It’s the kind of place you might envision having hiking trails. Rocky mountains, much like our own Rocky Mountains here in the U.S. But these mountains have caves. Not filled with wildlife but caves where people live. Actually, they’re hiding. These mountains are called the Nuba Mountains on the contested border separating Sudan and South Sudan. The Nuba are the indigenous people of the Nuba Mountains in the Kordofan State within Sudan.
There’s something else in the Nuba Mountains; Gold as well as iron, gypsum, chromium, copper and uranium.
The people from the Nuba Mountains, and by the way, there are more than 50 different tribes, are not cave dwellers. The caves are the only safe place for them to hide from aerial bombardments. You see the government in the north wants all those precious minerals … and the oil beneath the ground.
Some background: The Nuba are Black, many are Christian, some are Muslim, and others practice animism. They fought with the people fought in the “civil war” from 1985 to 2005 with the Sudanese from the south who are Black indigenous people and Christian as well.
The Sudanese in the north are primarily Arab and Muslim. Before I go on let me be clear this is not a conversation that is against Islam not is a conversation that is anti Arab. Unfortunately, those in control of the government in north Sudan, in Khartoum are extremists and so their intention is to force the Nuba Mountain people to become part of the north so that country can reap the benefits of the minerals and oil. And some argue the extremists north was like to wipe out the Nub people because they are Black and they are not Muslim.
But the Nuba people don’t want to be part of the north or under its regime. So, the government in the north, under the orders of President Omar al-Bahir is bombing not soldiers in the Nuba Mountains but villages, farms, families, children, women and men.
The bombs come at all times of day or night and in the summer of 2012 I witnessed and shot video of the results of these bombings. The bombardments don’t kill a great number of people but what they accomplish is frightening the people, keeping them from going out to the fields to grow their crops. They are essentially being starved to death. A tactic used before by Bashir in Darfur.
As I reported a few months ago I saw hundreds of civilians walking three days from a farming village called Kauda to a refugee camp in South Sudan, Yida. Many did not make it, dying of starvation, dehydration primarily.
Al-Bashir has already been indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his handy work in Darfur where approximately 400,000 non-Arabs were killed. And for sending in the Janjaweed, “Devil on Horseback,” into the south part of Sudan killing at least 2.5 million people.
Here is a good op-ed from the Enough Project that gives some background on the ICC charges against al-Bashir:
Over the next several months I will report on the continuous brutal attacks on the people in the Nuba Mountains. The interviews, their stories they shared with me paint a cruel and unthinkable picture as well as stories of resilience and pride.
I’ll also focus on the culture, art, dance, wrestling, yes, wrestling of the Nuba people. These beautiful human beings’ very existence is on the verge of being wiped out completely. A loss to humanity as a whole.
Hitler was able to kill people by the thousands daily because no one in the rest of the world knew what was going on during most of the holocaust. So, it is my job, my responsibility as a journalist to shine a bright light on these crimes against humanity. Right now families are living in caves on the other side of the world with no food, no fresh water and no humanitarian aid. This link to a trailer to my work will give you a graphic glimpse of the situation:
I’m going back to the Nuba Mountains soon and will report from there and whether reporting from a fox hole while ducking from aerial bombardments or from Denver I will keep shining a bright light of truth on the atrocity.
Now we can’t say we didn’t know.