Interesting Discussions to Follow

conversationI enjoy reading blog posts, but even more, I enjoy following the discussions that result when a post is interesting or hits a nerve.

Organica had a very interesting post on “Muslim Dating” which I found very interesting.  Young people today are finding it harder than ever to find a partner and still do it right.  The comments that followed were mostly deep, thoughtful and interesting.

Sudanese Optimist posted a very racist video made by Egyptians and called it Reason Number 9734 Not to support the Egypt.  I found the video annoying and stupid.  I had never given Sudan much thought to be honest, I never thought that Egypt was better or worse than Sudan.  I just knew that Sudan used to be part of Egypt one day and that there are conflicts in Darfur.  The discussion is a very intellectual and important one.  Please go over there and give the comments a read.  This is what some people think of the Egyptians and Egypt, it just might change your outlook.

And as James Nathan Miller said “There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.”

12 Comments

  • At 2009.12.03 17:05, Organica said:

    Thanks for the plugin habibty :)

    • At 2009.12.05 08:00, jessyz said:

      I love the discussion going on over there 😀

      • At 2009.12.07 00:06, Eu said:

        Greetings and thanks for the interest in the discussion and for being open-minded and curious enough to want to know different opinions in order to better inform your own.

        With regards to Egypt and Sudan having been one country = ) …

        That is what all Egyptians are taught / told.

        The Sudanese perspective on that is that Muhammad Ali Pasha decided in 1820 to ‘invade’ Sudan in order to:

        prospect for gold
        explore the headwaters of the Nile
        recruit negroid soldiers for his army and
        prove his worth as a regional power

        The campaign was led in 1821 by Ismail Pasha, M.A.’s son.
        He was met with fierce resistance.
        He levied high taxes on the impoverished Sudanese and insulted their tribal leaders – which led to him being burned to death at a banquet / trap thrown in his honour by Al-Makk (the King) Nimir, the leader of the ja3aliyeen tribe (one of the biggest tribes in Sudan, of which the current President is a member).

        This incident is absent in Egyptian history books and even at Muhammad Ali’s citadel where it is incorrectly stated that Ismail Pasha passed away in Cairo = )

        In any case the foreign invasion managed to subjugate all of Sudan, due to the more modern weaponry and military techniques that the Egyptians had.
        The situation and grievances festered for 40 odd years until Muhammad Ahmad ibn Al-Shareef Abdullai declared himself ‘The Mahdi’ and rallied the Sudanese – particularly in the west (Darfur) and centre (Kordofan) against the foreign occupiers.
        The country was at that point united, and in a series of legendary battles he managed to defeat the soldiers of the Egyptian state and set up his own state with its capital in Omdurman.
        He died soonafter and the leadership went to his ‘khalifa’ AbdAllah ibn Torsheen.
        By this time the Brits had decided that Sudan was setting a bad example to its African colonies and had to be subjugated once more – and Lord Kitchener (the inventor of concentration camps) at the Boer War in South Africa led the expedition of Egyptian troops – and they reconquered Sudan circa 1899.
        Sudan was ruled as a ‘condominium’ – meaning it ‘belonged’ to both the British and Egyptian crowns – and Sudan indeed became a source of pride for Egyptian Royal family – although they seldom visited and Sudan was thought of negatively – as a distant lad of misery and hardship…

        Fastforward to 1955 and two political movements were being coopted by the ‘colonial powers’ Britain and Egypt.
        The Mahdi’s son as-seyyid AbdalRahman ironically became Britain’s ally and formed The Umma party – which was pro-independence and is still a big party in Sudan today.
        The Egyptians co-opted as-seyyid Ali Al-Mirghani as a spiritual head of a motley crew of ‘Unionists’ – those who studied in Egypt, liked Egypt, wanted the Brits out and Sudan to remain united with Egypt.

        The Unionists won the majority in Parliament.
        And a Unionist became the Prime Minister – Ismail Al-Azhary – and it was this same Unionist government that voted for, and declared official independence from Britain ‘and’ Egypt on the 1st of January 1956.

        Of course AbdalNasser did not want Egypt’s involvement in Sudan’s problems, maybe he realised early on that there were stark differences in the political make-up of both countries. Also his emissary to Sudan Al-sagh Salah Salim was notoriously offensive – stripping down to his underpants and dancing and handing money out in a bid to win the Sudanese over!

        So that, madam, is a summary of how the Sudanese view the issue of ‘Egypt and Sudan being one country’.

        And have a great day!

