Journal of the People’s Pastor
“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

Darfur Diary

“The Root Cause of the Darfurian Crises?”


Two pieces of information came to my attention which may help to explain the crises in Darfur. At our weekly Thursday Organizing Meeting to Save Darfur, Rev. Herbert Oliver gave me a DVD of a lecture that Dr. John Henrik Clarke had done in the 1980’s. The production was done under the auspices of the African Peoples Christian Organization (APCO). APCO was founded in the early 80’s to synthesize spirituality, Afrocentric and activism in a movement. The filming was done by Min. Clemson Brown.

Dr. Clarke subject was, The Religions of Islam, Christianty and Judaism. His thesis was,
“These Religions Had An African Origin.” He drew a sharp distinction between Arabism and the reiligion of Islam. He had no criticism for Islam. But, he was critical of Arab leadership which had used Islam in their conquest and subjugation of African people and in their expansion in Africa. They, according to Dr. Clarke, had so mingled Arabism with Islam that it had blinded the minds of countless Africans who could not distinguish between the religion of Islam and Arab culture. So when they embraced the one they embraced the other or they embraced the whole package. Dr. Clarke was critical of the Sudanese government even back then.

We must always remember that the Arabs had been trafficking, exploiting, colonizing and enslaving in Africa almost a thousand years before the Transatlantic Slave Trade. I have criticized Muslims of African Ancestry for not denouncing and disassociating themselves from some Arab Muslims for their treatment of Africans here and abroad. Just as Black Christians had to castigate and disassociate themselves from some white Christians who were dehumanizing, enslaving and colonizing African people, Arab Muslims needed to do likewise. There are, even to the present, rumors of Arab enslavement of Africans. Moreover, it is widely believed by many African leaders and Africans in the Diaspora, especially Darfurian leaders (I have conferred with them), that the crisis in Darfur is Arab leaders expansionism. The Omar El Bashir government had attempted to expand in Southern Sudan, which is primarily Christian and traditional religion, but was defeated 2003 – after a 21 year war.

The second piece of information came from an article written by Steve Bloomfield in the New York Beacon, July 26 – August 1, 2007 edition. Because of the relevance and importance of the article, I ‘m going to take the liberty to extensively quote from it:

Arabs pile into Darfur to take land ‘cleansed’ by Janjaweed

Arabs from Chad and Niger are crossing into Darfur in “unprecedented” numbers, prompting claims that the Sudanese government is trying systematically to repopulate the war-ravaged region.

An internal UN report, obtained by The Independent, shows that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past two months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks. They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by government and janjaweed forces.

One UN official said the process “appeared to have been well planned.” The official continued: “This movement is very large. We have not seen such numbers come into west Darfur before.” The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, sent a team to the border with Chad at the end of May to interview the new arrivals.

Fighting in eastern Chad has been steadily increasing and it was thought that many could be refugees. But only a very small number have required support from UNHCR. “Most have been relocated by Sudanese Arabs to former villages of IDPs (internally displaced people) and more or less invited to stay there,” said the UN official.

The arrivals have been issued with official Sudanese identity cards and awarded citizenship, and analysts say that by encouraging Arabs from Chad, Niger and other parts of Sudan to move to Darfur the Sudanese government is making it “virtually impossible” for displaced people to return home.

James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust, said the revelations proved that the Sudanese government was “cynically trying to change the demographics of the whole region,” adding: “If the ethnic cleansing has been consolidated because the land has been repopulated it will become irreversible. The peace process will fall to pieces.”

Repopulation has also been happening in south Darfur where Arabs from elsewhere in Sudan have been allowed to move into villages that were once home to local tribes.

Aid agency workers said the Arabs were presented as “returning IDPs.” Before the conflict started in 2003, Darfur was home to seven million people, mainly from three African tribes – Fur, Marsalit and Zargahwa.

Darfur literally translates as “Land of the Fur.” But some 2.5 million have now been forced to flee their homes after attacks by Sudanese troops and planes, and Arab militia on horse-back known as Janjaweed. Most are now in camps around Darfur’s main towns, relying on handouts from international aid agencies. About 250,000 have become refugees in Chad.

A further 1.5 million have been affected by the conflict, meaning at least four million people are now reliant on the 80 or so international aid agencies in the region. More than 200,000 people are believed to have been killed so far during the four-and-a-half-year conflict. And if Khartoum is moving Arabs from abroad to replace them, diplomats fear that Darfur rebels may try to remove them forcibly. “It could be quite explosive,” said one western diplomat. “It is a very serious situation.”

In Mauritania and Sudan, both countries long ruled by Arabs, black African tribes have suffered most. In Mali, Niger and Chad, the Arab and Tuareg nomads have been suppressed. Towards the end of last year, Niger announced that it planned forcibly to remove more than 150,000 Arab nomads into Chad.

Many of the Arabs, known as Mahamid, moved from Chad in the 1970’s after a serious drought. Although the government later rescinded the order, it is thought that many decided to return to Chad voluntarily.

Apart from the 30,000 Arabs from Chad and Niger cited in the UNHCR report there have been consistent rumors that a further 45,000 Arabs from Niger have also crossed over. For most nomads citizenship means very little; the lines that separate the countries f the Sahel have not created a sense of nationality. But, for the Khartoum regime, it could be pivotal.

Elections are to be held in two years, the first since President Omar al-Bashir seized power in a coup in 1989. Although opinion polling is not very advanced, it is thought that no party is likely to win an overall majority.

By providing citizenship for the new arrivals, one Khartoum-based diplomat said, “President Bashir could be hoping to bolster his election chances. For the Arabs who have crossed into Darfur there are both push and pull factors.


Upcoming Events

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.

BCAT Program every 2nd and 4th Sunday @ 2p.m.For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991

Our Annual Freedom Walk #4 – covering the Underground Railroad, the African Burial Ground in Manhattan, on to the landing site of Frederick Douglass, will take place this Saturday, 8/18/07 @ 9am. Each year we visit historic sites used by the Underground Railroad. Starting at the House of the Lord Church with a continental breakfast and a historical overview, after which, we visit many of the houses that were used by the Underground Railroad, along with the old Bridge Street Church, the Plymouth Church, etc. Downtown Brooklyn was the center 0of the anti-slavery movement.

Special Appeal: By the time this newspaper hit the stands, our shipment of 700 boxes will have arrived in Douala, Cameroon. It will remain there 7 days for processing. From there, it will travel over land to the Gaga refugee camp in Chad. The trip will take approximately 10 days. We have an urgent need for finances to defray cost for shipment and transportation. Total cost is estimated around $22,000 to $23,000. We have received generous support, and will publicize our donors unless instructed otherwise. We need to hear from you as soon as possible. You can make checks payable to the National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned About Darfur, Inc. or “NRLAA” for short. Mail to: The House of the Lord Church at 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11217. (Considering our 501(c)3 status has not yet been granted by the IRS, please check with your financial advisors regarding the deductible status of your donation.)

Correction: Last week’s article stated 70 boxes were shipped – t he accurate number is 700 boxes were shipped.