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Archives and Special Collections: Sudan Archive: Gallery

The Hidden Sudan

This exhibition showcases material from some collections in the Sudan Archive to highlight their potential importance to researchers and to give a brief idea of the breadth of material held in the Archive.

In order to demonstrate the scope and diversity of the collections the exhibition is divided into five themes covering various aspects of the fascinating history of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan: Administration of the Sudan, Personal lives of the British, Sudan at warSudanese under Anglo-Egyptian rule, and Independent Sudan.

This exhibition was created as part of the Wood Bequest Project, funded through a generous bequest from Mrs Kathleen Wood, a former official of the Sudan Education Department. This gift enabled the University to appoint two archivists for two years to tackle the growing backlog of uncatalogued material in the Sudan Archive. The online catalogues produced by these project archivists opened up access to hidden collections of international importance for the benefit of researchers worldwide.

This exhibition was created by Jonathan Bush and Kristopher McKie.

1. Administration of the Sudan

Following the victory at Omdurman in 1898, the new Anglo-Egyptian administration was faced with the daunting prospect of administering the largest country in Africa, covering nearly one million square miles, and inhabited by almost 600 different tribes speaking over 400 different languages and dialects. Vital issues needing to be addressed by the new Sudan government included: infrastructure - without which effective governance was not possible; industry - developed to help the country achieve self-sufficiency; and justice - essential for ensuring a peaceful future. Whilst the heart of government power lay in Khartoum, the successful administration of the Sudan's many and disparate tribes was largely a result of the work of the Governors, District Commissioners and Assistant District Commissioners, stationed in locations all over the country. Through their initiative and relative independence from the central government, this unique body of men generally achieved good relationships with the diverse Sudanese communities.

Image: Jack Mavrogordato, Deputy Legal Secretary and Advocate General (P.P. Howell, SAD.390/4/2)

Photograph of J.G. Mavrogordato, seated at a desk (SAD.59/6)

Map showing mission spheres, 1926 (R.L. Hill collection, SAD/PF 26/5)

Christian missionary activity had the potential to be an explosive issue in the Anglo-Egyptian-Sudan. In order to avoid controversy in the predominately Muslim northern provinces, the Sudan Government banned missionaries from operating there. Instead, the missionaries concentrated on Southern Sudan but even here sectarian conflict was evident, most notably between Protestant and Catholic missionaries over rights to minister in certain areas. This colour-coded map illustrates the agreed demarcation of mission spheres for the respective missionary denominations in the southern provinces.

Coloured map showing mission spheres in southern Sudan, 1926 (R.L. Hill collection, SAD/PF 26/5)

Extract from a trek diary written by J.W.E. Miller, describing his attendance at a tribal gathering at Malaliyafa in the Red Sea Province, 1922 (J.W.E. Miller, SAD.969/7/31-32)

Miller was, at this time, Assistant District Commissioner of Port Sudan. Working under the system of 'Indirect Rule' the role of District Commissioners and Assistant District Commissioners was to advise and oversee the traditional Sudanese tribal authorities. Owing to the relative isolation of many of their postings, DCs and ADCs had to use their initiative and the scope of their duties varied widely.

Hand-drawn map from a trek diary written by J.W.E. Miller, describing his attendance at a tribal gathering at Malaliyafa in the Red Sea Province, 1922 (J.W.E. Miller, SAD.969/7/31-32)

Sir Stewart Symes, Governor-General, (seated centre) with his personal staff in the Governor-General's palace, Khartoum, c. 1940 (P.P. Howell, SAD.59/5)

As the Sudan was a sovereign state and not a colony, the authority of the Governor-General was greater than that of any colonial governor in the British Empire. By the 1930s the only check on his power came from the Foreign Office which, by and large, took little interest in the Sudan. Symes himself served for 6 years from 1934-1940 and his rule, characterised by bold plans for reform, marked the beginning of a shift towards Sudanese nationalism and later independence. P.P. Howell, the creator of the collection from which this photograph comes from, is seated to the right of Symes, in his role as Aide-de-Camp.

