James Copnall | Published in History Today Volume 69 Issue 7 July 2019
On 11 April 2019, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by a popular revolution ending almost three decades in power. After tens of thousands of protesters encircled the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum, ten generals stepped in to remove their former boss, establishing a Transitional Military Council, ostensibly to pave the way for civilian rule. The young protesters had braved tear gas, truncheons and bullets throughout the country; they were following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents, who had toppled unpopular military leaders in 1964 and 1985. In deposing Bashir, the protesters had achieved what rebel groups, foreign pressure and even indictments for genocide from the International Criminal Court had not managed.
The Sudanese are proud of their revolutionary history, and rightly so – but previous revolutions did not bring about the change the country desperately needed.
Sudan was always an awkward colonial creation: diverse peoples with histories of mutual antagonism and exploitation (including slavery) were crammed together at the whim of Turkish and then British and Egyptian colonial masters in 1899. The south saw itself as African, while the political elite in the north defined itself (and the nation) by its Arab origins. In the colonial period, Christian missionaries were allowed to work in southern Sudan, creating further differences with the north, which is overwhelmingly Muslim.
The north – or, to be more precise, the riverine elite from north of Khartoum – has dominated politically throughout Sudan’s history. Successive governments have positioned the state as Arab and Muslim, despite the huge variety of cultures within what was – until South Sudan’s independence in 2011 – Africa’s biggest country.
The first shots of the First Sudanese Civil War were fired in 1955, just before Sudan’s independence in 1956. That conflict ended in a compromise in 1972. The Second Civil War, which broke out in 1985, was even longer and bloodier. Bashir’s time in office, after he removed a democratic government in a coup in 1989, had been characterized by conflict and massive human rights abuses. After taking power, he stepped up the war in southern Sudan, in which it is estimated that over two million people died. A peace deal in 2005 stopped the bleeding, but to nobody’s surprise southerners voted almost unanimously to secede in 2011. South Sudan’s independence did not solve Sudan’s problems. Conflicts broke out in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, areas which had fought alongside the south in the Second Civil War, but were north of the border at separation. Bashir used divisive rhetoric, stating ‘there will be no question of cultural and ethnic diversity’ in Sudan.
The conflict in Darfur – which began in 2003 as an uprising against the government’s treatment of the region’s non-Arab population – rapidly became the worst humanitarian situation in the world. The US described it as genocide but took no meaningful action to stop it. Bashir used what Alex de Waal described as ‘counter-insurgency on the cheap’, a combination of air power, armed forces and locally recruited ethnic militias, the feared Janjaweed. They were recruited from ‘Arab’ groups, seen as loyal to Khartoum, as opposed to ‘African’ ethnic groups like the Fur, Zaghawa, and the Masalit, who made up the bulk of the rebel forces. Revolts were dealt with using extreme force. Bashir took power promising to Islamise Sudan, using Islamist language and stating that he would govern the country through Islamic principles. From 1999 onwards, this was pure rhetoric – the only real objective was keeping power.
Sudan’s third revolution began in the northern town of Atbara in December 2018. Local officials had removed a wheat subsidy and the price of bread – a Sudanese staple – tripled overnight. Angry crowds burned the local offices of Bashir’s National Congress Party. The economy had been in decline for years, with inflation reaching over 70 percent. One cause was the secession of South Sudan. When the southerners left, they took three-quarters of oil production with them. Oil is Sudan’s main export earner.
