There was some sporadic missionary activity in the South as early as 1849 but never of a sizable or successful nature. From then until the Mahdiyya, a hostile climate, unknown diseases, and unresponsive natives combined to render these early undertakings almost completely unproductive. These early efforts are well rendered in The Opening of the Nile Basin, translated and edited by Toniolo and Hill. [1]

     The Mahdiyya erased the last traces of Christian missionary activity and it was not until the Anglo-Egyptian reconquest in 1898 that a resumption was possible. The point is often made that in most of Britain's African acquisitions, the Christian missions preceded the establishment of British rule and were as a consequence, less susceptible to government controls. In Uganda there were serious administrative problems which had resulted from Christian missionary activity. Competing Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries had intruded themselves into tribal organization and had manipulated tribal loyalties so that intertribal rivalries had become sectarian quarrels as well. Missionaries were seen by their colonial.. counterparts as a threat. In the words of one of these colonial counterparts, a former Governor-General of the Sudan, their (the missionaries) "championship of human rights might encourage native unruliness." [2]

     On the heels of Kitchener's victories over the Khalifa and Marchand at Fashoda came petitions from the Roman Catholic Verona



Fathers, the Anglican Church Missionary Society (hereafter C.M.S.), and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Ever mindful and apprehensive of the potential for "Muslim fanaticism" in the North and interested in order above all other political and moral issues, the British-dominated Condominium Government limited the mission applicants to those areas of the Sudan described variously as "pagan, Negroid, Nilotic." Above the Twelfth Parallel proselytism was forbidden and the only Christian activity allowed was the ministration to the various Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, and Protestant communities, mainly centered in Khartoum and Umdurman. [3]

     In the South the Christian missionaries were allowed in but subject to Government restrictions. "For administrative convenience the several missions have been established in separate districts, which conform generally with tribal and lingual distinctions." [4] This was the "Sphere System."

     The System was never popular with the missions but served to prevent serious sectarian rivalry which would have complicated the government's already difficult tasks. In effect, the missionaries had a spiritual monopoly within their sphere and could count on Government backing in the protection of their monopoly against inter-sphere poaching. No Muslim sphere was designated; the British had no intention of allowing Islamic fanaticism to spread into this virgin territory. "Islamic fanaticism" and Mahdism were perceived as potential threats by the British until World War 11. The Roman Catholic sphere occupied the country west of a line drawn from Tembura to Meshra-al-Rek and then from there along the


west bank of the Nile to just north of Kodok (Fashoda). The American Mission (Presbyterian) was given the east bank of the Nile from Kodok to west of Tonga, together with the hinterland north and south of the Sobat River all the way to the frontier with Abyssinia. The C.M.S. had all the intermediate country south toward the frontier except for the east bank of the Nile south of the Fifth Parallel which had been a part of Uganda; this was a "free zone" but had been extensively exploited by the Verona Fathers. [5]

     This organization of missionary enterprise was clearly an administrative convenience. In the early years it caused few problems due to the small numbers of missionaries and the vast scope of their spheres. By the mid-1920s though, the Roman Catholics threatened to expand beyond their boundaries. It became obvious that in many cases the convenience of the boundaries had caused the government to overlook the fact that they often cut through the middle of tribal groupings. If the spheres were to be rigidly maintained, then exactly the problem the system was designed to prevent would be created--sectarian rivalry. The Roman Catholics actively pursued an expansion campaign characterized by the establishment of schools and churches on the fringes of their sphere, then pleading tribal affinities as an excuse to move into someone else's sphere. This technique for expansion of the Roman Catholic sphere was often the subject of bitter complaint, especially by the C.M.S. The Governor-General was compelled to spell out guidelines which modified the sphere


system. His actions, detailed in the following quotation from his annual report for 1934 remained in effect until Robertson's reversal of the Southern Policy after World War II.

