During the recent electoral campaign in the United Kingdom which was in my view an unpopularity contest between Prime Minister (PM) Tony Blair, a very charismatic PM who lost his credibility over the Iraq adventure, and Michael Howard, the uncharismatic leader of the Conservative Party, the PM expressed to the media, during that hectic campaign, his sorrow about the situation in Darfur which, according to him, was annexed to the Sudan by England

To clarify that matter I would like to briefly submit hereafter, to the Egyptian Chronicles readers, a short history of modern day Sudan and its Darfur Province:

The Sudan before 1820 

The Sudan received that name from the Egyptians, its northerly neighbors.  It means “the land of the blacks”.  Before the Egyptian invasion, in the summer of 1820, what is now known as the Sudan was a tribal society composed of several tribes living, not very peacefully side-by-side.  North of the actual Khartoum, which did not exist then, three powerful tribes dominated the others. South of the Egyptian border and along the loop of the Nile the “Shaqiya” tribe prevailed.  The “Fungs” tribe ruled the Eastern part of the land, along the “Atbara” and the Blue Nile.  The “Baqqara” tribe (see its history below), well known for their ferocity dominated the “Kordofan” and the western shore of the Nile. Darfur, which is the most western part of the land, was ruled by the “Fur” Sultanate, which disappeared before the end of the 18th century.  About three hundred Mameluks and their families, who managed to escape from Egypt, lived in the province of “Dongola”, below the third cataract.  All these groups spoke dialects derived from the Arabic language and Islam was the dominant religion. 

Besides warring, the main economical activities of those tribes were some rudimentary agriculture along the Nile and its tributaries, brigandage and the commerce of slaves. 

The lands south of the “Sobat”, the “Bahr el-Zaraf” and the “Bahr el-Ghazal” rivers, were the homes of the Nilotic Tribes; the largest amongst them were the “Shilluks”, the “Nuers” and the “Dinkas”.  Their domain was part of the dark African Continent which was still undiscovered. 


The Egyptian conquest

After defeating Wahabism, and occupying the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, on behalf of the Ottoman Sultan, Mohammad-Ali Pasha, the “Wali” of Egypt, needed both men and money.  There was only one place where he could remedy these deficiencies, and that was on the Nile itself, south of the Egyptian border, where it was thought that gold and slaves could be obtained in abundance. Hence, Mohammad-Ali, in 1820, decided to push on into the wilderness that lay beyond.

There were good reasons for the “Wali” to hesitate before he committed himself and his then modest army to an invasion.  It was a problem of geography rather than warfare.  To surmount the six cataracts, to get a force two thousands miles up the Nile, to venture into a country that had scarcely been explored and never invaded for the past three centuries, this was an enterprise that required a Bonaparte‘s imagination and the cruelty and the tenacity of the Conquistadors, but Mohammad-Ali had them all.

By the summer of 1820 all was ready.  Some hundreds of boats were assembled in “Boulac” and all through July and August a long procession of men, animals and arms made its way up the Nile to “Aswan”.  At every stage of the advance the heat was appalling.  The command of this ragtag army was given to “Ismail Pasha” (not to confuse with Khedive Ismail) , the Wali ‘s son, who was then twenty five years of age, to be assisted by Mohammad Bey, better known as the “Defterdar”, the Wali ‘s son in law and Ismail‘s brother in law.

Above Aswan the boats were dragged with immense labor up the first cataract into “Nubia” and, by September of that same year, the force was assembled at “Wadi Halfa”.  There were more delays when they tackled the other cataracts but by the end of October they were through it.

Without going over the details of the campaign and its many battles, the country east of the actual Khartoum and up to the Red Sea was occupied by Ismail while the “Defterdar” pushed through and occupied the west of the country, including the “Kordofan” and, yes Mr. Blair, the Darfur.

Four decades later, Samuel Baker Pasha (1), an Englishman at the service of Egypt, pushed south on the White Nile and reached a large lake, which he called Lake Albert, and annexed that massive land to Egypt calling it the Province of Equatoria.  He built a town, not far from the actual town of “Juba” which he called “Gondokoro”. Lake Albert was circumnavigated. A few years later by an Egyptian battalion led by Romolo Gessi Bey, an Italian Officer at the service of Egypt.

Another European Officer at the service of Egypt, Baron Rudolf Von Slatin, an Austrian, was Governor of the Darfur Province of the Sudan in the late eighteen seventies and early eighties, prior to the Mahdi rebellion.  When the Mahdi captured “El-Fasher”, Darfur ‘s capital city, Slatin, better known in Egypt and the Sudan as “Salatine Pasha” (2), surrendered to the Mahdi and was given the choice of either being decapitated or adopting Islam and serving the Mahdi as his personal valet, he took the second choice.

 At the death of the Mahdi, in 1885, he escaped back to Egypt and then to Austria where he re-converted to Catholicism and wrote a very interesting memoir that I suggest Mr. Blair should read along with the seminal work of the great British historian H. A. MacMichael: "A History of the Arabs In the Sudan" (3) and last but not least:  Moorehead's "The White Nile".

