the records inscribed upon the rocks along the route of the Wadiy
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 )
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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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:
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'.
- 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.
- 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.).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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) .
- 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
- 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
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.
the time of Rameses's death there were numbers of Arabians captured in
war and enrolled as serfs in Egypt, or employed as mercenaries.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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'.
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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
- There are grounds for supposing that these invasions were followed
by two distinct Himyaritic settlements in the interior of Africa.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
the same author, speaking of events that occurred only a decade or two
before his own birth and therefore within common recollection, says:
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.
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).
the movement of the Guhaynah south-westwards into Kordofan and Darfur more
will be said in the paragraphs that follow below.
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.
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.
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.
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
; and farther north some Masiyrah ,Ta`ilbah or Tha`alibah,
Sa`diya,h Tirgam Baniy Husayn and Bashir.
Wadai, Bornu and Bakirmiy are the Baniy Hilbah, Baniy Khuzam,
Nawaiybah Baniy Rashid (Ruwashdah) and Ziuwd and the Salamat
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 .
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
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.
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.
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.
us now take briefly the Baqqarah tribes of the Darfur known as the Rizayqat
and their subdivisions.
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.
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.
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.
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