forces on agricultural production, so most farms were abandoned since there was no market to sell at. Currently, because of smuggling through the Eritrean border, Sudanese security is very tight in Tokar region at the delta of the Baraka River.

The unpleasant enforcement of government policy took place in one of the slum areas of Port Sudan, in [Box neighbourhoods]  #9 and 10 and 11. The Ministry of Urban Planning, Red Sea State was responsible for this event. Many security forces cordoned off the area before the demolition.

Journalists who covered the destruction and removal of houses were prevented from taking photographs. Some houses still had household belongings inside.

May 21, 2012

Iran to establish eight factories in eastern Sudan

Khartoum (smc), 13 May

Reconstruction and Development Fund for eastern Sudan, has signed an agreement with Iranian based Farsat Company, to establish eight factories, in the three states of eastern Sudan region, worth US$72m.

Minister of state for presidential affairs, and executive manager of eastern fund , Abu Obeida Mohamed Duj , told (smc) that the agreement, includes animal slaughtering facility, export city in Red Sea state; fruit canning factory , export city ,diary farm in Kassala; tannery and glucose factory in Gadarif state. Moreover, according to the minister, a proposal for building sugar factory in New Halfa has been also, included in the Iranian meeting minutes. It notes that, the agreed upon factories, were initiated in the context of donor conference, held in Kuwait, for developing the eastern region.

May 19, 2012

How many Beja are there?

 Beja crowd in Sinkat, at visit by a politician.

The vast majority of Beja live in Sudan. Some live in southern Egypt, while others live in Eritrea. We've found three sources of information that give a breakdown of the numbers of people who are part of the Beja confederation.

A census of Sudan was completed in 1956.
ALL BEJA [Sudan only] 645,703
Arnarar 97,651
Bisharin 68,588
Hadendowa 259,594
Bani Amer 100,654
Other Beja 34,175
Beja-Group Unknown  73,233

Researcher Orville Jenkins compiled numbers based on information from 1996.
107,000 in Eritrea,
99,000 in Eritrea [who speak Tigre]
60,000 in Egypt 
2,134,000 in Sudan.
2,540,315 Total Beja
The Beja People of Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt

Modern statistics from Christian researchers in the USA offer the following
All Beja            2,295,000
Beja in Egypt         81,000
All Beja in Sudan    1,995,000
       Beja Bisharin  Sudan      31,000
       Beja Hadendowa Sudan  63,000
 Beja Hedareb in Eritrea 219,000
Joshua project statistics.

Have you come across any other population lists?

May 17, 2012

PICTURE: Hadendowa man - sepia

From a 1920's postcard selling on ebay...

May 14, 2012

The Hadrami people and the Beja people

The Hadrami people live in South Yemen, but thousands of them have moved to sites along the coast of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. Professor Leif Manger explored the Hadrami Diaspora, a $60 book published in September 2010. We offer some excerpts from the book.

Quick look at Turkish rule in the 1800's
Britain had watched the growth of Egyptian control of north east Africa under Mohamad Ali in the 1820's and 30's with concern. The regional developments played a role in its decision to occupy Aden in 1837. From Aden [in Yemen] the British could also keep an eye on Ethiopia, especially the important trading town of Massawa. But Egypt was the regional centre of power.
Khedive Islamil Pasha of Egypt, inspired by his grandfather, Mohamad Ali (died 1849), dreamed of creating an African empire. The proximity of the three trading centers of Suakin, Massawa, and Jeddah linked Africa to the Hijaz and the Muslim pilgrimage... [From 1863 Ismail Pasha secured control of the Red Sea region for Egypt and began administrative reforms.]

Soon they were developing plans for transport links, telegraph lines, and water works. The region suffered from a lack of health services, schools, mosques, and basic housing, so new systems of taxation and local administration were introduced.... Economic development was also promoted. Increased production of cotton and dura was a priority in areas that could be irrigated. The cultivation of such cash crops were introduced to areas such as the Tokar Delta, Gash and, in the south, Aqiq [beside the modern Sudan/Eritrea border.] Cotton was a priority in order to exploit international market shortages caused by the American Civil War.

Mining was another activity, as was salt, which was shipped to Jeddah to be resold to Indian boats. To better reach markets, improved transport between Sudan and Egypt became another priority. 

Egypt began to borrow from foreign sources. Times were exciting in Egyptian controlled regions. The Suez canal opened in 1869. Railways were built. Palaces were constructed. Coastal towns were improved.  Kassala had been established as an army outpost in 1840. But Egypt's ambition was greater than her capacity and funds.

Egypt had a war with Ethiopia in 1875-76. But Egypt lost the war.

In 1875, to manager her debt, Egypt was forced to sell its shares in the Suez Canal to Britain. Ismail was deposed. In the Soudan, the Mahdi declared his role in 1881, which became independent from Egyptian control after Khartoum was captured from General Gordon in 1885. During this tumultuous time, the British became more deeply involved in Egyptian affairs. Professor Manger writes:
It is during this time of general unrest and foreign occupation that we find the early migration of Hadramis.... The migrants travelled to Aden, the Red Sea ports of Jeddah and Suakin, as well as to Cairo. They went to Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. Shipping was an important activity.
Trade in slaves was common; slaves were also commonly used as crew on the dhows. Trade in coffee to Egypt was important, as was the arms trade to Djibouti.

