Another’s Week’s Toil: British SPS Inspectors and Their ldea(1)s

  • Maurits W. Ertsen


When visiting the Gezira in 1942 after a few years on voluntary duty in the Sudan Defense Forces (SDF), Syndicate inspector F. Bertram Hunt entrusted to his diary that he had decided to leave the SPS. He did “not like the atmosphere,” as there was too much “[p]etty self-seeking,” including “jockeying for position and trying to catch the bosses’ eye.” Catching the bosses’ eye was crucial, however, as they had “great powers,” basically through “one’s earnings through unpredictable salary increments.” With their “stingy attitude towards housing and equipment,” however, the bosses did make the work “unattractive.”1 Obviously, Hunt’s—extensive— diary is a little colored when it comes to interpreting Gezira realities; comparison with other material, including letters and diaries from others working for the SPS and/or in Gezira, however, suggests that the general setting is very well pictured by Hunt. It’s just that he did like it less.


Civil Servant Field Staff Main Canal North Group Travel Allowance 
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  1. 57.
    “This however did not apply to the so-called junior class of British employee, mostly artisans or working as hygiene officers. These never came to the clubs, or mixed socially. Individually they might be known to some, but on the whole they lived separate lives. In Khartoum they were members, not of the Sudan Club, but of the Khartoum Club.” (SA, 693/1/9: Hunt Diary, added comments); “The distinction between the Sudan Club for senior officials and the Khartoum Club for junior officials persisted almost up to 1956. Membership of either club was determined by salary except in the case of the Political Service who, of course, and however poor, always belonged to the top club without question.” (Kenrick R. [ed] 1987 Sudan Tales: Recollections of some Sudan Political Service wives 1926–1956, Cambridge, The Oleander Press, 28.)Google Scholar

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© Maurits W. Ertsen 2016

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  • Maurits W. Ertsen

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