Sir Stewart Symes, Governor-General, (seated centre) with his personal staff in the Governor-General's palace, Khartoum, c. 1940 (P.P. Howell, SAD.59/5)

Memorandum from E.H. Nightingale, District Commissioner for the Southern District of Darfur, to J.A.A. Blaikie, D.C. Southern District of Darfur, on a boundary dispute involving the Ma'alia tribe, 26 October 1937 (A. Baring, SAD 65/5)

The administration by provincial Governors of the myriad of tribes under their jurisdiction was not an altogether easy task, particularly as administrative control needed to be balanced against the rights of tribes to manage their own affairs. The question of the demarcation of tribal boundaries could, on occasion, cause disagreements between tribes, as this memorandum illustrates.

Memorandum from E.H. Nightingale, District Commissioner for the Southern District of Darfur, to J.A.A. Blaikie, D.C. Southern District of Darfur, on a boundary dispute involving the Ma'alia tribe, 26 October 1937 (A. Baring, SAD 65/5)

General map of the Gezira, showing a proposed extension to the Gezira scheme, 19 December 1943 (J. Carmichael, SAD.998/1/1)

Cotton was, for a long time, the Sudan's main export - until surpassed by oil in the 1990s. Under Anglo-Egyptian rule much was done to maximise production of cotton and other crops and to overcome the difficulties posed by the Sudan's swamplands (sudd). The Gezira irrigation scheme, designed to increase the agricultural potential of the plains between the White and Blue Niles just south of Khartoum, was the first and most ambitious project undertaken by the government. Begun in 1913 (though hindered until the end of the war and the completion of the Sennar Dam in 1926) the Gezira scheme proved an enormous financial success and was widely praised as a model irrigation scheme. With further extensions it now covers an area of 2.5 million acres.

General map of the Gezira, showing a proposed extension to the Gezira scheme, 19 December 1943 (J. Carmichael, SAD.998/1/1)

Photograph of Atbara bridge under construction, 1909 (R.L. Hill, SAD.961/4/3)

Building the infrastructure of the Sudan was vital to ensure the successful administration of the country. The railways played an essential role in this regard, not least by improving communications between central government and the provinces.  As the home of the Sudan Railways department, Atbara became a very important centre for the management of railway operations and the transport network in general.

Photograph of Atbara bridge under construction, 1909 (R.L. Hill, SAD.961/4/3)

Table of civil cases in the 'Khartoum Circuit', 1915-1950 (K.H.J.O. Hayes, SAD.959/13/37)

Judicial courts played an important role as instruments of power in the towns and cities of Northern Sudan. At the head of the Legal Department was the Legal Secretary, one of the most powerful positions in the Sudan Government. However, the day-to-day administration of justice was carried out by the Civil Courts and the Mohammedan Law Courts. This table shows the relative number of civil cases brought before the Khartoum and Omdurman Civil Courts between 1915 and 1950.

Table of civil cases in the 'Khartoum Circuit', 1915-1950 (K.H.J.O. Hayes, SAD.959/13/37)

Sudanese prisoners resurfacing the tennis court at the house of H.B. Arber, Assistant District Commissioner of Rashad, Kordofan, 1936 (H.B. Arber, SAD.90/11)

Prisoners were widely used by the British as free labour and were even employed in the households of officials.

Photograph showing Sudanese prisoners resurfacing the tennis court at the house of H.B. Arber, Assistant District Commissioner of Rashad, Kordofan, 1936 (H.B. Arber, SAD.90/11)

2. Personal lives of the British in the Sudan

Leisure pursuits were an important part of the British experience in the Sudan. Part of the appeal for recruits to the Political Services was the emphasis on recreational activity - not to mention the generous terms of leave on offer. Participation in sporting activities was encouraged amongst British officials - activities such as tennis, polo and big game hunting were popular throughout the Sudan. Cultural pursuits, such as amateur theatricals, were also widely popular, whilst British society was mirrored in the establishment of officials' clubs and common interest groups.

Image: Table tennis game in progress (P.P. Howell, SAD.59/6)

Photograph of a table tennis game in progress (P.P. Howell, SAD.59/6)

Extract from the diary of W.N. Monteith, recounting his arrival in the Sudan and his initial impressions, 29 August 1937 (W.N. Monteith, SAD.D1/191-193)

The level of comfort provided to Sudan Political Service officials was considerable, particularly in the larger towns and cities. As the vast majority of British officials were Oxford or Cambridge educated and from country families, more often than not the Sudan proved a home from home as officials found themselves mingling with colleagues from largely similar backgrounds.

