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History of Somalis in Sudan (Series)
« on: April 04, 2008, 09:39:16 AM »
The History of Somali Communities in Sudan since the First World War
Fifth International Conference on Sudan Studies
Mahasin El-Safi

Introduction:-

Sudan and Somalia are connected historically through strong ties: religious, cultural and political. Sayyid Muhamad Abdallah Hasan, known to the British Colonial authorities in Somalia as the Mad Mullah, fought the colonizers from 1898-1920. The Sayyid was a disciple of Muhammad Salih al-Rasheed, the Sudanese, who propagated the Salihhya order in mekka. Al-Rasheed appointed Sayyid muhamad Abdallah Hasan as his deputy to spread the Salihhya teachings in Somalia. Due to the efforts of the latter, the Salihhya order ranked second to the Qaddriya order in Somalia in the nineteenth century. Other sources point to the actual participation of some Sudanese in fighting with the Sayyids troops against, the British and the Italians in Somalia. Also, the same sources direct attention not only to the impact of the Sudanese Mahdi on the Sayyid, but also to the possibility of their meeting at the port of Suakin in Eastern Sudan; though this event could not be confirmed or validated.

a) Somalis in the Sudan: The early phase

The coming of Somalis to Sudan, according to informants, dated back to the early years of the twentieth century. This pioneer group is important for this study as it represented the elements who lived in the Sudan an integrated with local communities to the extent that it is rather difficult to distinguish them physically and culturally from the Sudanese people. Since 1918 the families of Hasan Abdu, Muhamad Arabi, Musa Haj Aden, Jami al-Royali and Warsma Ghalib lived in Gedaref town and belonged to the early group of Somali residents in eastern Sudan.

In later years these communities were enhanced further due to the fact that both Sudan and Northern Somalia were subject to British administration. The latter encouraged Somalis to move to the Sudan for better chances of living as Northern Somalia at the time was much weaker economically. In addition to corners from Northern Somalia, other groups from the Ogaden country in S. E. Ethiopia crossed over through Eritrea into Sudan from the eastern border into the Red Sea and Kassala Province. The annual report of Kassala District in 1945 shows that thirteen Somali men, six women and nineteen children out of a population of eight hundred and seventy one none-native inhabitants were present at the District. The population census of Kassala District for the years 1947-49 gives a slight increase in their numbers: thirty five men, thirty women and thirty one children. Although these figures indicate that the size of Somali communities was rather insignificant, but taking into consideration the existence of equal numbers in other towns in the region is a good proof of their presence in Sudan during the Condominium Period.

A gain,, the statistics available in the colonial records in Khartoum for the Eastern province do not reveal the exact figures of Somalis in Districts like Port Sudan and Beja. Yet upon examination of the legal reports of the same period, one finds mention of Somalis being convicted in summary and non summary cases: an indication of the existence of Somali groups in these districts.

The most significant group of Somalis in this first phase was, therefore, the community which was since the early years of the twentieth century inhabited the part of Gedaref town known as Deim al-Nur. Those Somalis having little or no education at all; and at the same time enjoying the reputation of being gee (fighters as proved in other parts of the Empire during the World Wars, were exploited by the British Administrators and attached to the army. They were particularly attached to the Sudan Defence Force. At the end of the War, they were demobilized. Some of them already spent over twenty years of service and thus became pensioners. They preferred to stay mainly in the Eastern Sudanese towns particularly in Gedaref working mainly as farmers and pastoralists. Here it is worth noting that Somalis who were traditionally unaccustomed to farming, in Sudan they were largely involve in mechanized agriculture: an indication of their being integrated in Sudanese mode of life.

This first group which lived it Gedaref also indulged in trading activities specially pioneering trade in (Tarak).

In this trade item they had even exceeded the local Sudanese people, exploring and preserving the trees found in big quantities in Gedaref area. They made good profit since prices were very high. Later, they discovered that equal quantities of the same tree grow in the Nuba Mountains area in southern Kordofan. They, thus, made their way there: again exploiting the quantities available. The family of Hasan Jami became well known in respect of trade in Tarak.

To be continued.............


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Re: History of Somalis in Sudan (Series)
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2008, 06:08:41 PM »
b) The Second Phase

The second group of Somalis in Sudan are the students who came to seek benefit from the educational institutions established by the British Administration in Northern Sudan during the Condominium Period. Distinct among those were the northern Somalis from British Somaliland. Some of them joined the Gordon Memorial College founded in Khartoum in 1902. Among them were Muhammad Ahmad Ali, Ahmad Sheikh Musa and Omer al-Somali who arrived in 1921. Muhammad Ahmad Ali was to become the first Director of Education in Somalia on the wake of independence in 1960. He was also part of the Somali national movement. This first wave of Somali students was joined by another group in the 1930s. Later in 1946, another group arrived, including Abdel Rahman Abroad Ali (Tor) : The first president of the breakaway Somaliland in 1991. Among Somali women, Rogaya Haj Dawalih and Amna Haj Adam joined the Omdurman Teachers Training College in the early 1960s.