     I have given careful consideration to this complex subject. To treat the mission spheres with their existing boundaries as sacrosanct is, I am sure, impracticable. To do so permanently implies an attempt at an official partition of human souls on simple geographical lines that, in the outcome, must prove repugnant to Christian sentiment. I am also opposed to any sudden or drastic modification of the present spheres which could disorganise an educational system carried on ... with subventions from public funds .... I am, nevertheless, convinced that, wherever the boundary of an existing sphere is seriously challenged, to attempt to preserve it as a "Chinese Wall" would be unjustifiable. . . liable to promote ... premature abandonment of the whole system.... I propose ... frankly to recognise that virtual abrogation of a boundary in particular localities is unavoidable and to promote local agreements on the subject through direct negotiations between the heads of the denominational bodies concerned, with the Government acting as a (sympathetic and) neutral arbiter. [6]

     The problems of inter-faith conflict as had occurred in Uganda, and a resurgence of Mahdism, exerted powerful influence over the early shaping of the missionary-government relationship. The frequent and consistent emphasis in documents from the Wingate period is on the restoration of order. Mission quarrels and competition would have had negative effect on this desire and was therefore to be prevented whenever possible. Wingate had wanted peace, frugality, and Christianity in the Southern Sudan--in that order. These objectives could have only been realized by keeping rival Christian missionary groups segregated and isolated in order that they might devote their energies and resources to the Southern Sudanese and not against themselves. [7]

     Opposing desires complicated the relationship from its beginning. The missions were primarily committed to proselytism and conversion. The British were more interested in their per forming social and educational work with a view to the general well-being of the people and discouraged their emphasis on the purely evangelical pursuits. [8] The conflict between these opposing interests and the fact that the British administration had preceded the missions in the South led to the creation of a system which limited and discouraged the primary occupation of the Christian missions. Hostility within the mission community and between them and the government was characteristic of the entire period of the Condominium. The government retained the advantage and chose to interpret the difficult situation imposed upon the missions in unrealistically self-congratulatory fashion as the following suggests.

     The Sphere System has stood the test of time and conduced to orderly administration. I would add that it has given satisfaction to the majority of the Christian societies, whose leaders realise that they have been spared difficulties met with in other administrations. [9]

     The petitions to establish Christian missions in the Sudan were accepted within the limits just discussed.

     During the 1928-1946 period there were five groups of missionaries engaged in education and evangelization in the South. From 1928 to 1936 there was little direct government participation In the actual delivery of missionary educational services. After 1936 and until Robertson's reversal of the Southern Policy, a good deal of reform resulted in a shift toward professionalism and government in fluence which evolved into government control over education in the South.

     The largest group of missionaries were the Roman Catholic Verona Fathers, known earlier simply as the Italian Catholic Mission. The Verona Fathers were mostly Italian, although many of the older members were of Austrian or Tyrolean origin. The latter had been a much larger group but their numbers had been reduced during World War I and the balance had shifted toward a predominance of Italians who were described as being drawn mainly from the peasant and artisan sectors of rural Northern Italy. [10]

     These priests usually spent most of their life among the Sudanese with infrequent trips home on leave where they were expected to represent their needs to their superiors in Verona. Financed from abroad, inured to a life of simple poverty, the Verona Fathers were able to range throughout their allotted sphere with minimal financial requirements. Their missions tended to be self-sufficient; growing their own crops, manufacturing their own implements, furniture, bricks, etc. or importing unavailable necessities from Italy. Their self-image in the early years seems to have been one of virtual autonomy from superior political authority and as a local focus of higher culture and power. [11] The Verona Fathers numbered from 15O to 30O priests throughout the entire 1928-1946 period. [12]

     The next largest group were the Church Missionary Society members (hereafter C.M.S.). They represented the Anglican effort in the South and enjoyed the most support from the SPS who were Anglican, almost to a man. The Anglicans, too, were drawn primarily from what might be called the "blue-collar" sector of English society but with an urban rather than rural bias. More Anglican missionaries had some sort of post-secondary education than was the case with the Roman Catholics.

