Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on TerrorSaviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror by Mahmood Mamdani

Link: The Darfur the West Isn’t Recognizing as It Moralizes About the Region [NYTimes Books]

Mahmood Mamdani has written what looks to be quite a controversial book on the situation on Darfur.  Mamdani has been criticised in the past for being an apologist and blaming the genocide in Rwanda on Belgian colonialism.  I could write an entire essay on this (and possibly will one day) but many scholars have noted that colonialists manipulated and enhanced differences between groups of people (Hutus and Tutsis, Zulus and Xhosas) and that this increased the propensity for violence and discord between these groups in later years when resources became scarce and political tensions arose.

"Mr. Mamdani calls this British tactic of administratively reinforcing distinctions among colonial subjects “re-identify and rule” and says that it was copied by European powers across the continent, with deadly consequences — as in Rwanda, where Belgium’s intervention hardened distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi" -

In his latest book, he criticises the use of the term "genocide" in Darfur and seeks to "reintroduce history" into the discussion of Darfur.  He questions why the actions of the Ugandan government are overlooked (they are an allie of the US) and he notes that 5 million have died in the conflict in the Congo since 1998.  Once again drawing on his theory of "re-identify and rule", he calls into question whether the conflict in Darfur is a true conflict between Arabs and "black Africans".

"Much foreign commentary about Sudan speaks of its Arabs as settlers, with the inference that they are somehow less African than people assumed to be of pure black stock. If whites in Kenya and Zimbabwe, not to mention South Africa, vociferously maintain their African-ness, what then to make of the Arab presence in Sudan, whose slow penetration and widespread intermarriage, Mr. Mamdani writes, “commenced in the early decades of Islam” and “reached a climax” from the 8th to the 15th century, “when the Arab tribes overran much of the country”?" -

Importantly, Mahmood is a scholar who seeks to understand the situations in Darfur, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.  His opinions may be controversial but I think his works constitute important reading and therefore, I am putting this latest book Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror plus his previous book When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and the Genocide in Rwanda at the top of my to-read lists.

About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is an accountant living and working in London. She is passionate about world events such as genocide and apartheid and has a desire to understand how these events continue to occur in the modern world. With a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, A Passion to Understand reflects her continuing research and reading on these topics.
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  1. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll look it up.

  2. Cool! I do 3want to read it because I'd like to make my own mind up about it. A lot of what he says sounds like the point of view we were taught at Wits University so I'd be interested to see whether I identify with his controversial views.


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