"Heather Sharkey demonstrates that the indigenous functionaries trained and mobilized by the colonial state to implement its rule were the key cohort that gave shape to the nationalist movement and eventually to the contested character of the nation-state in Sudan. . . . This excellent case study parallels renewed interest in similar indigenous elites in
India, West Africa, and elsewhere, and speaks to a common concern to trace the roots of the postcolonical predicament confronting so many ex-colonial states."Dane Kennedy, author of The Magic Mountains: Hill Stations and the British Raj
This well-researched study looks at how British colonialism in Sudan created a penny-wise machinery of domination by training native subalterns who, in due course, formulated their own national identity and ideology of anticolonialism. The British drew their clerks, teachers, and technicians from a narrow upper stratum of "Arabized" families from the riverain north in the hope of co-opting this potentially disruptive element of indigenous society. For half a century, one academic institution, Khartoum's Gordon College, trained almost all the members of this all-male, monocultural elite, who then went on to inherit leadership of Sudan at independence in 1956, leaving the non-Arabic-speaking, non-Muslim peoples of the country's peripheries almost as excluded from status, opportunity, and power as they had been at the dawn of the colonial period. This arrangement made perfect sense to the British at the time, as it did to their anointed political heirs, but Sudan has paid the price ever since. To paint a fuller historical picture, more might have been said about the colonial experience of Sudan's southern and other peripheral peoples.