Extract from the diary of W.N. Monteith, recounting his arrival in the Sudan and his initial impressions, 29 August 1937 (W.N. Monteith, SAD.D1/191-193)

Menu from a St Andrew's Dinner organised by the Khartoum Caledonian Society, 1947 (K.M.E. Wood, SAD.85/11)

British clubs and societies in the Sudan essentially mirrored the class distinctions and group identities of the homeland. Clubs were established based on rank, and common interest groups were set up for officials with shared backgrounds and pursuits, as is evident in the celebration of 'Scottishness' in this dinner menu.

Menu from a St Andrew's Dinner organised by the Khartoum Caledonian Society, 1947 (K.M.E. Wood, SAD.85/11)

British officials playing a game of polo on donkeys using hockey sticks, c. 1940 (P.P. Howell, SAD.59/6)

Sport was encouraged amongst British officials, in support of Lord Cromer's vision of a service of 'active young men, endowed with good health, high character and fair abilities...'.Tennis was the game of choice for many, whilst team sports such as cricket and polo were popular in areas with a higher concentration of British residents. Where the equipment or facilities were not available, improvisation was often the solution, as seen in this photograph.

Photograph of British officials playing a game of polo on donkeys using hockey sticks, c. 1940 (P.P. Howell, SAD.59/6)

Theatre programme for 'Goodness, how sad!', performed by the Khartoum Repertory Company, September 1947 (K.M.E. Wood, SAD.85/11)

A number of amateur music and theatre groups staged regular performances for the benefit of their fellow officials. In this example, the Khartoum Repertory Company is advertising a performance of 'Goodness, how sad!', which had first appeared as a film in 1938.

Theatre programme for 'Goodness, how sad!', performed by the Khartoum Repertory Company, September 1947 (K.M.E. Wood, SAD.85/11)

Children's party organised by Bishop Gwynne, c. 1940 (L.H. Gwynne, SAD.26/9)

Social functions provided a means for officials to meet each other in an informal setting. One of the more popular events in the social calendar was the annual children's party organised by Bishop Gwynne. This was a family event, when children dressed up in fancy-dress costume.

Photograph of a children's party organised by Bishop Gwynne, c. 1940 (L.H. Gwynne, SAD.26/9)

Extract from P.P. Howell's diary of a trip to Uganda and Nairobi, 1943 (P.P. Howell, SAD.71/2/2)

Whilst many chose to return home for leave, many unmarried officials or those whose families had accompanied them to the Sudan often used the generous leave offered by the Sudan Government to explore neighbouring countries. As demonstrated by this diary entry, sightseeing was often mixed with business.

Extract from P.P. Howell's diary of a trip to Uganda and Nairobi, 1943 (P.P. Howell, SAD.71/2/2)

Extract from a diary written by R.L. Hill criticising the amount spent by officials on alcohol, 1930 (R.L. Hill, SAD.973/7/2-3)

Certain 'leisure' activities, such as drinking alcohol, were not universally popular amongst all officials. In this diary extract the Sudan Railways official, R.L. Hill (who later became the founder of the Sudan Archive) complains of the profligacy of those British officials who chose to spend a 'tithe of their pay on drinks'.

Extract from a diary written by R.L. Hill criticising the amount spent by officials on alcohol, 1930 (R.L. Hill, SAD.973/7/2-3)

3. The Sudan at war

The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, in essence - though not in name - a colony, was born out of war. Some years after the death of Gordon and the expulsion of the Egyptian garrison, the re-conquest of the Sudan (1896-1899) was a bloody affair, bringing about the deaths of many thousands of Sudanese. Despite its violent beginnings, however, the threat of large-scale conflict was relatively unknown during the years of Anglo-Egyptian rule. Though the Sudan played its own small role in the Second World War, the two world wars largely passed by with little military impact on the country. That is not to say, however, that the Sudan was not the target of any hostilities, notably from the Italians upon their entry into the Second World War. Likewise, internal conflict was largely minimal with the exception of localised uprisings, such as that leading to the Darfur campaign (1916). The Sudan Government was largely successful in keeping any threat of conflict at bay and when independence finally came to the Sudan it did so in a relatively peaceful manner.

