Africa’s newest nation has a long history. Often considered remote and isolated from the rest of Africa, and usually associated with the violence of slavery and civil war, South Sudan has been an arena for a complex mixing of peoples, languages, and beliefs. The nation’s diversity is both its strength and a challenge as its people attempt to overcome the legacy of decades of war to build a new economic, political, and national future.
Steve Howard departed for the Sudan in the early 1980s as an American graduate student beginning a three-year journey in which he would join and live with the Republican Brotherhood, the Sufi Muslim group led by the visionary Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Taha was a religious intellectual who participated in the early days of Sudan’s anticolonial struggle, but quickly turned his movement into a religious reform effort based on his radical reading of the Qur’an. He was executed in 1985 for apostasy.
Citizenship, Belonging, and Political Community in Africa
Dialogues between Past and Present
Edited by Emma Hunter
Africa, it is often said, is suffering from a crisis of citizenship. At the heart of the contemporary debates this apparent crisis has provoked lie dynamic relations between the present and the past, between political theory and political practice, and between legal categories and lived experience. Yet studies of citizenship in Africa have often tended to foreshorten historical time and privilege the present at the expense of the deeper past.
Western Bahr al-Ghazal is perhaps one of the least known places in Africa. Yet this remote part of the Republic of Sudan can be regarded as a historical barometer, registering major developments in the history of the Nile valley. In the nineteenth century the region became one of the most active slave-exporting zones in Africa. The area is distinguished from the rest of southern Sudan by its veneer of Muslim influence and an Arabic pidgin.