        • At 2009.12.07 09:39, jessyz said:

          Very interesting. Actually, I meant even farther back in history. Kashta a Nubian or Kushite (how the Pharos called the area) king actually conquered Upper Egypt, his successor eventually reunited Egypt and his line of descendants ruled Egypt for a 100 years. I always thought that the relationship was an on and off kind of thing.
          I also tried looking for interactive maps with a timeline so I could actually see both countries’ boundaries morphing through time but the only thing I could find was a demo version of a program called Time Maps. In it you can see Egypt and Nubia becoming united in Pharaonic times then dividing then reuniting under the Mamluk and then Ottoman empires then falling under British rule. I know that looking at just the country boundaries is limitted but I am a visual person and it is easier for me understanding history this way while also reading about the politics and history.
          I would love to do an in depth post about the issue, but I keep getting lost in all of this research. It is a shame that we know so little about our history and the little we do know has been distorted by our media and bad history books.

          • At 2009.12.07 14:42, Eu said:

            Kush is the Nubian civilisation – then came Merowe.
            3/4 of Nubia is in Sudan from Khartoum northwards.
            So when Northern Sudanese Nubians (like myself) refer to Nubia – we refer to Sudan – and the little bit of Nubia that is behind Aswan.
            There is historical uncertainty as to which civilisation came first – the oldest artefacts on the Nile valley were found in Sudan.
            Lower Egypt (contemporary Egypt’s) location was definitely better in terms of transport and trade, than Nubia which lay inland and had access to the sea through only through the Sudanese Beja tribes.
            The Beja are of course the indigenous inhabitants of (dare I say occupied) Halaib.
            Nubian (Sudanese) Kings led by Kings Taharqa and Piankhi conquered lower Egypt (Egypt today) and went as far as Jerusalem and the Levant.
            You can find all the information here:
            http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/02/black-pharaohs/robert-draper-text.html
            And then they were reconquered by the Lower Egyptians – there is evidence to suggest that the Nubians overused their forest resources and ran out of the fossil fuel that powered their civilisation.
            And then as the waves of invaders focused on Lower Egypt – the Hyksos, the Hittites, the Ptolemies – Lower Egypt’s Pharaohs forgot about Nubia – focusing only on the gold tribute it paid…
            There’s an ancient Egyptian language that was deciphered using the Rosetta stone – there’s the ancient Meroitic language that hasn’t been deciphered yet.
            Sudanese Nubians speak both branches of the Nubian language – Kenzi and Nobiin and have many Nubian traditions in weddings and otherwise.
            Egypt on the other hand has taken on a lot of (Mediterranean) Turkish culture – and vocabulary – effendim and abla and the third person…
            Yes we had strong ties in antiquity – but I don’t think that ancient Egyptians bore much resemblance to contemporary Egyptians – they were much ‘browner’ whilst you still find ancient looking Nubians in Nubia!
            And in Sudan even though we have ‘live ties’ to the ancient Nubian civilisation – it’s not as big a source of national pride as the ancient Egyptian civilisation is in Egypt.
            We’re much more laid back about it.
            So there’s another difference for you – I remember seeing on an Egyptian Ministry of Defence building some ancient Egyptian carvings showing the splendour of Pharaohs army – that would never happen in Sudan!
            The closest we’ve gotten to that is naming our locally manufactured armoured carrier vehicle ‘Osman Digna’ – after one of the Mahdist revolutions fiercest warriors…
            History is a funny thing – there are different ways of looking at it. Mr or is it Dr Zahi Hawass would like you to think that King Tut had green eyes, whereas I think the American reconstruction makes more sense except that he looks more East African than ‘modern day Egyptian’.
            History can be contentious.
            How much do Egyptians know about Sudanese writers – who’ve achieved international fame and acclaim?

            • At 2009.12.07 15:26, jessyz said:

              I actually believe that the modern day Egyptian are not really directly descendant from the Pharaohs. Probably the Copts might be the closest thing to that.

              I know two Sudanese writers Leila Abo Leila and Tayeb Saleh (I have had the book Season of Migration to the North and still haven’t managed to find time to read it yet ). :-) but that is as much as I know and businessman Mo Ibrahim, I actually watched a documentary once about his foundation and was amazed. Egypt has a rate of 42% of illiteracy, apart from Naguib Mahfouz I think many of the uneducated Egyptians would not be able to name a few Egyptian writers. It is sadder than you think.

              About the Ministry of Defense thing, that’s all just for show. The Pharoahs were 7000 years ago and we live in the here and now. They do pound it down in school children’s heads about how the Pharoahs were amazing and how Egyptian civilization has lasted 7000 years they just fail to mention the drops in the middle. The media has managed to create a superiority/inferiority complex in most Egyptians. You would also have to look at the socioeconomic, cultural and intellectual shifts that have happened in the last century to realize at how messy Egyptian culture and society has become.