Mahdism was finally defeated before the end of the nineteenth century by an Anglo-Egyptian Army (mostly Egyptian) led by Kitchener Pasha, the then Sirdar (Commander) of the Egyptian Army, and the Sudan, including Darfur, became the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium Of the Sudan (with a ten years interruption after the assassination of Lee Stack Pasha, the Sirdar of the Egyptian Army in the Mid nineteen twenties) until its independence in 1955.

I would also like to remind the British Prime-Minister that the Kings of Egypt, Fouad the First, Farouk the First and his infant son Fouad the Second, had, each of them, the official title of “Malik Misr wal Sudan wa saheb  Kordofan wa Darfur” (King of Egypt and the Sudan and Owner of Kordofan and Darfur).

Kamal Karim Katba 

(1) SIR SAMUEL WHITE BAKER  (B. June 1821-D. 30 December 1893) was an English explorer. Born in London, he was educated partly in England and partly in Germany. His father, a West India Company merchant, destined him for a commercial career, but a short experience of office work proved him to be entirely unsuited to such a life. 

On 3 August 1843 he married Henrietta Biddulph Martin , daughter of the rector of Maisemore , Gloucestershire, and after two years in Mauritius the desire for travel took him in 1846 to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, where in the following year he founded an agricultural settlement at Nuwara Eliya, a mountain health-resort. 

Aided by his brother, he brought emigrants from England, together with choice breeds of cattle, and before long the new settlement was a success. During his residence in Ceylon he published, as a result of many adventurous hunting expeditions, The Rifle and the Hound in Ceylon (1853), and two years later Eight Years' Wanderings in Ceylon (1855). 

After a journey to Constantinople and the Crimea in 1856, he found an outlet for his restless energy by undertaking the supervision of the construction of a railway across the Dobrudja, connecting the Danube with the Black Sea. After its completion he spent some months in a tour in south-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. It was during this time that he met in Hungary the lady who (in 1860) became his second wife, Florence, daughter of Finnian von Sass , his first wife having died in 1855. 

In March 1861 he started upon his first tour of exploration in central Africa. This, in his own words, was undertaken "to discover the sources of the Nile, with the hope of meeting the East African expedition under Captains Speke and Grant somewhere about the Victoria Lake." After a year spent on the Sudan-Abyssinian border, during which time he learned Arabic, explored the Atbara river and other Nile tributaries, and proved that the Nile sediment came from Abyssinia, he arrived at Khartoum, leaving that city in December 1862 to follow up the course of the White Nile. 

Two months later at Gondokoro he met Speke and Grant, who, after discovering the source of the Nile, were following the river to Egypt. Their success made him fear that there was nothing left for his own expedition to accomplish; but the two explorers gave him information which enabled him, after separating from them, to achieve the discovery of Albert Nyanza (Lake Albert), of whose existence credible assurance had already been given to Speke and Grant. Baker first sighted the lake on March 14, 1864. After some time spent in the exploration of the neighborhood, during which Baker demonstrated that the Nile flowed through the Albert Nyanza - of whose size he formed an exaggerated idea - he started upon his return journey, and reached Khartoum, after many checks, in May 1865. 

In the following October he returned to England with his wife, who had accompanied him throughout the whole of the perilous and arduous journey. In recognition of the achievements by which Baker had indissolubly linked his name with the solution of the problem of the Nile sources, the Royal Geographical Society awarded him its gold medal, and a similar distinction was bestowed on him by the Paris Geographical Society . In August 1866 he was knighted. In the same year he published The Albert N'yanza, Great Basin of the Nile, and Explorations of the Nile Sources, and in 1867 The Nile Tributaries of Abyssinia, both books quickly going through several editions. In 1868 he published a popular story called Cast up by the Sea. In 1869 he attended the prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, in a tour through Egypt. 

In the same year, at the request of the khedive Ismail, Baker undertook the command of a military expedition to the equatorial regions of the Nile, with the object of suppressing the slave-trade there and opening the way to commerce and civilization. Before starting from Cairo with a force of 1700 Egyptian troops - many of them discharged convicts - he was given the rank of pasha and major-general in the Ottoman army. Lady Baker, as before, accompanied him. The khedive appointed him governor-general of the new territory Equatoria for four years at a salary of £10,000 a year; and it was not until the expiration of that time that Baker returned to Cairo, leaving his work to be carried on by the new governor, Colonel Charles George Gordon. 

(2) SLATIN, SIR RUDOLF CARL VON (1857 ), Anglo-Austrian soldier and administrator in the Sudan, was born on the 27th of June 1857~ at Ober St Veit near Vienna. At the age of seventeen he made his first journey to the Sudan, reaching Khartum by the Nile route in October 1875 in company with Theodor von Heuglin (q.v.). Thence he went through Kordofan to Dar Nuba, exploring the mountains of that region. He returned to Khartum in consequence of a revolt of the Arabs against the Egyptian government. There Slatin met Dr Emin (Emin Pasha)  and with him purposed visiting General C. G. Gordon at Lado, Gordon at that time being governor of the equatorial provinces. Slatin, however, was obliged to return to Austria without accomplishing his desire, but Emin went to Lado and at Slatins request recommended the young traveller to Gordon for employment in the Sudan. In 1878, while Slatin was serving as a lieutenant in the crown prince Rudolfs regiment in the Bosnian campaign he received a letter from Gordon inviting him to the Sudan, of which country Gordon had become governor-general. At the close of the campaign Slatin received permission to go to Africa and he arrived at Khartum in January 1879. After a brief period during which be was financial inspector, Slatin was appointed mudir (governor) of Dara, the south-western part of Darfur, a post he held until early in 1881, when he was promoted governor-general of Darfur and given the rank of bey. While administering Dara, Slatin conducted a successful campaign against one of the Darfur princes in revolt, and as governor of Darfur he endeavored to remedy many abuses. 

