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Zubair Pasha  

Scopas Poggo

Zubair Pasha, also known as Zubair Rahma al-Mansur, was a Ja’aliyin: descendants of the Arabs from Arabia who immigrated to Egypt in the 13th century and settled along the Nile in Nubia. The Ja’aliyin and their Nubian counterparts, the Danaqla and Shayqiyya, engaged in agriculture along the Nile before the Turco-Egyptian invasion of Bilad al-Sudan (land of the blacks) in 1820. Equipped with European weapons, the Egyptians imposed their hegemony on Arab, Nubian, and black people who inhabited regions along the Blue and White Niles. Muhammad Ali, the new viceroy of Egypt, wanted to declare independence from the Turkish Ottoman Empire and establish a modern government in Egypt using a European system of government, economy, and military technology. This could only be realized by having access to mineral, human, and animal resources in the Sudan. Thus, Turco-Egyptian soldiers and officials and various European, Egyptian, Syrian, and northern Sudanese Arabs and Nubians ventured to southern Sudan in the period 1839–1885. Sailing boats, steamers, camels, and horses gave these foreigners access to various parts of southern Sudan: Upper Nile, Equatoria, and Bahr al-Ghazal Provinces. The early search for slaves gave way to the acquisition of ivory, which was abundant and fetched lucrative profits in Egypt. As numerous elephants were hunted, the amount of ivory dwindled. Hence, these wealthy merchants together with the jellaba (Arab petty merchants) resorted to the massive enslavement of the African people in southern Sudan and beyond.