lisa monaghan

Lienhardt (1982). The Sudan: Aspects of the South Government among Some of the Nilotic Peoples, 1947-52

Historians writing about Africa were at one time criticized for interesting themselves in little but the history of colonial
rule. Social anthropologists,on the other hand,have been.held to interest themselves too little in colonialism, and too much in outmoded habits of thought, antique customs or mere formal constructs. Anthropologists of the southern Sudan have not, it is true, prefaced their writings with accounts of the superstructure of the Sudan Government, and this short paper is intended to suggest why this is so. 'Colonialism' varied, of course, in its character, pervasiveness and intensity from place to place and time to time.

My direct experience in the Sudan was of the years 1947-52, the period of post-war re-evaluations everywhere, and these
observations are thus partial and limited. The Sudan Government was then adapting to rapid political developments both within the
Sudan and in international relations. Decolonization was the general policy of the British Government at home, if at the
urgent demand of national political leaders abroad; the independence of the (Anglo-Egyptian) Sudan was clearly on the way -- but when? In 1948, for example, in a good-humoured conversation between a senior northern Sudanese doctor and a British District Commissioner, the doctor was offering the British perhaps ten years more in the Sudan, against the District Commissioner's bid for at least twenty, more probably forty. Sudan Independence Day came eight years later in 1956, and some critics, both British and Sudanese (and southern Sudanese particularly, who were left with less experience of political bureaucracy than their northern countrymen) have thought that
those in power had taken the status quo for granted for too long....

Category: Anthropology and History

Sub-category: Land, Socio-Cultural Groups and Practices