National Geographic : 2010 Nov
• specialist. Logocho rolled onto his side so the blood could pour from his mouth into the dust. in Sudan is so geo- graphic, so stark, you could see it even from the surface of the moon. e broad ivory of the Saha- ra in Africa's north set against the green savanna and jungles of the continent's narrowing center. A great, grass-stained tusk. Populations generally fall to one side or the other of that vegetative di- vide. Which side, north or south, largely de nes the culture---religion, music, dress, language--- of the people there. Sudan straddles that line to include arid desert in its north and grasslands and tropical rain forests in its south, and the es- tranged cultures on either side. In Sudan, Arabs and black Africans had met with a clash. Islamic conquerors in the seventh century discovered that many inhabitants of the land then called Nubia were already Christian. e Nubians fought them to a stalemate that lasted more than a millennium, until the Otto- man governor based in Cairo invaded, exploiting the land south of Egypt as a reservoir of ivory and humans. In 1820 he enslaved 30,000 people known as Sudan, which meant simply "blacks." Eventually global distaste for slavery put the slave traders out of business. The Otto- mans retreated in the early 1880s, and in 1899, a er a brief period of independence for Sudan, the British took control, ruling its two halves as distinct regions. ey couldn't garrison all of Sudan---it's a massive country, ten times as big as the United Kingdom---so they ruled from Khartoum and gave limited powers to tribal leaders in the provinces. Meanwhile, they en- couraged Islam and Arabic in the north and Christianity and English in the south. Putting e ort and resources into the north, they le the south to languish. e question all this raises is: Why? Why was a single Sudan created at all? One reason, again, is geographic. As the Nile ows north toward Egypt, it binds the disparate cultures along its banks in a tful, sometimes hateful, relationship. It de nes trade, environ- ment, even politics, linking the a airs of north and south. When the British ruled, they needed to control the Suez Canal at the Nile's mouth, because it linked Britain to the "jewel in the crown," India. at meant controlling the Nile, so no enemy could divert it. When the British withdrew in the mid-1950s, there's little wonder the place fell into civil war. Southern rebels battled the northern govern- ment ercely during the 1960s, and half a mil- lion people died before the two sides struck an agreement in 1972. Yet the pact only gave each side a chance to breathe deeply and rearm for what would be a much bloodier war. During the lull between the two civil wars, the government in Khartoum joined Egypt to embark on a breathtaking project in the south. Where the Nile spreads across southern Sudan--- that great tableland---it forms the Sudd, one of Africa's largest wetlands. And the river's annual oods rejuvenate grazing lands where southern tribes have long kept their cattle. e partners decided to build a 225-mile canal to shunt the river past the Sudd, due north to supply water- hungry Egypt. ey brought in an eight-story digging machine, and tribesmen stood and watched as their pastures were ripped up. At the start of the 1983 civil war, a rebel group called the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) formed, and in one of its rst conspicu- ous acts, it attacked the Jonglei Canal construc- tion headquarters, halting the project. Years of bloodshed followed, ending in 2005 a er extraordinary, behind-the-scenes diplomat- ic maneuvers brought about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. is pact gave southern Su- dan a measure of autonomy: its own constitution (based on separation of religion and state), army, and currency. Now Sudan nds itself wobbling between the possibility of lasting peace and the threat of fresh violence. In 2011, according to the pact, the people of southern Sudan will vote e specialist wedged the blade between Logocho's two bottom middle teeth. With a wrench of his shoulder, he twisted it. Crack! e incisors splintered. Now you look like a Murle.