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.

May 11, 2012

Gold mine needs 165 km water pipeline

To improve production of gold, a $44 million water pipeline needs to be constructed from the Nile River to the mine located about halfway between Atbara and Port Sudan. The Hassai gold mines in in the Red Sea Hills west of Port Sudan are running out of traditional ore.

Gold has been retrieved from the ore using the traditional heap leaching method. This involves pouring cyanide through many tons of crushed rock. Gold will dissolve in cyanide and a chemical process can then remove the gold from the cyanide. Gold bars are poured on site.

Diggings at the 16 open pit mines are almost complete. In 2011, 71,730 ounces of gold were retrieved. Using this standard cyanide method, the mines will be mostly depleted by the summer of 2014. For 2012, the company expects to extract 55,250 - 60,000 ounces of gold.

Canadian based La Mancha company owns 40% of the mine, and directs the mine operations. They have a plan to use a different technology to extract more gold from the tailings. This involves the application of electricity and water in a new plant to wash the dirt, thus retrieving the final grains of gold that were not captured by the cyanide method.

Using this VMS technique, the mine expects to produce 160,000 ounces of gold in the first year, once the machinery is in place. It will take about four years to go through all 12 million tons of dirt. This method allows them to extract more from the bottom of the existing pits as well. The three tested mines show promise, so the company thinks operations could run for 20 more years.

Water permits have already been approved, and the company expects to begin 18 months of construction "as soon as ownership discussions are completed with State of Sudan." The Sudanese Minister of Mines is on the leadership team or the Board of Directors of the company operations. Funding for expansion will be be completely supplied by the company. They need a plant for machinery and operations [$83 million.] They need a 165 kilometer water pipeline to bring water from the Nile River to the mining site in the Nubian Desert [$44 million.] Electricity is required, and so it will be taken from the existing line that runs to Port Sudan. A new electrical supply line will need to be built to get to the mine site [$18 million.]

Details of the current company operations are available in the corporate presentation [April 2012.]

We previously offered some details of this project in a post about six months ago.

May 8, 2012

Port Sudan Research paper

How's life in Port Sudan? Are you trying to understand that city? How do poor people live there? In 2010, researchers explored urban expansion in four cities in Sudan. Their findings were published in January 2011. One of their reports focused on Port Sudan.

The rapid expansion of Sudan’s towns and cities confronts humanitarian and development agencies with new and complex challenges.

Over the past four decades the cities and towns of Sudan have experienced dramatic population growth. Urbanisation has occurred in a context of poor governance, decreasing job opportunities, deepening social and economic insecurity and conflict-induced displacement. Growing numbers of poor and vulnerable urban dwellers live in abject poverty, are vulnerable to a range of daily protection threats and face acute challenges in relation to access to livelihoods, basic services and land.

This latest study by the Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute explores the phenomenon of urbanisation and its drivers in four cities in Sudan. “City Limits: Urbanisation and Vulnerability in Sudan” contains case study reports on Khartoum, Juba, Nyala and Port Sudan, as well as a Synthesis Report. They analyse the social, environmental and economic consequences of urbanisation, paying particular attention to urban livelihoods, as well as infrastructure and the provision of basic services.

The findings suggest that current international humanitarian and development approaches are not yet geared to respond to urbanisation’s challenges, with the focus predominantly being on assisting rural communities. As a result, the urban poor in Sudan have been effectively left to fend for themselves – largely forgotten by the government and the international community alike.
In Port Sudan, some neighbourhoods have a mixed population, while others are populated by a majority just from one tribe. Many Beja live in Dar Al Salaam along with North Sudanese, and members of the Fallata and Hausa tribes. In Al Qadisya, many Beni Amer live, pursuing wage labour job such as water selling or making handicrafts. Educated Beja and government or corporate employees may live in Diem Madina.

The 40 page report includes ten chapters.
Chapter 1   Introduction
Chapter 2   History and drivers of urbanisation in Port Sudan
Chapter 3   The policy context
Chapter 4   Governance and leadership in Red Sea State and Port Sudan
Chapter 5   The urban economy and livelihoods
Chapter 6   Land and urban settlement patterns
Chapter 7   Infrastructure, services and the environment
Chapter 8   The social consequences of urbanisation and urban vulnerability
Chapter 9   External assistance in Red Sea State and Port Sudan
Chapter 10  Conclusions and recommendations

One page [p.37] is devoted to a timeline of major events in Port Sudan.

Hosting site.

Main Synthesis report - summarizes the study for all four towns across Sudan.

Port Sudan portion only.   pdf download available here for free.

May 4, 2012

Improve your Bedawiet language

Here's the complete text of a Beja grammar book. Sadly there is no cover illustration. The Beja Pedagogical Grammar by Klaus Wedekind is available at Africanistik online. Navigate through the chapters on the left side.

May 2, 2012

Construction projects in east Sudan

A few large road construction projects have just been announced. With the loss of oil income, Sudan is aggressively pursuing enlarged agricultural efforts. To support the vegetable production in the Tokar region, studies for establishing a tomato canning plant are underway.

A loan agreement with Morocco will provide $200 million, to improve 420 km of roads in east Sudan, and to construct 3 bridges in the region.

In the Tokar region, mesquite trees need to be removed to allow increased vegetable and millet production. The European Union is helping support the plans for a vegetable canning factory.

Also in the news...
About cotton production...

Over the entire country, production of cotton in 2008 was only one tenth of the volume in the 1990s. Plans are to increase the number of acres of cotton production.
Growing season     # of feddans in production
2011-2012             0,400,000
2012-2013             0,800,000
2013-2014             2.200,000
one feddan is almost the same as an acre of land.

May 1, 2012

Land use conflict example - Darfur

millet crops North Darfur

Millet crops North Darfur flickr photo [2004]

The rural countryside can lose it's grazing pastures as the dry season comes. Pastoralist herders need to move their animals to good pastureland. In Darfur, right now, the only land used to grow plants is for settled farmers.

What to do? What should the camel herder do? In this situation, they got out their guns.

Kireinick — Jjrbox farmers in West Amotjoke of Kireinick locality in West Darfur have complained of camel herders grazing in their farms and causing destruction by force of arms.

A farmer from Jjrbox told Radio Dabanga that the they had repeatedly tried to talk to the camel herders, asking them not to travel through the farms.

However they responded by opening fire and allowing their camels to graze. He added the police would not act when the farmers reported trespassing.