Image: Troops awaiting battle at Omdurman (F.R. Wingate, A27/1-232)

Photograph of troops awaiting battle at Omdurman (F.R. Wingate, A27/1-232)

Extract from the diary of F.R. Wingate concerning the death of Gordon and the fall of Khartoum, 4 February 1885 (F.R. Wingate, SAD.102/3/26-29)

The death of the Governor-General of the Sudan, General Charles Gordon, at the hands of Mahdist forces in 1885, led to the evacuation of Khartoum and the beginning of the 14-year period of Mahdist rule. Contemporary accounts at the time criticised the British Government for the delay in sending reinforcements which arrived two days late. This diary entry of F.R. Wingate, aide-de-camp to the SIrdar, Sir Evelyn Wood (and later Governor-General of the Sudan) is typical of the popular perception of the events surrounding Gordon's death.

Extract from the diary of F.R. Wingate concerning the death of Gordon and the fall of Khartoum, 4 February 1885 (F.R. Wingate, SAD.102/3/26-29)

Letter from Major-General Archibald Hunter to Captain Beech concerning his work during the Dongola campaign, hauling boats up the second cataract of the Nile, 23 July 1898 (A. Hunter, SAD.964/2/28)

As with any war of conquest, the overcoming of logistical obstacles was as important as the winning of battles. The Nile cataracts between Toski and Khartoum proved a particular difficulty to the joint British and Egyptian force as boats, essential to the campaign, were unable to sail unaided any further south. The large steam vessels instead had to be hauled over the cataracts by teams of men numbering in their thousands. Archibald Hunter, then a Major-General and Kitchener's right hand man, oversaw the hauling of the boats over the second cataract near Wadi Halfa.

Letter from Major-General Archibald Hunter to Captain Beech concerning his work during the Dongola campaign, hauling boats up the second cataract of the Nile, 23 July 1898 (A. Hunter, SAD.964/2/28)

Steamer on the Nile, 1898 (W.R.G. Wollen, SAD.A1/70)

This photograph is taken from the collection of W.R.G. Wollen of the Royal Engineers and shows a steamer being hauled over the Second Cataract of the Nile in preperation for the Battle of Omdurman

Photograph of steamer on the Nile, 1898 (W.R.G. Wollen, SAD.A1/70)

Letter from Hunter to an unknown recipient giving an account of the battle of Omdurman, 14 October 1898 (A. Hunter, SAD.964/4/64-73)

The battle of Omdurman brought about the end of the Khalifa and his army. As a direct result of superior organisation and weapons technology the British suffered relatively few losses throughout the whole of the Nile Campaign. Despite this, Hunter still expresses his fears that the Battle of Omdurman might have been a disaster had it not been for luck.

Letter from Hunter to an unknown recipient giving an account of the battle of Omdurman, 14 October 1898 (A. Hunter, SAD.964/4/64-73)

Large navy blue flag with red anchor insignia, 1898 (C.R. Williams, G//S 1058/46)

The flag is that of a gunboat involved in the battle of Omdurman, probably the Melik or Sobat.

Large navy blue flag with red anchor insignia, 1898 (C.R. Williams, G//S 1058/46)

Proclamation to the inhabitants of Darfur, to be dropped by aeroplane on El Fasher (Arabic with English translation), 1916 (F.R. Wingate, SAD.128/3/81-82)

Although the Sudan played no direct part in the First World War, its government found itself distracted with internal conflicts. The Darfur Campaign saw the Sudan Government suppress an uprising in the old independent Fur sultanate. At the outbreak of the First World War, 'Ali Dinar, Sultan of Darfur, had allied himself with the Ottoman-Turks against the Anglo-French. This prompted the Sudan government to launch an expedition which defeated the Fur army in May 1916. This proclamation is evidence of the propaganda campaign to persuade the people of Darfur to reject the Sultan. It is also an example of the increasing use of aeroplanes to distribute propaganda over a wide area.