     With the C.M.S. the dependence on external support was much more pronounced. The skills inventory ran more toward medical, educational and evangelical than the practical manual skills of the Verona Fathers. C.M.S. personnel rarely stayed in the Sudan for the extended periods which were common to the Verona Fathers and their stints in the Sudan were broken up with periodic home leave. Products of an industrial and materialistic culture, their needs, both financial and material, were greater than those of the Roman Catholics. The C.M.S. stations numbered from a low of seven in 1928 to a high of fifteen in 1946. Their numbers ranged from 19 at the beginning to 42 at the end, and from fifty percent to seventy-five percent of these personnel totals were involved to some degree in education. [13] As with the Verona Fathers, a pre-World War I leadership tended to persist and to grow further and further out of touch with the concerns of the Interwar generation of missionaries and SPS personnel. [14]

     The smallest group of missionaries in the first period were the Presbyterians. Members of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., this group derived most of its external support from Presbyterian congregations in the Pittsburgh area. The Presbyterians were mostly either laymen with agricultural or medical backgrounds or ordained evangelists. Few of them were primarily trained as teachers. Located in Upper Nile Province and manning two isolated stations, the Presbyterians throughout the period appear to have been fairly insignificant. As was the case with the C.M.S., they, too, had more material needs than the Roman Catholics, did not spend their entire working life in the Sudan, and looked forward to periodic and extended home leave. [15]

     It was not until the beginning of the first period, 1928-1936, that the educational activities of these missions became a govern ment concern. Until then their educational work was evolving as an aspect of their evangelical work. Their entry into the educational field cannot be specifically dated; it was mainly a consequence of the difficulties involved in evangelizing members of a non-Christian and non-European culture. The early efforts were spotty, unstructured, and geared to literacy skills sufficient to get through catechism classes. The second period, 1936-1946, was marked by a revision of missionary pursuits and the imposition of some limits on their activities, especially those of the Verona Fathers.

     It was also in this period that the fourth group, the Sudan Interior Mission (S.I.M.) entered the southern Sudan as the fourth missionary body. The primary event affecting these changes in autonomy and composition was the Italian conquest of Abyssinia and the consequent political problems. After consolidating their conquest, the Italian Government expelled all non-Catholic non-Italian missionaries


from Abyssinia.

     Two developments ensued: first, the Italian Verona Fathers became politically suspect in the Sudan and increasing pressure from Whitehall was brought to bear on the Governor-General to remove them from the country; second, the expelled S.I.M., an evangelical group comprised mainly of Australians and New Zealanders, sought and was given reluctant permission by the Sudan Government to take up their activities in the South. [17]

     Thus the composition of the missionary community was noticeably altered in response to emerging international problems. An exchange of letters following the Khartoum-Cairo-London-Vatican circuit led to the appointment of the Mill Hill Fathers as partial replacement for the Verona Fathers who were then removed from the potentially strategic station locations they occupied. The Society of St. Joseph at Mill Hill, London, was a cosmopolitan order with a substantial non-English but also non-Italian makeup. Some of the Irish Fathers were a more serious problem for the southern members of the SPS than the Verona Fathers would have ever been. [18] Their numbers were far from sufficient to completely replace the Verona, Fathers. Consequently, the Mill Hill Fathers were located only in the Upper Nile Province. The treatment of the Verona Fathers during wartime is discussed below but it should be observed here that in the Education Report for 1939-1941, the Secretary of Education lavished praise on the remaining Verona Fathers still active in the South. [19] in summary, by the end of World War II there were two Roman Catholic societies--the Verona Fathers and Mill Hill Fathers-- and three Protestant societies--C.M.S., Presbyterian, and Sudan Interior Mission--ail active in the Southern Sudan.

