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The British Southern Policy in Sudan: An Inquiry into the Closed District Ordinances (1914-1946) David Nailo N. Mayo Michigan State University Many Sudanese scholars and politicians—such as Beshir, Collins, Mahdi, Mirghani, and Turabi—often cite the Southern Policy (SP) and the Christian missionari es as thfflt aauses of disunity between the north and the south, the Arabs and the African ethnic groups, the Muslims and the Christians. And had it not been for the Southern Policy or the missionaries , the southerners would have been receptive and integrated into the Sudanese nation-state. Religious zealots like Mirghani, Turabi, and el-Mahdi have extended this logic to mean that the southerners would have abandoned their ethnic allegiances and become integrated into the Arab-Islamic nation (Umma) and culture. The Report of the Commission ofInquiry into the Southern Sudan Disturbances—published by the Ministry of Interior on 10 October 1956—also attributed the crisis to the divisiveness of the Southern Policy by perpetuating and exacerbating southern prejudice against the north (Henderson 1965, 170). The arguments against the Southern Policy also epitomized the British and the Christian missionaries to have "misled" the south by depriving the latter an opportunity to look to Khartoum for counsel. The southerners were portrayed as innocent people who have not any sense of direction of their own, unless guided by "Arabism," which Khartoum believes to be a civilizing culture. That is a scandal the Sudan faces. It is also a gross misrepresentation of various African ethnic peoples in Sudan. Let me just ask: Why should a society that has lived thousands of years, before the Arab-Islamic era, seek counsel from the Arabs? I wonder whether such a "Sudan" could truly become democratic, by adopting the principles of one man, one vote; and each vote has equal weight when only one culture is held esteemed and is supposed to dominate the rest.©Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3 (New Series) 1994, pp. 165-185 165 266 David Nailo N. Mayo This article is devoted to answering the charges leveled against the Southern Policy. The Sudanese problems go far beyond the epoch of the European intrusion. Before delving into the Southern Policy, war and peace issues in the Sudan need to be addressed. Since the Ottoman Empire , the history of Sudan has been the history of invasion by the ArabIslamic peoples against the natives, and resistance by the latter against the invaders. This invasion is not only by sword, but through other cultural annihilation modalities such as: cultural diffusion and assimilation , and scorning native ways, customs, languages, religions, and so forth; and by portraying their culture, religion, etc. as superior. In support of the supposedly "superior" Arab language, culture, and religion (Islam), the sword had always been an arbiter. For instance, a Turkish officer—after ransacking Dinka villages along the Nile—was quoted as saying: "it is necessary to sow terror; the route wefollow will then be easier" (Gray, 1961, p.17). In the earlier contact between the natives and the Turks, Gray observed , the former were extremely hospitable and offered their food to whom they considered "guests." In spite of their hospitality, which the invaders did not want in the first place, they were forced to accept reality of hostilities (Gray, p. 17). In the history of southern resistance, often translated as "rebellion," the southerners did not just resist against the Arab-Islamic invasion but also against the European conquest . Between 1839 to 1900, the southerners fought against the fierce Arab slave trade. Then from 1900 to the 1920s, the southerners fought the combined British conquest and domestic Arab slavery. In Sudanese modern history since the 1820s, perhaps the Sudan can count on only 34 years of peace: between 1930 to 1954 (the post-pacification period), and 1972 to 1982 (the post-bellum period). With only 34 years of tranquility since the 1820s, it is obvious that something must be really wrong somewhere in our system; and whether we like it or not, we are perpetual prisoners of this system, whether one is Christian or Muslim. Why a Separate Policy for the South? The Southern Policy was a colonial policy designed to...


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