Generosity of Nature and Stinginess of Politics in Eastern Sudan
Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid
Whenever you meet someone from Eastern Sudan, especially in the countryside of the Red Sea State, you will never miss his or her skinniness, simplicity, intelligence, and the sarcastic smile!
Then only a few moments and you will discover that you are dealing with a person who has legacy & history; a person who is fully aware of the causes of his misery and sufferings, as a result of the inequitable participation in power and inequitable distribution of resources and wealth in Sudan.
You will see that he/she is striving to make a better existing reality and a promising future. Young people and community leaders in the different municipals of the Red Sea State will tell you about their genuine belief in the slogans of the 2018 December revolution, freedom, peace, and justice.
But they will also tell you how the transitional government of the revolution is not paying any attention to them!
The region witnesses a strange paradox which I call “The Generosity of Nature and Stinginess of Politics in Eastern Sudan”.
This paradox is composed of two contradictory phenomena:
The first one can be seen in the prevalence of poverty and suffering in the region as a result of:
The scarcity of drinking water, which could even disappear at any moment if the small primitive desalination plants stop, the lack of primary health care, the absence of maternal and child health care, the widespread of malnutrition and endemic infectious diseases, lack of lighting and electricity in an area inhabited by colonies of snakes and scorpions, deterioration of education services, and other features of real hardship & sufferings.
The second phenomenon is related to the region’s enrichment with all kinds of precious metals, such as gold, where 60% of the country’s gold revenues come from this region, pearls, the abundance of the finest types of iron, limestone, the main & only port of the country plus many excellent other natural ports along the whole red sea coast, considerable animal and fish wealth– despite veterinary services lacking – the possibility to generate solar and wind electrical energy, tourism, border trade with Egypt… etc.
But, in spite of all these precious and treasurable resources, they are not reflected in improving people’s livelihood in the region. Actually, the people receive only the crumbs, while the bulk goes directly to the center of the country.
This paradox is also present in western Sudan; actually, it is everywhere in the country.
Our people in the Misseriya land, west of Sudan, widely believe that the hyenas shelter under a shady tree when the daytime is sunny and too hot, although nobody claims that he sees any of these hyenas!
The Misseriya call such a tree “the hyena tree”. The chief/Nazir of the Misseriya, Ali Nimir, compared the oil extracted in the Misseriya land to the hyena tree. He said”Although the oil is extracted from the Misseriya lands and pumped through the pipelines under our feet, but we have never seen or felt it. It resembles the hyena tree”, indicating that the region did not benefit from the oil revenues extracted from its lands.
Likewise, the rich resources in the Red Sea State, including the precious minerals extracted from the State lands, also resemble the hyena tree!
This clear paradox explains to us how the people of the east suffer the most from prejudice, neglect, and lack of development. And, if we add to this their feelings of injustice due to an imbalance in employment and power-sharing, then we are approaching the real causes of the social tension in the region.