51. Enough (Kifaya)
Written & performed by Abazar Hamid
Listen & watch via Freemuse



And now the whispering became screaming
And the ash burns as a fire
In opposition to cheating.
We will not wait for a long time.
We will not wait until night.


We find the Promised Land trope in the title of a text in human rights website the New Liberian by Charles Jackson: World Refugee Day at a Glance: Where is the Promised Land?  [1] The focus of the UNHCR’s World Refugee Day activities was Iraq, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Darfur.

On the subject of Darfur, Amnesty International, in its document Background Information on Darfur Shareholder Pressure, ‘urges institutions with investments in oil companies operating in Sudan (and/or their various spin-offs and majority-owned subsidiaries) to use their substantial influence to strongly urge the Government of Sudan to allow UN-African Union peace keepers to fully deploy in Darfur without obstruction or delay. Rather than calling on these stockholders to divest, we request that they actively employ their investor power as a force for positive change. Some firms have already begun to act, but the large majority are still ignoring the issue and hoping it will just go away. We need to press more investment companies to take a stand for the people of Darfur.

The conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, has led to some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable, including systematic and widespread murder, torture, rape, abduction, looting, and forced displacement. Since February 2003, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed by both deliberate and indiscriminate attacks, and 2.6 million Darfurian civilians have been displaced. Humanitarian aid workers are under daily threat because of rampant insecurity in the region, and some aid organisations have been forced to leave the region due to banditry and violence against their workers. All parties to the conflict have committed human rights abuses, but the Sudanese government, based in Khartoum and the government-backed Janjaweed militia bear primary responsibility for the systematic and widespread abuses that have characterised the Darfur conflict over the past five years.

Much of the revenue fuelling this conflict is generated by Sudan’s oil industry. Ninety percent of Sudan’s export income is derived from oil, with a majority of those revenues funding military expenditures, and virtually none supporting social development. As Sudan does not have the capital or expertise to efficiently extract and refine its own oil, it relies almost entirely on foreign companies to operate this lucrative industry, which netted the Sudanese treasury more than $5 billion in 2006.’ [2]

Jackson writes that the UN embargo on arms to Darfur has failed. Independent Journalist Johann Hari quotes Human Rights Watch on how the arms were paid for. Hari also lists Sudan’s main clients circa 2004: ‘Siemens AG from Germany, Alcatel SA from France, ABB Ltd from Switzerland, Tatneft from Russia and PetroChina’. [3] By 2007 China National Petroleum Corp was the largest oil producer in Sudan. Abdelwahid Nur leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement had this to say about them: ‘Anybody, Chinese, or others, any company that produces oil in Sudan and who supports and finances the regime to continue killing our people, will not be safe […] Any weapon that kills our people comes from China. Any weapon in Darfur comes from China. Chinese aircraft, Kalashnikovs, Chinese vehicles.’ [4]

In addition to the guns and bombs, there is the weapon of music. In an ironic twist on the uses made of music on World Refugee Day, music is being used as a weapon of war. Here is the recollection of an encounter with the Hakama women, traditional Arab singers, whose job it is to encourage Janjaweed and militia men to kill Darfurians. This account is from Amnesty International’s  Sudan: Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence and its consequences, and it’s an excerpt from the testimony of M., a Masalit chief of the village of Disa, and a survivor of an attack by the Sudanese Janjaweed military. In July the military arrested several persons including Brahim Siddiq, a seven-year-old boy. In June the Janjaweed said during the attack: ‘You are complicit with the opponents, you are Blacks, no Black can stay here, and no Black can stay in Sudan.’ Arab women were accompanying the attackers singing songs in praise of the government and encouraging the attackers. The women said: ‘The blood of the Blacks runs like water, we take their goods and we chase them from our area and our cattle will be in their land. The power of al-Bashir belongs to the Arabs and we will kill you until the end, you Blacks, we have killed your God’. [5] Janjaweed men also like to sing. Here is another testimony from Amnesty International’s 2004 document, by A., aged 37: ‘When we tried to escape they shot more children. They raped women; I saw many cases of Janjawid raping women and girls. They are happy when they rape. They sing when they rape and they tell us that we are just slaves and that they can do with us how they wish.’ [6]

Five years after Amnesty made its report on the Hakama singers available a story concerning the singers appeared on the music and human rights website Freemuse, by way of Washington Post journalist Stephanie McCrummen. Abazar Hamid, an architect and Bob Marley fan turned singer song-writer, was trying to persuade the Hakama women to change their ways and sing about peace. The Hakama women weren’t convinced. They had their reasons: nothing beats the thrill of sending a few thousand off to war, pumped up by your singing, and anyway, if they didn’t sing for their men to kill, someone might come and kill them. And of course there was the money: the Hakama women were paid handsomely by the local authorities for their songs, and the women knew that no one was going to pay them to sings about peace.

