Cart 0

In and Out of Africa — Egypt, Sudan and the Influence of the Ottoman Empire

Author: Pat Mitchell-Keita-Doe


Tilden Middle School

Year: 2010

Seminar: History of the Modern Middle East

Grade Level: 7-9

Keywords: Egypt, Middle East, Sudan

School Subject(s): Global History, History, Social Studies

In 2001, Philadelphia became home to 65 refugees from Sudan. Known as “The Lost Boys (there were girls also) of Sudan”, these young people had come through a horrendous journey-much of it on foot from their villages to refugee camps and finally to the U.S. where host families made them a part of their households.
This raises some questions in my mind that through this unit I will seek to answer. How do those of the Arab North perceive themselves in relation to others in Sudan? How do other nations perceive them? What part does Sudan’s neighboring country Egypt play in this conflict?
What are the ramifications for my students, mainly African American who see themselves separate and apart from Africa and Africans – a sort of “disconnect”. There is a lack of understanding between the two groups-African and African American, (the “host” community ) with the students from Africa co-mingling with each other and the African American  students choosing to remain separate and apart from Africans. Oftentimes, the refugee or immigrant students are taunted by African American students because of from where they come.
By researching, mapping, constructing timelines and analyzing images and documents, my students will be able to decide for themselves as to why Egypt has one foot in the Middle East and one foot in Africa, and also what drives the conflict in Sudan. My students will also come to understand how migrations, wars and occupations can impact/alter cultures and people’s perceptions of themselves and others. This unit is written for grades 7/8.

Download Unit: Mitchell-Keita-Doe-Unit.pdf

Did you try this unit in your classroom? Give us your feedback here.

Full Unit Text
Content Objectives


In 2001, Philadelphia became home to 65 refugees from Sudan. Known as “The Lost Boys (there were girls also) of Sudan”, these young people had come through a horrendous journey-much of it on foot from their villages to refugee camps and finally to the U.S. where host families made them a part of their households. I was lucky enough to have worked with some of them as part of the resettlement program sponsored by Lutheran Children and Family-Services. My husband, a native of Liberia and I were at that time training Liberian, Guinean and Sierra Leonian young people in  traditional cultural dances and music which we found was a great help in easing the children’s transition to life here in Philadelphia. The Lost Boys came to our group for an outlet whereby they too could recapture what they could remember of their own traditional dance and culture in a safe environment respectful of their cultural expressions. When we listened to their stories we were amazed that there was still slavery in the Sudan and that their villages had been subjected to these “slave raids” for a very long time. Where had we ever heard of such? These were tales of modern day slavery and murder by a group called the “Janjaweed” who were identified as being from the “Arab North” while their targets are from the Christian (or Animist ) South. Upon examining photographs of these “Arabs” I saw what appeared to be other Africans on horseback or in military gear. How confusing for me and even more for my students who observed that these militias didn’t physically appear much different from their victims. This raises some questions in my mind that through this unit I will seek to answer. How do those of the Arab North perceive themselves in relation to others in Sudan? How do other nations perceive them? What part does Sudan’s neighboring country Egypt play in this conflict?

Is there an historical connection here? How large a role does religion play in this conflict? What are the ramifications for my students, mainly African American who see themselves separate and apart from Africa and Africans – a sort of “disconnect”. This unit will examine these issues and lead my students to probe questions of race, identity and heritage in Egypt and Sudan.



I teach in an area where large populations of West African people have been resettled due to civil strife in their respective countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. For them the transition from Africa to America has neither been fluid nor welcoming for our “new neighbors”. While it is true that there have always been cases of inter ethnic conflict, the African students were not immigrants. They were refugees. Because of the violent interactions that have taken place when the two groups meet at the schoolhouse, community leaders, parents, and school district personnel have put a number of initiatives on the table to help to foster understanding and bridge gaps between them. Most of what they know about each other is what they have “heard” or seen on television. Often times the American students will make disparaging remarks about Africans and Africa. I maintain that this is because even in 2010, little is known about Africa and most especially, her classical past. I believe that when students can’t see themselves reflected in any historical greatness (but others can for their groups), they begin to absorb some sort of negative ideas, however unspoken, that their people have something inherently wrong with them. The images with which the students are confronted concerning Africa and Africans are images that few want to be associated with. Also, there are precious few iconic images available to our students. Some of the most well-known have either been disfigured, (noses blown off), or people are told that Black Africans didn’t build those great monuments.

This brings meaning to Egypt.  Egypt is located on the continent of Africa. Yet, whether it is an African country and its people are Africans is debatable. This is very confusing to students, both African and African American. There is no discussion as to who built the Coliseum or the Parthenon. Those are points of pride for students who hail from Greece or Rome. But Egypt is a mystery. Being able to gaze upon faces that “look like me” would be a verification that my students too have a history and it didn’t begin with the Transatlantic Slave Trade. However, there is a legacy of race and notions of superiority operating in Egypt and Sudan today which is another point of confusion for the students who have difficulty seeing the opposing groups as “different”.

I hope to clarify some of these issues through this unit for them. By researching, mapping, constructing timelines and analyzing images and documents, my students will be able to decide for themselves as to why Egypt has one foot in the Middle East and one foot in Africa, and also what drives the conflict in Sudan. My students will also come to understand how migrations, wars and occupations can impact/alter cultures and people’s perceptions of themselves and others. This unit is written for grades 7/8.

( To Teachers: My students have participated in National History Day for four years. Two of the four we placed Silver and Bronze for the Philadelphia Region and went to the State Competition. Although they did not place at State, they learned a valuable lesson. They learned thatthe level of scholarship that middle school students are capable of is quite amazing. They saw other students rise to challenges as long as their teachers believed that they could do it and were there to guide them. I wrote these lessons based on my own teaching experiences at Tilden Middle School and as a participating teacher at National History day. You may choose to take them apart, bump them up, down or as is.)

