A History of the Southern Sudan: 1839-1889

A History of the Southern Sudan: 1839-1889

A History of the Southern Sudan: 1839-1889

A History of the Southern Sudan: 1839-1889

Excerpt

Previous historians have dealt with aspects of the history of the southern Sudan in the nineteenth century. Professor M. Shukry's The Khedive Ismail and slavery in the Sudan throws much light on Ismā'īl's policy in the Sudan, and the three parts of G. Douin Histoire du règne du Khédive Ismail which deal with Ismā'īl's African empire are authoritative and valuable. Developments in the southern Sudan, however, are seen by these writers mainly as an important incident in Ismā'īl's reign, and historians have shown but little interest in the conflicts which decisively influenced developments within the area itself. There has been no previous attempt to study as a whole the contact between the outside world and the pagan hinterland of Khartoum in the nineteenth century, or to see it as a significant chapter in the history of tropical Africa.

The materials for this study--the impressions of observers recorded in the letters, diaries and writings of consuls, missionaries, explorers, traders and administrators--are abundant. The interest in the quest for the sources of the Nile made the southern Sudan, for two or three decades, perhaps the best documented area in the interior of tropical Africa, and it is almost the only region for which records are available from the first moment of contact. The area is fortunate also in the quality of the observations; few explorers in Africa have equalled the accuracy and detail of Schweinfurth, Junker and Emin. By themselves these materials do not of course constitute anything like a complete record of tribal histories. They do, however, reveal a great deal about conditions over a wide area, and they make it possible to provide a documented, though incomplete, account of the southerners' relationship with the alien intruders. I hope that this outline will soon be given greater depth by accounts based on the oral traditions of the peoples themselves, for there is an urgent need to record these sources before they are finally forgotten.

In the spelling of tribal names I have generally followed those used by the Survey Department of the Sudan Government, and in that of place names I have in most cases adhered to the original. Having no scholarly knowledge of Arabic, my spelling of Arabic terms has no claim to consistency: for personal names I have . . .

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