For a myriad of reasons which shall soon be made apparent,one has always held the view that in no two African countries do events replicate each other as do they in Nigeria and the Sudan.

Besides both being former British colonies,Sudan is geographically the largest country in Africa while Nigeria is Africa’s biggest country,demographically. Whilst Nigeria is the most ethnically diverse nation on the continent with over 500 ethnolinguistic groups, Sudan comes next on the heterogeneity chart with about 400 ethnolinguistic groups. Above all,in no 2 countries do the 3 political matrices of Region, Religion and Ethnicity so totally underpin national politics.

In much the same way as Northern Nigerians and Northern Sudanese are predominantly muslims with socio-cultural and politico-economic inclinations towards the Arabian world,Southern Nigerians and Southern Sudanese are mainly christians with eyes fixed on the West.

Whereas the Nuba Mountains,Abyei and southern Blue Nile areas  of the Sudanese Middle Belt have been a source of political contention between the North and South of the Sudan,the Yoruba-speaking areas of Kwara and Kogi states of the Nigerian Middle Belt are equally a source of contention between the North and South of Nigeria.

To this day,North-South relations,Muslim-Christian coexistence,oil politics,political marginalisation and Sharia law remain the most topical issues in both countries. Amazingly,both countries possess exactly the same length of coastline…853 kilometres and both produce the black gold from southern oilfields.

During colonial rule,the British administered the North and south of both countries as though they were distinct territories.In accordance with the wishes of the Emirs of northern Nigeria(a suicidal move which today sees northern Nigeria 50years behind the South educationally),the British kept Christianity and Western education out of the emirates of northern Nigeria.

Indeed,the politicians of northern and southern Nigeria first came together in a national legislature in 1946,even after the 1914 amalgamation. In the Sudan,socio-economic and political interactions between the North and the South was virtually non-existent,thanks to the British. It may be argued that the successful amalgamation of the protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1914 was the precursor of the incorporation of the independent Sultanate of Darfur into the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium of Sudan in 1916!

Historically,socio-cultural and trade ties have been strong between Northern Nigeria and Northern Sudan,particularly around Kano and Bornu. For centuries, the Shuwa Arabs(who number perhaps half a million people in Adamawa,Yobe and Borno states) who are thought to have emigrated from Darfur have inhabited the area around the Biu Plateau,Mandara mountains and plains and the Lake Chad basin. There also exists a well-established Sudanese diaspora in Kano. As recently as 1900,Rabeh the son of a Darfuri Arab was temporal Lord of the Lake Chad region!

These migratory trends appear to have been influenced by the fact of Kano having been the central terminus and Bornu the eastern terminus of the Trans-Saharan trade routes. Indeed,there is a long established practice(which continues to this day) of sending children/wards of the nobility for training in Islamic law,philosophy and theology to the Sudan.This is particularly noticeable in emirates such as Kano,Katsina,Zaria,Sokoto,Adamawa and Bornu.
So,how did Nigerians end up becoming Sudanese nationals?

Traditionally,the Kano-Bornu-Darfur-Red Sea route has been used by Hausa,Fulani and Kanuri muslim faithful on pilgrimage to Mecca.Many of these faithfuls,attracted by the similarities in culture,religious practices,weather and an abundance of fertile land in the Nile Valley,settled down to farm   the land.But the greatest wave of migration lay ahead.

In the wake of the eclipse of Sokoto’s imperial glory in March 1903 on account of British imperialist aggression,the Mai Wurno,nephew of the Sultan and Protector of the caliphate’s northern frontiers fled with the Sokoto imperial standard and thousands of his followers and troops to the southernmost emirate of  Adamawa, over 1000 kilometres away.

Being well acquainted with the exploits of the Mahdist forces in the Sudan and in the belief that the Mahdi was the great liberator whose coming was foretold in the Holy Book,the Mai Wurno and by some accounts,over 20,000 followers began the Hijra(flight) to the Sudan where they ultimately settled down close to the Khartoum-Omdurman area in a settlement which to this day is known as Mai Wurno and whose inhabitants retain their Hausa-Fulani heritage.

Altogether,the Hausa,Fulani and Kanuri of the Sudan today number well over a million people,serving that country in the civil service,armed forces,business and most of all,providing the bulk of the farmers who till the land in that country’s food basket,the Gezira plains


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. jashobanta says:

    i would like to know the political status of hausa-fulani people in sudan…..
    are they entitled to vote? plz reply!

    • beegeagle says:

      We are made to believe that the frontrunner for the governorship of Sennar state during the April 2010 polls is of Hausa-Fulani origin.

      • jashobanta says:

        Thanks for the information.
        But i have some real query about the status of their citizenship rights including the right to vote….. when sudan got independence in 1956 these people(fellata as known also in sudan) were deprived of sudanese citizenship. At present what is their status?

  2. Hashim says:

    Dear jashobanta;
    I would like to tell you that the Sudanese West African People area entitled to vote ans well as to get the Sudanese citizenship. The only difficulties is that till now the Arab and others undermine them as a third on you can say last categorized tribe in Sudan.

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