Biography of Yousif Kuwa Mekki (1945-2001)

Sudanese political leader, Commander in Chief of the SPLA (Sudan People Liberation Army, 'Popular Sudan Liberation Army'). He/She was born in the Kordofan region in August 1945, region which also passed away on March 31, 2001. Throughout his life, he/she was the highest representative of the minority nuba of Sudan, pressed by the radical Muslim leaders.

Yousif Kuwa was born in the bosom of a family of miri tribe, one of the many ethnic groups of Sudanese ethnological map. His parents were of Islamic religion, and it was that instilled to Yousif, who, after mentioning in primary studies, was sent to the University of Khartoum, where he/she graduated in political science and where he/she acquired a great knowledge of the ancient culture, nuba, that of his native land. His first participation took place in the same Faculty of Khartoum, where he/she founded the Komolo organization dedicated to vindicate the rights of oppressed the Nuba, completely harassed by the military regime of general Jaafar al - Numeiri. After returning to his native Kordofan, began his teaching as a Professor until he/she was elected Deputy in the National Assembly by Kordofan in 1981. From this moment on, became the defender of the rights of the nuba firmer, which earned him a wide political persecution by the Government in Khartoum.

After the resumption of the civil war in 1983, Yousif Kuwa began his militancy in the embryo of what would later become the SPLA, forcing the resignation of al - Numeiri in 1985; After this incident, and under the supervision of the UN, Sudan set out to live a brief transition to the establishment of a democratic regime, transition led by a civilian Government put in the hands of Sadiq al - Mahdi. However, these attempts were broken in 1989 when the radical Islamic party, Islamic national front, in a joint action with the military, took power and established a dictatorial regime of fundamentalist orientation leader by Omar Hassan Ahmed al - Bassir. With the consequent radicalisation of positions, Yousif Kuwa went on to occupy the post of Commander of Brigade in the SPLA and a referendum among the nuba people: war or union. The first response provoked a fierce and unequal civil strife between the nuba and the Government in Khartoum.

The first measure against the Nuba rebels taken by al - Bassir was the economic blockade, which has resulted in the use of hunger as a weapon by Islamic radicals. The situation was reported in 1991 by Yousif Kuwa to the BBC cameras, after the great crisis of the Sudanese refugees on the border with Ethiopia. Said the leader of the SPLA, the international isolation of Sudan after Khartoum support to Saddam Hussein in the Persian Golfo Guerra (1990), had done no more than aggravate hunger across the country. Despite all these difficulties, Kuwa managed to organize a civilian Government in the province of Kordofan, as well as provide it with a minimum hospital and educational infrastructure. Thanks to this work was appointed as a member of the Organizing Committee of the SPLA in 1993, coinciding with the Declaration of holy war (Jihad) of the Government of al - Bassir on nuba leaders. At least, the words of Kuwa served so some altruistic organizations such as Amnesty International, addressed their complaints to the UN on the Government in Khartoum, for which the executions and other inhuman pavores were daily currency in relation to the nuba.

The Secretary general of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Gali, held a firm condemnation of the policy of al - Bassir in 1994. This meant that the Khartoum Government declared a halt unilateral ceasefire and instase to the SPLA to bargaining. Yousif Kuwa was one of the leaders who attended the peace talks in Cairo, occurred in July 1994, and later moved to Nairobi, in August of the same year. Nothing clear was able to resolve, just as hunger and derived diseases (cholera, typhus) is more prime with the Sudanese population. In Nairobi, Kuwa made a chilling Declaration: four and a half million Sudanese would die within the period of two months if the international community did not react.

Only non-governmental organizations and charitable associations responded to the call, because the UN was limited to condemn the Government of al - Bassir. This failure plunged Kuwa into a great depression, because I would go to the collapse of his country without that nobody would do anything to avoid it. Since 1995, he/she lived at his residence in Kordofan, accompanied by his three wives and fourteen children. The last public ceremony attended took place in February 1999, when he/she was invited to the Conference of all the rebel organizations to the regime in Khartoum held in Kampala. On March 31, 2001 ended the life of this fighter, an admirer of Nelson Mandela, when it seemed that he/she had recovered his spirits always and was drafting a letter to the Secretary-General of United Nations Kofi AnnĂ¡n.


DEGENHARDT, H. W. (ed). Revolutionary and dissident movements: an international guide. (London, Logan, 1987).