Bashir and officials complained that the economic issues were the result of bad luck, poor world oil prices, and American sanctions – though the economy did not revive after the latter was removed in 2017. Sudan’s problems were political in making. It is estimated that Bashir’s government spent 60-70 percent of its budget on the security sector in an attempt to buy the loyalty of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and other armed groups. In addition, Sudan’s toxic politics – including Bashir’s indictments from the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity – made it impossible to get relief on Sudan’s debt (well over $50 billion), or obtain new loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
After the demonstrators took to the streets in Atbara, protests spread to other towns across the country. On 25 December 2018, a new body, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), made up of doctors, lawyers and journalists, attempted to deliver a petition to the presidential palace in Khartoum calling on Bashir and his government to step down. On 1 January, the SPA, along with several other political and social groups, signed the Declaration of Freedom and Change, calling for Bashir to be replaced by a transitional government to end civil wars, rethink the constitution and put the state back on its feet. Protests about the crumbling economy had become political. The slogan on the streets was ‘Tasgut, Bess’ (‘Fall, that’s all’).
The uprising has often been portrayed as a sort of delayed Arab Spring. This infuriates the protesters. The Sudanese have overthrown unwanted military rulers twice before. In the 1964 October Revolution, Ibrahim Abboud agreed to step down. Protests had intensified following the death of a student demonstrator, Ahmed al Quraishi. The Sudanese historian Yusuf Fadl Hasan praised ‘the determination and moral force with which unarmed citizens, led by the intelligentsia, brought military force to an end’. Just over 20 years later, mass protests broke out against another military leader, Jaafar Nimeiry. He had come to power in a coup in 1969. Just as in the current uprising, the trigger was the economy. On 6 April 1985, the military stepped in, before handing power to civilians. This history has informed every attempt by the Sudanese to protest since 1989.
The end of Bashir
Bashir’s response was a mixture of intimidation, cajoling, and propaganda. Dozens of protesters were shot dead. Hundreds were arrested. Officials accepted the demonstrators’ economic frustrations but sought to blame the peaceful uprising on Darfuri rebels, using the well-worn politics of division. It didn’t work. ‘We are all Darfuris’, the protesters chanted. By February, as the protests showed no sign of abating, Bashir became desperate. He sacked his government, declaring a nationwide state of emergency. It was not enough. The protesters wanted nothing less than an end to the Bashir years. On 6 April – the 34th anniversary of the overthrow of Nimeiry – a massive demonstration met outside military headquarters in central Khartoum. ‘We thought we were going to be killed’, said one protester. ‘But instead, we were able to get all the way to the army headquarters.’ Over the following days, security agents made intermittent attempts to dislodge them, using live ammunition. But members of SAF fired back. Ordinary soldiers were unable to countenance the massacre of civilian protesters, following the example of previous generations of soldiers in Sudanese revolutions. When President Bashir reportedly told his closest confidants that he was prepared to stomach a massacre if it kept him in power, the senior generals decided to act. In the early hours of 11 April, they blocked Bashir’s means of communication, changed the troops at the presidential residence and informed him that he had been overthrown.
The subsequent military council’s willingness to hand over power to civilians is the great remaining question. A deal has seemed close at points. The civilian protesters insist on a civilian-led government. The military has accepted the need for a civilian parliament, led by a civilian prime minister. The great sticking point is the composition of a ‘sovereign council’, a supreme body above the Cabinet. Both the military and the civilians want to be in the majority. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are encouraging the military to hold firm, as is Egypt. Western countries, led by the US, the UK and Norway, have called for a swift handover to a civilian administration.
Third time lucky?
The protesters knew that, as soon as they left their sit-in outside the military headquarters, ‘our revolution would be over’, as one puts it. So they stayed, creating a mini-city in a matter of weeks: a stage for announcements and concerts; any number of speaker’s corners to discuss politics and Sudan’s age-old problems of racism and tribalism; barricades where anyone coming to the protest was searched; a system for removing waste; doctors on call; even a school for street children. Revolutionaries discussed the sort of society they want Sudan to become. In the early hours of 3 June, Transitional Military Council forces swept in to chase away the protesters and closed their sit-in. The protesters promised to step up civil disobedience to achieve their goal of a civilian government. The final chapter of Sudan’s third revolution is still unwritten, but it is impossible to dispute what it has already achieved.
