Tunnel Vision or Kaleidoscope: Competing Concepts on Sudan Identity and National Integration

  • A El-Battahani


Characterised as a bridge between the Arab‑Muslim world and Black Africa; and as a melting pot where diverse ethnic, religious and language groups were related together, Sudan continues to baffle observers and analysts by protracted conflicts and crises inflicted on its population. Amid all these, major parties to the conflict accuse each other of sowing the seeds of disintegration and disunity, and on the other hand each claims to be the only one genuinely working for unity. This article discusses conceptual foundations behind these claims and positions of major parties to conflict. Taking the ethnic-cultural make-up of Sudan, the article compares and contrasts a dominant concept of ‘unity in conformity', endorsed since independence by Northern ruling groups, to ‘unity in diversity', propagated by marginalised ethnic nationalities and underprivileged classes. After setting the context of the debate between the two different concepts, and delineating traits of both, the article argues that in view of the diversity and complexity of the social formation of Sudan, and more important, the failure of ‘unity in conformity' to deliver on its promises, the alternative concept of ‘unity in diversity' is more adequate in laying down foundations for credible unity and viable identity.

African Journal on Conflict Resolution Vol. 7 (2) 2007: pp. 37-62

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