Sudan: Living with Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan

Article excerpt

SUDAN

Living with Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, by Heather J. Sharkey. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA and London, UK: University of California Press, 2003. xiii + 141 pages. Map. Gloss, to p. 145. Abbrevs. to p. 146. Bibl. to p. 191. Index to p. 225. $65 cloth; $24.95 paper.

Heather Sharkey's first book reflects her broad knowledge of the Sudan gleaned from the Sudan Archives at the University of Durham in the UK. Her thorough study of these detailed records focuses primarily upon the forerunner of the University of Khartoum, the Gordon Memorial College, that trained the majority of the Sudanese officials who served the British in their 58 year rule of Sudan. She has supplemented her reliance upon the colonial archives with archival materials from the Sudan Government Archives and the National Records Office in Khartoum and upon interviews conducted in Sudan in 1995.

Her title 'living with colonialism' is an effort to describe the everyday experience of the colonized, with its pervasive reality both of being actively assimilated to Western ways while being "othered" in one's own country. Her main question is how the British managed to administer their vast global empire so efficiently and apparently so well with a minimum of European staff. Of course, the answer - rediscovered - is that indirect rule really worked, even as it sewed the seeds of nationalism. Also, her research and analysis reaffirms the case that the Sudan was, indeed, very well run as a colony.

At the Gordon Memorial College English language education provided the underpinning for cultural assimilation, along with the development of critical national networks reinforced through English-style debating societies and sports clubs. More description of the actual content of the curriculum in terms of representation of Europe, or presence or absence of Sudanese subject matter-is lacking. If these materials are missing from the colonial archives, this dimension of curriculum content rather than form could have been obtained from documentation or interviews in Sudan. Moreover, in this new imperial age, more critical studies of colonial education, such as that of Apollos Nwauwa's for Nigeria, lays a base for analysis of various post-colonial models of national education. …