Objectives for all Lessons: 

  1. Explain the influence of the Ottoman Empire on Egypt and in particular how this has impacted the Egyptian people’s identity.
  2. Examine the importance of race and class in society.
  3. Examine the influence of Islam and language in the Ottoman Empire.
  4. Describe race as a social construct.
  5. Analyze Egypt’s relationship with Sudan and the Sudanese people.
  6. Explain how the slave trade was of benefit to Egypt during the 19th century.
  7. Explain how religion divided and still divides the Sudan.
  8. Evaluate Egypt’s claims to the Sudan.
  9. Respond to the essential question “ How shall we class Egypt– as an African country or a Middle Eastern Country?”
  10. Examine the roots of the conflict in Sudan today.
  11. Demonstrate an ability to read and interpret thematic maps.
  12. Compare and contrast the differences between a refugee and an immigrant.

13.Use Visual Discovery to analyze images.

  1. Analyze political cartoons and other forms of media and literature during the mid 18th century in Egypt.
  2. Use graphic organizers and graphically organized reading notes.
  3. Apply “Habits of the Mind” questions to selected text Analyze primary source documents such as personal narratives, current headline news from Egypt and the Sudan.
  4. View documentaries : “Alek Wek, In Search of Lost Relatives” (BBC) , and “Wonders of the African World”, (Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.)
  5. Design and construct a story quilt.

I will begin this unit with mapping labs for the areas of Egypt and Sudan. The students will examine different maps from the 18th and 19th centuries and current maps of the areas. They will use these maps to gather information about a country.

The second lesson will focus in on the formation of identity in Egypt   (which at one point had colonized Sudan) under the Ottoman Empire.  I will briefly review the role of the European powers, especially the British in Egypt and the Egyptians response to them.  I will look at Egypt as a colonizer and their relationship with Sudan. I plan to use timelines, personal narratives, selected text readings with graphically organized reading notes, current headline news, “Visual Discovery” method using Google Images and documentaries.

I will devote the third lesson to researching slavery and ethnicity that in Sudan that has focused international attention on the civil war and its revival of the slave trade in Sudan. We will also look at the role of religion in the conflict and the international community’s response to this conflict. Students will analyze personal narratives, eyewitness accounts, and other primary source documents. They will use “Writing for Understanding” to gain knowledge of the Dinka in Southern Sudan and their struggles against being enslaved. Students will apply historical thinking questions to selected text readings.  Finally, for the culminating project using quotes, visuals, and drawings, the students will design and construct a “story quilt” that pulls together the three lessons and highlights differing perspectives on the events and the people examined during this unit. Teachers will be able to utilize the entire unit or take out the activities they wish.

Lesson One, Where in the world is ….?

A Word Before We Begin

Worldmapper and Google Earth require downloading. They are well worth the extra time takes to install them on your (and the students’) computer. It would be helpful if you have an LED Projector or a computer lab so that all can be on the same page at the same time for the questioning portion of this lesson. Some other excellent mapping sites are provided for you to use with this lesson.


Many students do not have a clue as to where in the world they are. Map reading is difficult for them and many (even adults) never learn any mapping skills. For them, tools like Google Earth are out of their reach. My wish is to enable the students to use maps to increase their retention of and make connections to Egypt and Sudan. I want to introduce them to the latest in cartography technology so that they can go on virtual “field trips “ to the places where things happened. Understanding the geography of a place helps students to gain insight into how people’s behaviors are shaped and what might be some underlying causes of conflict.

Classroom Activities

Lesson goals:

  • Learn and apply basic map skills and analyze thematic maps using basic maps, Worldmapper and Google Earth.
  • Demonstrate an ability to read and interpret thematic maps.
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyze and compare different maps to assess conditions in Egypt and Sudan in comparison to Industrialized Countries.
  • Habits of the Mind : “TIME AND PLACE ARE INSEPARABLE”…….understand the relationship between geography and history as a matrix of time and place and as a context for events.

Maps and materials needed for this lesson:

  • one basic map*, ¼ inch graph paper ( one per student),
  • unlined white 8.5×11 sheet paper ( one per student),
  • two sets of four brightly colored sticky notes -each set labeled A,B,C,D

*Locate any basic map that shows compass rose, longitude, latitude , prime meridian, equator, map key/legend, map title. This is your “Basic” Map Components Map. Make an overhead transparency of this map so that you can project it on the overhead. Mapping sites listed below.  -thematic maps   (zoomable , interactive mapping)  gorgeous historical maps using art with attending background information.

  1. PREVIEW -“THE HOOK” (I have adapted this lesson from “Geography Alive!” Teacher’s Curriculum Institute)

1- Teacher: mark off area in classroom that you wish students to “map”. Use brightly colored sticky notes on opposite sides of your walls labeled A-D to provide students with points of reference.

2- Distribute unlined paper.

3- Direct students to quickly map the classroom inside the area you have marked off and labeled.

4- Allow approximately ten minutes. Students compare their maps.

5- Distribute ¼ inch graph paper. Repeat process with students, again ten minutes to complete their maps. With a partner students discuss which map, is more accurate, the “free hand map “or the graph map with “grid lines.”

Think- Pair- Share. Teacher does “Whip Around for Partner” responses.

Now project “Basic” Map Components Map . Go over this map with students to identify these features:  Map Title , ask ”Which map component tells us what information this map will give us?”