     The lines of responsibility, finance, and control from the mission stations to their headquarters should be sketched at this point so that the problems of control experienced by the SPS will be more readily understandable. The Verona Fathers were overseen by a Bishop whose seat was in Juba. He was responsible to the Apostolic Delegate based in Nairobi for Church matters and also in specifically mission affairs to Society headquarters in Verona, subsequently moved to Rome. [20] A substantial degree of autonomy was allowed to the local father In charge of the mission stations. He usually dealt directly with his SPS counterpart, the District Commissioner, if there was one and the chain of authority described above tended to be activated only in cases where disagreements between Church and Government were irreconcilable at the local level. Rarely did the Apostolic Delegate have to act. [21]

     The C.M.S. members were overseen by an Archdeacon in the South who was under the Assistant Bishop located in Khartoum. The Assistant Bishop was responsible to the Bishop of Egypt and the Sudan located in Cairo who was, in turn, under the leadership of the Archibishop of Jerusalem. From there control was exercised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The chain had originally been simpler. During the tenure of Bishop Gwynne, long-time Bishop of Egypt and the Sudan, the Assistant Bishop In Khartoum did not exist and the Nile Valley was a single diocese administered from Cairo and including


the Red Sea/Arabian Peninsula pastorates as well. As with the Verona Fathers, specifically missionary concerns might pass directly from the local or regional mission secretary to C.M.S. headquarters in London and vice versa. [22]

     The Presbyterians were organized under the head of the American Mission in Khartoum during most of the period concerned. This officer was responsible to the Board of Overseas Missions, an arm of the United Presbyterian Church in North America (later of the U.S.A.) in Philadelphia. The small size of the American effort in the South and their isolation meant that, for all practical purposes, these missionaries tended to depend on the local government apparatus for support and guidance more than they did on the Khartoum office. [23]

     The Mill Hill Fathers were difficult to locate in the Roman Catholic framework. They tended to come either into the standard pattern at the Khartoum level; that is, they bypassed the Bishop of Juba and answered to his superior. This was not totally satisfactory due to certain national rivalries in the Roman Catholic community, so the more common arrangement was to deal directly through their parent house in London or through the Foreign Office's representative at the Vatican. [24]

     The Sudan Interior Mission seems to have been very loosely organized and under no discernible external authority. There was a head office in London but, as the discussion in Chapter V suggests, little influence from there could be brought to bear on stations In the field. [25]

     The Sphere System and the Southern Policy were the formal terms under which the missions were allowed to take up their calling in the South. Usually the relationship between the missions and their SPS counterparts tended to be determined more by the personalities involved than by these formal statements. As a result, many disagreements grew from conflicting interpretations of tasks doggedly argued by dedicated and determined men from both sides. An unnamed District Commissioner in the early 1930s was probably speaking for the majority of his colleagues, both contemporaries and successors, when he wrote:

     I realize that missions are primarily religious institutions and as such are bound to be in opposition to the policy as laid down in the first paragraph of part one of the Civil Secretary's Memorandum (Southern Policy). [26]

     This was probably not a completely fair or accurate assessment of mission attitudes. In the majority of the mission correspondence a willingness to go along with the government prevails over occasional statements of opposition. One exception to this general pattern will be discussed, that being the growing debate over the Sphere System which reached its high point halfway through the 1930s.

     As an illustration of mission receptivity to government policy, the words of an American missionary writing an introductory pamphlet for domestic consumption follow:

     The government made English instead of Arabic the official language of the pagan Sudan .... They gave to the mission the opportunity to operate schools to educate the youth of their areas and gave very substantial grants for this purpose .... Before long the mission had all the pupils it could handle. [27]


     The missionaries may not have been fully aware of the Southern Policy discussed in the preceding chapter, but they were obviously participating in it. As Mrs. Sanderson points out in her thesis and articles, the advent of R. K. Winter as Director of Education marked the beginnings of integrating the mission schools more closely into the Government's plans. Winter emphasized the vernacular elementary schools and insisted on limiting intermediate education to numbers only sufficient for government and professional requirements. [28] This is yet another confirmation of the criticisms against the British to the effect that their own interests were the primary dictate of educational policy rather than the requirements of the Inhabitants of the South.

