A Call from Nuba Mountains
This article forms a problem statement by Kushian Society for Development and Human RIghts. A future article will focus on the proposed solutions in light of the political changes taking place in Sudan.
The Nuba Mountains region is north of the border line between Sudan and South Sudan in the state of South Kordofan. The Darfur region lies to the west and White Nile and North Kordofan States lie to the east.
The Nuba Mountains region is one of the largest Sudanese regions, with an area of 79,470 km2. It includes scattered mountain and extensive areas of sandy “al-Quz” soils in plateaus and valleys covered with rocks. Fertile black soil dominates the region with large trees.
Nuba Mountains has a long rainy season, which starts from late May and increases in abundance until the end of October. Natural savanna vegetation reflects the soil quality and agricultural production capacity in this period. The region also represents one of Sudan`s best cattle-raising areas on its vast pastoral lands. Consequently, the area has been the site of ongoing conflict between the farming population and the nomadic seasonal pastoral tribes.
The agricultural area is about 31,053,480 feddans (feddan = 4,200m2), of which 10,940,100 feddans are of high soil quality for cultivation, and 6,754,440 feddans of medium soil quality for agricultural use. The pasturelands are 7,047,180 feddans that are less suitable for agricultural activities, but they are suitable for traditional agriculture and grazing, while 2,622,760 hectares have poor soils suitable only for grazing. The remainder of the total area (3,689,000 feddans) is made up of valleys, streams, and mountain slopes.
The most important agricultural crops are grains of all kinds: millet, sesame, cowpea and lentils, as well as cassava. Cotton during the past years was considered the most important cash crop and the soil suitable for cotton cultivation represents 45% of the total land. However, currently the sesame crop taken first place. The Habila region, located in the southern countryside of Dilling, is one of the largest agricultural projects in the region In addition to the Tartar area, located in the eastern part of southern Sudan. The two regions produce high-quality food and oil grains.
Estimates of the Nuba population vary widely. In 2008, the population in Nuba Mountains was estimated the at about 3.7 million. However, the best census estimates calculate the Nuba people both in their homeland and in their diaspora. Thus, the total Nuba Mountains population is around 4.5 million. This number includes at least 2 million people, of whom live in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan (50% of the state`s population). In addition to about two million internally displaced people living in Khartoum and neighboring areas, the Sudanese government has deliberately ignored the issues of the civil Nuba people, especially when the Islamic Front government refused to conduct a population census for the Nuba Mountains areas in preparation for the upcoming elections in 2010, which contributed to impoverishing the region`s people and excluding them from development and stabilization services. Many thousands live permanently and non-permanently in marginal areas in all cities of northern Sudan and suffer the same fate as their kin in the Nuba Mountains.
Nubians constitute about 82% of the population of the Nuba Mountains. The remainder consisted of the Baggara tribes (cattlemen speaking Arabic), including the Missiriya, and his supplies. There are other minorities such as the Jallaba (merchants) and the Falata (from West Africa).
The traditional religions practiced in the Nuba Mountains are Christianity, Islam and local African religions such as Kjur, and this belief system exists in all Nuba tribes.
The Nuba peoples are various indigenous ethnic groups, encompassing multiple distinct peoples that speak different languages which belong to at least two unrelated language families. In addition to Sudanese Arabic, around 42 other languages are spoken in the Nuba Mountains. They belong to the Daju, Hill Nubian, Kadu, Katla, Lafofa, Nyima, Rashad, Talodi–Heiban and Temein language groups. Five of these families (Daju, Hill Nubian, Kadu, Nyima and Temein) belong to the Nilo-Saharan language family, while four (Katla, Lafofa, Rashad and Talodi–Heiban) belong to the Niger–Congo language family. Kadu`s relationship to Nilo-Saharan is uncertain; it was previously classified as Niger–Congo, and a conservative classification would consider it an independent family.
Almost all of the languages spoken in the Nuba Mountains are indigenous to the mountains and found nowhere else. The only exceptions are the Daju languages, the rest of which belong to Western Daju and are found in eastern Chad, and Sudanese Arabic, which is spoken in the rest of Sudan.
Most historians agree that the Nuba are the first people who inhabited the Nuba Mountains region (Kordofan) before the rest of the groups came to it. However, the vast diversity of languages among the Nuba Mountains indicates that the mountains served as a retreat area by many people in the past.
Scale of the Problem
Sudan is at the top of the list of countries that has had lands expropriate widely from individuals on the pretext of the absence of official registration documents. The area of land confiscated from individuals in Sudan from 2004 to 2013 reached about 9.5 feddans (4 million hectares), which were handed over to foreign and local investors.
This is legalized practice in Sudan, the basis of which is not recognizing ownership of unregistered agricultural or residential land, and then registering large areas in the name of foreign investors and businessmen close to government and military officials. As a matter of course, thanks to the policy of non-recognition of ownership that is not officially registered, Sudan has ranked second in attracting foreign investment in the region, after Saudi Arabia.
These policies include many areas of the Nuba Mountains region known for its fertility of land and the intensity of food grain and fruit production, as well as Sudanese gum (Arab) - Sudan produces more than 80% of this crop in the world - the Nuba Mountains region includes arable areas that make up 35% of the total fertile lands in Sudan.
Here the conflict started, its beginning was between the herders and farmers, the government had a great role in fueling it, as the paths of the herdsmen according to the geographical map of the state, there is an area extending from Lake Gao to the far north of the state with about 200 to 300 acres of grazing, but the government narrowed the area of grazing Forcing the shepherds to expand on the agricultural lands, and this is not in line with the agricultural nature. Then a conflict broke out, it was a struggle by an effective act.
Encroachment on agricultural lands
In the Tartar region, citizens complained of the illicit exploitation of agricultural lands by various means, either by selling them cheaply for the benefit of influential people in the state, or relinquishing them in the name of religion to the elders of the Sufi orders. This is what happened in the case of Jandil projects that covered an area of 5 thousand acres, and today it is fully owned by the elders of the Sufi orders from al-Shukaniba and Shabashba regions, deep inside White Nile State.
In the same direction, the problem in the Abbasiyya locality lies primarily in planning, where it is distributed to a group from outside the region. The people’s share land does not exceed the 10%, and even this percentage is owned by influential political and military persons from the region representing continuity of previous governments in the practice of looting lands in a traditional area.
The planning does not take into account the importance of preserving the forests, which were completely removed in areas located in the belt adjacent to North Kordofan, which has led to the detriment of the residents living in that area, which comprises Jabal al-Dayir and Umm Dum, where more than a hundred families were displaced due to the unjust plotting and control of their lands by tribal militias affiliated with the authorities. The militias are of Arab pastoral origins that were owned by weapons for the systematic assault on the lands, the last of which was the attack on the al-Sanadarah area, whose people were chased into Manaz.
So far, the investigation did not reveal the identity of the perpetrators. The lands adjacent to the Abbasiyya region were divided traditionally in the form of hawakir (customary tenure of agricultural plots) to other groups, and the establishment of a process of substitution and replacement in some areas that were abandoned by their people due to the war in al-Sanandarah, Murib and others areas, in a provocative process that led some people to take up armed action.
Photo: Militiamen wreak havoc in Sudan`s Nuba Mountains. Source: Radio Dabanga.