Die Nuba im Sudan


Arthur Howes
Großbritannien 1989 | 53 Min. | BetaSP, OmeU
Kafi, ein junger Mann aus der Nuba Bergregion im Sudan, reist in den Norden Khartums. Er möchte dort eine Arbeit finden und genug Geld verdienen, um für seine zweite Frau … mehr


Arthur Howes
Großbritannien 1999 | 53 Min. | BetaSP, OmeU
Zehn Jahre nach Kafi’s Story kehrt der Regisseur Arthur Howes in den Sudan zu den Angehörigen des Nuba-Stammes zurück, die er in seinem ersten Dokumentarfilm dargestellt hatte. Kurz danach wurde … mehr
Kafi's Story

The Nuba mountains are a scatter of granite outcrops jutting abruptly out of the plain in the central Sudanese region of South Kordofan. With the wide lowlands between them, they cover an area of about 30,000 square miles. Here a group of tribes, totalling about a million people, have lived side by side for centuries, defending themselves from slave raiders and other enemies. The Nuba are a cluster of diverse peoples, speaking more than a fifty languages. ‘Nuba´ is a collective name given to them by outsiders. (‘Nubian´, the name of the people living on the Egypt-Sudan border, is another form of the same word.) Linking the different tribes are commonalities which grow out of the shared conditions of their lives. They are skilful farmers who work either terraces on the hillside or when conditions are peaceful enough, till larger and more fertile fields down in the plain. They grow millet, groundnuts, sesame, and vegetables, and keep cattle. For a long time the Nuba have also been leaving their mountains to look for work elsewhere in Sudan. Now they make up a large proportion of the army. However, they are generally treated as second class citizens and are discriminated against in education, employment and civil rights. Ever since the 1960s, the fertile plains have been taken over by large, hugely profitable, mechanised farming schemes owned by businessmen who dominate the Sudanese state. These schemes are ruinous to the environment, to the nomads who graze their herds on the plains, and to the Nuba. Those who refuse to give up their land have been harassed, imprisoned and murdered.

It is against this background that the Nuba have become caught up in Sudan’s long drawn out civil war. On the one side is the central government in Khartoum determined to impose its own vision of an Islamic State and to wipe out the cultural diversity of this vast country with its many different peoples. On the other is the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA), a movement of the southern peoples, who adhere black Africans to either Christianity or indigenous religions. The Nuba, though geographically in northern Sudan, have much in common with the peoples of the south. Since the 1980s, the Sudanese government has been harassing the Nuba as suspected SPLA supporters, but it was not until 1989 that the ‘New Kush Division´ of the SPLA arrived in the mountains. They won the support of the Nuba people as liberators and many of the young men joined them. They control much of the countryside, though the government holds the main towns. In retaliation, government forces destroy villages and farms, plant land mines, and arrest people. The object is to induce the people to leave the SPLA controlled areas and settle in so called ‘peace camps´. The official position is that these camps are inhabited by ‘returnees´ and are centres for relief and development. In fact, the inmates are either kept against their will or sent to work for little or no money on the mechanised farms. Women are raped, children are taken from their parents and put into ‘Islamic´ schools, and men are forced to join the government militia. As one Nuba farmer put it, »Because they have not defeated us, they are burning our villages so that we will go to their towns and become their slaves.« 

One strategy of the government is to use the local Arab tribes against the Nuba. Called ‘Baggara´, a name meaning ‘cattle´ these Arab tribes and the Nuba have competed over water and land for generations but they always found ways to limit and resolve conflict, traded together, and even intermarried. But since 1989 the Baggara, who have lost their own pasture lands to commercial farms, have been armed and trained as a paramilitary ‘People’s Defence Force´ (PDF), and encouraged to take over Nuba land. They are now being joined by Nuba recruited to the PDF, often forcibly, from the peace camps or in the cities. Since 1991, the Nuba mountains have been in a state of siege. Arthur Howes