The following excerpts (in frame) are from Alan Moorehead's "The White Nile"


He had soon to meet the rising power of the Mahdi Mohammed Ahmed (q.v.). Early in 1882 the Arabs in southern Darfur were in revolt. With insufficient resources and no succour from Khartum, Slatin gallantly defended his province. Though victorious in several engagements he lost ground. 


His followers attributing his non-success to the fact that he was a Christian, Slatin nominally adopted Islam. But all hope of maintaining Egyptian authority vanished with the news of the destruction of Hicks Pashas army and in December 1883 Slatin surrendered, refusing to make any further sacrifice of life in a hopeless cause. In the camp of the Mahdi an attempt was made to use him to induce Gordon to surrender. This failing, Slatin was placed in chains, and on the morning of the 26th of January i885, an hour or two after the fall of Khartum, the head of Gordon was brought to the camp and shown to the captive. Slatin was kept at Omdurman by the khalif . After over eleven years of captivity, he was enabled, through the instrumentality of Sir Reginald (then Major) Wingate of the Egyptian Intelligence Department, to escape, reaching Egypt in March 1895. In a remarkable book, Fire and Sword in the Sudan, written in the same year and issued in English and German in 1896, Slatin gave not only, as stated in the sub-title, a personal narrative of fighting and serving the dervishes but a connected account of the Sudan under the rule of the khalif.   Raised to the rank of pasha by the khedive, Slatin received from Queen Victoria the Companionship of the Bath. On the eve of his surrender to the Mahdi at Christmas 1883 he had resolved, if he regained his liberty, to use the knowledge he would acquire while in captivity for the eventual benefit of the country, and after a years rest he took part, as an officer on the staff of the Egyptian army, in the campaigns of 1897- 98 which ended in the capture of Omdurman. After serving under Kitchener in the reconquest of Sudan, he became inspector general of Sudan (1900–1914). In which capacity his mastery of Arabic and his profound knowledge of the land and peoples proved invaluable in the work of reconstruction undertaken by the Anglo-Egyptian government in that country. In 1907 he was made an honorary major-general in the British army. During World War I he headed the prisoners-of-war section of the Austrian Red Cross. He wrote Fire and Sword in the Sudan (1897) and was ennobled by the Austrian emperor in 1906. He died in 1932.


From the records inscribed upon the rocks along the route of the Wadiy Hamamat that runs east and west between the Red Sea and the Thebaid , we know that there was some traffic along it in the times of the fifth dynasty: but it is such an obvious means of access from the Nile to the Sea that we can be sure it must have been a trade route even in Pre dynastic times, or at any rate a highway where the Arab and Proto-Egyptian met and intermingled.  The widespread occurrence of marine shells, presumably from the shores of  the Red Sea, in the pre dynastic graves of Upper Egypt and Nubia is positive evidence of the reality of such intercourse. (Professor Elliot Smith


It is proposed in this concise history of the Sudan to give some general idea of the ethnic characteristics of the people who inhabited this northern portion of the Sudan before the period of Muslim immigration. 

I - Arab Tribes of the Sudan pasture their herds at certain seasons south of the  twelfth parallel  line, and in some cases cultivate: the Baqqarah tribes of southern Kordofan and Darfur and the Saliym Baqqarah on the White Nile are the most notable examples of this: but allowing a few exceptions due to the suitability of the sub-tropical zone for cattle-breeding it is fairly accurate to say that the country south of the twelfth parallel is not yet arabicized in the sense that is true of the drier zones of country further north, where the Arab is in undisputed possession. 

II - Now, it is well to realize in advance, the fact that the Muslim settlement in the Sudan caused a profound modification of the pre-existing native stock is apt to obscure the other equally important fact that long before the Islamic period Arabian races had been crossing over into Egypt and the Sudan.

Let us then, as a first step in the discussion of our subject, attempt to estimate the extent to which  Pre-Islamic immigration to the Sudan took place from Arabia during this earlier period. 

III -  It would be a most surprising fact if the connection between the two sides of the Red Sea had not been intimate from the earliest dawn of history, for their inhabitants were to a large extent cognate races and the passage was an easy one. The merchant led the way. From the most ancient times trade  in aromatic gums, ivory and gold flourished between Arabia and the ports of Egypt, the Sudan and Abyssinia. Settlements arose on the African coast and traders carried their wares at least as far as the  limit the meaning of the term "Sudan" throughout to the country at present I so called Nile. Of the Wadi Hamamat route that runs east and west between the Red Sea and the Thebaid Professor Elliot Smith says:

From the records inscribed upon the rocks along this route we know that there was some traffic along it in the times of the fifth dynasty: but it is such an obvious means of access from the Nile to the sea that we can be sure it must have been a trade route even in pre-dynastic times, or at any rate a highway where the Arab and the Proto-Egyptian met and intermingled. The widespread occurrence of marine shells, presumably from the shores of the Red Sea, in the pre-dynastic graves of Upper Egypt and Nubia is positive evidence of the reality of such intercourse'.

