May 2, 2006
All About Darfur, 2005
Incited by increasingly prophetic remarks from the international community that the Darfur crisis is reaching the level of genocide, Sudanese native and British immigrant Taghreed Elsanhouri returns to her beloved homeland to create the provocative, insightful, and illuminating documentary, All About Darfur. Consisting of a series of interviews with ordinary citizens, government officials, displaced, often unemployed villagers from other regions who have migrated northward towards more stable communities, academians, and human rights activists as they discuss their lives, hopes, dreams, and opinions on the nature of the conflict, what emerges is an indigenous crisis borne of ingrained, centuries old tribal factionalism that continue to exist in the western and southern regions of Sudan that has been exacerbated in recent years by a large-scale nomadic migration from neighboring, drought-stricken countries such as Chad. As Elsanhouri subsequently reinforces during the Q&A, the notion of Sudan as a country is, in itself, an artificial creation - an amalgam of disparate (and often opposing) tribes artificially bounded by colonial-era territorialism. In essence, Elsanhouri refutes the international consensus that the crisis of Darfur is reducible to simplified conclusions of ethnic cleaning, racial intolerance, government impotence, and tribal anarchy, but rather, a complex dynamic of tribal hierarchy and the unforeseen consequence of government-empowered militias whose allegiance to the government is superseded by their allegiance to their tribes (most notably, in the operations of the Janjaweed militia). It is this cultural insight that also fuels the sense of reluctance by the Sudanese population towards foreign intervention as a solution to the crisis (and particularly, intervention in a post Iraq War environment), a resignation to the idea that, like the former Yugoslavia, the notion of one united country is a colonially fabricated, vestigial myth that perhaps was not meant to be.