Published: 28/01/2016
ISBN: 9781785890246
eISBN: 9781785895678
Format: Paperback/eBook

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Sudan Days
by Richard Owen

Sudan Days gives a grass roots picture of British colonial rule in Africa in the second quarter of the twentieth century. In 1926, at the age of twenty-three, the author was posted to the Sudan, which was then an Anglo-Egyptian condominium, administered jointly by Britain and Egypt. Over the next 25 years, he rose through the ranks to become Governor of Bahr al-Ghazal, the province in the far south-west, and he grew to love the local tribes, who went about (as he put it) ‘starko’ and fought each other with spears and sticks.

He himself moved freely among them, trekking on his camel, George, as he visited Government outposts, police stations and so on, apparently impervious to the pulverising heat, which was often 40°C in the shade. He describes many extraordinary scenes, not least that of watching Dinka tribesmen enlist the help of hippos in their fishing.

In the 1950s, however, he became disillusioned by international plans to create a single state when the country achieved independence, believing that South Sudan should have special status – which it did not achieve until 2011 – and in 1953 he resigned. He wrote these reminiscences during the 1960s, but they have remained unpublished until now – perhaps because he was so disappointed at seeing all the work the British had done thrown away, and the Sudan descend into a maelstrom of revolution and war.

Sudan Days will appeal to those with an interest in Sudanese history, and the way in which the country was shaped by colonial influence in the 1920s-1950s.

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