Image: Sudanese Prime Minister Isma’il Alazhari and opposition leader Mohamed Ahmed Almahjoub raise the flag of Sudan at independence ceremony, 1 January 1956. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Download PDF: Sudan, in two parts

Part One: 1942-1950 [270MB]

Part Two: 1951-1956 [284MB]

Volume Details: Series B Volume 5. First published by The Stationery Office in 1998. Electronic version reproduced with permission of the editor under an Open Government Licence.

Editor Details: DOUGLAS H JOHNSON is an historian of North East Africa whose books include Nuer Prophets (1994), The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars (2003) and When Boundaries Become Borders (2014). He was Assistant Director for Archives in the Southern Regional Government, Sudan, and a member of the Abyei Boundary Commission.

Selection from Introduction:

This collection of documents illustrates an anomaly in decolonisation. Before Britain fully accepted the twin principles of self-government and self-determination for her own colonial empire, here she became the main international advocate for granting independence to the colony of another country, Egypt, then in the process of disentangling itself from Britain’s informal empire in the Middle East. It was an anomaly stemming from the Sudan’s unusual position as a territory administered by the Foreign Office, which was more directly exposed than the Colonial Office to the changing international order in the immediate post-war years. The Colonial Office did anticipate changes in the international order at the end of the war, and this was reflected in its thinking on such issues as colonial development and welfare and international accountability in colonial affairs. Yet it was the Foreign Office who first had to contend with the practical realities of anticipated post-war changes: the foreign secretary was confronted by Britain’s shrinking role as a world power and the constraints of international opinion, and the Foreign Office was made constantly aware of the decreasing options empire had.” (Part One, p.xxxv)

The year 1953 had brought irreversible changes to the Sudan. ‘When it opened’, Riches wrote in his annual review, ‘the Sudan was governed, as it had been for decades, by an oligarchy of officials of British nationality in contact with, rather than under the control of, Her Majesty’s Government. . .. When it ended, a Senate and House of Representatives composed solely of Sudanese had been constituted .. . it is the passing of the direct power of the British oligarchy rather than the particular politics of the Sudanese who are for the time being inheriting it that marks the end of an era . . . . The Sudanese will remember with gratitude that there used to be a well-meaning and even benevolent British Administration. But they will only do this if we get out gracefully as and when the Sudanese want us to go’.” (Part One, p.lxxvii)