IV - Some again have held that the conquering dynastic Egyptians who worshipped Horus were in fact Arabians who entered Africa by way of Massowa, and in the course of developing this theory Professor Navile quotes the saying of Juba, recorded by Pliny, that the Egyptians were of Arabian origin, and "as for the neighbours of the Nile from Syene to Meroe, they are not Ethiopian nations but Arabs. Even the temple of the Sun, not far distant from Memphis, is said to have been founded by the Arabs." Without going so far as this, one would allow that in early dynastic days Arabians did enter Egypt in large numbers by way of the Eritrean coast and settle there; and in that case far more of them are likely to have settled nearer home and south of the Egyptian frontier, in the Sudan.

V  - Some such movements are probably reflected in the ever recurrent tradition that the early dynasties of Egypt were of Ethiopian origin. It is perhaps too often assumed that "Ethiopian" is necessarily the equivalent of "Black". Certainly in the second millennium B.C. south-west Arabia was beginning to colonize the highlands of Abyssinia, and those cross-currents of migration had begun to flow which reached their height during the hegemony of Main and Saba (c. 1500--300 B.C.).

Throughout the whole of this period a large proportion of the world's commerce passed by way of Abyssinia and the coast of the Red Sea to the Nile, and the populations on either side of the straits of Bab al- Mandab became more and more assimilated to one another.

VI -  Under the Ptolemies trade throve equally, and there is ample evidence of Arab trading-stations in the first and second centuries A.D. on the coast from Bab al- Mandab to the Gulf of Suez. 

VI - As regards early Arabian immigration by land to Egypt, there are some who, while rejecting the theory that the early dynasts came through Ethiopia, would yet bring them from Arabia into Egypt by way of the peninsula of Sinai. This is very doubtful. The positive evidence, dating from the time of the earliest dynasties, does, however, prove that the eastern side of the Delta was being perpetually  harried by nomads from Sinai and Syria , and there are numerous early basreliefs showing a Pharaoh smiting the Bedouin, "the sand dwellers" of the mining regions of Sinai.

VIII - During the twelfth dynasty, nearly 2000 years before the Christian era, the monuments prove that there was also trade with  these Bedouin. "The needs of the Semitic tribes of neighboring Asia were already those of civilized people and gave ample occasion for trades"; and hence the famous picture from the tomb of  Khnumhotep II at Beni Hasan, in which is depicted the arrival of  a band of Bedouin traders. The more amicable conditions now prevailing are also suggested by the wording of the Tale of Sinuhe's flight to Palestine during the  time of the same dynasty: 

I came to the Walls of the Ruler, made to repulse the Bedouin ...I went on ...I fell down for thirst ...I upheld my heart, I drew my limbs together,  as I heard the sound of the lowing of cattle, I beheld the Bedouin. That chief among them, who had been in Egypt, recognized me. He gave me water, he cooked for me milk. I went with him to his tribe, good was that which they did (for me) . 

IX - About 1657 B.C., occurred the Hyksos invasion of Egypt. This people may have been Hittite or possibly Arabian by race: the evidence points to the former, but we may assume in any case that Arabia sent its quota of Bedouin in the wake of the invaders" and that during the Hyksos period and that succeeding it trade between east and west flourished to a larger extent than formerly. 

X - When the Empire was at the noontide of its glory and the Syrian wars. of Thutmose III (14'79-1447 B.C.) had broken down such barriers as remained, "all the world traded in the Delta markets', and an inscription from the tomb of Harmhab (1350-13115) is particularly interesting as proving that Arab settlement in Egypt had been taking place for some time: it records how fugitives from Palestine begged the Pharaoh to give them an asylum in Egypt "after the manner of your fathers' fathers since the beginning." By now, too, the Shasu or Khabiri, the desert Semites, including Arabs, Hebrews and Aramaeans, were inundating Syria and Palestine, until, in the reign of Ikhnaton (1375-1358) they became paramount on the eastern borders of Egypt'.

Their power received a check at the hands of Seti I (c. 1313-1292), and they were also no doubt affected by the repulses inflicted by Rameses II (1292-1225) on the Hittites.

By the time of Rameses's death there were numbers of Arabians captured in war and enrolled as serfs in Egypt, or employed as mercenaries.

XI - The power of Egypt then began to decline, and during the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first dynasties the Libyans so overran Egypt that by 950 B.C. they had gained the supreme powers. The presumption is that some of the eastern nomads, who were divided by no great racial gulf from the Libyans, took the opportunity at the same time to settle with them in the Delta and intermarry with them as they had probably already intermarried with the native Egyptians.

XII -  In the Nubian period which followed, Assyria rose to the height of her power and subdued Egypt. Psammetichus I (663-609) was practically a vassal of that power in the early years of his reign; but later, as Babylon supplanted Assyria, he asserted his independence and entered into widely ramifying foreign relations with the powers to the north and east; and his successors imitated his example.

