Sudan has been blighted by conflict for much of the last few decades with several rounds of north-south civil war costing the lives of over a million people. This conflict culminated in the succession of South Sudan in July 2011 following a referendum in which the people of the south voted for independence. Although the succession of South Sudan has led to hopes of an end to conflict the on-going political wrangling between the north and the south over the issue of oil has prompted fears of renewed violence. The situation in the Western province of Darfur, where pro-government Arab militias have been accused of the ethnic cleansing of the non-Muslim minority, remains critical.
Sudan was historically part of the ancient Egyptian world and for centuries existed within the Egyptian Empire, which left traces of its rule throughout northern Sudan. In the 1890s Britain took control over Sudan and ruled it as a British colony until 1956 when it gained independence. The history of colonial conquest and subjugation accounts for the particular diversity of Sudan, which is split largely along geographic lines, with the North populated by ethnic Arabs and the south by a mixture of various Black African ethnic groups. This split led to the violence of the Sudanese Civil Wars and the succession of South Sudan.
The Culture of Sudan is a reflection of its diversity and traditional culture especially is an amalgamation of various belief systems and tribal customs. Contemporary culture is often devoted to exploring the violence of the 20th century and the on-going ethnic strife in the region. A good example of this is Daoud Hari’s The Translator, which depicts the tribal conflict in Darfur and its effects on the local people. Other books dealing with the violence in the region in various ways include Kareem James Palmer-Zeid’s Cities Without Palms, Emmanuel Jal’s War Child, Lisa Blaker’s Heart of Darfur and Dave Eggers’ What is the What. The film Darfur also depicts the violence of the region in often gruesome detail. Literature from Sudan is not widely available but several writers have developed a profile internationally, these include poet Taban lo Liyong and Leila Aboulela. Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North is widely considered a classic of African literature.