Quotes from a Sudanese Leader

Dr. John Garang de Mabior
The direct quotes, below, are from his book, The Call for Democracy in Sudan, 1992, edited and introduced by Mansour Khalid.

What does Garang Want?
Sometimes the questions are asked; what does John Garang want? What does the SPLM want? And then the answers are given: they want greater autonomy for the South. It is a fight between Christians and Muslims. It is a fight between Africans and Arabs. The basic point is missed; it is none of these. It is not a fight between Northerners and Southerners. It is not a fight between Christians and Muslims. John Garang does not want anything special as an individual… Our vision of Sudan is to create from the historical Sudan, from the contemporary Sudan, a New Sudan in which all nationalities, all the religious groups, coexist. There must be a commonality to all those groups with which all of them identify. 
– (from a seminar with John Garang de Mabior at the Brookings Institution, Washington DC, 9 June 1989 – on a short visit to the USA)

On Economic Development

We have a general problem with international economy. There are advanced capitalist and advanced socialist economies. there is Third World, the so-called Third World, made up of poor countries.
The process of development in the advanced capitalist countries took a historical route which we will not follow. It is a history of expansion by those countries to the rest of the world. Europe expanded out to America, eventually to Africa, Asia. There was quantitative accumulation of wealth from other parts of Europe; these are historical realities. The development of Europe, the industrialization of Europe was not an easy affair. It involved colonialism, it had involved exploitation including that of child labour. The Labour Party in Britain, for example, struggled for the rights of workers. The working day was progressively reduced until it has become 8 hours now. 
Now, we have a situation when you have the industrialized west having reached this stage as a result of lots of difficulties, internally and outside in the colonies. We are in a situation where the Third World has lots of linkages with the advanced capitalist countries. The issue is how do we delink and move forward to establish an industrialized society. In Africa, we cannot go out to colonize other places; this is out of the question; there is nobody else to colonize. 
How do we move forward? Europe has reached a consumerist society. Underdeveloped countries are now aspiring to consumerism. This is unattainable because the necessary base, economic base, is not there to support a consumer society; the consumer society of the west had its own history of development. A similar thing can be said about socialist economies. That is, having a certain level of development and wanting a certain level of consumption. This is a basic contradiction, and symptoms abound in socialist countries as to how to achieve the same quality of life that has been achieved by the capitalist world. 
The issue is really how to organize our resources, so that we start grass-roots level development and be self-reliant. Our development is going from cities to rural areas. I envisage development going from rural areas to cities, so that I don’t have a problem of people demonstrating for wheat bread when there is grain produced locally, when there dura, when there is sorghum. The lifestyle that has been reached Europe and we aspire to is simply untenable.
– (9 June 1989, Brookings Institution, Washington DC)

On National Identity and Language

I present to this historic conference that our major problem is that the Sudan has been looking and is still looking for its soul, for its true identity. Failing to find it (because they do not look inside of the Sudan, they look outside), some take refuge in Arabism, and failing in this, they find refuge in Islam as a uniting factor. Others get frustrated as they fail to discover how they can become Arabs when their creator thought otherwise, and they take refuge in separation. In all of these, there is a lot of mystification and distortion to suit the various sectarian interests… In the process of national formation in the Sudan, we need to throw away all these sectarianisms and look deep inside our country and the experience of others… I present that we can form a unique Sudanese civilization that does not have to take refuge anywhere. 

… We are a product of historical development. Arabic (though I am poor in it – I should learn it fast) must be the national language in a new Sudan and therefore we must learn it. We are as frank and as sharp in everything. Arabic cannot be said to be the language of the Arabs. No, it is the language of the Sudan. English is the language of Americans, that country is America, not England. Spanish is the language of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba and they are those countries, not Spain. Therefore I take Arabic on scientific grounds as the language of the Sudan and I must learn it. So, next time, I will address you in Arabic if Daniel Kodi, my Arabic teacher, does his job well and if I am a good student.
‎We give these examples without bitterness, we only state them as facts. There is no bitterness at all because we are serious. We are serious about the formation of a new Sudan, a new civilization that will contribute to the Arab world and to the African world and to the human civilization. Civilization is nobody’s property. Cross-fertilization of civlization has happened historically and we are not going to separate whose civilization this and this is, it may be inseperable. But at this stage of our development we need to form a new Sudan in which we use our resources, our vast resources, our vast manpower – more than one million of them are abroad. They are running the economies of other societies. We are convinced that without these sectarianisms we can form a new Sudan. 
-( from the Statement by John Garang de Mabior at the opening session of the preliminary dialogue between SPLM/SPLA and the Nationa Alliance for National Salvation, held at Koka Dam, 20 March 1986)

Other Quotes

– The education process is going on. Every day people are getting educated into the situation by the dynamics of the situation itself. – (1989)
– We conclude by reiterating that the slogans of the SPLA are “National Unity”, “Socialism”, “Autonomy”, where and when necessary, and “Religious Freedom”. Our belief in and commitment to these slogans are irrevocable – (1984)
– The old Sudan has really been based on a fiction, on deception… The new Sudan begins with the movement now, because there should be no ‘faasil’ [*interval] between the movement and new Sudan. It is the movement that merges [and develops] into the new Sudan… Nothing falls from the sky. – (date unknown)

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