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Title:Recruitment and entrapment in private slave armies: the structure of the 'zara'ib' in the southern Sudan
Author:Johnson, Douglas H.ISNI
Book title:The human commodity: perspectives on the trans-Saharan slave trade
Geographic term:Sudan
armed forces
trading companies
Abstract:This study examines the communities formed by the armed camps in the southern Sudan during the 19th century. These 'zara'ib' (sing. 'zariba') embodied the military and commercial nexus which defined the character and extent of the institution of slavery in the Nilotic Sudan during the last century. In them were found immigrant soldiers and merchants (both free and slave), indigenous cultivators and labourers, free men bound by indebtedness, slaves elevated to positions of power and authority, children and women incorporated into families against their will. The network of interlocking (and often competing) 'zara'ib' was created by independent commercial companies using private armies from the 1850s to the 1870s. The camps were taken over by the Turco-Egyptian administration in the 1870s, and some continuity was maintained on a few sites during the Mahdiyya of the 1880s and 1890s. In the early 20th century, the Anglo-Egyptian government first established itself in, and then gradually extended itself out of these military/commercial centres. The study outlines the structure of the 'zara'ib', identifying the ways in which the networks sustained themselves, and the sort of demands which were placed on those within these networks. Notes, ref.