The records of the ministries of Interior and the Department of Education during the Condominium Period reveal that a good number of Somali pupils were undergoing teacher training in Sudan. Among them were Muhamad Haj al-Hirsi and Yusuf Ismail Muhamad Shirieh. A letter front Major C. R. N. Bell, Director of Education SHEIKH (Somalia), to the Department of Education Khartoum, shows that there were already some Somali boys at the time in Bakht al-Ruda Teacher Training School in Sudan. The Somaliland authorities had in a number of letters expressed their gratitude to the Sudan Government of the day for rendering assistance by training Somali students at Bakht al- Ruda and Hantoub Secondary School.

In addition to the presence of Somali students in Sudanese schools during the Condominium Period, Northern Somalia also benefited from the Syllabuses offered in elementary schools in Sudan. The syllabuses there were in fact based on the Sudanese example. Furthermore, the running of schools in No hem Somalia during the period of the Military administration, depended largely upon the teachers from the Sudan. This is obvious from the correspondence between Major Bell in Northern Somalia and the Ministry of Education in Khartoum dining the period 1944-46. The teachers of the Arabic language front Sudan to Northern Somalia was necessary because attempts to get sonic front other places like Zanzibar failed owing to fit lack of suitable men. Thus authorities in Somalia had no alternative but to recruit the majority of teachers for the secondary and post primary education from the Sudan. In this respect "Hantoub Secondary School" played a significant role in training Somali students who went back home to teach Arabic to their Kin.

c) The Third Phase

The third group of Somalis, according to Abdallah Farih, came to Sudan in the 1970s when the Eritrean liberation movement, against Ethiopia was at its peak. It is also evident that the Ogaden War between Somalia and Ethiopia in 1977/78 had enriched the movement of Somalis into Sudan. They, together, with the Ethiopians and Eritreans, crossed over to Kassala province to escape War atrocities. Those groups were hosted in refugee camps. Negotiations between Sudan and Somalia governments failed to convince those Somalis to repatriate: as Somalis preferred to stay in Sudan where they get better chances of subsistence. The Somali Embassy in Khartoum helped some of them to get Somali passports and residence in Sudan.

This third group of Somalis who crossed over to the Sudan in the 1970s remained rather detached and far less integrated with the local Sudanese communities compared to the first group. Some of them still live in Kassala and other towns of the Eastern, in Central provinces like Gedaref and Port Sudan.

To be continued.............
"you never cure a patient, you treat pain often but you always comfort the patient."
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Re: History of Somalis in Sudan (Series)
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2008, 09:13:14 PM »
d) The Fourth Phase

The fourth group of Somalis, according to Farih Adam Awad, came to Sudan in the 1980s. They were originally employees of a certain Sudanese-American company named Ark-dalab. Previously, they were employed by the Saudi Arabian government. They came to Sudan to deliver food is for the people affected by the 1985 drought which hit some Sudanese regions. This group of about one hundred and ten men were driving a number of trucks. Having completed their task, the company which employed them terminated their contracts. The company itself no longer functioned in Sudan but these Somalis preferred to stay in Sudan and to seek jobs as drivers with local companies. In 1988 upon the incidence of flood disaster, they proved useful in transporting emergency aid to the affected areas. In addition to that, they were employed in delivering material connected with road construction. Later on, they proved equally useful working with the companies engaged in petroleum like Concorp and Nile Petroleum especially in the West and South of Sudan. This is because Somalis gained a good reputation as long distance drivers. It is worth noting that for years they were employed in carrying trade between Kenya and Sudan. Most of these Somalis managed to get Sudanese Nationality and preferred to stay in Sudan with their families in places like Khartoum, Omdurman and other Sudanese towns.

e) The Fifth Phase 1991-1997

During the years of the Somali crisis, individual Somalis continued to find Alien. way into the Sudan. Observers wondered why Somalis would come to Sudan since it is not a neighbouring country, where refugees normally cross over to; and moreover, the Sudan during the same years of Somali crisis was itself suffering front severe economic constraints which means it is not an 'El-Dorado' to Somalis.

The introductory pages to this piece of research may give in explanation as to why sortie Somalis would prefer to come to Sudan in the period following 1991. The information collected from a former Director of the Commission for Refuges in Khartoum (COR). Points to the fact that most of the Somalis who came over were young people between eighteen to thirty years of age, accompanied by very few women and children and rarely elderly people of fifty years or more. These Somalis crossed the border from Ethiopia to Qadaref town in Eastern Sudan. Their number is estimated to be around 200-400. The number. increased during 1991-1996 to about 600. his increase led the Sudanese authorities in Qadaref gather these Somalis and put them, as a separate ethnic group, at the Camp of 'Um Gulja'. This camp was in fact a special extension of the camp provided for the Ethiopian refugees.

