Flashpoint for Conflict
INDEPENDENCE - 1900-1956
"PACIFICATION" AND CLOSED DISTRICTS
In the first two decades of the 20th century the British conducted a "pacification" campaign in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. They used military force including the earliest aerial bombing against people who often regarded the British not as their saviours from slavery but as a new wave of invaders.
Once this was complete, British policymakers pursued separate development approaches for Northern and Southern Sudan "Southern Policy" sought not only to halt the clandestine slave trade but also to limit the penetration of Northern influences in the South.Top
Some colonial governors wanted to incorporate the South with Uganda: Southern region governors attended administrative conferences in East Africa, not Khartoum.
In the 1920s a series of laws, the Closed Districts Ordinances, placed tight controls on access to the South, the Nuba Mountains, Darfur and Southern Blue Nile, whose peoples - after "pacification" - were now regarded as needing "protection". Top
If its intention was to allow these less developed societies more time to determine their own futures by shielding them from outside interference, in practice the policy turned the areas into vulnerable "anthropological zoos" (in the words of one Nuba), which were unprepared for their sudden re-opening to the outside world two decades later.
In the South, education opportunities were rare; only a handful of mission schools were established, because the British administrators were often as wary of Christian missionaries as they were of their Muslim counterparts. English rather than Arabic was the language of instruction and administration. Top
Meanwhile, the British concentrated on development in the North, building railways and a modern civil service. Nationalist political parties began to grow. Sayyid Abdel Rahman al-Mahdi, head of the Ansar sect and Sayyid Ali al-Mirghani, head of the Khatmiyya sect, were encouraged by the British to reconstitute their movements into political organizations along quasi-secular lines.
The West and South of Sudan were maintained under "native administration" using chiefs and sheikhs identified or created by the colonial government, with little investment for social or economic development. Top
In 1947 Southern Policy was abandoned after the Juba Conference organized by the colonial government, at which Southern chiefs agreed with northern nationalists to pursue a united Sudan. A crash programme of integration followed.
800 administrative posts were vacated by the British and "Sudanized" as "self-rule" was introduced, with a Westminster-style parliament. Northern politicians allocated just four of these posts to Southerners, a reflection both of racial prejudice and the inadequacy of Southern education.
In the eyes of Southerners, "Sudanization"was effectively "Northernization". Southerners were not represented at the 1953 Cairo Conference on self-rule, on the grounds that they had "no party or organisation".Top