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The Problem ofCentralization in the Sudan WaI Duany Indiana University The withdrawal of British imperial power from the Sudan in the 1950s was accompanied by efforts to conceptualize a new political order using the European conception of nation-state. The European concept of a nation-state refers to a people who share a common language, literature, and cultural tradition. It is the concept of state that has become increasingly important in the organization of Sudanese society, like other Third World societies, following the collapse of the British, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, and Portuguese empires in the period immediately following World War II. The concept of state can, in some basic sense, be considered as constitutive of human societies in the modern era. Fundamental to the conception is the belief that the peoples of the world are (or should be) organized as nation-states in a global family of nations. This idea has been especially important in the organization of European states growing out of what had been called the Holy Roman Empire; Latin American states and the Philippines growing out of the Spanish Empire; and African and Asian states emerging out of the British, French, Portuguese, and Dutch empires. It is necessary to understand both the positive and negative implications of the conception of the state for the constitution of order in the Sudan. The concept of "state," defined as a monopoly of the exercise of authoritative relationships and legitimate use of coercive power in a society , is usually associated with the command theory of sovereignty. A state is presumed to be fully independent of all others and sovereign.©Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3 (New Series) 1994, pp. 75-102 75 76 Wal Duany Sovereignty is authority to govern. According to the conception of sovereign state, each state is presumed to be exclusively responsible for governing affairs within its own borders.1 Resistance to the state by ethnic groups living in the southern Sudan was not only a rejection of Islam's tutelage but also an indication of differences in conceptions of governance among different peoples. The hierarchical institutional arrangements associated with a sovereign state in the Sudan is not consistent with the conceptions of governance among a majority of the language groups in the Sudan. The disparate language communities in the Sudan rely on very different principles in the constitution of social and political relationships. This issue will be discussed in the first section—"The Problem of Order in the Sudan"—of this article. Next, the fundamental precepts common in all language communities in the Sudan will be considered. A common idea of one God is important for the conceptualization of design of the Sudanese political system. This key idea of God as a common source of creation is not sufficient. The insufficiency of this idea leads to consideration of some general structure of ideas to serve as a theory of design for the constitution of a polity that takes account of diverse communities and individuals. These ideas are described in the final section of this article. The Problem of Order in the Sudan There are two different ways in which persons are assumed to relate to one another. These ways include: (l) the threat of aggression where there is a tendency for a dispute to escalate into hostility, enmity, and violence; and (2) respect and reciprocity. The one might be viewed as warfare and the other as peace. Due to the fallibility of human beings, limited resources, imperfect socialization and acculturation, the conditions of peace can be achieved only within the bounds of mutual understanding where people can bind themselves to act in conformity with shared understandings. Shared expectations about what actions are consistent with respectful relationships among individuals are reflected in social rules and norms. Some patterns of behavior are considered improper in certain settings and are not permitted. Other ways of behavior are conceived as The Problem of Centralization in the Sudan 77 proper and therefore allowable. Temptations always exist for some to ignore these mutual expectations in pursuit of personal gain of some sort. If rules cannot be made binding, the advantages that accrue from these mutually respectful relationships...


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