Egypt and The Sudan
RULED BY OUTSIDERS
Since the decline of the pharaohs, Egypt had
been occupied and ruled by successive waves of outsiders: the Greeks, the Romans,
the Persians and Arabs.
In the 16th century all of North Africa, apart from
Morocco, fell under Ottoman rule and remained so until the 19th century. In
1811 Mohammed Ali, a high ranking Albanian army officer serving the Ottoman
Empire ousted the Governor of Egypt and appointed himself ruler. He remained
nominally under Ottoman authority and was carefully observed by the British,
who were determined to strengthen their position in North Africa. To begin with,
Mohammed Ali pursued an independent domestic and foreign policy.
may now almost be said to form part of Europe. It is on the high road to the
Far East. It can never cease to be an object of interest to all the powers of
Europe, and especially to England…
The population is heterogeneous and cosmopolitan to a degree almost unknown
elsewhere. Although the prevailing faith is that of Islam, in no country in
the world is a greater variety of religious creeds to be found amongst important
sections of the community."
First British Viceroy of Egypt, Earl of Cromer's account of why the British
took over Egypt.
In 1820, with the encouragement of Britain, Mohammed Ali
invaded Sudan in search of slaves and to keep his army occupied. The Funj sultanate
was deposed. Southern Sudan was devastated and the Dinka still refer to the
invasion as 'The time when the earth was spoilt'. Sudan was now under Egyptian
At home, Mohammed Ali was an energetic man with
great vision. He launched an extensive modernisation programme for Egypt inviting
foreigners to come and give technical expertise.
Factories, primary and technical
schools were built, irrigation projects were constructed, and vast tracts of
land were put under cotton cultivation; the appointment of thousands of barber
vaccinators greatly reduced the spread of small pox.
BRITISH PRESSURE & THE CANAL
For the first time Egypt had a growing
number of Egyptians in its army (as opposed to foreign mercenaries). The
British became anxious that Egypt was becoming too strong a force in the
region. In 1838 they compelled Mohammed Ali to reduce his army and drop
his protectionist trade policies. As a result, Egypt became flooded with
British goods and local industry collapsed.
British investment grew in Egypt and North Africa became a focus for Anglo-French
rivalry. Mohammed Ali's successor Abbas, appointed General Gordon, Governor
of Khartoum under pressure from the British. Under his rule, the 90 mile
long Suez Canal was built with French engineering and Egyptian labour.
"The canal is a marvellous thing and shows how
the Europeans can always do whatever they set about doing. It is as long
as from Mengo to Wakoli's, eighty seven miles, and is all cut through
the sand, and is so deep that it will take vessels seven stories high.
It is not wide - one could throw a stone or an orange across from side
to side; and when two ships meet they tie on up to posts on the bank to
let the other pass...
We found workmen widening it in some places, and saw how camels worked in carrying
away the sand; each camel knelt down till its panniers were filled, and then
got up and went away when it was ordered to do so."
Account of the 1902 journey from Buganda to Britain, by Ham Mukasa, official
secretary to the Katikiro of Buganda. Taken from Sir Apolo Kagwa Discovers Britain.
The canal opened up a shipping route from the
Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean for the first time (avoiding going round Africa
via the Cape of Good Hope). But in the process Egypt was tipped into bankruptcy,
with a debt that grew from £3 million in 1863 to £100 million in 1879. The British
and French had the excuse they needed to move in and establish dual financial
control of Egypt.
Mohammed Ali's successor, Ismail, was deposed and replaced by his son
of British intervention grew among members of the burgeoning nationalist
movement. The idea that Islam could be blended with modern scientific
thought and technology grew with The Modern Movement (Salafiyya) under
Mohammed Abduh who taught at the Azhar mosque university.
Find out more about Islam
OCCUPATION IN EGYPT, REVOLT IN SUDAN
In June 1882 Alexandria broke out in riots, leaving
several Europeans dead. The British retaliated, the Egyptian army mounted a
rebellion, and by August, Tewfik's government had collapsed. The British army
secured the Suez Canal and then assumed the role of an army of occupation. This
intervention marked the end of Anglo French cooperation over Egypt. Taking advantage
of the crisis in Egypt, the Mahdi rose up against Governor Gordon defeating
him and retaining control over Sudan until General Kitchener defeated him in
the battle of Omdurman. Egypt finally achieved independence in 1922.
to a BBC dramatised correspondence between Mahdi and Governor Gordon