‘We have no Harlem in Sudan’: Sudan’s Deflective Diplomacy

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Join RACE.ED and the Centre for African Studies, on Thursday 25th March for the next event in our seminar series.

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‘We have no Harlem in Sudan’: Sudan’s Deflective Diplomacy

by Dr Sebabatso Manoeli, Senior Director for Strategic Programmes, Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity, Columbia University

Chaired by Dr Rama Salla Dieng, Lecturer in African Studies and International Development, The University of Edinburgh

Abstract: This paper investigates the means through which Sudanese governments outmanoeuvred rebels internationally throughout the 1960s by analyzing the intertwining of Sudan’s diplomatic strategies for protecting its reputation in Pan-Africanist and anti-imperialist circles. It argues that Sudan employed a strategy of deflective diplomacy that drew international attention away from the “Southern Problem” while addressing the pertinent areas of reputational damage. This deflection paradoxically placed Sudan in the international limelight as a paragon of Pan-Africanism, while concealing the “Problem” in plain sight. It explores Sudan’s relations with African networks and organizations after the fall of the Abboud regime, specifically in the tenures of the most significant Prime Minister of the 1960s: Mohamed Mahgoub. It demonstrates that through personal networks, conference diplomacy and solidarity efforts, the government proved a formidable diplomatic opponent to the secessionist Southern rebels.

Biographical Note: At Columbia University, Dr Sebabatso Manoeli serves as a Senior Director for Strategic Programmes, the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity – an innovative leadership development programme designed to combat anti-Black racism in South Africa and the United States. Dr Manoeli is also author of Sudan’s “Southern Problem”: Race, Rhetoric and International Relations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Previously, at the Cape Town-based DG Murray Trust, a public innovator and strategic investor operating at the nexus of public policy and development practice, Sebabatso served as Acting Deputy CEO and Innovation Director.

Sebabatso has worked in the fields of academia and development practice. She worked on Transitional Justice and Governance for the Department of Political Affairs at the African Union Commission as a consultant.

In academia, she was a Departmental Lecturer in African History at the University of Oxford, where she was the first African woman faculty member in the history department. She has also a Lecturer at Stanford University’s Bing Centre for Overseas Studies and a Teaching Fellow at the University of Fort Hare Institute of Social and Economic Research (FHISER).

At the economic policy advisory firm, the Brenthurst Foundation, she was awarded the Machel-Mandela Fellowship. She has provided research support for the Dynamics of State Failure and Violence project at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, and the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations.

Her passion for leadership development led her to work at The Africa List at the CDC Group in London, where she focused on private sector leadership in ten African countries, and at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg.

She was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where she earned a DPhil (PhD) in History and an MSc in African Studies. At Amherst College, where she earned a BA in Political Science and Black Studies, Sebabatso was a Mandela Scholar. Dr. Manoeli is also a Senior Fellow of the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa, and a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow.

Thie event is organised in collaboration with RACE.ED and the Centre for African Studies.

RACE.ED is a cross-university network concerned with race, racialization and decolonial studies from a multidisciplinary perspective.

RACE.ED showcases excellence in teaching, research and knowledge, exchange, impact (KEI) in race and decolonial studies at The University of Edinburgh.

The work of the network seeks to support an understanding of the persistence of race and racialization as both historical projects and dynamic phenomenon that shape the present.

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