Professor of Economics Osman Suliman, who has been teaching at MU for 18 years, took a one year sabbatical in the Darfur region of Sudan during which he did research for a book.

The topic of the lecture he gave on Wednesday, Nov. 19 in Ford Atrium in McComsey Hall was The Political Economy of the Darfur Conflict: Geography or Institutions which was also the topic of his book.

Students and faculty alike attended the lecture, and were given the opportunity to ask questions afterwards.

According to Suliman, Darfur is a remote, landlocked region in western Sudan.

It once was, as part of Sudan, a British colony. Darfur’s population of about six million is very poor and are surrounded by poor countries such as Chad which is experiencing a civil war.

It is about the size of France and is an arid region with the Sahara desert in the north.

During the lecture, attendees learned that traditionally, Darfur has been divided into two major ethnic groups: the nomadic Arab tribes, and the African tribes.

As the Sahara expands southward, the nomadic people are forced to find new grazing grounds for their herds.

This has been causing conflicts with the settled tribes in the south for many years.
In 1970, the Land Tenure Law was created to settle the nomadic people and introduce a market economy to the region.

However, due to corruption by politicians, this law failed and left many people in financial hardship.

The current crisis began in 2003, when the Sudanese government took sides and began to favor the nomadic tribes.

Suliman hypothesizes that the conflict is a result of geography, as well as poor governance.

“If you take it from the economic perspective, it will not be sufficient,” Suliman said. “Only an interdisciplinary approach that takes into account the social and political sides will be beneficial.”

He has come to the conclusion that the solution lies in revised government, accessible education, healthcare, skilled jobs, and a banking system that will help Darfur transition from a traditional economy into a market economy.

Bill Gregorio, a business minor, heard about the lecture in his macroeconomics class and decided to attend.

“I’m surprised by the fact that it was external influences. I thought it was just differences between ethnic groups,” Gregprop said.

Attendees were able to ask questions afterwards. Questions ranged from questions about the economics of Darfur to the quality of education.

Afterwards Suliman said, “I was glad to give people an idea of the Darfur conflict and hopefully that will increase awareness about the Darfur crisis and hope that more people will take an interest in studying conflicts like this.”