Sudan Old History

By | January 2, 2023

Sudan is an independent nation in Northern Africa. With the capital city of Khartoum, Sudan 2020 population is estimated at 43,849,271 according to countryaah. The Nile unites Sudan with Egypt, and its relations go back to Pharaonic times. Britain intervened in both countries in the 19th century, which in Sudan led to the Islamist / nationalist Mahadist uprising. The British defeated the Mahdists in the battle of Omdurman in 1898. Prior to Sudan’s independence in the 1950s, a new uprising began in black, southern Sudan, directed against the Arabs in the north.

  • Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Sudan, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The history of northern and central Sudan is closely linked to that of Egypt. The Nile enabled early high cultures in both countries. When about 5,000 years ago, the Egyptians began to expand their kingdom south, into today’s Sudan, they encountered black people, Nubians, who were Egyptian. For Sudan political system, please check cancermatters.

When Egypt weakened in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, the independent Nubian kingdom of Kush arose. Its rulers conquered all of Egypt and founded a dynasty of Pharaohs, who ruled Egypt for a few hundred years. Later, the Cushites established a new kingdom with capital in Meroe, northeast of today’s Khartoum. In the 300s after Christ, the kingdom was conquered by Ethiopians.

In the 500s, new Nubian kingdoms arose, which were Christianized by missionaries from Egypt. When the Arabs conquered Egypt in 640, the Nubians began to convert to Islam. Arab immigration increased during the Egyptian Mamluk empire, which subdued Nubia in 1276. The Christian kingdoms perished.

Egypt became part of the Ottoman (Turkish) empire in the 16th century. Much of central Sudan was dominated by indigenous black Sultans. The Darfur Sultanate in the West would last until it was incorporated with (then Egyptian) Sudan in 1874. The Sultanate engaged in trade, including slaves.

Under British rule

In the early 19th century, the King of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, wanted to make Egypt the most powerful nation of Islam. He occupied large areas of Nubia and conducted an increasingly intensive search for slaves to his army. Following European pressure, Muhammad Ali’s son Ismail tried to end the slave trade. To his aid he took British officer Charles Gordon, who in 1877 was appointed general governor of Sudan.

Britain had increased its influence in Egypt from the 1850s. The construction of the Suez Canal in 1854-1869 had left Egypt indebted, and in 1879 the great powers persuaded the Turkish sultan to oust Ismail. In response to a nationalist uprising, British troops occupied Egypt. Thus, in practice, Sudan also came under British rule.

The foreign power led to the uprising in Sudan. A member of the Sufi word sammaniyah, Muhammad Ahmed, declared himself in 1881 to be one of the expected savior of the Muslims, mahdi. His call to holy war, jihad, attracted large crowds who defeated the armies of the Egyptians despite inferior armament.

The British eventually thought of colonizing Sudan and incorporating the country’s southern part into its East African empire. They did not mind that the Mahdists disengaged Sudan from Egypt. That General Gordon was instructed to do away with mahdin. However, the plans failed. The Mahdists invaded Khartoum in 1885, and Gordon was killed.

The Mahdist uprising is fought

The same year, the Berlin Conference was held, where the major powers divided Africa. The British wanted to take control of the Nile quickly, so as not to jeopardize planned irrigation projects in Egypt. A British-Egyptian army was sent to Sudan and defeated the Mahdists in the battle of Omdurman in 1898. At least 20,000 Sudanese have fallen.

Britain and Egypt agreed in 1899 to rule Sudan jointly. The Darfur Sultanate, which the British restored after the battle of Omdurman, again became a province in Sudan in 1916. Since the British General Governor of Sudan was assassinated in Cairo in 1924, the British took over the entire administration of Sudan in cooperation with local chiefs.

The British invested in ports, railways and irrigation plants to produce cotton and rubber. In classic colonial fashion, they played different groups against each other. First the khatmiya words, whose followers were mainly merchants, were favored. When they were too influenced by Egyptian nationalism, the British sought support from the Mahdis who wanted to break with Egypt.

Tensions between north and south

In the north, the emergence of commercial agriculture, industry and modern administration gave rise to a working class and a middle class. In both layers, after the Second World War, political parties emerged. In 1945 the Mahdis formed the religiously oriented Umma Party and the khatmiya adherents in 1952 what was then called the National Unionist Party (NUP). Railway workers formed the backbone of the Sudanese Communist Party, which was formed in 1946. By controlling the trade union movement, the party became one of the strongest communist parties in Africa and the Middle East.

Britain, after the Second World War, was forced to hand over power to the Sudanese (in practice the North Sudanese). A local parliament was established in 1948 and internal self-government was introduced in 1953. The NUP formed government after general elections. The party advocated union with Egypt, but opinion in the north demanded independence, which all parties were forced to accept.

In southern Sudan dominated by black people, there was widespread fear of being governed by an Arab regime in Khartoum. Local leaders in the south have fueled rumors of Arab massacres in South Sudanese.

When the southern provinces did not gain autonomy, local military associations mutated in 1955. It became the beginning of a protracted civil war between the south and the north. The unions later formed the backbone of the guerrilla movement Anya Nya (The Serpent Gift), which received strong support from the Dinka people.



New step towards referendum

Parliament adopts a law regulating the conditions for the planned referendum on the future status of southern Sudan;


The AU wants to set up a special court for Darfur

AU offers to set up a special court for Darfur. Both Sudanese and foreign lawyers are expected to lead the work of the court, whose task would be to investigate crimes committed during the conflict in the area.


Spit penalty for wearing pants

Ten women are sentenced to spit punishment for wearing pants in public. A female journalist is sentenced to a fine of SEK 1,400 for the same “crime”.


“The war in Darfur is over”

The commander of the International Peace Force in Darfur (Unamid) is criticized by various foreign activist groups when he says that “the war in Darfur is in effect over”.


Continued dispute over the oil fields

A few days later, North Sudan announces that it no longer wants to give the South its share of the revenue from the two oil fields. South Sudan is again beginning to demand control of the disputed oil fields.

Arbitration on Abyei

The Permanent Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague states that the boundaries should be redrawn in eastern and western Abyei. The district’s land area is set at 10,459 square miles. Northern Sudan is granted full control over two disputed oil fields, including the important Heglig. Both sides accept the court’s ruling.


New party in the south

Former Foreign Minister Lam Akol in South Sudan breaks with SPLM and forms a new party, SPLM-DC (Democratic Change).


ICC prosecution for murder in Darfur

The ICC initiates the first legal process related to the conflict in Darfur. A rebel leader is charged with the murders of ten AU soldiers in September 2007.


Nine prisoners are executed

Nine men from Darfur are executed for the 2006 murder of a well-known Islamist journalist.


Arrest warrant for the President

The ICC Criminal Court in The Hague issues an international arrest warrant for al-Bashir, who responds with ordering aid organizations to leave Darfur.


Settlement agreement in Darfur

The JEM rebel movement in Darfur signs a standstill agreement with the government.


Islamist leader al-Turabi seizes

Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi (see Political system) is arrested after urging President al-Bashir to surrender to the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC), which wants to try al-Bashir for suspected war crimes.

Sudan Old History