Monday, June 17, 2013

Sudan North and South Separation

Executive Summary Since time immemorial communication between individuals and different human groups has been a very important element in the existence of human beings. Intercultural communication has gained increased preeminence in the 21st century as a consequence of globalization, increased numbers of multicultural work places as well as the need for peace and reconciliation in a number of nations that have been typified by civil strife in the last couple of years. Intercultural communication is described as the communication process that involves two or more people from cultural background that is different. Intercultural communication is a concept that is preferred in many academic forums as opposed to “cross-cultural” due to the fact that it is not cultures that communicate but different social agencies or people. By using the Sudanese nation as a case study, this paper will define the concept of culture as well as relevant theories of cultural communication. Recommendations will also be given on the establishment of effective intercultural communication in Sudan after which a conclusive summary of the issues discussed here in will be drafted. At the end of the paper will be an alphabetical depiction of the references cited in this paper. 1.0 Introduction One of the most important phenomena in different aspects of human life in the 21st century is the ability to communicate effectively as demanded by different contexts. Intercultural communication has gained increased preeminence in the 21st century as a consequence of globalization, increased numbers of multicultural work places as well as the need for peace and reconciliation in a number of nations that have been typified by civil strife in the last couple of years. Allwood (1985, p. 1) defines intercultural communication as the communication process that involves two or more people from cultural background that are different. Intercultural communication is a concept that is preferred in many academic forums as opposed to “cross-cultural” due to the fact that it is not cultures that communicate but different social agencies or people. Intercultural communication which is a global phenomenon is utilized in the description of a large number of communication problems that humans are faced with in their different institutions. As a consequence of globalization and opening up of borders for trade, people from different parts of the world are able to move from one nation to another in search of better economic prospects or to further their education. Collins (2008) points out that in societies or commercial organizations comprised of people from different cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, social and educational backgrounds it is very important that the phenomenon of intercultural communication be accorded the importance that it requires. Intercultural communication, as indicated by the case study of Sudan, attempts to make sense of the manner in which people from different cultures react to those from different backgrounds. 2.0 Culture According to Damen (1987) culture refers to “learned and shared human patterns or models for living; day to day living patterns….culture is mankind’s primary adaptive mechanism”. Communication refers to a process that is not only contextual and dynamic, but also self reflective and symbolic; the process of communication is affected by culture. There are four important cultural dimensions that are very significant in the process of intercultural communication. Artifacts One of the techniques that can be used in differentiating between the different human cultures that exist in different regions of the world is the artifacts that typify them. Individuals from different human cultures have distinct ways of producing and manufacturing artifacts by use of materials that are readily available in their in their surroundings (Allwood, 1985, p. 1). The architecture by people in Arabic cultures is, for instance, very distinct from that in many western contexts. The modes of dressing also differ from one human culture to the next. Patterns of Thoughts Allwood (1985, p. 1) points out that patterns of thoughts and very important in intercultural communication due to the fact that more often than not, people from the same culture tend to have similar patterns of thoughts. The ways of thinking tend to be common as depicted in the emotional mindsets, beliefs, values and norms that characterize thoughts. Imprints in Nature Imprints that are marked in nature by different cultural groups range from those as a result of farming activities, human dwellings, garbage disposal and establishment of infrastructure. The manner in which different human groups transform the natural habitats surrounding them is distinctive depending on their culture. 