  1. Map Legend: point to the legend. Ask: What information does this component give you?
  2. Cardinal Directions, put your pencil on the map and point it north, then south, east and west. Ask: What do we call these four points?
  3. Intermediate Directions, repeat step 3 directions to identify northeast, northwest, etc.
  4. With the Map Grid, point to the grid lines and ask “what are these called?”
  5. Note the Compass Rose. Ask “What component tells us the directions?”
  6. Longitude: explain that the distance between these lines varies and is measured by degrees.
  7. Parallels of Latitude: explain that they are called this because they are always equidistant from each other and are measured by degrees.
  8. Prime Meridian: point this out and explain that this is the reference point for measuring meridians of longitude
  9. Equator: point this out and explain that this is the reference point for measuring parallels of latitude
  10. Map Scale: ask what is the purpose of this component? (measures distance). Now that we have reviewed basic map components let’s move on to: Worldmapper  Home Page*

*Teacher should read this page prior to pulling the maps as some explanation of these maps may be necessary. As you move through these maps incorporate the following vocabulary words: Thematic Map, climate, landform, vegetation, economic activity, region, population density, map distortion, political.  Pull these Thematic Maps from mapping resources listed above. Project them onto the screen using your LED Projector.

Ask these questions: What is the title of this map? What information does it show? How can we use that information? Is this map different from other maps you have seen? How? Allow students to respond.

  1. #  1 Land Area ( use a Political Map ),B. #- Mineral Depletion, C. #195 Youth Literacy, D. Gridded Population Atlas ( click on Sudan and Egypt),E. #5 Total Children, F.Total Elderly. G.#179 The Wretched Dollar-income (

H.#484 Cause of Death ( 2002),compare war related deaths with your choice of other causes. Natural seque into a class discussion

21st Century Technology Piece: Google Earth- Go to Egypt

Ask these questions for Egypt:

1.What do you see? Are there any longitude and latitude lines?

  1. How can we tell what the absolute location of this place is?
  2. How does this technology change the way maps are made?
  3. What can we do with this map that we cannot do with the maps we previously viewed?
  4. How does this change the way we gather information about places on Earth?
  5. What else can we use this kind of map for?

Point out the icons. Ask: What can we learn from these.

Click on a few to “explore” Egypt. Zoom in and out for a virtual tour. Allow students some time to familiarize themselves with the area. Now expand the information. Search each of these countries, Egypt, Sudan, Nubia, Aswan Dam, Cairo for religion, population, archaeological sites, vegetation, terrain and any other data of interest.

Assessment: students choose one map from either Worldmapper or GoogleEarth .They will compare their findings from this map with a corresponding map from one country or area (their choice ) in the Industrialized World. AS an alternative, using Afriterra, students construct an illustrated time line of map representations of Egypt or Sudan from 16th century until present. Have students predict how these areas might be represented in the 22nd century.

Lesson Two, “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of them all?”

Theme: Values, beliefs, political ideas, and institutions

Lesson Goals:

  • Examine the social hierarchy of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Describe the influence of Islam and language on Egyptians during the Ottoman Empire.
  • Evaluate Egypt’s claim to Sudan during the colonial period.

Use Visual Discovery to analyze images. Apply Thinking Like a Historian Template (see website below) to selected texts.

Read and summarize current newspapers from Egypt.

Explain the influence of the global market on Egyptian identity.


Background: What is it about Egypt that makes it difficult place her in a place that makes sense to African American students? Geographically, Egypt is on the African continent. However, over time she has been invaded, occupied, adopted a non-indigenous  cultural world view and been part of a huge Empire, the Ottoman Empire. At another time Egypt was ruled by Kush (Nubia), which is located in the northern part of Sudan.

Ramses II, a Nubian Pharoah, was relocated to Egypt in order to save it from the Aswan Dam-Lake Nasser construction. Clearly, this pharaohs’ phenotype is African. However, we are not so sure as to the majority of the other Pharonic faces since the noses have been disfigured. We teach kids to draw conclusions and make predictions. What conclusions do they draw when they view images from Egypt? Can we apply those thinking skills to those faces? Whenever I have seen Egyptian artifacts I think,” They LOOK like a people of color, often brown, or a brownish red “. However, we cannot see these artifacts as they were when first painted. Catherine Cheal states in her paper, The Meaning of  Skin Color In Eighteenth Century Egypt ,  “…Egyptians showed an amazing  range of sensibility towards skin color within their own theoretical constructs. The role of color in art played a large part in the construction of gender, race, class, and religious — political ideology for the ancient Egyptian”(1). Cheal further tells us that when we look at Egyptian tomb paintings we must consider that “weathering and aging of paint could change the colors from the artist’s original intent”. She lists possible skin colors the Egyptians used in their pigments as, “blue, black, white, red, and yellow “(2). But these colors had symbolic meanings. Because a figure is shown as the color black does not refer to his ethnicity. Therefore, we cannot view these artifacts through a twenty first century lens. Often, we have viewed them at “face value” and therefore the final word. If they look Black then they must be Black. It is a bit more complicated than that .

So when did Egypt develop an “Arab” identity? Was it because of her membership in the Ottoman Empire? What does it mean to be Arab? Where is Arabia today? I recently spoke to a friend of mine who emigrated to this country from Egypt as a child. She identifies herself in the “others” category and writes in Egyptian-American. Her family told her to check White. I look at her and her complexion is not far from my own – and that’s not White. (The same holds true for many Northern Sudanese who come to the United States or Europe. They too have an identity issue when faced with choices of which box to check) (3).