Proclamation to the inhabitants of Darfur, to be dropped by aeroplane on El Fasher (Arabic with English translation), 1916 (F.R. Wingate, SAD.128/3/81-82)

Brass Sudan Auxiliary Defence Force headdress badge, c. 1940 (R.L. Hill, SAD. 5/2/8)

The Sudan Defence Force (SDF), consisting of Sudanese troops under British officers, was established in the aftermath of the 1924 Mutiny and the assassination of the Governor-General, Sir Lee Stack. The involvement of the SDF in the Second World War led to the creation of an auxiliary organisation with its own distinctive uniform, including this headdress badge.

Brass Sudan Auxiliary Defence Force headdress badge, c. 1940 (R.L. Hill, SAD. 5/2/8)

Photograph of H.B. Arber and a Sudanese policeman investigating the wreckage of an Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 aircraft shot down near Suakin, Red Sea Province, 1940 (H.B. Arber, SAD.91/3)

The Sudan's role in the Second World War was greater than in the First World War. Fascist Italy's declaration of war against the Allies led to the involvement of the Sudan Defence Force in the East African Campaign, during which the Italians briefly occupied Kassala and other minor strongholds in Eastern Sudan. The SDF later played an active role in the Western Desert Campaign, supplying Allied troops including the Free French.

Photograph of H.B. Arber and a Sudanese policeman investigating the wreckage of an Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 aircraft shot down near Suakin, Red Sea Province, 1940 (H.B. Arber, SAD.91/3)

Letter from G.C. Wood describing bombing raids on Khartoum, 25 October 1940 (G.C. Wood, SAD.86/7)

The impact of war can also be observed on the capital itself, where bombing raids were not uncommon. However, the letter here illustrates that these raids only succeeded in causing minor damage, so much so that the letter-writer, G.C. Wood, actually slept through the whole raid!

Letter from G.C. Wood describing bombing raids on Khartoum, 25 October 1940 (G.C. Wood, SAD.86/7)

4. The Sudanese under Anglo-Egyptian rule

The lives of the Sudanese under Anglo-Egyptian rule are documented, albeit intermittently, in the official and personal records of the British officials. Many of the collections even include letters written by the Sudanese themselves. The general policy of Indirect Rule, combined with the desire of District Commissioners not to interfere with tribal customs, ensured that their daily lives remained relatively untouched by colonial rule. Nevertheless, the adoption of Christianity by the tribes of Southern Sudan is clear evidence of the success of missionary activity and would have unforeseen consequences in the post-independence years.

Image: Hadendoa cricket match (P.P. Howell, SAD.58/9)

Photograph of a Hadendoa cricket match (P.P. Howell, SAD.58/9)

Letter written in a Romanised version of the Bangala language by E. Lukuche, Sudanese teacher, to the Rev. G.H. Martin, describing the progress of the Church Missionary Society School at Loka, 25 May 1933 (G.H. Martin, SAD 46/7/35)

With the notable exception of Sudanese Arabic, which was the dominant language of Northern Sudan, it is rare to find written examples of other Sudanese languages in the papers of British officials. This is particularly the case for the tribes of the Southern Sudan, for whom no written tradition existed and where knowledge and communication were usually transmitted orally. Amongst the myriad of dialects and local languages spoken in the Southern Sudan, Bangala was the lingua franca for many. It was adopted by tribes in a number of regions, particularly Equatoria, and also utilised by Christian missionaries to preach the Gospel to Sudanese tribes.

Letter written in a Romanised version of the Bangala language by E. Lukuche, Sudanese teacher, to the Rev. G.H. Martin, describing the progress of the Church Missionary Society School at Loka, 25 May 1933 (G.H. Martin, SAD 46/7/35)

Brass coated helmet worn by a Latuka tribesman during a tribal dance, Didinga Hills, c. 1930 (C.R. Williams, G//S 1058/12)

An important feature of tribal life in both Northern and Southern Sudan was tribal gatherings. Tribal dances were a particularly significant aspect of these celebrations, in which costume played an important function in defining role and identity.

Brass coated helmet worn by a Latuka tribesman during a tribal dance, Didinga Hills, c. 1930 (C.R. Williams, G//S 1058/12)

Shilluk tribal dance, celebrating the installation of the Shilluk reth (king), 1940 (P.P. Howell, SAD.48/17)

Traditional celebrations among tribes were often huge events lasting a number of days. Here the Shilluk warriors celebrate the installation of the new reth (king) by performing a traditional tribal dance. The entire celebration lasted five days and included speeches, dances and re-enactments of historic battles.