              My aim is neither to judge or defend, just to learn and pass it on to anyone who might be slightly interested.

              • At 2009.12.08 02:56, Eu said:

                Wow

                How did you manage not to become indoctrinated?!

                Did you know that Sudan has more pyramids than any other country in the world?

                In Sudan, apart from the masses who become easily antagonised and resentful of the Egyptian media’s racist and demeaning portrayal of Sudanese people – and the majority that thinks (without much knowledge) that Egypt takes Sudan’s water – readers and wannabe poets (like myself) have a romantic vision of Egypt and its great authors: Aqqad, Hussein, Al-Rafi’e, Shawqy and others…

                And this generation came long after the Pharaohs and long before State-sponsored indoctrination of national Pharaonic pride!
                Ya3ni there must be something there – talent that’s not being made the most of, innovation that lacks inspiration.

                I guess I have to spend more time examining ‘contemporary Egypt’ and not its magnificent past (I’m most fascinated by its Islamic past) in order to have a more realistic and less romantic view of things.

                Leila Aboulela is great! One of the protagonists in her latest work ‘Minaret’ is an Egyptian guy who falls in love with a Sudanese woman = )
                Al-Tayyib Saleh is the master – there’s also Jamal Mahjoub, although he sees Sudan with a very foreign pair of eyes – he changed his view of it immensely when he went back a couple of months ago.
                In Morocco the largest public park was named Al-Tayyib Saleh park in his honour…
                For Sudanese folklore there’s Professor AbdAllah Al-Tayyib – my personal favourite!
                He’s better known in Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia (as this Century’s authority on pre-Islamic Arabic poetry) – than in Egypt – or at least this is what the recongition he received in his lifetime indicates.

                What about music?
                Sudanese people are very upset at the plagiarism of their intellectual property by Egyptian artists particularly Muhammad Mounir – he’s being sued currently by Muhammad Wardi (Sudanese) and Mustafa Amar’s song al-lela dob was plagiarised.
                Rasha is one of my favourites:
                http://www.nubenegra.com/

                OK – so what about Egypt’s media – what do you think their objectives are and why?

                • At 2009.12.12 16:37, jessyz said:

                  I wasn’t raised in Egypt, and like my sister recently told me, we’re not really Egyptian and I’ve always thought of myself as a third culture kid, pretty simple explanation for missing the indoctrination sessions.
                  I’ll be exploring more Sudanese writers, poets and musicians soon, it sounds very interesting.

                  As for Egypt’s media, I think they just like giving the masses something to keep them busy regardless of long term gains or losses. I don’t think that there is any country which has only bad, lazy or (insert any negative adjective here) citizens. Unfortunately many Egyptians were never really taught how to think objectively and question motives without coming up with a conspiracy theory. It is too complicated for me to actually come up with a list, but I keep thinking that perhaps the smartest way to bring both the people of Sudan and the people of Egypt together is by creating more cultural interaction. Traveling exhibits, artists, musicians, writers may be the easiest, simplest and honest way to help both sides understand more about each other and to correct stereotypes. It might be simplistic or naive idea but I think it is a good way.

                  • At 2009.12.13 04:54, Eu said:

                    I agree wholeheartedly about what you said regarding the media giving the masses something to keep them busy, and also I would add something to keep them entertained and distracted and *with an overinflated sense of pride*.

                    I keep thinking that perhaps the smartest way to bring both the people of Sudan and the people of Egypt together is by creating more cultural interaction. Traveling exhibits, artists, musicians, writers may be the easiest, simplest and honest way to help both sides understand more about each other and to correct stereotypes. It might be simplistic or naive idea but I think it is a good way.

                    You’re not wrong and this has been tried and tested – just recently loads of Egyptian celebrities – both actors and musicians – visited Sudan but I don’t really think that helps the situation in any way.
                    We’ve become used to seeing those figures on tv – and when they come to Khartoum they collectively declare their love for the land, their second country, they like the people…
                    And in parallel Egyptian films are churned out that depict Sudanese people in a backward and racist way!
                    So what effect are these Egyptian celebrities having on the relations between the two countries?
                    And in the aftermath of the football match – many of the celebrities wrongly berated Sudan when they touched down in Cairo – which caused a lot of hurt and resentment from the Sudanese public that was so welcoming to them.
                    Singing and dancing troupes can only go so far…

                    We need proper engagement – intellectual engagement, academic engagement, the acceptance and respect of our respective histories – as diametrically opposed as they may be – particularly in light of the Mahdist revolution.