     The policy the government sought to integrate the missions into was clarified in a series of memoranda between Sir John Maffey, Governor-General of the Sudan, and Lord Lloyd, High Commissioner in Egypt. The synthesis of these memoranda, Lloyd's summary memorandum to the Foreign Office is reproduced in an Appendix.

     What emerges from these communications is that the existing Christian missions were to be utilized for the Government's educational requirements; they would be subsidized to increase their efficiency and to secure control over them; the spread of Islam would be prevented, and a lingua franca would be encouraged. *[29] The existing evangelical community was to be co-opted by the provision of financial support in order to carry out the Southern Policy of the MacMichael memorandum "on the cheap." No government schools would be established. The question of just now seriously the British saw the threat of Islam for the South is once again raised when one considers the half-hearted attempts being made to carry out the protection of the South through education.

     The government-mission relationship evolved from the Non-Government Schools Act and the memorandum on Southern Policy. [30] In 1926 a Resident Inspector of Southern Education was appointed; by 1927 the "missions had made such progress that they were running ... schools which were considered worthy of grants .... The total grant given in that year was LE.3650." In 1928 an Inspector was appointed and sent to Wau to assist the Resident Inspector. [31] These grants were initially provided under the Non-Government Schools Act of 1927 which established conditions for governmental support of the missions. The act set down the following conditions; non-conformance could result in withdrawal of the grant and, possibly, closure of the school. [32]

     (a) That a European exercise uninteruupted supervision over the schools, and to be withdrawn from the station only in cases of sickness or home leave. (b) That the syllabus as laid down be adhered to. (c) That the Resident Inspector is satisfied with the progress and efficiency of the school. (d) That if any of the conditions are unfulfilled the Resident Inspector may reduce or withdraw the grant for the following year. [33]

     The relationship continued to evolve from these initial criteria. In 1928 the Director of Education explained that the Sub-Grade or Bush schools were not receiving government subsidies because they were really nothing but recruiting grounds for conversion and only secondarily concerned with feeding the Elementary Vernacular schools. The Elementary Vernacular schools did receive subventions


as they were "regularly inspected ... under European direction... (and) a little English is taught in the fourth year." [34] They were satisfying two aims: educating boys for local posts and feeding a sufficient number to the intermediate schools. The three Intermediate schools were taught in English and charged primarily with the provision of suitably trained clerks, accountants, and other government staff. [35] It would seem that the Government was getting the expected return on its investment and that the missions understood and accepted their supporting role.

     The Presbyterians quite correctly described their relationship as that of educating government "boys" in return for government financial support. In their case the teaching effort was entirely supported by government grants. [36] As the financial problems brought on by the Depression grew, the Sudan Government, through selective funding of education, was shifting the missionary effort from evangelization to education. In the specific case of the Presbyterians, their dependence on government funds was almost total. [37]

     By 1930 all of the missions except the S.I.M. and Mill Hill had been granted permission to evangelize in the Southern Sudan. Their locations had been assigned by the Government in the Sphere System and their educational activities had been spelled out in the Non-Government Schools Act. The Southern Policy memorandum had been issued and a governmentally directed but missionary-staffed school system was developing. The financing of education became a fairly powerful tool in the hands of government officials during the


Depression years and the shift from evangelization to education had begun. The difficulties involved in this shift were many and profound; some were never overcome. Halfway through the 1930s serious disruptions occurred in the evolution of educational development as a consequence of invasion, suspicion and personnel changes in the Department. We now turn to the subject of the educational services being provided by the missions during the 1928-1946 period.



1. Richard Hill and Elias Toniolo (eds.), The Opening of the Nile Basin (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1965).