XIII - Sixty years after the death of Psammetichus I Cyrus founded the Medo-Persian empire, and in 525 B.C. Cambyses, King of Persia, occupied Egypt.

XIV -  The Arabs may have strengthened their footing in Egypt during the Assyrian and Babylonian periods. Herodotus indeed speaks of Sennacherib as "King of the Arabians and Assyrians" and his army as "the Arabian host." So, too, the Persian period ` lasted for about 2oo years and presumably the settlements of Asiatics that now occurred included a proportion of Arabs. The presumption is made more certain by the fact that when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 B.C. he appointed Cleomenes of Naukratis "'` to be governor of "Arabia about Heroopolis" with the title of "Arabarch," and so important was this official's position that he was also responsible to Alexander for the whole tribute of Egypt'. 

XV -  In the reign of the first Ptolemy we hear of the Arabs providing great convoys of camels for the abortive invasion by Antigonus, and no doubt they transported and raided both sides alternately throughout all the wars of the successive Ptolemies on the Syrian frontier; but to what extent they made any permanent settlement in Egypt :; during this period it is impossible to say.

 XVI  - Meanwhile let us not forget the more continuous intercourse that was proceeding further south. Not only were trade relations maintained, but the Qahtdnites or Himyarites of southern Arabia were forming a definite link between the Arabs and the Black population of Abyssinia, and periodically invaded the Nile valley. We need not pay much attention to the tale of Shiddad, a Himyarite king of the `Adites, who invaded Egypt in the days of Ashmuwn the great-grandson of Ham son of Noah, but the tradition that one of the early kings of Yemen, 'Abd Shams Saba the founder of Ma'rib, invaded Egypt  probably refers to an actual incursion from the south-east during the Nubian period. 

 XVII - More important matters were the expeditions of Abraha "Dhu al Manars" and Afrikus. The former was born, according to Caussin de Perceval, about 134 B.C., and was king of Yemen, and brother or son of el Sa'ab "Dhuw al- Qarnayn" (" The two-horned ")'. He is said to have made an incursion into the Sudan and advanced as far as the Maghrab. This story evidently points to a Himyaritic expedition into the Sudan by way of Abyssinia. Abraha's son Afrikus, or Ibn Afriki, invaded northern Africa probably about 46 B.C.

XVIII -  There are grounds for supposing that these invasions were followed by two distinct Himyaritic settlements in the interior of Africa.

In the first place, numbers of them are said to have settled west of Egypt among the Libyan tribes and multiplied with these under the common name of Berbers: such is the origin assigned with very reasonable probability to the Sanhaga and Ketama sections of the Berber. In this connection it may be noted that at the battle of Actium Arabs of the Yemen fought for Antony on the galleys of Cleopatras.

Secondly, it seems certain that colonies of Himyarites settled in Nubia, though it is hard to say whether the traces of Himyaritic influence which occur there, and which will be noticed later, date in the main from this or a later period.

At this period sun-worship was flourishing both in Southern Arabia and among the Himyaritic colonists of northern Abyssinia and the worship of the same deity that survived at Talmis (Kalabsha) until the time of Justinian  may well have formed a bond of sympathy between Himyarite and Nubian through the medium of Abyssinia and so have facilitated and encouraged intercourse between the two. Pliny, as we have already seen, even quotes Juba to the effect that the Nile dwellers from Aswan to Meroe were not Ethiopians but Arabians-a statement which though obviously exaggerated may be taken as containing at least some grain of truth. There is, too, a traditions that Abuw Malik, one of the last of the true Himyarite dynasty, made an expedition into the Bega country in quest of emeralds and there perished with most of his army. The event on which this tale is founded probably occurred during the early decades of the Christian periods.

XIX -  In 25 B.C. Augustus, under the impression that the merchandize brought to the Red Sea ports by the Arabs was produced by Arabia, commissioned Aelius Gallus, the Prefect of Egypt, to conquer that country.

This expedition was a failure; but about thirty years later, having learned that the most valuable merchandize brought by the Arabs came originally from India, and desiring a monopoly for ships from Egyptian ports, the Roman imposed a 25 per cent. import duty on goods from Arabian ports and destroyed Adane, the chief trading center of them alts. For about two centuries Roman shipping was developed at the expense of the Arab, but the old freedom of intercourse between the two coasts does not seem to have been checked thereby, and by the time of Diocletian (284-305 A.D.) the Axumites of Abyssinia and the Himyarites of the Yemen had entirely regained the trade ascendancy.

XX - These two peoples, closely connected by race, were now united by the bond of a common religion. Axum had been finally converted to Christianity by Frumentius about 330 A.D., and the faith spread very rapidly throughout Abyssinia'. The Yemen had been converted half a century earlier and remained nominally Christian until about 500 A.D. when the king, Dhu Nawas, a descendant of Abraha, adopted Judaism. 

XXI - Both Anastasius (491508) and Justinus I (518-527) sent embassies to the Himyarites seeking their aid to check the increasing inroads of the Persians by an attack in the rears; but their plans were nullified by the trouble that had arisen between the Himyarites and the Axumites as a result of the persecution of Christians by Dhuw Nawas. Elesban, king of Axum, invaded the Yemen and subdued it about 522 A.D, and until about the end of the century it remained subject to Abyssinia, though the actual administration remained in the hands of the Himyarites. 