The Ottomans were Muslims. The language of the Quran is classical Arabic. However, the bureaucratic and military elite in the Ottoman Empire of Muhammad Ali’s time preferred to speak Ottoman Turkish. This Ottoman Empire was huge. Among its’ subject countries were Syria, Palestine, Arabia and Egypt. It also claimed parts of Iraq, Turkey, North Africa and parts of Southeastern Europe. The peoples of these conquered countries were generally allowed to retain their religious (key to identity?) and educational practices and, they were allowed to govern themselves( as long as they remained loyal to the sultan and the empire). This was called the Millet System. Millions of Christians and Jews were under this system. “The Jewish community in particular prospered under Ottoman rule, and large numbers emigrated to Ottoman domains from Spain following Christian reconquest.”(4) However, on the 18th century battlefields, the empire began to suffer losses to superior European technology. This led the Ottoman ruler Muhammed Ali to produce a cadre of Egyptians with an understanding of European military sciences. He sent several training mission to Europe, mainly to France”.(5) Young Ottomans were sent to Europe to study medicine, law, language, etc. They even brought in European military personnel to train and equip their army. During all of these reforms, a new Egyptian elite class was created based on this training in European type academies. Egyptians themselves began to change their own behaviors by modeling themselves after Europeans, especially the French. Ottoman superiority was chipped away. An Ottoman Egyptian Pasha, Isma’il the Magnificent (grandson of Muhammed Ali) went so far as to proclaim,” My country is no longer in Africa, it is now in Europe” and he set out to make this statement true.(6)

In Egypt, two forms of Arabic were spoken, Classical Arabic ( the language of the Quran and literary circles) , and Colloquial Arabic , the “everyday” Arabic. During the 18th Century, French became the language preferred by the elite (French being the language of diplomacy). The “French Knowers” received preferential treatment (over other Egyptians) in jobs and education. However, this state sponsored europeanization of the empire eventually undermined it and finally, was a contributing factor in its demise. Not everyone wanted this “western advance”. The Europeans always benefitted. The Ottomans were adversely affected.

At the same time, powerful European nations were expanding their imperial holdings and possessions “by entering into agreements among themselves or by neutralizing the rulers of territories bordering on those possessions.”(7) Egypt became directly involved in the British-French rivalry. Napolean invaded Egypt in 1798 and defeated the Mamluk forces at the Battle of the Pyramids (was this when those faces were defaced?).  Ismail’s building of the Suez Canal in 1869 (which cost Egypt huge sums of money) ending with the British invading Egypt in 1882  and occupying her for about seventy years. Britain” shaped Egyptian economic development for several decades”.(8) While the British were occupying Egypt and shaping policies, Egypt was herself, in the process of losing her colony, Sudan. While Egypt wanted to be free from Britain she could not relate to Sudan’s desire to self direct and be free of Egypt. Egypt, in many ways mirrored European colonial ideologies, among them, that Sudan “rightfully belongs to Egypt”. (9)

Egypt is tied to the Arab world by language and culture. The native Egyptian-born fellahin , the peasants, were conscripted into the armed forces. They were not given to speaking classical Arabic. They were used as forced labor. Although slavery existed in the empire, all slaves were not created equal, i.e.the Janissaires (and do not discount the impact of other peoples captured as slaves contributing to an infusion of imported phenotypes as a result of intermingling). However, for the slaves from Sudan taken into Egypt we find a different mission, a so-called “civilizing” or “Arabizing” mission whereby male slaves were castrated and turned into eunuchs and many females bore children for their “masters. Conversely, the Egyptian masters of the house where Sudanese women were employed in their households guarded against the influence that Sudanese women might have in their houses (Zar). The Sudanese were called “abid”, slave, person of no value (to this day the Sudanese who are taken from the Southern areas to work as slaves, are wholly owned , and referred to as “abid”, sometimes “yebit”. However, they are now taken to the northern portion of Sudan. Many end up in Cairo as refugees living on the fringes of society.

Bibliography and resources used for this lesson: Cleveland, Burton, The History of the Modern Middle East .  Troutt Powell, A Different Shade of Colonialism .   Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban and Kharyssa Rhodes, Race and Identity in the Nile Valley.

Internet resources used: www.wikipedia.…/W5D18AAD.pdf


Teacher Preparation: Locate and print out the images. Get one transparency cell for each image. One set transparency markers (for you) .Please use your computer and LED projector and screen to display the images in this lesson. PREVIEW: Project the map of the Ottoman Empire. Ask: what does this map represent? What do the different colors mean? When was the largest acquisition? Under whose name was this acquisition? When was the last acquisition? Do you think there will be more acquisitions after 1683? Why? Have students come up and place their sticky notes directly onto the projected image on the screen on the areas they think will be the next acquisitions. Have them give two reasons why they chose those areas. Next, pass out this assignment: Imagine that you are one of the people who live in one of those “acquisitions”. State in two paragraphs how you feel and what, if anything , you plan to do to “get ahead” under your new ruler.

“VISUAL DISCOVERY “ and “READING FOR A PURPOSE”-Have students read pdf file from sharepoint  website or any of the other sites listed above . Reading notes are written directly on their graphic organizers. Students work in pairs to fill out organizers. Instructions to make the graphic organizers: print out the images. Place a clear transparency cell over each image and trace an outline of the images. Do not distribute the images themselves (copyright issues) but   make photocopies of your tracings and distribute the copied tracings to students as a graphic organizers while working with each attending image ( see example) Note: List of image locations listed at end of this lesson.

Day One: Display image 1 –“A  Soldier on Horseback”  Ask students these questions: What do you see in this picture? Why is he dressed like this? What do you think he is on a horse? What is the horse doing? What kind of work do you think he does? When questioning is complete, students” Read for a Purpose”, and note their answers directly on the traced image. (See example).What European countries were in military conflict with the Ottomans? What was the Ottoman military called? (The Janissaires) How did the Janissaires come to be a part of the Ottoman Empire? Describe their status as slaves? What benefits did they enjoy?

Image2-“Mehmet 2nd Enters Constantinople” Ask: What do you see here? What do you “hear”? What do you “smell”? How are the people dressed? Are there any symbols in the picture? Who is the man on the horse? Who are the other people in the picture? What weapons do they have? What are they doing?  Do you think this was painted during or after the event?  ( if after, how long after) Do you think this event happened exactly as shown in the picture? Who is telling “this story”, the victors or the conquered? “ Reading Notes:” List three important things about this event. List three things Mehmet did during his reign.