3. Ibid., pp. 234-245.
4. Great Britain. Public Record Office, "Egypt and the Sudan," File 371, vol. 20870, no. 5610, p. 2 (hereafter PRO file, vol., no.).
5. PRO FO 407.217, no. 5372 of July 3, 1934.
6. Ibid.
7. R. O. Collins, "The Establishment of Christian Missions and Their Rivalry in the Southern Sudan," Tarikh, /17, 111 (1969), P. 47.
8. Lillian Sanderson, "Educational Development in the Southern Sudan: 1900-1948," Sudan Notes and Records, XLIII (1962), p. 106.
9. PRO F0 371.15428, no. 2232 of October 16, 1936.
10. lnterview with Father Elias Toniolo, former Secretary of Education for the Verona Fathers in Southern Sudan, at his lodgings in Verona Fathers House, Kensington, London, on January 28, 1976. Interview with Father Stefano Santandrea, former member of Verona Fathers in Southern Sudan, at his lodgings in Verona Fathers House, Trastevere, Rome, on April 9, 1976. Interview with Lillian Sanderson at Royal Holloway College, University of London, London, on January 7, 1976, also Lillian Sanderson, "Educational Development in the Southern Sudan. 1900-1948," Sudan Notes and Records, XLIII (1962), pp. 105-117.
11. Symes, Tour of Duty, p. 244 ff. Also Khartoum, Central Records Office, "Equatoria," file 1, volume 10, number 51 of 1914-1933 (hereafter SGA, category, file/vol./no.)
12. Symes, Tour of Duty. Also interview with Father Leonzio Bano, formerly personal secretary to the Roman Catholic Bishop of Khartoum at Missionari Comboniani Archives, Rome, on April 78, 1976.



13. C.M.S. Report and Lists for 1928 through 1946 (London: C.M.S., issued annually), various pages.
14. Interview with Rev. O. C. Allison.
15. Letters from Rev. J. Lowrie Anderson and Miss E. Verna Pillow, both formerly Presbyterian missionaries in the Sudan, dated January 12, 1975 and January 11, 1976, respectively.
16. Eden's response has been noted in Chapter III.
17 .Sanderson, "Educational Development," p. 106, and M. O. Beshir, Educational Development in the Sudan 1898-1956 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), p. 126.
18. Beshir, Educational Development.
19. Sudan Government, Annual Report of the Education Department for 1939-1941 (Khartoum: McQuorquodale and Co., Ltd., 1941), p. 126. Hereafter this report, usually issued annually, will be cited as Education Report for....
20. Interview with Fr. Stefano Santandrea.
Z1. The most serious case is discussed in Chapter V.
22. Interview with Rev. O. C. Allison.
23. American Mission in the Sudan, Minutes of Annual Meeting for 1933 (micro-film in Archives of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Philadelphia, Pa., 1933), pp. 230 ff. (Hereafter cited as Presbyterian Minutes for...)
24. ucation Report for 1939-1941 126. The Irish members of the Mill Hill Fathers refused to be subordinate to the Italians.
25. See discussion of methods in Chapter V.
26. itish Southern Policy in the Sudan (Mimeograph in Sudan File of Rhodes House Annexe to the Bodleian, Oxford), p. 3
27. Mrs. Paul Smith, May We Introduce South Sudan (n.p.: Committee on Missionary Education of the United Presbyterian Church, n.d.), p. 9.
28. Sanderson, "Educational Development," p. 114.
29. PRO F0 371.20150, no. 5487 of July 10, 1936.


30. Both discussed in Chapter III.
31. A. C. Beaton, Equatoria Province Handbook 1936-1948, Vol. II. (n.p.: Sudan Publication, 1949), pp. 94-95, 252-253.
32. Interviews with John Hartley and George Janson-Smith. No evidence of any Schools being closed for non-conformance.
33. SGA Upper Nile Province 1/14/119 of January 21, 1927.
34. SGA Upper Nile Province 1/14/119 of June 10, 1928.
35. Ibid. Curriculum is discussed in Chapter V.
36. Presbyterian Minutes for 1930, n.p.
37. Interview with J. Lowrie Anderson, former Presbyterian missionary in Upper Nile Province, at Langhorne Methodist Church, Langhorne, Pa., on December 18, 1977.