Two centuries passed since Arabia entered southern Sudan, during which different times of spread and decline passed, and politics was the main reason behind these changes, and the secession and the emergence of the Republic of South Sudan remains an event open to many questions, including the question about the status of the Arab tongue in the nascent country.
Most of the opinions go that the Arabic language entered southern Sudan in 1821, after a new map of Sudan was formed, by the forces of Muhammad Ali Pasha.
With the overlap between the tribes of the south and the tribes of the north, a very old social and commercial movement arose. In his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, Dr. Chul Deng confirms that there is an overlap and a tribal contact that undoubtedly leads to the existence of overlap and linguistic contact.
And because the link between what is linguistic and social is strong and continuous, Dr. Scholl continues his statement, saying, “Arabic did not spread except within narrow limits, as required by commercial transactions, and local languages may have entered vocabulary for things that the Southerners did not know at the time, but the entry of Arabic was formally and massively. It was with the campaign of Muhammad Ali Pasha, after it became the language of power and government, and this spread increased with the absorption of a large number of southerners into military service. “
Although this opinion is the dominant one, Dr. Abdullah Deng has another opinion, as he says, “I have a hypothesis that I have not proven yet, according to which the entry of Arabia to the south was since the Sultanate of Sennar (1505-1821).”
Deng confirms the prevailing opinion that the largest spread of the Arabic language in southern Sudan was two centuries ago from now, and that it flourished with the movement of merchants, preachers and sheikhs, and the entry of a large number of southerners into Islam, which gave the language an additional dimension.
Locked Areas Act
After the fall of the Mahdist state and the entry of Sudan into a colonial era under the British crown, missionary activity began to appear strongly in the south, and cities populated with European churches and missions, which Christianized a large number of southerners, and began to spread and use English with local languages in education instead of Arabic.
The authorities also sent southern students to Uganda, instead of sending them to Gordon College, then the launch of the Closed Areas Act, which limited the movement of northerners in southern Sudan, and the residency and movement of northerners needed an English permission was difficult to obtain.
Civil legal advisor Muhammad believes that the law was drafted to make the south open to different options – as is known historically – including annexing it to Uganda, or separating it into a separate state on its own.
And he continues to tell Al-Jazeera Net that “the closed areas law prevented the natural integration between north and south, forbidding northerners to reside in the south, and the difficulty of obtaining permission to visit, and combating appearances that took place to the north, and Islamic and Arab appearances, and the matter reached preventing the southerners from wearing the aunt and the jellaba, it is a racist law.” “.
And Al-Madani continues, “And historians of that era mention that the restriction on Arabic reached a ban on Sharia courts, music and songs, and everything that could constitute a taste or a general mood.”
However, by the end of 1946, this law fell, and there appeared another era in which communication between north and south returned, and Arabic began to recover some of what it had lost in the south, until the national government came, and Arabic became the official language of the unified Sudanese country, according to Al-Madani’s statement.
Pursuant to the right to self-determination granted by the Naivasha Agreement in 2005, a referendum was organized for the people of Southern Sudan in January 2011, which led to secession and the birth of the Republic of South Sudan, thus a period of wars and tribulations that cast a shadow over the culture and generated some sensitivity towards the Arabic language Despite strong popular ties and passion.
In their constitution, the Southerners chose English as the official language, in addition to the local languages.
Although the street speaks Arabic with southern features, government offices and transactions are conducted in English according to what has been agreed upon. The civil professor defines the official language “as the language that a country uses in its offices and transactions, and it may be one or more languages.”
English was also chosen as the language of instruction – of course – but the southern government saw teaching Arabic as a second language, starting from the basic education stage, specifically in the fifth school year, and continuing until the end of secondary school.
After the government of South Sudan had separated politically from the north, its ministers sought to make the separation complete, and this was evidenced by the invitation of the Minister of Education, Hussein Michael Milli, to get rid of the curricula that use the Arabic language in all schools in the south, and to intensify the teaching of the English language. Experts believe that such a step could have a negative impact on the new country’s relations with the Arab world.
The Arabic language remained the common denominator of all the multiple tribes of the south of the two linguistic areas. It is the language of communication and understanding. There is the Equatorial group that called its language “Juba Arabic”, and the (Waw) group launched “Arab Waw”, which is an Arabic language that is a mixture of local dialects.
The transition from Arabic to English or other languages in South Sudan, which observers see as a challenge; There are more than a million and a half students in various educational levels who received their education in the Arabic language in the north, who returned to the south after the secession, in addition to the vast area that Arabic occupies as a daily language of communication among the people of the south.
South Sudan is characterized by a great multilingualism, dozens of living languages, and under each language there are dialects that vary in number according to the language, tribe, and their suburbs.
The people of the south often speak their local languages, when the addressee is from the same tribe, but when the conversation is between two people from different tribes, they speak colloquial Arabic, which has the effect of local languages and their characteristics, which has been termed “Arab Juba”, and almost this Arabic is the language of speech The daily, which the ordinary citizen deals with, while senior officials and politicians tend to talk in English among themselves.
Dr. Abdullah Deng Nhial continues on the concept of the term in the North in his testimony to Al-Jazeera Net, saying, “Some people think that Juba Arab is the Arabic spoken by the people of southern Sudan, and the truth is that it is the Arabic spoken by the people of Juba and its surroundings, there are more than one Arabic accent in the south that differs In different regions and tribes, because each of the local languages has its own characteristics. There are letters and exits that exist in one language, and not in another, but because Juba, the capital, the matter has become connected to it.
Niall adds that “the dialect called Arab Juba is the Arabic spoken by the Bariya tribe, some of its features in terms of exits and sounds of letters, as well as the case in the Arabic dialect in other areas of the south.”
Dr. Chol Deng believes that Arabic, or “Arab Juba,” does not stem from its importance as a bridge between the southern components, and that it is the everyday language only. “There are some southerners, especially those in the north, who have lost their mother tongue, and Arabic has become the language that they speak in their homes.”
More than one language is spoken
Arabia in South Sudan was not limited to communication and communication only, as some might think, but it went beyond that to writing creativity, and many names emerged that provided a lot to Sudanese culture when Sudan was one, and led the cultural scene after the secession.
Among the most famous Arab writers in South Sudan, the novelist and storyteller, Stella Gaetano, with her most prominent group, “Wilted Flowers”, the late Sir Anai (a university professor, poet and journalist), Nyalao Hassan, author of the poem “Karabin Nykang”, Atim Symond and his most famous collection “The Homeland” and other scholars And intellectuals who contributed in a clear and tangible way to the Sudanese cultural movement.
The secession of southern Sudan did not prevent the existence of written creativity from the post-secession generations, and the poet Doth Deng Booth believes that “poetry is the life of the South in his war and harvest and all his life, so it exists whether it is in the local southern language or in the Arabic language.”
But he bemoans, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, about the unstable security situation and the wars that have distracted attention from everything that is cultural and creative, despite the continuous generations of writers and creators, and the publishing problem is added to that.
He says that some southern poets and writers have found an outlet for them in Khartoum, hoping to convey to the world an image of their country far from the war and its hadiths.