Image3-“Ottoman House in Cairo”  Ask: What do you see in this photograph? Where do you think this is? Who are the people? What are they doing? How are they dressed? Do you see any patterns? What are they? Which shape appears most often? What do you think that shape represents? “Reading Notes:” What level of society lived in houses like this? How were they different from others classes in Ottoman society? List three benefits they enjoyed as members of their social class.

Image4-“ Mohamed Ali Pasha” Ask: What do you see? Why is he dressed like this? Describe his clothing. Do you think he is an important person?  How can you tell? What kind of work do you think he does? “Reading Notes”: Who was Ali Pasha? What reforms did he institute in Egypt? How did they affect the Egyptian people?

Image 5- “Mohamed Ali’s Mosque” , Ask: What is this a picture of? Where do you think it is? Why do you think it was built? What geometric shapes are used in the structure? Why do you think these shapes were chosen? “Reading Notes”: How important was religion to Ali Pasha and other Pashas or sultans? HOME BASED ASSIGNMENT: Research the Millet System in the Ottoman Empire. Using your “THINKING LIKE A HISTORIAN” Template, apply these questions: THROUGH THEIR EYES- How did people in the past view their world? How did their worldview affect their choices and actions? What values, skills and forms of knowledge did people need to succeed?

Day2: Display Image 6-“Expansion of Egypt under Muhammed Ali”  Ask: What information is shown on this map? In what time period does the light green area take place?  What time period does the dark green area take place?  Working with a partner, discuss these questions. Be ready to share your answers with the class. What changes do you think happens in the dark green area as a result? What happens in the light green area as a result of what happens in the dark green area? “Reading Notes”: What is Egypt’s relationship with Sudan? What is Britain’s relationship with Egypt?

Image7- Slave Market, Cairo, 1840’s. Ask: What do you see here? Describe the people in the scene. What are they doing? How are they dressed? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you think happened just before this scene, after? What do you think those buildings in the background are? What do you think this is? “Reading Notes”: Where are the slaves from? Where will they be taken. How are they different from the Janissaires?  Describe how they are captured? What is the Arabic word for them?

* Image 8-The trial of the Pashas, British and Foreign Press, London, September 4 1894, S.O.A.P. this document( Source, Occasion, Audience, Purpose) Students will then go home and research the trial and write a one page summary.

Images 9 and 10- The French Flag and the British Flags Ask: What are these? What countries do they represent? Why do you think I am showing you these flags and we’re talking about Egypt? “Reading Notes”: List three things that occurred during the time the French were in Egypt. List three ways Egyptians responded to them. Repeat these questions for the British.

Image 11 – The Mahdi-Ask: Who do you think this man is? How is he dressed? What country do you think he’s from? Do you think he is a famous person or an ordinary person. Why? “Reading Notes”: Why was the Mahdi rebelling against the British? What was the British response to the Mahdi? What did the Mahdi want for Sudan?

NEXT STEPS: CHOICE BOARDS- Students work in Pairs.

Choice A. Construct an illustrated timeline of events in Egypt beginning with her entry into the Ottoman Empire through 1900. Use colored pencils and visuals to make it interesting.

Choice B. Construct an illustrated timeline of events in Egypt beginning with 1901 through 2000. Use colored pencils and small visuals to make it interesting.

Choice C. Research “The Turkiya”- Using THINKING LIKE A HISTORY template ( TLH), apply the “ Cause and Effect” column. You must have a minimum of two pages. Cite your sources (at least three) and use at least three primary sources.

Choice D. Research “Social Classes in Egypt during the 1800’s” Apply TLH: “Turning Points” column, “How did past decisions affect future choices?”

Choice E.  Locate one novel by an Egyptian author. Clear it with your teacher.  Read it and do this activity: TRENDS-How were the characters affected by other events and people? Create a T-Chart. On the left side, list the events or people that changed the characters in some way. On the right side, state the effects those events or people had on the characters. Design a “movie poster” for this novel, starring YOU in one of the lead roles. You and your partner will present your work to the class.

Daily Homework: using pick one headline story from Egypt and write a two paragraph summary of what you read

ASSESSMENT: Answer the essential question at the beginning of the lesson. Using an upside down T-Chart, on the left side, title the page,” Egypt is an African Country”. List three to five reasons why. On the right side title, the page,” Egypt is a Middle Eastern Country”. List three to five reasons why. Under the bottom line of the “T” write your conclusions as to which you believe Egypt is (at least two paragraphs).NO WAFFELING!

Image Locations on the web: Preview Map- #1-Soldier on Horseback #2-Mehmet 2nd Enters Empire ,   #3-Ottoman House-…    #4 Muhammed  Ali Pasha-  #5-Muhammed Ali’s Mosque-… #6- Expansion of Egypt- #7-Slave Market,Cairo-,-C… #8—Trial of the Pashas-… #9 and #10 Flags-  #11-The Mahdi- 1 .jpg


Lesson Three: “ Denial is more than a river that flows through Egypt and Sudan”,…..Fluehr-Lobban

Resources used for this lesson (see also annotated bibliography at end of unit for more information on these resources): History Alive, Manual for Engaging ALL Learners in the Diverse Classroom. Sudan’s Blood Memory, Race and Identity in the Nile Valley, Slave, My True Story

HABITS OF THE MIND: CHANGE AND CONSEQUENCES…understand how things happen and how things change, how human intentions matter, but also how their consequences are shaped by the means of carrying them out, in a tangle between purpose and process. HISTORY IS UNFINISHED BUSINESS…prepare to live with uncertainties and exasperating-even perilous-unfinished business, realizing that not all “problems” have solutions.

Background: While researching material for this unit I discovered that slavery is rampant and living in countries in North Africa and the Middle East (sometimes masquerading as “migrant labor”). However, I am focusing on Sudan , the Arab imprint , and race/identity( as a social and political construct).I have some Sudanese colleagues with whom I have spoken to about this project. They have agreed that there is slavery in their country and that the term “Black” is not what people want to be referred to in Sudan because it is associated with “Slave”. It wasn’t that there were only black skinned people who were enslaved. Others were also. However, it was the numbers of Blacks who were captured and sold that gave rise to the term becoming synonymous  with Blacks and therefore having a negative association.(10) Imagine the dismay those same Northerners feel when they travel outside of Sudan to the U.S. and Europe and find out that they are perceived as Blacks, and Black Africans ( as opposed to say White South Africans) at that!