                    But the problem is that the qibla of Egypt’s intellectuals is North-North-West – anything on the western side of the Mediterranean and beyond that. They never ever venture south.
                    Egypt’s Culture Minister – the one who lost out on Presiding UNESCO never visited Sudan.
                    The Minister of Water Resources visits often.
                    And we’re told that our peoples have eternal ties!
                    What kind of ties?
                    Interests.

                    • At 2009.12.13 04:55, Eu said:

                      I would add that the issue is not correcting stereotypes but exercising proper leadership and ‘banning’ racist depictions in Egyptian media. That is long overdue.

                      • At 2009.12.13 09:26, jessyz said:

                        I actually was thinking of cultural visits the other way round. I’d like to see different Sudanese artists visiting Egypt and inviting the average Egyptian person to discover and learn more about Sudan. I am also talking about painters, writers, journalists. Actors are celebrities, true, but they are not always the best kind of people to send as cultural ambassadors, or at least not Egyptian actors. They are usually not very educated or intellectual. Writers on the other hand are probably the best kind in my personal opinion. It is not very easy to learn about culture from an actor but it is usually much easier to learn about a culture from a good book. Even better a bloggers meeting like the Arab Bloggers meeting. Or even simple guest blogging exchanged to reach out to different audiences and readers. I agree about banning racist depictions, but I’d also like to see them ban sexist depictions too.

                        • At 2009.12.13 15:34, Eu said:

                          There is empirical evidence to suggest that Sudanese artists don’t shine in Cairo.
                          All Sudanese painters and writers have stopped by Cairo.
                          They alledge that the Egyptian media is so skewed and so superficial in portraying them that their creative juices are sapped.
                          A prime example is Muhammad Wardi, one of the pillars of the modern Sudanese song and a Nubian linguist and musical anthropologist.
                          He spent over 16 years in exile in Cairo and said that he was not able to be creative there.
                          He participated in a New Years concert in Addis Abeba in the late 80’s that became legendary. In spite of the language barrier Ethiopians loved his music and he was invited back to perform some years ago at the eve of Y2K – according to the Ethiopian calendar. Most Ethiopians of course don’t speak Arabic, however they are familiar with the 5/4 musical scale which features heavily in Sudanese music, and doesn’t feature in Egyptian music.
                          Search for him Muhammad Wardi in Addis on youtube.
                          The two that have done well are Setona and Jawahir and both are not looked at favourably by the Sudanese as ambassadors of Sudanese music.
                          Sudanese people don’t like Setona because she reconfirms stereotypes that haunt the Sudanese – she is not nice looking to say the least and dresses bombastically and has played some horrible roles in Egyptian films – with Hineidy and Adel Imam – to the extent that a large group of Sudanese people ambushed her outside her flat and roughed her up for misrepresenting them. That being said, Setona was the first Sudanese artist to have music on iTunes and the albums she made with her late husband who was a classically trained musician showcase the music of many parts of Sudan – especially the centre and west.
                          And Jawahir is to Sudanese music what Shaaban is to Egyptian music and she also plays to stereotypes and doesn’t actually make authentic Sudanese music.

                          There’s a famous Sudanese director residing in Cairo. He was invited on an Egyptian channel to comment on the aftermath of the Khartoum football match and Youssra aka Cevine (I found out that’s her real name) was also a guest. He was speaking to Youssra in a Sudanese accent and she would look at the presenter with a blank face, asking him to translate…
                          I find it very strange how my Emarati, Kuwaiti and Saudi friends understand my accent well, and how many Egyptians, close neighbours with ‘historical and eternal’ ties – don’t.
                          Two Sudanese films are in contention for awards at the Dubai Film Festival – but they didn’t even enter in Cairo…

                          Al-Tayyib Saleh was feted, late in his life, in Cairo, but there are allegations that senior Egyptians were working behind the scenes to scupper his chances at being awarded the Nobel Literature Prize because he was up against Mahfouz, and in 1988 Mahfouz won the Prize and Saleh never won an international accolade that he so very well deserved.
                          Professor AbdAllah Al-Tayyib was the post-modern authority on pre-Islamic poetry and he was not celebrated in Cairo, he was awarded the King Faisal International Award in 2000.
                          His encyclopaedia on Arabic poetry is well known in Mauritania and Morocco, but not in Egypt.

                          There should be no buts between demands that are separate and different (racism and sexism).
                          Banning racism in the Egyptian media is the first step towards creating a clean slate from which relations can be developed.

                          How many Egyptian Universities offer the chance to study a semester at a Sudanese University?

                          To the best of my knowledge zero – whereas bio-agriculture departments in Saudi Arabian Universities send their students to Sudan to learn about locust eradication…