3.0 Theories of Intercultural Communications There are a number of theories on intercultural communications that are very applicable and significant in the Sudanese case. Communication Accommodation Theory This theory has its origins in the Speech Accommodation theory that claims human beings are encouraged to change their speech styles so as to attain one or more of the following goals: to enhance the effectiveness of the communication process, to attain the social approval of the person that one is communicating with and finally so as to preserve their positive social identities (HAC213, 2013). There are a number of basic principles that characterize this theory; the first principle as indicated in HAC213 (2013, p. 3) is the fact that communication is not only influenced by the situational environment but also the historical. Secondly, the communication process is very importance for passing across information as well as for preserving an individual’s social membership in a certain group or community. Thirdly, HAC213 (201, p. 3) indicates that according to this theory of intercultural communications, the individuals engaged in the process of communication anticipate certain levels of accommodation from each other. Another important principle of the theory is the fact that in order to clearly depict their statuses persons engaged in the process of communication make use of divergence and convergence strategies. While convergence is utilized with the intention of enhancing the similarities that exist between the communicators, divergence is used so as to make the existent differences more pronounced (HAC213, 2013, p. 3). In order to enhance similarities communicators may make use of simulating accents and matching tones or terminologies. Differences in statuses of communicators are accentuated by a communicator using technical jargon and emphasizing on accents. Cultural Schema Theory As indicated by HAC213 (2013) Nishida came up with this theory of intercultural communication in the year 1999. Schemas are “generalized collections of knowledge of past experiences which are organized into related knowledge groups and are used to guide our behavior in familiar situations”. Schemas are established and developed by social interaction and number of life occurrences that a person goes through. The Primary Social Interaction Schemas (PSI) is characterized by the role of the self, context, procedure, emotion, fact and concept as well as strategy (HAC213, 2013, p. 4). Schema Theory and Cultural Adaptation The Schema theory is very applicable in the context of cultural adaptation. According to this theory, tension is perceived to erupt when the context, strategy and procedural schemas possessed by an individual are unable to explain transformations in the individual’s cultural circumstances. In such a situation the concerned individual(s) may react in a number of ways. The first response is tuning; this refers to a temporary adjustment of schemas so as to respond to the current situation. Individuals may also respond by accretion; according to HAC213 (2013, p. 6) accretion refers to the permanent transformations that occur in a given duration of time. In the event that the transformations are abrupt and immense the response is referred to as restructuring. 4.0 Case Study: Sudan History According to Natsio (2012) the issues and challenges confronting the nation of Sudan are not a new phenomenon in both regional and international forums. Sudan in infamously known for being the region in Africa to have had the most elongated civil war. The war between the North and South had lasted for 22 years. For a period lasting approximately half a century the north and southern parts of the Sudanese region appeared to be unified on the outside while internally the nation was fragmented. Before the south part seceded from the north in the year 2011 Sudan had been the largest nation on Africa with the Sudanese region being as large as the United States of America on the eastern part of River Mississippi. The decades of civil strife in Sudan were characterized by vehement hostilities between the Christian and animists on the south who are of African descent and the Muslim Sudanese on the north who are of Arabic descent. Geography Since it attained its independence from the British and Egyptians that controlled it in the year 1956 Sudan was a federal republic fragmented into 26 States. Paglin (2007, p. 5) claims that an estimated 68% of the nation’s 40 million populace is rural. Sudan is bordered by Egypt on the northern side, Kenya and Uganda on the South east side, Chad on the west, the Democratic republic of Congo and the Central African Republic to the southwest. On the east Sudan is bordered by Eritrea and Ethiopia and the Red Sea on the north east. River Nile, the longest river in the world, separates the eastern and western regions in Sudan. Secession of South Sudan Collins (2008) reveals that after the Sudanese nation attained its independence from the British in the year 1956, the governments that inherited power from the colonialists continued perpetrating the same inequalities in development and allocation of national funds that the British had. For a very long time Arabs in the northern part of the nation dominated Sudan at the expense of the Sudanese of African descent in the south. This led the southerners to revolt and civil war broke out in Sudan. In January of the year 2005 the National Congress Party (NCP) signed an agreement with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and concluded a war that had led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese and the displacement of millions. According to Feren et al (2005, p. 2) an estimated 4,750,000 Sudanese fled the nation as a consequence of the civil war and an estimated 1,300,000 died in their flight. In early 2011 a referendum was carried out in Sudan and on the 9th of July the year 2011 the South seceded and a new nation, South Sudan, was established. As indicated in figure one below, the Republic of Sudan remained on the northern side on the nation and South Sudan, as intimated by its name, was established on the south. In addition to this, Blanchard (2012, p. 5) argues that the Islamic Sudanese in the capital of Sudan came up with national policies that were aimed and subjugating the southerners and forcing them to conforms to Islamic and Arabic ideals. Figure 1 Cultural Aspect in the Sudanese