For years wars have raged in Africa (but remember, Africans do not manufacture AK-47’s and the like). Sudan has one of the longest running wars on the continent. However, the tools of war are more than weapons, i.e. abduction of children used as child soldiers, rape (used extensively in Rwanda and Congo), cutting off of limbs to maim the person, etc.

Slaves from Sudan are considered one of the “spoils of war” as are cattle( since military pay is insufficient). The more I read about Sudan and the issues of racialized slavery , the more I felt as if I were scraping the dirt from underneath beautifully painted nails-dirt not readily seen because  the nail polish concealed it.

Sudan is the largest country in Africa, about one million miles. It lies immediately south of Egypt. The estimated population ( as of 2000 )was approximately thirty million with the northern areas covering much of Sudan and housing most of the urban centers. The populace here are mostly Arabic speakers who practice Islam. They number about twenty two million. However, they also speak indigenous mother tongues. The southern region numbers about eight million and they are mostly rural dwellers whose economy is rural subsistence. They too are speakers of indigenous languages and English. The climate is brutal — hot in the north (summer can reach 120 degrees) without much rainfall . Farming requires irrigation. The south receives the heaviest amount of rain. “Therefore rivers hold a special importance in the region with the Nile being its’ most important feature. Some areas have richer soils than others.”(11)  The Sudanese people share a rich African cultural heritage rooted in the distant past. However, the diverse historical experiences of communities in several parts of the country have encouraged the adoption of different sets of customs and beliefs. In the northern and central parts of the country these cultural innovations often came from the Mediterranean or Arab world”.(12)

During the late eighteenth century Islamic slave traders from West Africa entered western Sudan from the east (Chad) and raided for slaves in the Sudanese south and Nuba mountain areas.”With the rise of the Islamic Sultanate of Dar Fur in the west, slave raids increased. In 1821, the country was conquered by the Turko-Egyptians, auguring a new era of foreign and colonial conquest until 1956.”(13) ( I found it interesting that at one point, the peoples of the south actually wanted the British to stay as they felt that they had a better deal than if the Arabs of the North were to be in complete power ) In fact, “When independence came in 1956, Southern peoples were passionately unwilling to bt governed by their former enemies  beyond their northerner frontier in Khartoum, to which the British hastily and unthinkingly bestowed all political and economic power”. (14)

The southern group known as the Dinka are composed of many groups all lumped under this name. They know who they are and have their own oral histories (and travelers’ accounts, written accounts, and archaeological evidence to support those histories) chronicling their journeys and migrations. They also can point to shared linguistic elements and customs that place them farther north (Nubia) from where they currently live. Robin Thelwall suggests an unexpected degree of similarity in vocabulary between between Dinka and  the modern linguistic descendant of classical Nubia, Nobiin.(15)   There is archaeological evidence that supports the Dinka claims of a central Sudanese homeland”.(16) Then there are those teeth and lipstuds. Evulsion, the removal of the lower and upper incisors ( eye teeth, canines) is a custom found in the Western Nilotic  people today and the past inhabitants of Jebel Moya (archaeology).

So what then has happened to sow such seeds of hatred and abuse between the North and South? Is it historical? Has it gone on for hundreds of years fueled by greed for Black Gold (slaves), religion ,ivory and gold? In modern times, does it have to do with lack of resources? If resources are limited and there is not enough to go around, the question of which group benefits and which does not may become critical In order to justify the Out Group not benefitting (or having something that the In Group wants such as resources to live well), does the “In Group” construct ways in which they, will be assured of getting and keeping those resources, as well as access to decent housing, labor, education, etc. Do they develop identities that will allow or guarantee that they remain in these “constructed positions”. For example, educational and economic opportunities are either nonexistent or limited. Literature fosters and reinforces bias and racism. Even everyday language may reflect these constructed identities.  With enough time and each succeeding generation, memories of a greater past could become dimmer until they simply fade away and some people begin to accept it as “just the way things are”

Jok Madut Jok, makes the case that in Sudan, the Northerners have adopted lock, stock and barrel “everything Arab”. However, their wish to unite Sudan under one umbrella that they choose is a society that ignores, despises or even drowns the African (Aswan Dam, Lake Nasser) and glorifies the Arab. The mechanics by which they do this enslaves their fellow countrymen; denies decent living standards for their fellow countrymen; denies them access to the ascension of the economic ladder.  The policy keeps these groups in a perpetual state of turmoil, while arming those who perpetuate that “umbrella” and allowing them free reign over the unarmed civilians who are not “Arab”. Not all Northern Sudanese share this way of thinking. I personally have met and spoken with some Northerners living here in the U.S. who most certainly consider themselves African/Black and who actively work for the greater good of all Africans living in the Diaspora. But among the Baggara tribesmen in Sudan, some believe the Southerners are” naturally slaves”, possess a “bad nature” and are a Problem which prohibits progress (especially around the grazing plains of the Kiir River).  They demanded that the government train and arm them in order to support efforts at Arabicizing the Dinka. These ideas justify slave raiding the Dinka as fair game and as “spoils of war”. The Dinka are “abid”.(17)

Lesson Goals: Describe race as a social and political construct. Compare and contrast the differences between refugee and immigrant. Explain the historical importance of race, identity and religion in Sudan  and its’ legacy in the region today. Analyze the roots of the conflict in Sudan today using two example groups-the Bagarra and the Dinka.