James Copnall is the author of A Poisonous Thorn in Our Hearts: Sudan and South Sudan’s Bitter and Incomplete Divorce (Hurst, 2014).Read More
It is February 1966 and the army and police have just staged a coup (codenamed ‘Cold Chop’) toppling Ghana’s autocratic President-for-Life, Kwame Nkrumah, while he is in the Far East on a vainglorious mission to end the Vietnam War. He has grown increasingly authoritarian and remote since the start of the decade, calling himself successively the Redeemer, Man of Destiny, Star of Africa, High Dedication, while his country’s economy succumbs to the corruption and incompetence of its state agencies.
The British colony of the Gold Coast became Ghana in 1957, the first sub-Saharan African nation to achieve independence from its European master, several years before Harold Macmillan made the ‘Winds of Change’ speech that signaled the wholesale end of Empire. That it was a trailblazer was due to its valuable cocoa export crop and, much more, to its charismatic leader, with his great organizing ability. After time at university in the US and at the London School of Economics, Nkrumah returned in 1947 and campaigned for the ending of British rule. In 1950 he was imprisoned as leader of a wave of civil disobedience but the following year he was released to become the Gold Coast’s first prime minister after his party’s election victory.
The orthodoxy among development economists of the time was that only the state, not markets, could bring economic transformation and Nkrumah thought so, too: ‘Capitalism is too complicated a system for a newly independent nation. Hence the need for a socialistic society.’ After independence, marketing boards for cocoa, timber, and diamonds were set up as well as many other state bodies. This put a huge measure of control in Nkrumah’s hands, with all the jobs, contracts and licenses that could be handed out to cement political support. Cocoa farmers could sell only to the Marketing Board, which kept the price low because its revenues were desperately needed to cover losses elsewhere and to service foreign loans. Predictably, the quantity smuggled out shot up.
The unrest began in 1960 and, after bombs went off in Accra, there were concerns in the House of Commons about the Queen’s projected visit. Macmillan was desperate not to cancel it for fear of driving Nkrumah into Soviet arms and the Queen took the same view, so it went ahead in 1961, though at the state banquet there were empty places meant for political opponents who had been jailed as a precaution. As political arrests became a regular feature, all the British officers helping train the army were told to leave. By 1964 Ghana was a one-party state and corruption was out of control, as was Nkrumah’s personality cult. His crowning folly was a palace with 60 luxury suites and a banqueting hall for 2,000 built in 1965.
For most of the ten years following the coup Ghana was run by generals, more corrupt even than their predecessors, the civilian ‘big men’. Then in 1975 junior officers led by half-Scottish Flight-Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings took control, executing eight senior officers, including three former heads of state, in public and flogging profiteers. From the lowest of bases things gradually got better. Rawlings remained Ghana’s most powerful man until 2000 when his anointed successor lost the election. From then up to 2014 annual GDP growth averaged 7.4 percent, regular presidential elections have continued, while in 2007 there was a major offshore oil and gas discovery.Read More
Each day about 2 million blog posts, and billions of content pieces on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are published without fail. Content Marketers are faced with capturing their own new monster killing model to stand out and lead.
New content marketers find it almost difficult to scale their marketing game. You find out that as a newbie, you spend half of your time stalking and analyzing other content marketers that have been in the game long enough to know the pros and cons. This is absolutely normal. We should all be guilty of this.
Content marketing is a valuable marketing strategy that virtually any company can benefit from.
But when your business is at its maximum output, how can you take your content marketing strategy to the next level? That is, how can you adjust your strategy so that it continues to benefit your growing business and give your audience the content they need?
If this is your current situation, you’re probably thinking about scaling your content marketing strategy.
The term 'scaling' can be a bit misleading, but in short, scalability refers to an organization’s ability to “cope and perform under an increased or expanding workload.”
So, to scale your content marketing strategy means to develop and execute a plan that will help grow your business. That doesn’t simply mean churning out a higher volume of content, though; it also means creating more high-quality content.
How to scale your content marketing strategy.
