Back to top

Slaves into Workers

Slaves into Workers
Emancipation and Labor in Colonial Sudan

Series: No. 19

Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin
June 1996
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
Add to cart
304 pages | 6 x 9 | 3 line drawings,14 halftones, 2 maps,15 tables |

In the Sudan, native Sudanese slaves served Sudanese masters until the region was conquered by the Turks, who practiced slavery on an institutional scale. When the British took over the Sudan in 1898, they officially emancipated the slaves, yet found it impossible to replace their labor in the country's economy.

This pathfinding study explores the process of emancipation and the development of wage labor in the Sudan under British colonial rule. Ahmad Sikainga focuses on the fate of ex-slaves in Khartoum and on the efforts of the colonial government to transform them into wage laborers. He probes into what colonial rule and city life meant for slaves and ex-slaves and what the city and its people meant for colonial officials.

This investigation sheds new light on the legacy of slavery and the status of former slaves and their descendants. It also reveals how the legacy of slavery underlies the current ethnic and regional conflicts in the Sudan. It will be vital reading for students of race relations and slavery, colonialism and postcolonialism, urbanization, and labor history in Africa and the Middle East.

  • List of Tables and Maps
  • A Note on Transliteration
  • Abbreviations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Photo section
  • Chapter 1. Slavery and Labor in Precolonial Sudan
  • Chapter 2. Slavery and Labor in the Sudan, 1898–1919
  • Chapter 3. Slavery and Labor in Khartoum, 1898–1919
  • Chapter 4. Emancipation and the Legacy of Slavery, 1920–1956
  • Chapter 5. The Development of the Labor Force, 1920–1956
  • Chapter 6. Ex-Slaves and Workers in Khartoum, 1920–1956
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

A native of Sudan, Ahmad Alawad Sikainga is Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University.


“An extremely important pioneering study; social and labor history, very conspicuous in the literature about most other parts of Africa, have been largely ignored in most historical treatments of the Sudan. Slavery, in contrast, has been prominent in previous discussions of the Sudan, but normally as an exotic Oriental vice that vanished painlessly under the reign of European rationality. This book will command an immediate and permanent revision of the field.”
Jay L. Spaulding, Associate Professor of History, Kean College of New Jersey


Available for Kindle
Available on Google Play
Available on Kobo
Available for Nook
Available on the Apple Store

This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca