The Everlasting Rectangles: Gezira and International Development

  • Maurits W. Ertsen


In the early 1950s, it was clear—even to the British—that in a near future Sudan would become much more, if not completely, independent.1 At the same time, the United Kingdom wanted to keep some kind of influence in the country. One of the possible ways was to clearly offer support to Sudan’s development efforts, with irrigation high on that agenda. A completed Managil area required a second dam on the Blue Nile—planned at Roseires—for its water, and it was clear that Sudan did not have all the financial resources itself to build that dam. In 1953, a certain Luce from the Sudan Government Agency in London shared some ideas—after a discussion with colleague Allen from the Africa Department in London—with John Carmichael in Khartoum. Basically, Luce argued, if “maintaining British influence in the Sudan really means anything,” supporting Sudan’s economic development was “the most effective way of showing it.” Luce had also spoken with William Ni m mo Allan and Humphrey Alan W. Morrice, both from the SID. The three of them thought that financial support for Roseires Dam, “in much the same way” as the loan for Gezira in the 1920s, would be one of the best options.2 After all, large-scale irrigation was “always in the forefront of Sudanese minds.” A UK loan to the Sudan would have great political value.3


Working Party Main Canal Irrigation Development Nile Water Branch Canal 


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