Strategies and Tasks:

  • Describe race as a social construct.
  • Analyze Egypt’s relationship with Sudan and the Sudanese people
  • Explain the roots of the slave trade in Sudan and how it  benefitted Egypt in the 19th century and Sudan today.
  • Examine the roots of the conflict in Sudan today.
  • Apply Habits of the Mind questions to selected text.
  • Analyze primary source documents such as personal narratives, current headline news from Egypt and Sudan.
  • View documentaries: Alek Wek, “In Search of Lost Relatives”(BBC) and “Wonders of the African World”, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
  • Design and construct a “Story Quilt”


Resources used in This Unit:

Jok Madut Jok, War And Slavery In Sudan, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2001.

Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis, ‘Slave, My True Story” in Public Affairs, 2003,

Stephanie Beswick , Sudan’s Blood Memory. University of Rochester Press, 2004.

Teachers’ Curriculum Institute,2005,  History Alive Ancient World, Chapter 11, Nubia. Available on enrichment.

Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban and Kharyssa Rhoades. Race and Identity in the Nile Valley:Ancient and modern perspectives/ edited by St. Martin’s Press, 2006.

Louise Mushikiwabo and Jack Kramer, Rwanda Means The Universe, A Natives Memoir Of Blood And Bloodlines, St. Martin’s Press, 2006. search these three interviews: EMMANUEL JAL: 2008, AHMAD SIKAINGA ON SUDAN, A MUSICAL HISTORY, EVE TROUTT POWELL: AFRICAN SLAVES IN ISLAMIC LANDS.  search Alek Wek, “In Search of Lost Relatives”



PREVIEW- Experiential Exercise: Tell students: You are ten years old. It is just before dawn in your town. You, your mother, father and three little sisters, two four and six years old, are sleeping soundly. Suddenly, you are awakened by what you think is thunder. It is not. As your eyes become accustomed to the light you see an orangish glow in the distance. Fire, people screaming, crying, gunshots. You must run away. You have exactly 2 minutes to grab whatever you can and make a run for your life. If you are caught you will be taken away and enslaved, completely and wholly owned for the rest of your life. Think of your parents, your sisters. What’s in your house, your bedroom? Quickly make a list of whatever you will take with you. Your teacher will alert you when time is up.   Debrief the activity: teacher asks: What did you take? How did you feel when you were grabbing what you could?  Did you run away with anyone else, i.e. a sibling or parent ? Which term describes you — refugee or immigrant? Use the dictionary to define each term and write a paragraph explaining the difference. Share your answers with the class.

Film:” Journey of Man”, Dr. Spencer Wells. Students view clips and with a partner analyze the film using Film Analysis Worksheet from N.A.R.A. Ask these questions: Scientifically, what is “race”? Does it exist?  How has the idea of race been used to separate people? How does the work of Dr. Spencer Wells change what you know or thought about race? Do you think that had slave holders known this information it would have changed their perceptions of Africans during the Triangular Slave Trade? Allow students time to discuss with each other and then share their answers with the class. Now Teacher use www.GoogleEarth  to zoom into the areas of Southern Sudan. Cover the Nuba Mountains , Dar Fur, continue up to Khartoum. Allow students to “explore” these areas.

Google the famed “Forty Days’ Road” also known as the Darb Al-Arba’in  (if time allows, find it on a map).How long has this route been in use? What are the environmental conditions like on that route? Discuss what it must be like to be force marched or carried on that road. Who is using that route now and for what? Compare that march to other “marches”, i.e.”Trail of Tears”.

Introduce the autobiography “Slave: My True Story”. Have students read selected chapters ( you must read it first and remove the chapters or page where Ms. Nazer describes her ordeal of FGM and  later, the rape of an eight year old child sold into slavery. Ms. Nazer does not mince words).

WRITING FOR UNDERSTANDING :Students will create an illustrated  journal from a sympathetic person who knows that she is a slave but feels powerless to help her .Apply the strategy “Through Their Eyes” (TLH) to this book, but change the last word from ”succeed” to “survive”.

Introduce “The Lost Boys “. You can use the article I provided or any other of your choice as there are plenty on the web. Ask students to revisit the comparison of immigrant /refugee. Ask: can a person be both during his lifetime?  Direct students to read,” Eve Troutt Powell: African Slaves in Islamic Lands”. (you may wish to print out and assign sections of this ).For those whose students have studied slavery in the United States have them draw comparisons between slavery in the U.S. and slavery in Sudan. Ask students to explore the idea that peoples of the South are all backwards and in need of “civilizing”. Students should research the ancient Kingdom of Kush. They will write a two-page summary of what they found.

Students view the PBS film: “Black Kingdoms of the Nile”. Working in pairs using the Film Analysis Worksheet, have students analyze the film.  Students will identify what they researched on their own with what they saw in the film.  Students discuss the impact of the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser on Ancient Nubian Antiquities. Students will then create historical markers commemorating the greatness of “Nubia, A Black African Kingdom.”

Students then read the essay: “The Crisis of Identity In Northern Sudan, The Dilemma of a Black People with a White Culture”  from Race and Identity in the Nile Valley. Ask students to think about how we in the United States value diversity in our society. Then have them discuss and list the ways diversity contributes to a successful society.

CHOICE BOARDS: A.-Students read “Ahmad Sikainga on Sudan, A Musical History“ or “Emmanuel Jah:2008”. Have them write a one page “reaction” paper.

CHOICE B. Write a letter of protest to the government of North Sudan . Identify yourself as a student who is studying  Sudan and that  one day you may grow up to hold a position of power in world politics.

CHOICE C. (Whole Class Project): Contact Women for Women International. Adopt a Sister from Sudan (adoptions are for one year @ approx.27.00/month). That’s about 90 cents per month per student. She will write to them and they can write back.

