chapter  6
27 Pages

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF SEMI-PROLETARIANISATION UNDER COLONIALISM: SUDAN 1925–50

WithJay O'Brien

The history of colonial capitalist development in Sudan is the history of the development of cotton production, primarily in the vast irrigated Gezira Scheme. Capitalist penetration brought these people into expanding colonial markets as producers but largely excluded them from markets for major consumption goods. The result was that the dominant pattern of the colonial labour force was semi-proletarianisation. In 1908 Governor-General Wingate recommended the formation of 'Fellata' colonies on the Rahad and Dinder rivers, which areas had been abandoned by cultivators during the Mahdia and the early years of British rule. Sudan concerns derived from the combination of the need to irrigate in arid Sudanese conditions with the absence of a significant labour market in Sudan. The government wanted to avoid the entrenchment of any substantial economic interest which might weaken its ability to act decisively in Sudan in accordance with its strategic interests in Egypt.