Less important trade items included millet and sesame from Somalia to the Hadramis home region in Yemen, and hides millet, and camels out of Massawa. Moneylending was also common, in which the Hadramis competed with Indians.

The Beja and Hadramis in Suakin
Suakin has a unique geography. As a very small island in a good harbour a clear difference existed between the inhabitants of the island, and those people living on shore. The island was an Indian Ocean merchant town with houses made of limestone and coral. The island is made of coral. The Hadramis have had a long association with the town.
The development of new buildings was slow until the building boom of the 1860s and 1870s, led by the policies of Khedive Ismail. The town of Suakin included two mosques, some warehouses, and coffee houses. There were few houses on the mainland, as the area was mostly inhabited by the Beja people who traditionally lived in semi-permanent huts or shelters. There was a mosque as early as 1822, according to Burkhart. While mainland culture was dominated by the Beja, the island's inhabitants represented Arabic culture, speaking Arabic and dressing like hijazis. The mainlanders spoke Ti-Bedawyet and wore traditional clothing.
On the island were "Turks" which included people from everywhere in the Ottoman Empire; and "Banyans" a term used for a group of non-Muslim Indians engaged in trade with India and also moneylending. The group included merchant castes from northern and western India (Sind and Gujarat), most of whom were Hindu but who could also be Jain. Finally there were also local elite religious groups like the Beja Hasanab and the Artega.
On the mainland, meanwhile, the inhabitants were Hadariba and Beja (Bishariyyin, Amarar and Hadendowa, collectively known as Sawakini). The Hadariba were related to religious elites among the Beja dating from pre-Islamic times and who claimed ancestry from Hadramaut in Yemen. It is unclear at what time this occurred, indicating a lack of  clear genealogy, and perhaps also that the term Hadariba is more of an ethnic label for people who advanced claims about Hadrami descent in general.  [pp. 69,70]

Goods and Trading in Suakin
In the early nineteenth century most of the trade from Suakin went to Arabia, with sorghum (dura) being the most important export item. The grain came from Kassala-Gedaref (Butana) and the Gash, but some also came from agricultural areas along the Nile.
 The Beja brought animal products mats, dom fruit, nabaq, camels, and a few cattle. Fishermen provided fish and some pearls. Slaves and gold made up the luxury goods together with ivory, tobacco, incense, gum arabic, ostrich feathers and eggs, horses ebony, and musk. Cloth was also traded.
Indian goods were among the imports, including textiles, spices, perfumes, ornaments, and rice. From Jeddah, traders imported household utensils, dates, onions, sugar, coffee, tobacco, iron, and steel. All imported goods went through customs in Suakin.
In 1822, Burkhart thought that Suakin may have had 3,000 on the island and 5,000 on the mainland. In 1853, Munzinger put the numbers at 6-8,000 and 10,000. But in 1905, after the Mahdi's rule and British/Egyptian recapture had devastated Sudan, only 490 houses were on the island and 300 properties on the mainland. Port Sudan opened in 1905 and Red Sea trade shifted there. Suakin swiftly declined, and the island was essentially a ghost town by the 1920's; without maintenance, many buildings began to collapse.

Roles were different for Hadramis and Beja
In the mid 1800's, the Hadramis had the international contacts, as their community was spread through East Africa, Yemen, Arabia and even India. Their local agents were everywhere.
From Kassala they bought butter, which they carried in a liquid state, and dura... The town also provided waterskins and other leather product. Mats were acquired  from various Beja groups, while the famous racing camels were obtained from the Bishariyyin, one of the groups within the Beja confederation. 
Imports from India, shipped through Jeddah included women's dresses and ornaments, Indian sugar, coffee, dates, and iron. The iron was used to make knives and swords treasured by the Beja. These goods were brought across the Red Sea by small boats run by Arabs. 
Sudanese goods came on the Berber-Suakin caravans, but also from Khartoum via Kassala. As the slave trade diminished, gum Arabic from the Kordofan region of western Sudan rose as an important export crop.
Grain was transported by the Hadendowa and marketed by the Hadariba. The trade in so-called luxury goods was in the hands of Arabs.
So the caravan trade was managed by the Beja, and the selling of goods by the Hadrami. Manger notes that "The Beni Amer have an aristocratic ruling class and claim Arab Hadramouti origin. The beni Amer were Islamized by Funj holy men, but only with the Khatmiyya did they really become Muslims."

Manger's book explores the Hadrami Diaspora on site, with stories from Singapore, Hyderabad, Sudan and Ethiopia. He analyses the difficulties of maintaining an ethnic identity when people are far from their homeland, and he even looks at the role of the west, and it's influence on the muslim world in the middle east.

Did you know? The Ottoman Empire outlawed slavery in 1857.