This book is about the Ma'di, a Sudanese tribe who inhabit a vast area covering parts of South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The writer who hails from the region, draws on a variety of sources, not only academics who have studied the people, but eyewitnesses and the indigenous with specialized knowledge of particular events. He begins his account two thousand years before the first modern colonization, the Turco-Egyptian which took place in the 19th century. The book concludes with a discussion of border conflicts with neighbouring tribes and recommends a way forward for politicians to solve these disputes. It is a story that is complex and filled with human interest, a story about individuals, their successes and failures, their actions often governed by the desire for right to prevail or to redress perceived wrongs. If the conflict is not with other individuals or tribes, it is with wild beasts or cloudless skies which bring devasting droughts requiring the services of the all-important rainmaker.
A glance at the table of contents shows a wide range of topics covered, including the migrations of the tribe, their traditional leaderships, clan structures, chief men and women, feuds, wars, religious beliefs, economics, education systems, traditions, relations with other Sudanese tribes and of course relations with the colonizers and the missionaries. The effect of modernization on the culture is also discussed. How the War of Independence affected the author personally is particularly moving.
I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in authentic African history. It is written by an African who was oftentimes an eyewitness to the events he relates. It is suitable for the tertiary level as it is fully referenced or can be enjoyed by the general reader for the simple pleasure of learning about this unique people, and their message for humanity.
Paul George, Perth, December 2021