History of Sudan Part I

The history of Sudan in the broad meaning of this name, as indicated above, does not have its own unity, given the great extension of the country and the difference in the peoples who inhabit it, nor could it be exposed except in a series of individual treatises.. However, some reason for unity is given to this complex of historical developments by some factors, such as, for example, in addition to some conditions of the geographical environment, the ethnographic elements, that is, on the one hand the black race, on the other the constant history of mixes of Negroes, immigrants in Sudan and in turn mixed with Negrilli, with white aborigines from North Africa and with Semites who subsequently immigrated to the country; and how, finally, the cultural influence of this white element. After the immigration of the Arabs to Africa, the living part taken from it by many great Arab tribes, more or less mixed with black blood, the diffusion of Islam, accepted by some populations, by others tenaciously fought in the name of the ancestral pagan religions, enter as decisive factors in the history of Sudan, and the relative cultural unity which is always created by Islam in the regions of its diffusion. Among the tribes of Arab origin that have had greater importance in the history of Sudan, are the Ḥassāniyyah tribes of Mauritania and many others in the regions of Bornu, Lake Chad, Darfur, and those of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.

A question that is of great interest from a general point of view is that of the origin of the politico-military organization, which has been characteristic of many regions of Sudan since ancient times; an origin which, considering the traditions still existing among the Negroes and the contacts with the white culture, could easily be attributed to the influence of this. On the other hand, it has been observed that some black states (such as the Mossi ones of Niger) still preserve in the most typical form, and at least from the century onwards. XI, the state organization as found in the great empires of western Sudan; and while the latter have certainly undergone, and in various ways and measures, white influences, the Mossi kingdoms have always been immune from any non-Negro contact. This could support the very interesting thesis of the purely black origin of the aforementioned institutions;

For the ancient history of Sudan the sources are very scarce; in the classical authors we naturally find only some vague and uncertain news, while there is not much to trust indigenous traditions. We know more about Nubia, thanks to the relationships that have linked it in every time to Egypt and to archaeological excavations. For the Middle Ages various Arab works give us a lot of information for western Sudan, while for central and eastern Sudan we are almost in the dark. From the beginning of the modern age they are an important source for us, as well as several Arab authors (and especially two works the Ta’r ī kh asS ū d ā n and the Ta ‘ of the century XVI-XVII, edited and translated into French), the description of Africa by African Lion, and the reports of European travelers.

The majority of the population of Sudan (see Sudanese) is made up of Negroes: according to an authoritative opinion, the nucleus of the African Negro population is not indigenous, but arrived by migrations that would have had the starting point towards the limit between the Indian and Pacific Oceans; and in two waves, the first of which was the ancestors of the Bantu. The Negroes of the second wave would arrive in Sudan, who would mix, like the others, with the aboriginal Negrilli, and then with the indigenous Mediterranean Whites of the North; the slight differences between the peoples of the two waves should be attributed to the long space of time, perhaps thousands of years, which took place between the two migrations. In the century It goes. C. they must already have occupied the same offices in Sudan as they are today and have the same type of civilization. Other immigrant Whites, of Semitic race, have then repeatedly led, up to the latest story of Arab penetration, their contribution to the history and culture of Sudan. According to Delafosse, not only the Phoenicians (who should be credited with introducing the conterie, called aggrybeads, very common and valuable among the peoples of Sudan), but also another Semitic people, to which the Negro tradition alludes with its tales of the Beni Israel, would have brought, together with elements of culture, many words of Semitic origin in the Sudanese languages, words that according to this theory should not be attributed to Arab influence. These Semites, cultivators and shepherds, would be the nucleus of the foreign element that contributed to the formation of strongly mixed populations of white blood, such as, for example, the Fulbè (v.). The Berbers do not seem to have made a very notable contribution; this would also appear from the scarce number of Berber words that have penetrated into the Sudanese languages. We know nothing of the ancient history of western Sudan; the Romans did not go beyond the Sahara.

History of Sudan 1