Photograph of a Shilluk tribal dance, celebrating the installation of the Shilluk reth (king), 1940 (P.P. Howell, SAD.48/17)

Picture postcard by Liechtenstein & Harari, entitled 'Barbarin', c. 1930 (C.R. Williams, SAD.48/1)

The production of colonial picture postcards for the Western market was a particularly popular commercial activity in the early 20th century. This picture postcard was produced by the Cairo-based organisation, Liechtenstein & Harari, one of over 120 companies who were active in providing this service for the Sudan.

Picture postcard by Liechtenstein & Harari, entitled 'Barbarin', c. 1930 (C.R. Williams, SAD.48/1)

Romanised transcription of Nuer song by P.P. Howell, Assistant District Commissioner, Zeraf District, Upper Nile Province, 1943 (P.P. Howell, SAD.68/4)

Working in virtual isolation, the District Commissioner often became genuinely devoted to the tribes under his jurisdiction and acquired a large body of knowledge about their customs and the minutiae of Sudanese tribal life in general. Given the heavy reliance on oral communication in transmitting knowledge amongst tribal members and the dispersal and displacement of tribes in the post-colonial environment, much of this information probably would not have survived had it not been for the recordkeeping of the District Commissioners during the Condominium era.

Romanised transcription of Nuer song by P.P. Howell, Assistant District Commissioner, Zeraf District, Upper Nile Province, 1943 (P.P. Howell, SAD.68/4)

Photograph of Pastor Andarea Apaya delivering a sermon to the local Sudanese, Lui, c. 1950 (G.H. Martin, SAD.41/6)

As a consequence of missionary activity in Southern Sudan, many Sudanese developed a strong attachment to the Christian religion which was to have important consequences for their relationship with the predominantly Arab North in the post-independence period.  The photograph exemplifies the popularity of, and devotion to, Christianity, with crowds of Sudanese gathered around Pastor Andarea Apaya.

Photograph of Pastor Andarea Apaya delivering a sermon to the local Sudanese, Lui, c. 1950 (G.H. Martin, SAD.41/6)

Nuba wrestlers at a King's Day Sporting event in Kordofan, January/February 1946 (H.B. Arber, SAD.90/10)

King's Day was celebrated yearly in the Sudan to mark the anniversary of the visit of King George V to Port Sudan in January 1912 - the first visit by a reigning monarch to the Sudan. King's Day was popular amongst British and Sudanese alike. It was usually marked by large gatherings involving sports events participated in by local Sudanese. It also gave the Sudanese the chance to demonstrate their skills in their own traditional sports before a large audience. In the Nuba mountains these included stick fighting and wrestling.

Photograph of Nuba wrestlers at a King's Day Sporting event in Kordofan, January/February 1946 (H.B. Arber, SAD.90/10)

Sudanese men and boys in traditional dress at the festival of Id al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, in Abbassiyah, c. 1936-1940 (H.B. Arber, SAD.90/10)

 

Though the government took various approaches to discourage the spread of Islam into Southern Sudan, in the North Muslim festivals, such as Ramadan, flourished under Anglo-Egyptian rule. Many British officials developed an interest in Muslim ways - even to the point where some of them chose to fast during Ramadan.

Photograph of Sudanese men and boys in traditional dress at the festival of Id al-Fitr, at the end of Ramadan, in Abbassiyah, c. 1936-1940 (H.B. Arber, SAD.90/10)

5. Independent Sudan

When Sudan finally achieved its long-held desire for independence on 1st January 1956, few would have predicted the long years of bitter struggle and tragedy which lay ahead as the new nation tried to forge its own identity. The history of the post-independence period has been characterised by two civil wars and genocide, resulting in some of the worst human rights abuses ever recorded, combined with man-made and natural disasters, such as famine and floods. However, the examples in this section of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1965 and the production of tourist posters in the 1980s also illustrate a more positive projection of the country in these years.