Never forget a good distribution plan:
Content creation is only half the battle. You can pour your heart and soul into your content marketing strategy, but if you don't have a good distribution plan, it's going to fall flat.
Some small business owners try to put their content on every channel possible. However, stretching yourself too thin results in a poor experience for your readers. You can scale this part of your content marketing strategy by focusing on a handful of channels at the start. As you gain a foothold on these platforms, slowly add more distribution options into the mix.
Your clients want to know why they should choose you over your competitors:
The content used in your marketing campaign is not one-size-fits-all. Someone who knows all about your company and product line won't benefit much from an awareness-building article that discusses their original problem. They're interested in the differences between your models, why they should choose you over your competitors and other purchase-decision information. Group your content into the different stages of the buyer's journey. You need a good mix of assets for each stage so an interested buyer can keep moving in the right direction.
Brand consistency is an important part of building audience trust:
Even the small things, like the terminology you use to describe your products, can make a big difference in the way you're perceived. When you work with multiple people, teams, partners and marketing channels, you run the risk of introducing inconsistency.
Everyone involved in the content production and distribution workflow can reference this information, so the writing voice, brand names, terminology, logos, and every other detail stay the same. You may want to put together two guides, one for content writers and the other for graphic designers.
Create your initial content marketing strategy:
If you haven’t already done so, create a documented content marketing strategy that aligns with your organizational goals. Put an end to the need-it-yesterday hunt for content. It’s a bad habit that stifles creativity, causes burnout, and allows low-quality ideas to slip through. A thorough (read: 12-month) content marketing strategy will help your team:
. Align content production with business goals and buyer needs
. Allocate internal resources more effectively
. Achieve greater relevance by mapping content to major events, holidays, and seasonality
. Address gaps in content proactively, whether related to specific keywords, buyer personas, or stages in the sales funnel.
A detailed yet adaptable plan is best, but even a basic content calendar of topics, company milestones, and industry events will help reign-in the chaos that can result from an unstructured content program.Read More
I have never really been to the beach so I don't exactly know the spiritual or heavenly feeling that comes with it. People say the feel of beach sand under your leg is simply sensational and watching the tide rise and fall is exceptionally beautiful.
I don't know any of that because I have never really had that feeling but thanks to google I have been able to put together a list of the topmost 5 beautiful beaches in the world.
Magical places you've been dreaming about and may have only come across on the internet, a place you could completely let your spirit roam freely without getting your ears blown out with the horn blast of an impatient driver.
A special moment for sure, all the more so if you find yourself on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Top 5 most beautiful beaches in the world!
1 – Los Roques, Venezuela
Here is a wonder of nature, the promise of an enchanted break. Los Roques archipelago stretches out across 160 km of the Venezuelan coastline. Some 300 islands of varying sizes, long strips of fine sand and crystal-clear waters: an authentic and heavenly setting. Bird lovers will take great delight in the spectacle provided by this well-preserved nature reserve.
2 – Palombaggia, France
In the shade of a pine parasol, it’s so sweet to relax on a beach with entirely Mediterranean charm. Palombaggia is hidden in the south-east of the Isle of Beauty and is a fine sand beach bordering the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. The pink rocks add a touch of magic to this unrivaled Corsican setting.
3 – Pink Beach, Indonesia
Still pink, this time in Indonesia. Pink Beach is one of the only pink sand beaches in the world. A unique feeling enhanced by a clear sea, a pure blue sky and lush deep green hills. These out-of-the-ordinary landscapes have the Indonesian island of Komodo as their backdrop, which is also home to fascinating fauna… A colorful trip on the horizon.
4 – Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles
Fine white sand like powder, silvery rocks as if sculpted by human hands, Anse Source d’Argent is perhaps the most famous beach in the world. Its warm, crystal-clear waters and lush vegetation make it a treasure trove waiting to be discovered on La Digue island. The high point of a day at Anse Source d’Argent: the pink tints which appear, little by little, when the sun sets on the horizon.
