The Nuba Mountains, Sudan’s religious exception


At the top of Karindi Mountain, nestled among corn cobs and bunches of sorghum, sits the small round mud house of Abdulrahman Sadiq.

The old man with the thick yellow beard calls himself “Chattiga”. He is one of the most renowned animist religious leaders, known as “Kujurs”, of the Nuba Mountains.

Nearly three-quarters of this mountainous region in southern Sudan, which is the size of Slovakia, is administered by rebels from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

The rebels have been in charge since their 2011-2016 war with Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese dictator who was deposed in 2019.

The Nuba had taken up arms to protest against their political, economic and cultural marginalization.

The central government in Khartoum had built no roads, schools or hospitals in this area. The rebels also refused to apply Sharia then in force in the rest of the country.

This green area is an exception within the Sudanese nation, which has a large Muslim majority. Here Christians, Muslims and animists live together peacefully.

Abdelaziz Al Hilou, the SPLM-N leader, began negotiations with Sudan’s transitional government last May to help transform the country into a secular state.

But when the Sudanese army toppled the government in a coup on October 25, the military leaders postponed the talks with the rebels indefinitely.

Five years of aerial bombardments

In the meantime, the Nuba remain convinced that their strength comes from their inter-religious coexistence.

“At each attack, Christians and Muslims prayed. As a Kujur, I asked God to help us,” Chattiga says.

The animist leader believes this “collective effort” allowed the rebels to “win the war”, or at least achieve a ceasefire.

“We have no problem between us because we are engaged in the same fight,” added Father Daniel Tutu, from the Catholic parish in Kauda, the SPLM-N capital.

In the shade of a tree, Sheikh Tarig Abdalla tells of his struggle against the instrumentalization of Islam by the previous regime.

“The Nuba people have always refused violence. Before the birth of Jesus Christ, our ancestors began to move gradually from the north to the mountains to escape conflicts,” he adds.

Sister Catherine, a Tanzanian nun who arrived in Kauda in 2015, agrees.

“This is the first time I have seen such unity between the different religions. The residents even celebrate religious holidays together,” she points out.

Inter-community tensions and vaccine shortages

It is also not uncommon for siblings to be members of different faiths.

“I have eight children. Two are Christian, three are Muslim. The others do not go to church or the mosque, but they believe in God,” says Hussein Nalukori Kappi.

This 69-year-old Muslim believes in both biblical teachings and traditional religions.

Amani Musa Kodi, the president of the Kauda-based women’s union, is also a Muslim and is married to a Christian.

And she is amused that her six-year-old son calls himself a Muslim one day and a Christian the next.

“We’ll let him choose when he grows up,” she says.

Five years after the end of the fighting, however, shadows continue to tarnish the harmonious picture of the Nuba Mountains.

These include attempts by priests, pastors and imams to divert their followers from traditional religions, which they often continue to practice in parallel.

Without closing the door of his church to them, where Chattiga himself goes on Sundays, Father Tutu does not hesitate to describe the Kujur healers as “evil people”.

But above all, it is the rebels’ inability to sign an agreement with Khartoum that is at fault, prolonging the isolation of the two regions they control.

In the past two years, not a single dose of any sort of vaccine has arrived in the region.

Currently, a measles epidemic threatens to further ravage a community already battling malaria and malnutrition.

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Source link : https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/the-nuba-mountains-sudans-religious-exception/15258

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Publish date : 2021-11-24 15:34:00

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