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Title: Blind Man's Buff in a Sandstorm? Literary education in the late condominium Sudan
Contributor(s): McDougall, Russell J  (author)
Publication Date: 2011
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Abstract: In the early 1950s, as it began to contemplate the decolonization of its African colonies, Britain judged it essential to isolate Black Africa from the alleged corrupting influence of the Middle East. Winston Churchill gives a fair idea as to the consistence of that corruption, based on his own experience at the Battle of Omdurman, where the severed head of the fallen hero of empire, General Charles Gordon, had been paraded on a spike. In Churchill's vivid account of Kitchener's reconquest of the Sudan, he declaims the "dreadful" curses of Mohammedism, which induces a fanatical frenzy in its followers "as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog" (Churchill 1899: 248-50). Somewhat paradoxically, Islam was believed also to bring about a "fearful fatalistic apathy": "Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live" (248-50). In short, the disease of Islam in Africa threatened "to paralyse the social development" of any newly independent nations and so undo all the good work British imperialism had invested in them. According to Churchill, "No stronger retrograde force exist[ed] in the world"; and if Islam once overwhelmed the Christian values transplanted in Africa, then, as Churchill said, "the civilization of modern Europe [itself] might fall" (248-50). The Sudan was the crucial 'cordon sanitaire' between Black Africa and the Middle East. For this reason it too was effectively divided, in an attempt to preserve the Southern Sudan from Islam and confine Arabism to the North. To a large degree it was the discipline of English literary studies that would provide the mechanism for maintaining this boundary.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Experiences of Freedom in Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures, p. 59-70
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: London, United Kingdom
ISBN: 9780203828922
Field of Research (FOR): 210310 Middle Eastern and African History
200508 Other Literatures in English
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 950501 Understanding Africas Past
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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Appears in Collections:Book Chapter

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