The Hakama singers didn’t think much of Hamid’s songs. They weren’t swayed by Peace Darfur, and New Sudan appears to have left them cold. Maybe they found their themes offensive, especially Abeyi’s account of the destruction of local villages by government forces. Maybe they don’t like reggae. They’re not alone: the Sudanese government’s censors share the Hakama’s distaste for Hamid’s music, and have made a deal with him: they will allow him to record and produce New Sudan and Peace Darfur on the condition that he neither sing nor record a song he wrote called Enough. Ever. The Washington Post has attached a video news item on Hamid as an accompaniment to Stephanie McCrummen’s report. You can watch Hamid perform the song at the Worldview page at www.washingtonpost.com/worldview.

Hamid mentioned in his interview with McCrummen that he wanted to record an album of peace songs. All that he needed was financial backing and a producer. [7] That was in August 2008. In November the UN classified the situation in Sudan as one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world. It is now January 2009. We’ve Googled his name since then, and haven’t found anything. We hope he is alive and well and that he has found a way of recording his album.

We also wish him every success in his work with the Hakama singers, although it is likely that the finances that make weapons available in Sudan will also keep the Hakama singers in pocket, while ensuring there is a demand for their work. The Estonian government’s summation of events in November suggest as much: four point six million people have fled their homes during the war. Half of them are still internally displaced persons today. Conflicts in southern Sudan and in Darfur in the western part of the country have forced internally displaced persons to move to the eastern parts of the country. Over half a million refugees have fled to neighbouring nations, mainly Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Chad. In addition, over 200,000 refugees have also come into Sudan from the neighbouring countries of Eritrea, Chad, Ethiopia, and Congo. [8]

This scenario is supported by these conservative estimates by non profit public policy organisation The Brookings Institution: around 250,000 Darfurian refugees are living in refugee camps in Chad, with additional thousands living in villages inside the Chadian border and dispersed throughout the country. [4] In addition, there are an unknown number of Darfurians who have been displaced outside of Darfur throughout Sudan who have received very little attention, in part because of traditional labour migration patterns. And there are around 180,000 internally displaced Chadians and approximately 25,000 Chadians who have sought shelter in Darfur. [5] Most of the humanitarian assistance and most of the news has focused on the Darfurian internally displaced persons living in camps, but as we know from other situations, those who are displaced within communities are not only invisible, but often underserved. [9]

Where is the Promised Land?’ Thinking about Charles Jackson’s question, might we suggest that Sudan’s promise lies not on the land, but beneath it.  For those above ground, scattered across the brutalised landscape, it has thus far proven impossible to say, even in song, ‘Enough.’ If the government doesn’t shut you up, the Hakama’s ululations will drown you out.


[1] World Refugee Day at a Glance: Where is the Promised Land? by Charles Jackson, New Liberian http://www.newliberian.com/?p=416

[2] Background Information on Darfur Shareholder Pressure http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/action9310

[3] How the world’s biggest corporations are fuelling genocide in Sudan, by Johann Hari – The Independent, Friday, 19 November 2004
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/how-the-worlds-biggest- corporations-are-fuelling-genocide-in-sudan-533753.html

[4] Petroleum Oil Exploration Plan in Sudan, December 8th, 2007 http://www.paguntaka.org/2007/12/08/petroleum-oil-exploration-plan-in-sudan/

[5] Document – Sudan: Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence.

[6] Document – Sudan: Darfur: Rape as a weapon of war: sexual violence.

[7] Songs of Hope for Sudan, When the Censors Allow, by Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, June 19, 2008

[8] Estonia helps Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons with 700,000 Kroons, source: Government of Estonia Date: 07 Nov 2008

[9] Internally Displaced Persons in Darfur: Taking Stock. The Brookings Institution May 07, 2008



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