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Islamism and Militarism in Sudanese Politics: Its Impact on Nation-Building Elias Nyamlell Wakoson Bowling Green State University General Perspective This essay will present an analytic perspective of the complex political relationship between the southern Sudan and northern Sudanese dominated governments within the specific framework of the political-ideological concept of Islamism and military rule. It should, however, be noted from the outset that the pivotal point of south-central government relationship has been the persistent resistance by southern Sudanese to northern Arabicized-Islamic ruling elite's policy of trying to impose Islamism-Arabism on the whole country irrespective of southern opposition and the country's immense diversity. It is also noteworthy to mention that the deliberate socioeconomic underdevelopment of the southern region by the central government, has been at the center of the conflict situation between the southern region and the central government. Nonetheless, it is the political-ideological dynamics of this relationship that has created the persistent south-north conflict situation, which in turn impeded the country's potential to develop lasting political institutions, a stable political environment, and a peaceful national democratic society. The conflict situation has also created the political conditions which encouraged the increasing involvement of the military in Sudanese politics. All these factors have had a critical impact on the process of nation-building. Thus concept of the Sudan as a nation-state is still an artificial one for most of its citizens. In reality, there is no consensual acceptance of a Sudanese identity in terms of a common dominant form of group consciousness that coalesce to support the supreme authority of the nation-state. One reason, amongst many others, is the fact that the Sudanese have been ruled, for most of their four decades of independence, by®Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 5, No. 2 (New Series) 1998, pp. 47-94 47 48 Elias Nyamlell Wàkoson illegitimate governments that have relentlessly attempted to impose unmandated political systems, and a single Arab-Islamic identity on the whole country. The process of nation-building and the ingredients upon which this process should be based is a very controversial subject-matter. Irrespective of the nationalities that the territorial boundaries of a state encompass, there are two opposite methods of nation-building: by force and the other by broad national consensus. Both processes are usually gradual in attaining a high level of national togetherness. The consensual national process being attained usually through peaceful political bargaining and the coercive method by violence. Notwithstanding the focus on the ideology of Islamism-Arabism, there are other ideological orientations in the Sudan which have all had significant impact on the political and socioeconomic development of the country. These ideological orientations will not be discussed here, not because they are not important but simply to limit the scope of this study. The primary political-ideological conflict in the Sudan has been between racialist theocraticism and national democratic secularism. The former has its elite ideologues and overwhelming mass followers, exclusively, in the geographical northern Sudan. The latter has its overwhelming proponents and mass following in the southern Sudan, among the intelligentsia and most of the marginalized national groups in the north. National secularism is a concept which has two groups of proponents in the Sudan. There are the northern Sudanese-based national secularists who reject the idea of an Islamic state but accept the idea of a Sudanese Arab state. Their position is not only weak but quite confusing since Pan-Arabism has always been presented by its proponents as an integral component of Pan-Islamism. The Africans and those who subscribe to the African heritage of fhe Sudan are those who reject both the concept of an Arab or an Arab-Islamic state. National secularism, in the Sudan, is associated with the establishment of a democratic system of government based on the rule of law without one single group dominating the government or a single religion guiding the national political and socioeconomic activities of the country. This explains why the conflict situation in the Sudan has taken on regional, cultural, religious and racial dimensions and has been depicted in sweeping terms as "South-North," "African- Arab," and "IslamicChristian /African...


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