The Darfur Genocide: A Shame to all Black Africans

The Darfur Genocide: A Shame to all black africans Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 September 2006

I was a guest at the Loud Tate organised by the Education department of the Tate Britain yesterday, 23rd September 2006 . This is a Programme for teens showcasing their talent in art, music and dancing. Hours after the start of the event a man dressed in green overall gate-crashed the event and started to distribute some leaflets and dancing among the teens. Well, I got some of the leaflets as well as listened to his tirades against the BP as he was led away.


His main grouse against the BP could be summarised thus: BP an oil company in the course of their exploration, refining and marketing of oil products damages our environment. They exploit and spread conflict to maximise their profit. They go about their business in complete disregard to the human cost of their activities and spread poverty in the third world. The rich thereby gets richer and the poor poorer. He ends with the question: What are you doing about it?

Well, I will confess I considered him a nuisance then. But I was troubled. Why, some days before then I had read an intriguing article on Sudan and the influence of oil exploration in the Darfur imbroglio. I had come to associate oil exploration with a curse on Africa and the world.

You probably know the history of the Darfur conflict. Just a quick recap: The Darfur conflict or the Darfur genocide is an ongoing armed conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan , mainly between the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited from local Baggara tribes, and the non-Baggara peoples (mostly land-tilling tribes) of the region. The Sudanese government, while publicly denying that it supports the Janjaweed, has provided arms and assistance and has participated in joint attacks with the group, systematically targeting the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit ethnic groups in Darfur. This conflict has led to about 500,000 dead and about 2,000,000 displaced and made refugees in their own land.

However, what you might not know is that like in all major conflicts today, oil is at the center of it all. This conflict is intriguing and intractable now because of oil politics. Sudan ‘s bloody north-south conflict began long before China arrived, but oil has dramatically increased the stakes. The war is a struggle over the resources of the south, pitting the mostly Muslim, Arab elite that runs the government in Khartoum against the largely Christian and animist African tribes. For years, the government lacked the arms to vanquish the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the rebel group that controls much of the south. With the dawn of oil production in 1999, Sudan’s government began collecting $500 million a year in revenue.

For years, the rebels have attacked oil installations, seeking to deprive the Sudan government of the wherewithal to pursue a civil war that has killed more than 2 million people and displaced 4 million in the past two decades. But the Chinese labourers are protected: They work under the vigilant gaze of Sudanese government troops armed largely with Chinese-made weapons, a partnership of the world’s fastest-growing oil consumer with a pariah state accused of fostering genocide in its western Darfur region.

The final solution in the view of the Sudanese government is the displacement of the southern Sudanese away from the oil pipelines and resettlement in a different location for those who agree to be resettled, and genocide for those who resist.

Russia and France joins China in this axis of evil conspiracy. Their powerful positions in the UN Security council embolden Omar Al Bashir, the Sudanese president to defy the United Nations. Now The Nigerian government has warned that unless the Sudanese government adopted a more conciliatory approach towards ending the over two-year old conflict in the region, the Nigerian government and the UN might consider withdrawing their troops. If that happens “ Darfur will descend into a killing field.”

The genocide in the Darfur region is a serious blot in the conscience of the civilised world, but more especially, on the conscience of all black Africans. And like the BP protester, I ask, “What are you doing about it”?