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About the Sudanese Programme

The beginning of the ‘Sudan Programme’ took place in 1998 when Ahmed Al-Shahi and Ami Elad-Bouskila organized a conference to celebrate the 70th birthday of the late Al-Tayyib Salih, a longstanding friend and prominent novelist and writer in Sudan, Africa, the Middle East and beyond. The proceedings of this conference, at which he, his wife, Julie, and three daughters were present; were later published as Al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ: Seventy Candles.

Mr Al-Tayyib Salih, Sudanese Programme, 2006

Mr Al-Tayyib Salih in conversation.

Maison Française, Oxford (November 2006).

However, its founders, Ahmed Al-Shahi and Bona Malwal, formally launched the Programme in 2002 with sponsorship from the Middle East Centre and the African Studies Centre at St Antony’s College. Sudan at the time was going through a second civil war (1983–2005). However, talks and negotiations to end the conflict between Sudan People’s Liberation Army, under the leadership of the late Dr John Garang, and Government of Sudan, under the leadership of President Omer Al-Bashir, were conducted in various locations and through the mediation of various states and organizations (such as the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, [IGAD], the African Union, the European Union, USA and the United Nations). Both protagonists reached a deadlock in military confrontation. The founders of the Programme thought it necessary to embark on debating the peace process among Sudanese and non-Sudanese to enable them to express their views about the ongoing negotiations and the future of both the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan. 

The Future of Peace Negotiations in the Sudan, 2002. Dr Eugene Rogan, Dr Peter Nyot Kok, Imam Al-Sadig Al-Mahdi, Sir Marrack Golding, Professor William Beinart.

Participants at the first Sudanese Programme conference on

“The Future of Peace Negotiations in the Sudan” (February 2002).

From right to left: Dr Eugene Rogan, Dr Peter Nyot Kok, Imam Al-Sadig Al-Mahdi,

Sir Marrack Golding (Warden of St Antony’s College). Far left: Professor William Beinart.

The Programme was faithful in its commitment to the remit of the College, and it stands above politics, religion, ethnicity and culture. The speakers and the participants in the conferences, workshops and lectures were able to discuss and air their views without constraints, duress or prejudice. This free and friendly atmosphere that has prevailed became conducive to a meaningful discussion about the future of South Sudan and, subsequently, the conflict in Darfur and the Nuba Mountains, Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile. Many themes were dealt with; chief among them were the ongoing negotiations of the peace process, constitutional arrangement, elections, aid and politics, the role of professional women, the problem of identity in the two Sudans, the future of higher education in the two Sudans, slavery, the position of religious minorities, oil economics and politics; political opposition, postgraduate researches in Oxford and other universities, the role of professional women; art and society in the two Sudans and borders of the two Sudans, and women writers of the two Sudans.

The Programme was successful in its endeavour to reduce the tension between northerners and southerners that was evident during the early conferences and workshops. Fairness in the allocation of time to speakers and participants, and equal opportunities for representation from the various political parties and groupings was adhered to. Logistically, the Programme was not able to give opportunities to all political groups and neither marginalized a particular political group/party as this would have entailed the allocation of substantial financial resources, time, effort and organization. However, we are sure that speakers and participants would agree that the achievements of the Programme are not underestimated: kind words and appreciation were expressed frequently by speakers and participants as well as by the College, by the Middle East Centre and by the African Studies Centre. The positive reputation and contributions of the Programme became known nationally and internationally. Success outweighed minor criticisms or shortcomings.


The founders of the Programme listened to the participants’ suggestions for the inclusion of topics for conferences and workshops. Further, the Programme played an important role in promoting research in both Sudans. However, it has become increasingly difficult to recommend and conduct research in the Republic of South Sudan in view of the recent conflicts and insecurity of movement within South Sudan.


After voting for Independence in Southern Sudan in 2011, it was deemed necessary to change the designation of the Programme from the ‘Sudan Programme’ to the ‘Sudanese Programme’ to reflect the shift from a particular country to the people of the two countries and the division of ‘old’ Sudan into two countries. This change proved to be acceptable.


The year 2017 saw a significant change in the status of the Programme; instead of being attached to St Antony’s College, it is now a registered charity (no. 1177019) subject to the rules and regulations of the Charity Commission UK. We hope to continue the occasional conference at St Antony’s College and hope that the Programme will organize conferences in Khartoum, Juba and elsewhere. The objective is to make the Programme accessible for wider participation by speakers and attendees in different locations. 

The Sudanese Programme


The Sudanese Programme is pleased to announce that St Antony’s College has accorded the title of “Patron of St Antony’s College, Oxford University” to Mr Anis George Haggar and to the Kenana Sugar Company Limited in recognition of their support of the Programme. However, the Kenana Sugar Company has discontinued its financial support during the academic year of 2010–2011.


Mr Anis Haggar became a ‘Benefactor of St Antony’s College’ in 2017 in recognition of his longstanding and generous support of the Sudanese Programme. We are grateful for the donations made by: Anis Haggar, Alex and Felicity Duncan, Ibrahim Elsalahi, Eiman Baldo, Ian Woodward, Sally Wood, Suhair Sharif, David Wolton, Gasim Badri, Rick Jackson, John Udal, John Hanna, Golda Abbe, Jill Shankleman, Othaylat Suliman, Nhial Deng Nhial, Solidarity International, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK) and The Oxford Network for Peace Studies (Ox-Peace). All donations were given without any constraint.


We are grateful to the participants for their moral support given to the Programme and its remit. Their continuous presence and their friendly debates have enlivened the events. The participants and speakers have been fundamental to the success of the Programme.

Dr Ahmed Al-Shahi, Sayyid Hasan Sati, Mr Anis George Haggar, Mr Bona Malwal

Left to right: Dr Ahmed Al-Shahi with donors Sayyid Hasan Sati 
(representing Kenana Sugar Company Limited) and Dr Anis George Haggar (businessman and philanthropist) and co-founder Mr Bona Malwal

Donating to the

Sudanese Programme

In its first fifteen years of existence The Sudanese Programme has made a valuable and lasting contribution to the knowledge and understanding of Sudan and South Sudan. It is acknowledged that the various conferences hosted by the Programme contributed to the peace process between the north and south.

We are very grateful to our generous benefactors that have enabled this work. To continue to host workshops, lectures and conferences the Programme seeks donations.

If you would like to make a donation to the Programme then you can do so by downloading our donation form. If you are a UK tax payer we can also reclaim basic rate tax on your gift through the Gift Aid scheme.

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