On the groundless fury in South Sudan

A South Sudanese woman standing with the child/International Medical CorpsA South Sudanese woman standing with the child/International Medical Corps

By Mawan Gordon Muortan

M7 is not the first person to use the term blue-black.

I don’t believe that he was mocking us!

He is standing with us!

He was criticizing the historic North Sudanese (Arab) regimes’ attempt to identify the whole of the old Sudan as an Arab country. He was pausing the question: Since black Africans are known to be non-Arab, how can the blackest among them be called Arabs in Sudan?

South Sudanese were fighting to reject the Arab identity that was being imposed on them and assert their Africaness!

If you recall those days, our disappointment with the “lame” African leaders was that they were not man-enough to call-out the “Arabs” Sudanese as M7 just did and did very clearly at the time.

Oh! How memory and gratitude quickly fade?

The term blue-black can be found in some books, as a way of distinguishing the jet-black skin colour of the blacks of parts of Sudan from the more common chocolate-brown skin colour found in much of the rest of Africa.

We also make this distinction ourselves, don’t we??

Black Africans can be yellow-black as in the Kalahari San people. -> Language group: San speakers.

Chocolate brown as in much of Africa -> Language group: Niger-Congo speakers.

Deep-black (blue-black) as in Sudan (before the Arabs), South Sudan, parts of East-Africa, parts of Chad and parts of northern Nigeria -> Nilo-Saharan speakers.

These changes happened among African people over 10s of thousands of years due to movement and isolation on the vast continent of Africa.

M7, in using “blue-black” to describe South Sudanese, was quoting a term that has been used before.

We are embarrassing ourselves over nothing. Especially when our government gets itself embroiled in it.

It is obvious for all to see (& it is a known fact) many South Sudanese are the tallest, slimmest, and blackest people in the world. We are often proud of this distinction. Aren’t we?

The meteoric global rise of South Sudanese models, who are “blue-black”, is shifting the age-old Eurocentric definition of beauty and opening opportunities in show business for all African/black people.

Oscar-winner Hollywood star, Lupita Nyong’o, who is a Kenyan, famously talked of how seeing the South Sudanese model Alek Wek, on the world stage, helped her overcome her negative self-image and honed her resolve to pursue her ambition.

The book of Isaiah famously talks of a tall, smooth-skinned fierce people who navigated the rivers of Kush, something we were quick to embrace as a reference to our ancestors.

Let’s stop playing the victim over something that is good.

Even if M7 was having a cheap joke at our expense (as some of us believe), we would still look ridiculous to get angry over something that everyone can see – i.e. South Sudanese jet-blackness. Something that has never before been a source of shame for us, but of pride.

Africans, like the entire humanity, come if different shapes and colours. This is a cause of celebration not of war.


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