Image: House of Representatives (G.H. Martin, SAD.26/8)

Photograph of the House of Representatives (G.H. Martin, SAD.26/8)

Extract from the diary of W.N. Monteith detailing the riots surrounding the initial opening of Parliament and the state visit by General Naguib, President of Egypt, 1 March 1954 (W.N. Monteith, SAD.D5/137-139)

The Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 1953 secured independence for the Sudan, and so began the process of self-determination and self-government. However, the process was not smooth, as many political interests were at stake. Immediately following the agreement, the country held its first parliamentary elections - which saw a landslide for the pro-Egyptian, National Unionist Party. The opening of the new national Parliament in March 1954 was halted by violent protests carried out by a huge gathering of Ansar acting on behalf of the opposition, anti-Egyptian, Umma Party. Ten policemen were killed in the riots including the British Commandant, Hugh McGuigan.

Extract from the diary of W.N. Monteith detailing the riots surrounding the initial opening of Parliament and the state visit by General Naguib, President of Egypt, 1 March 1954 (W.N. Monteith, SAD.D5/137-139)

Visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Sudan, 1965 (L.P. Sanderson, SAD.42/4)

The Queen's visit was evidence of an enduring connection between the British and Sudanese people that continued well after independence. It proved to be a hugely popular visit, in spite of the political tensions of the time.

Photograph of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Sudan, 1965 (L.P. Sanderson, SAD.42/4)

SPLM Update, 22 September 1992 (M.W. Daly, SAD.985/4/87)

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) was the political wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Army which fought against the government in the Second Sudanese Civil War. From its inception in 1983, the SPLM employed a range of methods to promote its cause, most notably disseminating propaganda in the form of press releases, statements, and reports. This SPLM Update newsletter includes an article accusing the Sudan Government of accepting American aid.

SPLM Update, 22 September 1992 (M.W. Daly, SAD.985/4/87)

Letter between P.P. Howell and Col Ding outlining the details of a visit by John Garang to London, 15 March 1989 (P.P. Howell, SAD.80/1)

John Garang de Mabior, leader of the SPLM/A, visited London in 1989 in order to garner support for his cause. Whilst opposed to the violent actions of the Sudanese government, Garang also had to account for atrocities committed by the SPLA such as the shooting down of civilian airliners and the murder of aid workers. A charismatic leader who many believed might contribute to the eventual peace effort in the Sudan, Garang died in a helicopter crash in 2005.

Letter between P.P. Howell and Col Ding outlining the details of a visit by John Garang to London, 15 March 1989 (P.P. Howell, SAD.80/1)

Poster advertising the Babiker Badri Scientific Association for Women's Studies conference on female circumcision, March 1981 (L.P. Sanderson, SAD.27/2/1)

The practice of female circumcision was originally outlawed in 1946 by the Sudan Government.However, following independence, its prevalence increased dramatically and it became a major human rights issue. The conference referred to in this poster was organised by the former British teacher, L.P. Sanderson, who played a leading role in the abolition campaign.

Poster advertising the Babiker Badri Scientific Association for Women's Studies conference on female circumcision, March 1981 (L.P. Sanderson, SAD.27/2/1)

Petition from the American Southern Sudanese community to President Bill Clinton calling for assistance to end human rights abuses in Southern Sudan, 5 April 1993 (M.W. Daly, SAD.985/6/113-116)

During the 1990s, the extent of human rights abuses in Southern Sudan remained largely hidden from view. Indeed, the situation in the Sudan failed to capture the attention of the world's media in the way that the troubles of Yugoslavia and Somalia did. Appeals to prominent individuals to raise awareness of the situation became a favourite tactic adopted by pressure groups both within the Sudan and the diaspora.

Petition from the American Southern Sudanese community to President Bill Clinton calling for assistance to end human rights abuses in Southern Sudan, 5 April 1993 (M.W. Daly, SAD.985/6/113-116)

Tourist posters for the Sudan, c. 1980s (L.P. Sanderson, SAD.PF 27/3/1-3)

Our perceptions of post-independence Sudan are usually dictated by the media concentration on civil war, famine and genocide.  However, during the 1980s, the Sudanese government was keen to project a more positive image of the Sudan and promote the country as a possible tourist destination, as is evident by these posters.

Tourist posters for the Sudan, c. 1980s (L.P. Sanderson, SAD.PF 27/3/1-3)