Always winter and never Christmas

From some pictures posted on Facebook I see that Father Christmas arrived in Khartoum this year, distributing presents to some wide-eyed and presumably quite bewildered African children. An eminently Christian tradition meets an apparently hard-line Islamic country: interesting, I thought to myself.

For some curious reason, these photos immediately put me in mind of C.S. Lewis’s fabulous tale of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In this kid’s fable, four children enter the magical land of Narnia through a wardrobe, which has been cursed by a wicked white witch to be always winter. But, despite it being permanently winter in the land, Christmas never arrives. That is until the four children – sons of Adam and Eve and therefore heirs to the throne of Cair Paravel – enter the land and the spell starts to break. Then Father Christmas can get through.

To what extent can parallels be drawn with what has been happening to the government in Khartoum?

Yesterday a comment posted on my blog – suggesting that it is about time the Arab Spring arrived in Sudan – focused my thoughts even further.

It is a curious question as to why the Arab Spring has completely passed North Sudan by, given the obviously undemocratic leanings of the government. And it is one I have spent a great deal of time thinking of. Spring, of course, is what happened in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And the moment that the snow started to thaw, the White Witch’s sledge could no longer get through and she knew her reign was coming to an end.

But those who dream of a similar (though more Arabic) Spring in North Sudan are likely to be disappointed. Look at Tunisia, at Egypt, at Libya, to an extent at Syria. These were revolutions that were propelled forwards by a well-educated, articulate and above all numerous middle class.

Look, too, at Russia – where recent demonstrations are finally starting to make a difference. For years, certain echelons of Russian society have been calling for change, but to little effect. Now, though, something seems to have changed within this movement – and that is the buy-in of the middle class.

This is something that North Sudan lacks and, for this reason, calls for regime change are unlikely to gain momentum.

Christmas may have come to North Sudan this year, but this doesn’t mean that the snow is starting to melt. For those that want Spring in the country to arrive, they may have to wait a little bit longer.

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2 Responses to “Always winter and never Christmas”

  1. robstroud Says:

    Good insights. A matter for continued prayer.

  2. Reem Says:

    I’m not quite sure I agree with you. I think a Sudanese revolution would have different features, but it is a possibility. First of all, Sudan has witnessed two revolutions before, they were instigated by students and unions. The problem is , people revolted and then went home! So the revolutions changed the government , but not the system.

    Sudan has a strong activist movement. We have witnessed many small protests in the last few years, but the problem is uniting the protest movement!
    This is because Sudanese people still expect opposition parties to lead the change! Opposition parties are divided and there are different perspectives within the parties and currently, the businessmen in the parties are pushing for coalitions with the government because they want to benefit from tenders and want to facilitate their work and the intellectuals are losing their voice and they are the ones traditionally leading unions and youth. Another problem is fear of a widespread armed conflict. The government actually has people employed to spread the “there is no option” perspective! This is done through two ways 1- scaring people by bringing up the rebel movements in Darfur 2- playing the we are your only resort if you want to stay privileged as a Riverine Arab/ North Sudanese in Sudan.
    So until people realize that we are all marginalized because you are the periphery unless you are part of the NCP and that the rebel movements are fighting for a cause regardless of whether we support armed movements or not.
    I’m optimistic after reading the latest statement by Malek Agar , the SRF is finally becoming flexible and stating that they want to overthrow the government through and armed movement OR other options such as civil resistance etc…

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