XXII  - The last of the Himyarite viceroys was Sayf, the son of Dhuw Yazan and grandson of the Dhuw Nawas mentioned above. This man, with the aid of the Persians, succeeded in driving most of the Abyssinians out of al- Yemen and enslaving the rest. Some of these latter, however, murdered him about 608 A.D. and he was buried at Sana`a'. The Persians then occupied the country until it was conquered from them by the Muslim in 635. Now, curiously enough, this Sayf ibn Dhuw Yazan is fabled to have founded the kingdom of Kanem. That he did not do so is quite certain, great traveller though he is related to have been in Arab tradition. But during the tumultuous years which ushered in the seventh century in Arabia and immediately preceded Islam, there may have been, and probably was, some emigration from the Yemen to Africa, and it is not outside the bounds of possibility that some of these Himyarites penetrated to the far west, called themselves members of the royal family of al- Yemen and were accepted as such by the natives.

XXIII - But to revert: the Persian armies were active in the sixth century A.D. in the north as well as in el Yemen, and their pressure on Egypt steadily increased until in 616 A.D. that country and Asia Minor had been wrested out of the hands of the Romans. The Persians themselves, as a race, had affinities with the Armenoid invaders of an earlier date, but among their .number were members of many Syrian and Arab tribes, and with these latter their congeners already settled in Egypt were no doubt in active sympathy. 

XXIV - The rule of Persia in. Egypt only lasted for ten years. They had lost the support of the Arabs as a result of the Islamic movement, and by 626 Heraclius had driven them out. But by now both Roman and Persian were enfeebled by continuous warfare and the Arabs began to swarm over the frontiers of Egypt. For a while they were bought off by subsidies, but in 639 'Amr ibn al- `As led his forces into the country, defeated the prefect Theodorus at Heliopolis, and drove the Romans back into the Delta. By 641 Babylon had fallen and Alexandria was besieged. Terms were then agreed upon, and in September 642, Alexandria was surrendered and Egypt passed under the domination of the Arabs. Their immediate success cannot be credited wholly to religious fervor. A proportion were no doubt inspired by the new faith, but many were with equal certainty animated by purely material considerations; and their task was the easier in that they were freeing from a foreign yoke a country in which numbers of the population already consisted of their own kith and kin. 

XXV - We have thus seen that in pre-Islamic times there was a direct current of Arab immigration into Egypt, into Libya, through southern Syria, and a similar influx into the Sudan through Abyssinia, and a channel of trade from the mid Red Sea coast to the Thebaid. It may therefore be regarded as more than probable that the ever increasing infiltration of Arabs from these three directions, and their converging movements up and down the common highway of the Nile, whether in search of trade or pasture, had by the beginning of the seventh century led to the implanting at various points of a definite Arab strain in the population of the northern Sudan. 

Prior to their immigration into Africa, The Arab tribes of the Sudan mainly from the Guhaynah branch, had been settled in the Hijaz from south of Yanbuw` to north of al- Haura, and their chief neighbors were the Baliyy, Gudham, and Kinanah. Many never left these parts, and at the present day the headquarters of the Guhaynah are still at Yanbuw', and the Baliyy are still their neighbors to the north.

They were among the first of the Bedouins to accept Islam. Some 600 of those who crossed to Africa took part in 647 A.D. in the first Libyan expedition; and in 869 numbers of them joined the  Baniy Rabiy`ah in their invasion of the Biga country.

About 1400 A.D. Al-Maqriyziy speaks of them as the most numerous tribe in Upper Egypt. They had been in Ashmunayn district, but were ejected thence by the Qurayshiy tribes  in the Fatimid era and had settled around Asiyuwt and Manfaluwt. It is, however, more important for our purpose to note that by the end of the fourteenth century they had penetrated far into Nubia. Ibn Khalduwn (1332-1406) tells us:

In Upper Egypt from Aswan and beyond it as far as the land of the Nuwbah (Nubia) and that of Abyssinia are numerous tribes and scattered sections, all of them belonging to Guhaynah, one of the branches of Quda`ah. They filled those parts and conquered the lands of the Nuwbah  and swarmed over those of Abyssinia and shared their countries with them.

Elsewhere  the same author, speaking of events that occurred only a decade or two before his own birth and therefore within common recollection, says:

And with the conversion of the Nubians the payment of tribute ceased. Then the Arab tribes of the Guhaynah spread over their country and settled in it . At first the kings of the Nuwbah attempted to repulse them but they failed: then they won them over by giving them their daughters in marriages. Thus was their kingdom disintegrated, and it passed to certain of the sons of Guhaynah on account of their mothers [s.c. being Nubian of the blood-royal] according to the Nubian custom as to the succession of the sister or the sister's sons.So their kingdom fell to pieces and the tribes of Guhaynah took possession of it. As a the result of the commingling and blending that has taken place has merely been to exchange theold ways for the ways of the Bedouin Arab. 

The most important mention of the Guhaynah In the Sudanese Anasab  (genealogies) is to the effect that they reached a total of "fifty-two" tribes in the land of Soba on the Blue Nile under the rule of the Fung, but most of them are in the west, namely in Tunis and Bornu). 