CHOICE D. (adapted from TCI GEOGRAPHY ALIVE, CHAPTER 5 PROCESSING) Draw three concentric circles:

  • Label the center ”Khartoum” and write in the peoples and religions found in that area.
  • Label the surrounding circle Urban Fringe and write in the towns, peoples , religions and cities that makeup the urban fringe.
  • Label the last circle, the one that surrounds the urban fringe, Rural and write in the towns, villages and peoples and religions that make up the rural/mountainous fringe.
  • Inside the circles list all the problems you have discovered about Sudan and draw a line from each problem to the appropriate circle where you think the problem originates.

You may draw a line from one circle to another. Look at your drawing. Is there a common place where problems originate? Write two recommendations about what can be done to ease if not solve each of the problems in your circles.

CHOICE E. Research propaganda techniques.  Determine how propaganda has/is used in Sudan to justify continual aggression against the South. Create a Propaganda Poster- students create this poster to persuade people to do something about the slave trade in Sudan. They must also label the propaganda tools that they used to create this poster and write a brief explanation explaining the purpose of the poster.

CHOICE F. “Talking Heads “ Draw facial expressions to summarize the feelings of groups who have different perspectives on the war in Sudan or the slave raids.

Culminating Project: Working in pairs students will create “Story Quilts” Adapted from TCI.

Materials needed: Two large white cloth napkins, fabric markers, needle and thread or fabric glue, cotton batting, quilt elements-pictures, visuals, documents, drawings, etc. Quilt must have a border.

Using two large dinner sized cloth napkins (available at most Value City Stores) students choose one of the lessons above. Using a “border” design divide the top napkin into four sections. They will use each section to depict two different points of view for two events of the lesson. Students should use quotes, visuals, primary source documents, etc. to highlight the viewpoints. (which are sewn or glued to the napkin). Then the napkins are gently stuffed to give the “quilt” some volume (do not overstuff lest you end up with a pillow).


Jok Madut Jok. War and Slavery in Sudan,. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2001, This is a must read. Mr. Jok has made a very confusing(to the outside world) situation in Sudan much clearer as he delves into the roots of the conflict between Northerners and Southerners in his country.

Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis. Public Affairs, 2003, “Slave, My True Story”. I also list this for the students to read. However, you must “edit” two items from their reading- her chapter on her “Cutting Time” which describes in graphic detail her experience as a young girl who undergoes FGM and her issues with rape. Otherwise, this is an excellent resource that gives the students the information they need to appreciate the life this young woman had prior to her abduction and the depths of despair she experienced afterwards.

Stephanie Beswick, Sudan’s Blood Memory. University of Rochester Press, 2004.This book provides geographical information along with history of Sudan.

Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban and kharyssa Rhoades.  Race and Identity in the Nile Valley: Ancient and Modern Perspectives, The Red Sea Press, 2004, This is an excellent source of scholarly papers on the region edited by Ms. Rhoades and Ms Fleurh-Lobban. I was able to access papers which went right “to the heart of the matter” during my research. Download analsis worksheets for student use to analyze film, documents, political cartoons, etc.

Louise Mushiikiwabo and Jack Kramer, Rwanda Means The Universe, A Native’s Memoir Of Blood And Bloodlines, St. Martin’s Press, 2006,  A thoroughly enjoyable read. Excellent background information to The History of the Modern Middle East as Ms Mushikiwabo recounts from the perspective of Africans what was going on with Emin Pasha, Gordon, The Madhi and others in Africa. It reminds me of getting “the inside scoop”.

Women for Women International, a rescue group started by Zainab Salbi which has a presence in nine countries. Through this group women can be empowered to change their lives and the lives of their families and communities.

Student Bibliography Search these three interviews and print out for student to read: Emmanuel  Jal:2008; Ahmed Sikainga on Sudan, A Musical History; Eve Troutt Powell: African Slaves in Islamic Lands. These three interviews would be interesting for students to analyze. Also use with document analysis worksheets or TLH Template.

Teachers Curriculum Institute, History Alive Ancient World, Chapter 10 “The Kingdom of Kush.” This lesson is written using “considerate text and can be chunked ( you can use all of some of the text). It also has attending interactive reading notes, visuals, etc. Excellent lesson on ancient Nubia, which was also called Kush. This is the website of the Library of Congress. Their digital classroom link contains the printable worksheets for analysis of film, documents, cartoons, etc.

Other Websites:  This site is interactive mapping at its’ finest. Also provides additional links to background information. Alek Wek, In Search of Lost Relatives. Allows students to follow Ms. Wel as she returns to her village in Sudan. Get current headlines news about African countries. This site carries current news from African newspapers written from African perpectives. Useful to compare news from both sites.  and  Thematic maps, including animated maps. Great for comparing information. Gorgeous historic artfully rendered maps another excellent site for mapping


Pennsylvania Standards

Social Studies:

7.1 Basic Geography Literacy

7.3 Human Characteristics of People and Places

7.4 The Interaction Between people and Places


7.0   Reading Critically in All Content Areas

Quality of Writing


Reading Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

Speaking and Listening

End notes


  1. p 47, Race and Identity in the Nile Valley,The Meaning of Skin Color in 18th Dynasty Egypt, Cheal
  2. P.48 ibid.
  3. p.214, Race and Identity in the Nile Valley, The Crisis of Identity in Northern Sudan, Al-Baqir al Afif Mukhtar
  4. p.9 The History of The Modern Middle East, William Cleveland and Martin Bunton

5.p.66 ibid.

  1. p.95 ibid.
  2. p. 103 ibid
  3. p.103 ibid

9  p.6 .Eve Troutt Powel, A Different Shade of Colonialism,

10.p.268, Race and Identity in the Nile Valley, Distinctive Tastes, Maurita Poole, Emory University

11.pp.10,11,12, Sudan’s Blood Memory, Stephanie Beswick

12.p. 13 ibid

  1. p.13. ibid
  2. p. 196. ibid
  3. p.21, ibid

16.p. 22, ibid

  1. p. 9, War And Slavery In Sudan, Jok Madut Jok