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Reconciliation in the Sudans


Stein Erik Horjen

In 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the longest civil war in African history. Stein Erik Horjen argues that although this second civil war was not a religious one, religion still played an important role in the conflict. Ensuring freedom of religion was a high priority for the SPLM and for the Sudanese churches, which were instrumental in preparing the ground for the 2005 agreement in the same way they had been in facilitating the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement in 1972.
Focusing on the pivotal role of the Sudanese churches through a grassroots peace process called People to People, Horjen examines the churches’ work in ensuring the success of the peace talks between the SPLM and the government sealed by the 2005 Peace Agreement. Taking up the role as the voice of the voiceless, the Sudanese churches challenged and criticized the military and political leaders in regards to abuses of power.
In Reconciliation in the Sudans, Horjen details the tremendous suffering of the people during recurrent conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. Understanding the history will allow the reader contextual insight into the latest conflict that erupted in South Sudan in 2013. The failure of including mechanisms for reconciliation in the CPA can be considered a main reason for this latest war.
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Chapter 7. Sudanese Christianity Since the Time of the Apostles


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· 7 ·


The Sudanese not only find an echo of their sufferings in Old Testament prophecies; they also point to direct references in the New Testament. Contrary to what our biblical translations assert, it was probably not an Ethiopian courtier that the deacon Philip met on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8). The man was in the service of the Kandake, or queen, of Meroe, a kingdom in today’s Sudan. According to the New Testament, he was the first non-Jew to receive Christian baptism. This Sudanese man became a Christian before Paul set out on his missionary journeys to Asia Minor and Europe.

We do not know whether any other Sudanese were persuaded to become Christians at that time. There must have been some scattered groups in the area in the following centuries, but it is only from the mid-sixth century onwards that the church grew among the people. There were Christian kingdoms in the sixth century in Nubia, in the far north of today’s Sudan, but they clashed with Islam when the new religion emerged after the prophet Muhammed’s time. The Islamic expansion began in the Arabian Peninsula, and Syria, Palestine, and Egypt rapidly became Muslim. Nubia’s turn would have come ca. 640, but neither this nor later Arabic invasions succeeded in conquering the people. The Arab and the Nubian tribes made a treaty that regulated their mutual relationships of...

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