“Human knowledge is a knowledge of comparison. For we do not know something as itself, but by how it is related to something else that is similar or different from it.” Abdul Wahab Al-Messiri
Communication remains to be a crucial tool in human development, helping in the reduction of challenges encountered by interacting with different communities. Human beings are social beings who favor engaging with their surroundings as a means of exploring life and a way to make a living. There is no place where a person can live isolated. Through communication, societies can break down barriers between them and thus embrace the values and characteristics that unite them. Communication also helps expanding new cultural horizons and accepting differences. At first, the expatriate becomes emotionally confused due to the different culture of the new environment, which is known as the cultural shock, but over time the expatriate feels a gradual recovery and adaptation to the new environment, which contributes in finding a common ground between the two cultures; the cultures of the expatriate and the host.
Sudan has been a united state since independence, despite the existence of different cultures and ethnicities. It represents a melting pot of many religions and ethnicities which distinguish Sudan among other countries. With the secession of Southern Sudan in 2011, the importance of social and cultural mobility to promote the integration of the border tribes of the two countries became apparent. If we review the long history of the area we’ll find that the integration and mixing of border tribes dates to pre-colonial times.
Geographically, the border line is located in the Savannah area, where heavy rainfall occurs and rivers, valleys and seasonal lagoons run through. Trees and bushes of heavy and long weeds cover the northern borders. In the border area many tribes live (such as Funj, Shilluk, Nuba, Dinka, Rezaigat, Fertit, Miseireya, etc.) across the border states of Blue Nile, Upper Nile, Southern Kordofan, Al-Wuhda, White Nile, North of Bahr El Ghazal, South Darfur and West of Bahr el Ghazal. We find that some of these tribes are herders, grazing animals as a way of living, and they cross the borders back and forth in search of water and grass for their livestock. Other border tribes are farming as a way to earn a living. The dirtiness of politics has tried to create a gap between these tribes, but nevertheless, social ties played an important role in the face of politics, which helped maintain relations in these communities even after the secession of Southern Sudan.
The importance of the border zone is not confined to the social aspect alone. This area is rich with various natural resources (gold,
copper, oil, gum Arabic, agricultural crops and livestock). It is reported that this zone contributes to Sudan’s exports in large quantities (such as with gum Arabic and livestock). In Southern Sudan, which relies heavily on oil, the border zone supports the national budget with an immense percent on an annual basis.
Source PBS.ORG photo by Jason Patinkin
Cultural, social, and religious ties played an important role among the elements of this region, as a dynamic process that people conduct
once they reach the new environment. Communities in that region create a stable, reciprocal and practical relationship with the environment. This is most evident in pastoralists, who are considered ambassadors of the values and traditions of their communities and thus spread them in the regions they pass by seasonally, leaving clear marks in the host communities.
If we reviewed the history, we will find that many factors contributed to bridging the gap between the people of the two countries. On one
hand, the northern merchants in the neighboring regions played a role in the spread of Islam and Arabism through their visits to border regions. Their influence was manifested in the Arabic and Islamic names that were given to the southerners who converted to Islam and the way of dress (the Jalabiya for example).
From the social point of view, human relations are rooted in these societies through the matrimonial linkages, especially between the Shilluk and the Salims in the Upper Nile, the Dinka and the Misseriya in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and the tribes of Darfur and Fertit in western Bahr el Ghazal. This social cohesion lessened the conflicts and rivalry between these tribes, which was reflected by the border resident Ajak Abdullah saying: "our ancestors used to be afraid of welcoming the visiting shepherds because they saw them as invaders trying to control their areas and resources, but over time, and due to the interrelations, this mentality has changed.”
While border born and bred Salah Jibril thinks that colonialism and successive regimes in the government failed to find common elements between the two peoples. He added: "the policy of the ‘closed door’ applied by the colonizer in the 1920s worked to widen the cultural gap between the North and the South. However, successive regimes were unable to find an effective solution to bridge this gap after the exit of the colonizer".
It is no secret that the eternal relationship between the people of the two countries has been long established. Nonetheless, this relationship needs the attention and care of those who are in charge in the two countries, so as to emphasize the common aspects which are hidden from the outside world.