Of the movement of the Guhaynah south-westwards into Kordofan and Darfur more will be said in the paragraphs that follow below. 

Once in the  the Sudan proper the Guhaynah took the additional name of the "Baqqarah". The word " Baqqarah" means no more than " cattlemen," and it is primarily applied to the large group of closely cognate nomadic or semi-nomadic Arab tribes of the Guhaynah branch inhabiting the rich belt of country which may be roughly described as lying south of the thirteenth parallel of latitude and stretching from the White Nile to Lake Chad". Generally speaking the typical Baqqarah at their best are a dark lithe people with clearly cut handsome features, hawk-eyed, with sparse beards tilted forward and moustaches carefully combed to bristle.

The young " bloods" roll their hair in tresses back from the forehead, but with middle age the habit is discarded. They carry, a very long-shafted and full-bladed spear. The women and young girls ride on bulls and wear great lumps of amber round their necks and bosses of silver across the forehead. Their hair is brought straight forward in braids on the crown of the head and rolled back into a fringe across the forehead. Large earrings and nose-rings are also worn. They evince little shyness and do not affect the exaggerated modesty and secretiveness which has spread from Egypt along the banks of the Nile. 

The term Baqqarah is sometimes applied, quite legitimately, to various other cattle-owning tribes such as the Kinanah the Hasaniyah the Bidayriyah of Kordofan, the Ma`aliyah, etc.; but these, belonging to quite different groups, are only occasionally spoken of as Baqqarah, and that with special reference to their cattle. The term Baqqarah in the Sudan, when used in a general sense, is always taken to mean the tribes  of the Baqqarah, par excellence.  A small comb for the beard and moustache is worn hanging round the neck. 

The present distribution of the Baqqarah is as follows: on the extreme east, on the banks of the White Nile, are the Baniy Saliym In Kordofan, from east to west, are the Awlad Hamayd and a branch of the Darfur Habbanah both living south of Um Ruaba and round Tiqaliy Then the Hawazmah between al-Ubayd  and Taluwdiy then the Masiyrah South of Abu Zabad; and, lastly, the Humr between al `Udayah and the Bahr al- `Arab. In southern Darfur are the Rizayqat comprising the Mahamiyd , Mahriyah and Nawaybah the Habbaniyah the Ta`iyshah the Baniy Hilbah and a few Baniy Khuzam ; and farther north some Masiyrah ,Ta`ilbah or Tha`alibah, Huwtayah, Sa`diya,h Tirgam Baniy Husayn and Bashir. 

In Wadai, Bornu and Bakirmiy are the Baniy Hilbah, Baniy Khuzam, Nawaiybah Baniy Rashid (Ruwashdah) and Ziuwd and the Salama

The writers of the "Anasab" were riverain folk and evidently knew little of the distant Baqqarah : they either omit them or perfunctorily allot to them some more than usually shadowy ancestor; but the general impression one receives from the traditional genealogies is probably a correct one, namely, that the Baqqarah and the camel owning Fizarah group to the north are both branches of the same great " Guhaynah group, and that, furthermore, the non Fizarah portion of this group are not all Baqqarah but divided in the case of each tribe into cattle-owners in the south and camel-owners in the north. 

Thus it arises that, for instance, the Mahamiyd and Mahrah are independent nomad tribes of camelowners in northern Darfur and Wadai, while other Mahamiyd and Mahriyah compose two thirds of the Rizayqat in southern Darfur It is easy to see how this may have happened. When the Arabs entered the central stated they came no doubt with their camels and sheep, cattle they presumably had none, or but few. As they would have been a nuisance to the sedentary population cultivating the central belt and would have had themselves no security for their herds, they naturally gravitated, some to the more barren spaces of the north, and some to the forests and bogs of the south.

The camel of course cannot exist in the south because of the tsetse fly and the poisonous "gullum" creeper, and such Arabs as went there imitated the indigenous population and took to cattle-rearing. This is merely suggested as one way in which the tribes may have been divided, but there is no reason to suppose that other causes which are readily imaginable not also operate to the same end. The southern group intermarried with the older black inhabitants and became darker in complexion: the northern group mixed in the west to some extent with the Tiybbuw tribes but remain very much lighter.

An interesting point may now be discussed: Did the Baqqarah reach their present habitat by way of the Nile or did they come due south or south-east to the Chad region and Bornu and Wadai from North Africa, and thence spread eastwards to the Nile?

The fact that `Abd Allah al-Guhayniy is generally regarded by themselves as their ancestor, and the fact that they consider the Fizarah group as their cousins, are obviously arguments in favour of the former view: so also is the evidence of the Sudanese "Anasab," which make no suggestion of a south-easternly migration. On the other hand, the "`Abd Allah al-Guhayniy " tradition might simply have been appropriated from immigrants from the Nile, and some of the Baqqarah do state that their ancestors came direct from Tunis or Fizzan with their camels to the countries west of Darfur, and in giving their genealogy or history others say of some particular forebear: "It was he who brought the tribe from Borku" [i.e. Wadai: s.c. to Kordofan, and these forebears are, as a rule, said to have lived from five to nine generations ago and to be the sons of the eponymous ancestors of the various sections.  They seem to have established themselves by "peaceful penetration" rather by force as  the Hawazmah e.g. told me their ancestors originally bought a bull and a cow from from  Filatiy pilgrims.

