Sudan, Civil War and Terrorism, 1956-99

Sudan, Civil War and Terrorism, 1956-99

Sudan, Civil War and Terrorism, 1956-99

Sudan, Civil War and Terrorism, 1956-99


Since it gained independence in 1956, Sudan has spent much of the following period embroiled in bitter civil war. This book provides a thorough chronicle of events in Sudan since independence, drawing on first-hand interviews.


Until the nineteenth century the country we now know as Sudan, the largest country in Africa, had no political entity or defined frontiers. It is thought that in ancient times the Kingdom of Kush occupied an area on either side of the Nile river between Khartoum and Wadi Halfa, until it was eclipsed in the third century AD by early Christian kingdoms, which were eventually submerged by small Arab migrations, bringing Islam with them. The extreme south of the country reached into unknown Black Africa and was referred to as Bilad al-Sudan, loosely translated as the Land of the Blacks, the mystery of the source of the Nile remaining tantalisingly unsolved until the nineteenth century.

Early that century Mohammed Ali, an Albanian soldier of fortune, was proclaimed Pasha of Egypt, then nominally part of the Ottoman Empire. Mohammed Ali began a military expansion into Sudan in search of fabled riches of gold and ivory, subduing in 1824 the once powerful Funj kingdom at Sennar, a notorious slave market town. Realising there were in fact no riches at the end of the rainbow, he established a fort near the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile. He named the site Khartoum, said to mean 'elephant's trunk', and took over the slave trading monopoly. His troops penetrated southwards, establishing a chain of forts along the riverside. The Congress of Berlin in 1886, which defined the spheres of influence of the colonising European powers in Africa, outlined Sudan's modern boundaries.

The British remember Sudan for its colonial defeats and victory, the death of General Gordon and the sacking of Khartoum (1885), and the Battle of Omdurman (1898), when a small Anglo-Egyptian force, armed with rifles and machine guns, defeated the Mahdi's primitively armed Ansar hordes. The Anglo-Egyptian Condominium followed, with the British in the driving seat, which brought Sudan under its colonial administration. The British practised their 'divide and administer policy', separating the smaller black south, from the larger Muslim north and centre. In the completely undeveloped and neglected black south, Christian missionaries were encouraged to establish schools, convert animists and spread the English language as a barrier against encroaching Arabic-speaking Muslims.

In January 1956 Sudan gained its independence by peaceful means, the British passing on its multiparty system of democratic government . . .

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