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St. Augustine's Professor Meets Major Figure In Darfur Conflict

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Triangle is home to many college students and professors who get involved on the world stage. A Raleigh professor was in Kenya, in east Africa, teaching several weeks ago and found himself face to face with one of the most important figures in a major conflict.

The violence in Darfur has been called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The Sudanese government denies accusations that it's behind an Arab militia that has slaughtered tens of thousands of black Africans.

"The tragedy of Darfur, I think that's a message that needs to be heard," said Dr. James Seymour.

Seymour, chair of the philosophy and religion department at St. Augustine's College, heard directly from a major player in the conflict, Abdelwahid Mohamed al-Nur. He leads a large faction of the Sudan Liberation Army that refused to sign a May peace agreement. Seymour met the rebel leader through a student he taught in Kenya.

"He told me that night he'd be meeting with an important person from Darfur, and he said, 'Would you like to join me?'" said Seymour. "Really, I had no idea the significance of that."

The meeting came just days after the peace agreement was reached. At the time, al-Nur explained why he didn't sign it.

"The government of Sudan must apologize, a public apology that they (commited) crimes," said al-Nur.

He said the agreement must also include adequate compensation and power sharing for Darfurians.

"My hope is that American administration, (President George) Bush will accept my idea, because it's only way to convince millions of Darfurians who are demonstrating against the agreement," he said.

It's an agreement Seymour said he prays will somehow lead to peace for a part of the world he loves.

"I have deep respect and love for people on the continent of Africa and African Americans," he said. "This is my life's work."

It's work that's far from done. The interview that Seymour taped with the rebel leader will be part of a documentary that film students at Saint Augustine's College are putting it together. It will be called "Africa Stories: From Heartache To Hope."


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