Mamdani on Darfur: Apologetic?

by Jun 30, 2009All Articles

posted by Patience Kabamba
Mahmood Mamdani makes many interesting and persuasive points, but he does nonetheless take a strong position that seems a bit like an apologetic. At the level of macro-political economy of the region, Mamdani has it right. Thus, I now am forced to view my own very limited knowledge of the background with considerably greater circumspection than previously, thanks to his argument. However, on the micro level of everyday life and suffering, it is a different question. Mamdani’s argument does seem to overlook the daily suffering of Darfurians.

Mamdani’s point on the ICC is very strong and correct. On the question of Darfur as a genocide or not, I think that Alex de Waal has expressed it very correctly when he wrote that it is not helpful to reduce it to the bipolar logic that the word genocide suggests. However, it is an extremely serious example of what he described some years ago as a “counterinsurgency on the cheap” and which demands redress.

Like Mamdani, I am not convinced that an intervention would be of any help. Darfur is vast. The only hope is a political solution. And the ICC by indicting President al Bashir is exactly postponing this kind of political solution.

Patience Kabamba is visiting lecturer in the Anthropology Department, Emory University. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University and has conducted research for the South African Social Science Research Center mission in Eastern Congo, and for UNDP on proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the DRC.

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