But though there is no room for doubting that considerable numbers of Arabs did push southwards from Tunis Algiers and Morocco to Central Africa in the centuries following the Hilalian invasion of North Africa, and though one may admit that the prevalence of the Abuw Zayd al-Hilaliy tradition among the Baqqarah is a  little suggestive, we have the definite statement of Ibn Khalduwn that in the first half of the fourteenth century the Guhaynah swarmed over Nubia and rapidly pushed farther afield "following the rainfall and modern expert opinion has heavily preponderated in favour of the view that the Baqqarah  came from the east. For instance, Barth  says of the Shawaiyah the name given locally to the semi' sedentary Baqqarah Arabs of  Bornu Bakirmiy and Chad, and particularly to the Salamat .

Of the migration of these Arabs from the east there cannot be the least doubt. They have advanced gradually through the eastern part of African land ....Their dialect is quite different from the Maghribiy, while in many respects it still preserves the purity and eloquence of the language of Hijaz ....These Shuwah are divided into many distinct families or clans, and altogether may form in Bornu a population of from 200,000 to 250,000 souls. He adds that they appear to have immigrated gradually from the east from very early times, "although at present we have no direct historical proofs of the presence of these Arabs in Bornu before the time of Idriys `Alawuwmah (1571-1603); and he mentions the systems of blood-money (" diyah ")which by the way maintains among all the nomad Arabs of the Sudan)  as connecting the Salamat-Shuwah with the east. Similarly M. Carbou, who divides the Shuwah into two groups, one from the north and the other, the " Guhaynah" group, from the east, also remarks that the use of the word "Nuwbah" for "all indigenous non-Arab Muslims lends weight to the current tradition of an early sojourn in what is now the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. In the same way the habit in use among the western Arabs of denoting the Kanembu as " Hamag" points as clearly to a connection with the "Arab Tribes of of Bornu, Bakirmiy and Chad district chiefly semi- sedentary Baqqarah called Shoa, or Shawiyah (Barth, " Shuwah and " Shiywah ") by the indigenous tribes of Guhayna" who in the sixteenth century had "reached a total of fifty-two tribes in the land of Soba on the Blue Nile under the rule of the Fung," though most of them were "in the west'." The main "Guhaynah" group having come from the east as camel-owners and shepherds in the fourteenth and following centuries appear to have straightway pushed as far westwards as Bornu, but how long elapsed before branches of them moved farther south and became Baqqarah we do not know. 

In Kordofan ~ these latter groups had been anticipated by the Ga`ali group from Dongola, who had settled round al- Rahad and  al- Birkah and intermarried with the Nuwbah, and it may be that the Guhaynah Arabs first became cattle-breeders in the countries west  of Kordofan. But at a later date, five to eight generations ago, there was a return movement eastwards caused by adverse political conditions in the west and various Baqqarah groups migrated to join  their kin in southern Kordofan. 

The Baqqarah of the west, however, have been joined by arabicized Berbers from North Africa, and it may have been the presence of these latter that has given rise to the doubtful tradition that the Baqqarah came not from the Nile but from Tunis. At all events it was presumably the difficulty of embodying into their traditions both the Abu Zayd el Hilaliy (Tunis) connection and also the real fact of their original migration from the Nile that gave birth to the apocryphal "Great Trek" of Abu Zayd from the east over the Blue and White Niles and Kordofan. 

Let us now take briefly the Baqqarah tribes of the Darfur known as the Rizayqat and their subdivisions. 

The Rizayqat are all in Darfur and are the richest and most powerful tribe in that country. They live in the extreme south-east, with the Humr east of them, the DIinkah to the south, the Habbaniyah to the west, and the Ma`aliyah arid sedentary Birqit Baykuw and Daguw to the north. Owing to the natural advantages of their country, which in dry weather is bounded on the north by a broad waterless belt and in the rains is marshy, and to their naturally warlike disposition and abundance of horses, they were able to resist all aggression by the Sultan `Aliy Ding. 

But whereas a hundred and fifty years ago they roamed in the rainy season over a large part of central Darfur they were in his time unable to pass far north of the eleventh degree of latitude lest he should attack them and seize their cattle in settlement of ancient claims.

They cultivate south and west of Shakka at Abuw Gabra, Umm Matariyq al-Tuhamah etc., and in the dry season go south with their cattle to the Bahr al- `Arab, where raids and counterraids between them and the Dinkah have been of yearly occurrence.

The first Sultan of Darfur known to have seriously attempted to deal with the Rizayqat was Tirab in the second half of the eighteenth century. The Rizayqat foiled him by retiring into the boggy country to the south and harrying his troops on all sides. Since then each successive Sultan was non-plussed in the same way whenever he tried to exact more than a nominal tribute, and in consequence large numbers of other Arabs who were less successful or more fearful took refuge with the Rizayqat. Most of these were the Habbaniyah, Baniy Hilbah, Ma`aliyah, and  Baniy Khuzam. Thus was the state of the Sudan, including the kordofan and Darfur, at the eve of Muhammad `Aliy conquest.




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