The Sudan post-independence
When Sudan finally achieved its long-held desire for independence on 1st January 1956, few would have predicted the long years of bitter struggle and tragedy which lay ahead as the new nation tried to forge it own identity. The history of the post-independence period has been characterised by two civil wars and genocide, resulting in some of the worst human rights abuses ever recorded, combined with man-made and natural disasters, such as famine and floods. However, the examples in this section of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in 1965 and the production of tourist posters in the 1980s also illustrate a more positive projection of the country in these years.
(Please click on the thumbnail images below to see the full image and any additional pages)
Extract from the diary of W.N. Monteith detailing the riots surrounding the initial opening of Parliament and the state visit by General Naguib, President of Egypt, 1 March 1954
The Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of 1953 secured independence for the Sudan, and so began the process of self-determination and self-government. However, the process was not smooth, as many political interests were at stake. Immediately following the agreement, the country held its first parliamentary elections - which saw a landslide for the pro-Egyptian, National Unionist Party. The opening of the new national Parliament in March 1954 was halted by violent protests carried out by a huge gathering of Ansar acting on behalf of the opposition, anti-Egyptian, Umma Party. Ten policemen were killed in the riots including the British Commandant, Hugh McGuigan.
Photograph of the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to the Sudan, 1965
The Queen's visit was evidence of an enduring connection between the British and Sudanese people that continued well after independence. It proved to be a hugely popular visit, in spite of the political tensions of the time.
SPLM Update, 22 September 1992
The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) was the political wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Army which fought against the government in the Second Sudanese Civil War. From its inception in 1983, the SPLM employed a range of methods to promote its cause, most notably disseminating propaganda in the form of press releases, statements, and reports. This SPLM Update newsletter includes an article accusing the Sudan Government of accepting American aid.
The letter between P.P. Howell and Col Ding outlines the details of a visit by John Garang to London, 15 March 1989
John Garang de Mabior, leader of the SPLM/A, visited London in 1989 in order to garner support for his cause. Whilst opposed to the violent actions of the Sudanese government, Garang also had to account for atrocities committed by the SPLA such as the shooting down of civilian airliners and the murder of aid workers. A charismatic leader who many believed might contribute to the eventual peace effort in the Sudan, Garang died in a helicopter crash in 2005.
Poster advertising the Babiker Badri Scientific Association for Women's Studies conference on female circumcision, March 1981
The practice of female circumcision was originally outlawed in 1946 by the Sudan Government.However, following independence, its prevalence increased dramatically and it became a major human rights issue. The conference referred to in this poster was organised by the former British teacher, L.P. Sanderson, who played a leading role in the abolition campaign.
Petition from the American Southern Sudanese community to President Bill Clinton calling for assistance to end human rights abuses in Southern Sudan, 5 April 1993
During the 1990s, the extent of human rights abuses in Southern Sudan remained largely hidden from view. Indeed, the situation in the Sudan failed to capture the attention of the world's media in the way that the troubles of Yugoslavia and Somalia did. Appeals to prominent individuals to raise awareness of the situation became a favourite tactic adopted by pressure groups both within the Sudan and the diaspora.
Tourist posters for the Sudan, ca. 1980s.
Our perceptions of post-independence Sudan are usually dictated by the media concentration on civil war, famine and genocide. However, during the 1980s, the Sudanese government was keen to project a more positive image of the Sudan and promote the country as a possible tourist destination, as is evident by these posters.