Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Aug 29 19:20:53 MDT 2004

David Quarter wrote:
> FACT: America has actively funded a terrorist rebel militia in the
> South, known as the "Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)," to fight
> against the Sudanese government and spread disenchantment in the south
> against the government in the north. 

I see. Before the USA stepped in to "spread disenchantment in the 
south," everything was hunky-dory. This sort of thing is an 
embarrassment to the radical movement.

After independence in 1956, Khartoum's government tended to reflect the 
strong Arab nationalist dynamic that was at work throughout North Africa 
and the Middle East. When mixed with a "modernizing" sensibility of 
intellectuals and technocrats of a leftwing or CP background in the 
government, the net result was a mixture of paternalism and progressive 
attitudes directed toward the sub-Saharan sections of the country. 
Instead of sending Christian missionaries into the south as the British 
had done, they sent in Islamic preachers, opened Koranic schools and 
made Arabic mandatory. Such national and religious chauvinism led to the 
first revolt, which was led by the Anyanya, a guerrilla group who took 
their name from snake venom obtained by grinding up cobra heads.

If you want to get a different take on how Muslims fucked over Animist 
peoples, see "Ceddo" by Ousmene Sembene, the great Senegalese director.

In "Ceddo", the Animist-worshipping serfs of a small village in 19th 
century Senegal are miserably oppressed by organized religion--mainly 
Islam--and by their feudal overlords. Although the structures are much 
more modest than those found in any feudal society (Islamic services are 
held on the open ground bounded by pebbles), the bonds enforced by 
custom are the same. The ceddo, or commoners, must pay tribute to their 
King in the form of firewood bundles. An Islamic caste also takes 
tribute in the form of slaves, who are exchanged for guns or cloth in a 
general store run by a white man. To round out the microcosm of feudal 
society, there is a single white Catholic priest who is barely tolerated 
by the Moslems.

This mixture of ethnic, class and religious oppression *predates* the 
CIA and Western interference. Remnants of Africa's past are *reinforced* 
by imperialism, but the ruling classes in Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and 
elsewhere have refused to attack the material foundations of privilege. 
If Marxism cannot put a distance between itself and this kind of rotten 
social system, it has nothing to say to the African people.

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