5 – Fakarava, France
Fakarava is a small atoll winding its way in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. A strip of white sand listed as a “biosphere reserve” by UNESCO, found 450 km north-east of Tahiti. Even though white dominates the color palette on land, there is infinite variation in the blue of the waters of the Fakarava lagoon… A unique and surprising seabed waiting to be discovered!Read More
“Onye Nigeria, I told you one day, there will be job adverts for positions in the federal civil service, and there will be a clause: ‘No candidate from the southeast allowed’; the exclusion of Ndi Igbo from the leadership of the three arms of government is just the beginning.”
That was the message of an Igbo nationalist to me.
Nnamdi is a "sparring mate", who scavenges for daily upsets and annoyances about Nigeria. He has been dutiful in this enterprise. We spend some time arguing the place of the Igbo in Nigeria and related subjects. He believes the Igbo cannot reach the acme of their potential with the current structure of the country. And he says they will always be seen as a threat to be put down.
I knew he sent me that message to taunt me. I did not respond to it because I had no perfect “clap-back” to his dig. I had often fended off his ultra-nationalist arguments with my own arguments, but this time, I was as empty as a spent cartridge on what to say logically.
As a matter of fact, I am unbending about the unity of Nigeria. For me, it is a fossilized conviction that Nigeria is more convenient as one country than as a fragmented non-entity. I have given reasons for my position in other essays; so I will focus on the tugging matter of “Igbo political marooning” in this one.
Really, how do you build a united country, when one of the joints on which the tripod stands, is deliberately and arrogantly being chipped away at? How do convince the Igbo that there is no agenda to keep them under? How do you curb internal strife when an ethnic group, as large and pivotal as the Igbo, is loudly excluded from the leadership of the arms of government, and even being gibed for it? How do you say “Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable”; yet you do everything to put a knife to the umbilicus?
Do we really want Nigeria to work? Are we making it work? I doubt it. The current insensitive leadership ordering, which is brazenly destitute of geographical diversity, will only deepen distrust, enmity and inflame passion. It will give secessionists ammunition for agitation and yield recruits to the cause. And it will be a reference point for future political injustices. The southeast has been put under the pecking trough now; it could be the southwest or the north tomorrow.
Let me address the ignorance of those advancing the vacuous argument that positions of leadership in the three arms of government bear no meaning to the wellbeing of the state or the region of their occupiers. President Buhari is from Katsina; is the state the better for it? No. But is the north satisfied that he is president and will want to have him there even for a “third term”? Yes. Why? It gives them psychological security. This is the reason there is feeble or no opposition to his government from the region despite the insecurity ravaging the area.
The point is, Nigeria is a complex country and sensitivity is vital in governing it. Inclusion and political equity are not a luxury, but a necessity. Equity is not about niceties or farcical and politically correct arguments; it is about inclusion and being sensitive to divergences and interests.
There is psychological warmth a people enjoy knowing that they are not shut out of the kitchen and that someone from their axis is at the decision-making table; someone they can cry to, summon to village or group meetings for censuring when necessary. This is beyond corporeal benefits; it is an emotional need and valid. Inclusion is how you abbreviate the fears of ethnic domination. It is how you allay the fears of religious hegemony.
As I said in a previous essay, a country as enormous, diverse and delicate as Nigeria cannot evolve organically when a part of it is deliberately marooned and confined to the fringes.
As a believer in Nigeria, I am speaking out against this imbalance and insensitivity because there is no peace or progress when the country feuds.
Let us not lay more landmines for tomorrow.
When I am writing a particular piece, I hate stopping or pausing to take a break. I feel like if I stop right now without finishing up my contents will dissolve. My story plot just comes to my head like wifi signal and when I take a break or move away from my position, it goes away. So stopping isn't an option, at least that's what I thought.
This way of thinking is silly and wrong. A quick rest doesn't discredit my efforts or tamper with my storyline. In fact, it's better to do so in the long run. If a muscle is cramping or my eyelids begin to droop, I should stretch it. If I need a glass of wine, I should take them. Or, if I just need a minute to catch my damn breath, it's more than ok to take that minute.
