Civil Secretary's Office, Khartoun, January 25th, 1930
The Governor, Upper Nile Province, Malakal.
His Excellency the Governor-General directs that the main features of the approved policy of the Government for the administration of the Southern Provinces should be re-stated in simple terms.
In the strictly confidential memorandum which accompanies this letter an attempt has been made to do this, though it w111 of course be seem that innumerable points of detail arising are not dealt with seriatim.
2. Your attention is directed to Part II of the memorandum, and I should be obliged if you would forward, as soon as possible, your comments on the criteria suggested. and any suggestions you may wish to make for additions to the list.
3. The carrying out of the policy as described may lead from time to time to various financial implications or commitments though it is hoped that these will not be great. It will be convenient that any such foreseen should be notified to the relevant authority with out delay for consideration.
4. Application of the policy w111 obviously vary in detail and in intensity according to locality. It is essential however, that the ultimate aim should be made clear to all who are responsible for the execution of the policy and the memorandum should therefore be circulated to and studied by all your District Commissioners. Sufficient copies for this purpose are sent herewith. Copies are also being sent to such Heads of Departments in Khartoum as are concerned.
The policy of the Government in the Southern Sudan is to build up a series of self contained racial or tribal units with structure and organization based, to whatever extent the requirements of equity and good government permit, upon indigenous customs traditional usage and beliefs. The measures already taken or to be taken to promote the above policy are re-stated below.
A. PROVISION 0F NON-ARABIC-SPEAKING STAFF (ADMINISTRATIVE, CLERICAL AND TECHNICAL).
a) Administrative Staff
B. CONTROL 0F IMMIGRANT TRADERS PROM THE NORTH
It is the aim of the Government to encourage, as far as is possible, Greek and Syrian traders rather than the Gellaba type. Permits to the latter should be decreased unobtrusively but progressively, and only the best type of Gellaba, whose interests are purely commercial and pursued in a legitimate manner should be admitted. The limitation of Gellaba trade to towns or established routes is essential.
C. FUNDAMENTAL NECESSITY FOR BRITISH STAFF T0 FAMILIARIZE THEMSELVES WITH THE BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS AND THE LANGUAGES 0F THE TRIBES THEY ADMINISTER
a) Beliefs and Customs.
view that a highly qualified expert has been detailed to work in the South.
It is, of course, true that the adoption of this system carries with it the implication of the gradual adoption of a new, or partly new, language by the population of the areas in which the 'smaller languages' are used at present. Such a result is, indeed, inevitable in the course of time, for 'smaller languages' must always tend to disappear: It is also recognised that in such places as Wau itself, Arabic is so commonly used that the local languages have been almost completely excluded. Special concessions may be necessary in these places.
The Rejaf Conference did not regard these factors as seriously affecting the policy of 'group languages,' and it was held to be a matter of first importance that books for the study of the 'group languages' should be available for missionaries and officials and that a specialist should be appointed to study the question. A linguistic expert, Dr. Tucker, has therefore been appointed for a period of two years, and his chief function will be to advise as to the production of suitable books. The Secretary for Education and Health has already circulated a memorandum on his duties.
The production of grammars and vocabularies will facilitate the study of the local vernaculars. But this will take time and meanwhile it is the duty of our officers to further the policy of the Government without delay. It cannot be stressed too strongly that to speak the natural language of the people whom he controls is the first duty of the administrator. Arabic is not that language, and indeed to the bulk of the population of the South it is a new, or partly new, tongue. Officials should avoid the error of thinking that by speaking Arabic they are in some way conforming to the principle that the administrator should converse with his people in their own language.
D. THE USE 0F ENGLISH WHERE COMMUNICATION IN THE LOCAL VERNACULAR IS IMPOSSIBLE
The time has not yet come for the adoption of a general lingua franca for the Southern Sudan, and it is impossible to foretell what, if ever that time comes, the language would be.
At the same time there are, without doubt, occasions when the use of a local vernacular is impossible, as, for instance in the case of heterogeneous groupings such as the Sudan Defence Force or the Police.
The recent introduction of English words of command in the Equatoria Corps of the Sudan Defence and their use In the Police
Forces in the Provinces concerned is a step in the right direction, but more is required. Every effort should be made to make English the means of communication among the men themselves to the complete exclusion of Arabic. This will entail in the various units the opening of classes in which the men would receive instruction in English, and a concentrated effort on the part of those in authority to ensure that English is used by the men when local vernaculars cannot be. It is believed that in a comparatively short time men of these forces could learn as much English as they now know of Arabic.
It is hoped that those in charge of mission schools will assist in providing instructors for the classes referred to above. Similarly, an official unable to speak the local vernacular should try to use English when speaking to Government employees and servants, and even, if any any way possible, to chiefs and natives. In any case, the use of an interpreter is preferable. to the use of Arabic, until the local language can be used.
The initial difficulties are not minimized. Inability to converse freely at first will no doubt result in some loss of efficiency, and the dislike of almost every Englishman to using his own language in conversing with natives is fully recognized; but difficulties and dislikes must be subordinates to the main policy. Apart from the fact that the restriction of Arabic is an essential feature of the general scheme it must not be forgotten that Arabic, being neither the language of the governing nor the the governed, will progressively deteriorate. The type of Arabic at present spoken provides signal proof of this. It cannot be used as a means of communication on anything but the most simple matters, and only if it were first unlearned and then relearned in a less crude form and adopted as the language of instruction in the schools could it fulfil the growing requirements of the future. The local vernaculars and English, on the other hand, will in every case be the language of one of the two parties conversing and one party will therefore always be improving the other.
Incidentally it may be argued that if a District Commissioner serving in the South is transferred to the North, a knowledge of Nilotic Arabic is more of a hindrance than a held to him in leaning the Arabic of the Northern Sudan. In short, whereas at present Arabic is considered by many natives of the South as the official and, as it were, the fashionable language, the object of all should be to counteract this idea by every practical means.
His Excellency the High Commissioner in approving this policy has suggested the need for criteria by which progress may be measured. With this end in view it is intended to tabulate various important features of the policy and to set down the progress made at stated intervals.
It is suggested that the matters to be included in the table should be the following:
a) The number of non-Mohammedans in relation to the total Government staff
under headings of administrative, clerical, and technical, with a report on the
use of English by Government employees of non-British origin.
It is proposed to give information in the Annual Report under these heads for the years 1924, 1927 and 1930 and for each subsequent year.
Civil Secretary's Office, Khartoum, January 25, 1930.