War The main cause of the civil war is the cultural differences that characterized the larger Sudan. According to Paglin (2007, p. 9) any attempt to describe a civil conflict as being brought about by differences in tribe and ethnicity requires that the concepts of “tribe” and “ethnic group” be described in detail. A tribe is described as “a group of people who are descended from common ancestors and ruled by a hereditary ‘chief’, who share a single culture (including in particular, language and religion) and who lived in a well defined geographical region” (Kwame, 1999, p. 703). In his description of ethnicity Fenton (2003, p. 23) claims that an ethnic group “refers to descent and culture communities with three specific additions: (1) That the group is a kind of sub-set within a nation-state, (2) that the point of reference of difference is typically culture rather than physical appearance, (3) often that the group referred to is ‘other’ to some majority who are presumed to be ‘ethnic’”. According to Feren et al (2005, p. 2) before southern Sudan seceded the nation was comprised of 70% Sunni Muslim majority of Arabic origins, 25% African Sudanese practicing indigenous religions and the remaining 5% being Christian Sudanese mostly of African origins. In the period of war many Sudanese practicing indigenous traditions and religions converted to Christianity in retaliation to the Islamic majority. Feren et al (2005, p. 3) further point out that the Sudanese nation, before secession, was characterized by an estimated 500 tribal dialects and 134 living languages; nevertheless, the most commonly spoken languages in Sudan are English and Arabic. Figure 2 below depicts the different ethnicities in Sudan. Figure 2 Although the reasons for the conflicts that lasted so long in Sudan are varied, the differences in culture, ethnicity and religion in population of Sudan played a very significant role. According to HAC213 (2013, p. 7) and as indicated in Figure 3 below there are a number of stages that the southerners and northerners in Sudan went through before they could finally come to the agreement that allowed for the secession of South Sudan from the Republic of Sudan. The stages of culture shock are the honeymoon, distress, re-integration and autonomy phases (indicated below). Figure 3 5.0 Recommendations and Conclusion There are a number of recommendations that may enhance intercultural communication between the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan so as to bring about sustainable peace between the two regions.  The leaders of the two nations have to engage in a collaborative peace meeting with the intention of resolving the issues that exist between the two nations.  The leaders in both the southern and northern Sudan regions must come up with effective systems of governance that will not only ensure equitable distribution of national funds and resources but also equal economic and social development.  A national campaign in both regions aimed at healing and reconciliation as well as enhancing the understanding and appreciation of the cultural diversity that characterizes the regions is also very important. Although the process of healing and reconciliation after a civil strife as long and disastrous as that which occurred in Sudan will not occur immediately, with time it will. This paper has discussed the issue of intercultural communication by using the nation of Sudan as the case study. As already indicated, Intercultural communication is described as the communication process that involves two or more people from cultural background that is different. Intercultural communication is a concept that is preferred in many academic forums as opposed to “cross-cultural” due to the fact that it is not cultures that communicate but different social agencies or people. In societies or commercial organizations comprised of people from different cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, social and educational backgrounds it is very important that the phenomenon of intercultural communication be accorded the importance that it requires. As the case study of Sudan has revealed, in the event that the cultural differences among people living in the same society are not effectively resolved, they may lead to very serious conflicts. 6.0 References Allwood, J., (1985), Intercultural Communication, English Translation of "Tvärkulturell kommunikation" in Allwood, J. (Ed.)Tvärkulturell kommunikation, Papers in Anthropological Linguistics 12, University of Göteborg, Dept of Linguistics, p. 1-23 Blanchard, L. P., (2012), Sudan and South Sudan: Current Issues for Congress and US Policy, Congressional Research Service Collins, R. O., (2008), A History of Modern Sudan, Cambridge: UK, Cambridge University Press Damen, L., (1987), Culture Learning: The Fifth Dimension on the Language Classroom, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Feren, K., Hynes, A., Richardson, C. and Witmer, A., (2005), The Sudanese Culture, S. Lado and C. Okeny, pp. 2-8 Fenten, S., (2003), Ethnicity, Cambridge: Polity Press HAC213, (2013), Intercultural Communications: Intercultural Theory Two, pp. 1-8 Kwame, A. A., (1999), Ethnicity and Identity in Africa: An Interpretation, African: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience, New York: Civitas Books Paglia, P., (2007), Ethnicity and tribalism: Are These the Root Causes of the Sudanese Civil Conflicts: African Conflicts and the Role of Ethnicity: A Case Study of Sudan, Africa Economic Analysis, pp. 2-40 Natsios, A., (2012) Sudan, South Sudan, and Darfur: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press