Some Somalis gradually infiltrated from this camp to Khartoum to join relatives already in 'Hai al-Zuhur' in the Khartoum Municipality, without the knowledge of COR authorities in Qadaref. This was made possible by the strong tribal and clan affiliations of the Somali groups and the strong ties of loyalty, which offers protection to the kin and relative. In Khartoum, the Sudanese community received the Somalis cordially in the neighbourhood and in the places of worship, e.g., Zawias, since both people are inclined to the idea of the veneration of Shiekh and orders.

Examination of UNHCR social services format for reporting show that at least 377 Somalis out of a total number of 3806 received medical and health care assist lice in the period up to 1998. This put the Somalis in fourth position compared to refugees front Eritrea and Ethiopia ant Uganda. According to Refugees Counselling Service (RCS), the funds given by UNHCR to meet these services do not cover the need. The Sudan government, though unable to offer financial assistance, opens its hospitals and available facilities for refugees. Refugees are normally newsreel o an equal footing with the Sudanese. For example the Sudan National Tuberculosis Programme offers the refugees services on the same basis as the locals. However, COR officials point to the fact that with regard to Somalis, the degree of treatment for difficult and serious diseases is far less forthcoming compared to other groups. In most cases they tend to seek assistance from their own kin and community rather than appear before the officials.

In later years, the number of Somalis in the Khartoum Municipality continued to increase, the COR officials therefore decided to move them outside the town to what is known as Fou 5 in the Central Province Butana East, al-Rahad project in 1997. The number of Somalis in this camp, according to COR authorities is forty-six individuals, compared to 140,000 Eritreans which is an indication of the small number of Somalis compared to refugees from the neighbouring countries. Some Somalis naturally dispersed in other towns without the knowledge of COR authorities and because of their physical similarity to the Sudanese, it is very difficult to distinguish them from the local population.

To be continued.............
"you never cure a patient, you treat pain often but you always comfort the patient."
www.somalidoc.com

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Re: History of Somalis in Sudan (Series)
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2008, 11:20:09 PM »
f) The Sixth Phase

About a hundred Somali students are enrolled in Africa International University in Khartoum at the moment. The university has, since its foundation as the Islamic Africa Centre, offered Somali and other African students accommodation and subsistence. However, after the Gulf Wai. - and its impact on Sudan's relations with the donor Arabic countries, the financial position of this institution is badly affected. Moreover, the impact of the Somali crisis and the collapse in 1991 affected the standard of secondary education in Somalia. The result was a smaller number of qualified students who could join the university. Adding to this the fact mentioned before that the Sudan is not a neighbouring country to Somalia and therefore the Sudan government will not receive the aid given to refugees like the other neighbouring countries by which it could assist a larger number at Somali students. These factors encouraged a number of Somali students to seek better chances of sponsorship in the Gulf, Egypt and other parts of the world since 1996. Despite this, Somali students who live in Sudan very much appreciate and enjoy the hospitality of their colleagues and the community at large. They particularly praise the fact that they experience no harassment from the authorities and can practice their activities normally through the Union of Somali Students. They, however, wished to see themselves treated on equal terms with Sudanese post-graduate students regarding the payment of fees, although they themselves admit that some of them do get that treatment. The Somali community, other than students, living in Khartoum and other Sudanese towns co-exist peacefully with the community since their number is small and because the cultural and religious background two people is very similar. Intermarriage between the Sudanese Somalis except for the group of the first phase, known to have existed since the early years of contact between them, but is by no means equal to the degree of their cultural similarities. This could be explained against the fact that both the Sudanese and Somalis are traditionally conservative about intermarriage outside their communities. For Somalis particularly, marriage is not an individual affair but is largely a tribal and clan business.

Conclusion

The Somali presence in. Sudan is historical. The two people exhibit a degree of physical and cultural similarities. This factor is responsible for the fact that a number of Somalis, though small, found their way to lived in Sudan. And due to the same reason, the Sudanese government has opened its doors to Somalis during the current crisis which has existed since 1991, despite the meagre resources at its disposal, and the political problems facing the country.

The Somali community in Sudan is largely made up of students who, since 1902, joined the educational institutions in the country and trained in the existing branches of knowledge. At the moment not only the Sudan government but also the international organizations within Sudan help to facilitate the education and training of Somalis in order to contribute positively once Somalia is back to normal. And especially as the Somali saying optimistically states "Dijal Debdi Wanbeda".

E-N-D
"you never cure a patient, you treat pain often but you always comfort the patient."
www.somalidoc.com


 

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