If I neglect to listen to my body, I may not be able to finish the piece at all.
Despite knowing all of this, my mindset about taking breaks is quite similar in the workplace- I feel like it'd be better to just keep going until it’s done.
But the thing is, breaks are so, so, important. And, just like a quick breather during a hard run, there are even certain instances at work when making time for a break can actually set you up for more success long-term success.
Below are 3 signs you should take a break from work!
1. When You’ve Been Working Non-Stop for Hours
When you have a monster of a project to finish up or a huge list of to-do’s to tackle, your instinct may be to power through. After all, if you stop, even for a moment, you’ll be even more behind, and the stress of it all will just pile up.
But, when we focus on something for too long, our brains become tired. And when our brain faces fatigue, we have difficulty focusing, making decisions, thinking clearly, and avoiding distractions.
While your brain isn’t technically a muscle, it needs rest as a muscle does. Think about how we do sets of exercises: 15 biceps curls, then rest, then repeat two more times. Why don’t we give our brains the same luxury?
Even small (really small) breaks can help. “[A University of Illinois study] found that even a 40-second break to look away from your computer screen can result in a 13% increase in productivity,” says Katie Smith, a health promotion specialist. And “short breaks every 10 minutes can result in a 50% decrease in fatigue. Moreover, mid-morning breaks [can] boost concentration, motivation, and energy.”
That “time off,” no matter what the duration, helps you press the reset button and be better prepared to move forward.
2. When You’re Having Trouble Solving a Problem
When there’s a stubborn issue I need to resolve at the office, I always come up with the answer when I’m not actually doing work. Puzzle pieces that didn’t fit together before are all of a sudden the perfect match.
Perhaps it’s because I’m in a different environment. Or because I’m not forcing myself to think about it—my mind just wanders there. Either way, I’ve come to rely on these “miraculous” breakthroughs, trusting that, if I cease staring helplessly at my computer, the answer will magically appear.
“When you walk away from a problem and think about something else, your memory resets.” explains Art Markman, co-author of Brain Briefs: Answers to the Most (and Least) Pressing Questions About Your Mind, “The ideas that dominated your thinking recede from your thoughts. [And those] that were inhibited before gradually become more accessible. If your thoughts return to the problem after a pause, those other memories now have a chance to influence your thinking.”
In other words, even a short interruption from what you’re doing helps wake up your creativity and generate new ideas. It allows you to replace the stale thoughts you’ve been trying to escape with fresh (and better) ones.
3. When you're on the sorry journey to careless mistakes.
At first, it appears that you’re having a productive day. Then out of nowhere, you realize that you just made more mistakes in a couple of minutes than you would normally have in an entire workday. This happens to me all the time and I get super frustrated and likely to cry.
Does this mean that I am a poor worker or I am not cut-out for the job? Not necessarily. It’s probably a sign that I am overworked and burned out. A sign I need a break!
While in some instances these errors are minor and simply require a couple of minutes of repair, such as making grammatical errors when writing a blog post, other times these mistakes could have serious implications, like making an accounting error or a PR mistake.
When things like this happen, move out from your desk and go home if you can or take a short walk.
Bottom line: Taking breaks is not a sign of weakness or a waste of time. Sure, if you’re running to the relaxation room to take a quick nap or going out for a walk every 10 minutes, you may have trouble getting anything done. But when you’re stumped, or frustrated, or hitting a wall, they can be extremely helpful.
So, go on a quick walk around the block, chat with a co-worker about her boyfriend, or actually take your lunch away from your desk today. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel when you return.Read More
An Atlanta based young man stirs a rather homophobic scene on Twitter after he shared an engagement picture of himself and fiance.
While some Twitter users are happy with the announcement and boldness in coming out with the engagement news, some others feel it's disgusting and wrong for two grown men to commit to such.