Published in The Citizen Newspaper – July 17th, 2013 in my weekly column Blography of Sudan
“The political is personal” can be quite a suitable slogan for this blog as it takes a very passionate, opinionated and pungent stand on the issues it addresses and especially the political issues of Sudan. CordonedSudan the blogger is –in his own words- a “Sudanese interested in geopolitics, Islam, and foreign policy, with a particular focus on Africa, the Middle east and the United States”. These interests manifest themselves in his choice of topics. In these topics he presents his views by commenting on opinions and stands taken by others such as statements by the Sudanese government, youth movements or political parties, opinions shared within personal conversations or online tweets and posts by individuals. However CordonedSudan’s writing doesn’t stop at pointing out what he considers wrong in these opinion; he is very strong in presenting what he sees as the “right” alternative as well. This can be clearly seen in posts such as “Necessity of knowing what We Want for Sudan” where he discusses the importance of knowing what one is fighting for as much as they know what they are fighting against.
CordonedSudan often presents his opinions accompanied with the personal and ideological reasons behind them; these reasons are also often formed in a comparison between his and his opponents’ backgrounds. We can see examples of that in his post “America needs more understanding” where he describes himself as a “hard working engineer, getting a degree, thinking of Sudan on a daily basis” vs. the side-watching “Monday Night Football”-ers with “no College degrees, no interest in College, no sense of civic responsibility, only consumerism, sex, serial make-ups to break-ups, and fast food meals” or in his post “Necessity of knowing what We Want for Sudan” where he forms the beautiful phrase “as long as I am young… well, I will politic” in defense of his stand against “the prevailing attitude that “Politics can wait.””. And though these statements can come a bit too vindicatory at some points they mostly provide an insight to the person behind the words and enable the reader to track his train of thought to their source.
On the topic of Islam CordonedSudan mostly forms comparisons between the practices and opinions of Muslim individuals, the “principles of Islam” and his understanding of the religion’s philosophy.
A big plus point for this blog is the effort the blogger puts in discussing the readers’ comments on each and every posts. His responses are usually as explicit and well-though-of as the posts themselves.
CordonedSudan has been actively blogging in English since 2011 with the aim of –as mentioned in his post “Sudan: what a land”- “ignite[ing] change amongst the Sudanese youth, particularly to influence and unite the foreign-born and raised Sudanese that are conflicted by Sudanese domestic politics”.
The following and as many of the blog’s posts, is a post that takes a daily issue, digs into it with informed critique and provides points worthy of discussion and alternatives worthy of consideration. Enjoy it.
Sudan’s Flag and Anthem (posted on July 31, 2011)
This piece will stoke some resentment. But this is my opinion. Some of you might agree. Others might not. And still many will agree in time. Keep an open mind. Here it goes:
National Anthem (English translation)
Title: Nahnu Jund Allah or We are the Army of God
1-We are the army of God and of our land,
2-We shall never fail when called to sacrifice.
3-Whether braving death, hardship or pain,
4-We give our lives as the price of glory.
5-May this Our land, Sudan, live long, showing all nations the way.
6-Sons of the Sudan, summoned now to serve,
7-Shoulder the task of preserving our country.
The anthem might have served its purpose as a reminder of our colonial struggles. I’m not sure whether its necessary now as it is a call to militancy. It’s definitely influenced by an Islamic nationalist zeal. There is a difference between Nationalism and Patriotism. Sudan’s anthem is Nationalist. Nationalism is partly what destroyed Yugoslavia, and now divided Sudan.)
1-4 talk about armies, death, sacrifice, giving up lives
5-Showing nations the way to what?
6-Serve? I serve myself first, and then my country
7-preserving our country from what? In what way? War?
Just take a look at these anthems [link provided in the post to a Wikipedia list of national anthems]. Peruse through them. You’ll see that in Africa, Sudan’s anthem stands out the most as a colonial liberation anthem. Now, I don’t care who wrote it and when. The anthem is divorced from a new global reality and besides, it’s just reprehensible in its modern day insinuation. The Sudanese state has been propagating a colonial state that needs dismantling. The State’s shenanigans are incompatible with our once robust and native good society.
Secretary Bird (Coat of Arms)
The diurnal (day-time) birds of prey are formally classified into five families (traditionally of the order Falconiformes):
- Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures
- Pandionidae: the Osprey (sometimes classified as subfamily Pandioninae of the previous family)
- Sagittariidae: the Secretary Bird
- Falconidae: falcons and caracaras
- Cathartidae: New World vultures including condors.
The insignia “Victory is Ours” beneath the coat of arms is again a reminder of our steadfastness to militancy. Is this a necessary modern day civilian symbol?
A look at the American coat of arms (called the Great Seal) shows a bald eagle with a clawful of olive (zaytuna) branches, signifying peace, and a clawful of arrows on the other, signifying the readiness for war. The American Bald Eagle looks to the right-side or the fistful of olives branches. This highlights the ambivalent disposition of U.S. foreign policy, a most befitting symbol to aggression and pax-Americana. We don’t need to go down that road by supplying a Sudanese analog.
The Sudan coat of arms with the secretary bird is indigenous to Sudan. However, should other individuals have their own proposals for more befitting representative symbols, then we should be open to them. I am a big proponent of symbols of flora: i.e. Canadian Maple leaf or Lebanese Cedar Tree. Why not something like the acacia tree?
Fun fact I wanted to throw out there: birds are evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs and the Secretary Bird does appear like a descendant of a two-legged dinosaur, when viewed in such a lens. Studies have suggested that the Secretary Bird’s attack posture might be similar to an ancestral cross-dinosaur-bird species.
The current Sudanese flag is a pan-Arab one. However, a quick reminder of Sudan’s ethnic composition and five thousand year history overshadows Sudan’s recent influence by the Arab-Islamic civilization. Let us ask: Should Sudan’s national flag be symbolic of a current Arab elitist leaning? Or should the flag serve to honor our strong, inclusive, and transformational history? Sudan has been open to many a civilization crossing it. Let us draw inspiration from other flags and symbols as a guide to the flexible brainstorming that we should invoke.
Canada chose a geographic symbol to as national symbol on its flag. The red on both sides symbolizes protection from the ocean and the maple leaf symbolizes Canadian nature, preservation, and peace. The white symbolizes the great Canadian winters or the “True North, Strong and Free” as Canadians call it. This is a proud call in honor of the fortitude Canadians have endured in harsh Canadian winters. Contrast this with a call to die for some ideology.
Fun fact I wanted to point out: during the Province of Quebec’s 1995 referendum for independence from Canada, a new flag was designed for the campaign of unity (the flag is called the Canadian DualityFlag). The flag has the blue color to express solidarity with Quebec. A quick look at the Province of Quebec’s current flag will allow us to see the relationship.
I once proposed a number of flags on twitter for the united Sudan and the divided (north) Sudan. The subject might be considered laughable and amateurish, but these symbols are serious reminders of who we are, for we fly them high above our nation.
Just saying, think outside the box.