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The key historical event with which Season of Migration to the North grapples is Anglo-Egyptian colonialism of Sudan, which lasted between 1899 and 1956. In 1898, the British conquered Sudan, and from that period on, ruled it jointly with Egypt—although the Egyptians were only nominally rulers, and real power rested with the British. The British imposed their own laws on the territory, transformed the educational system (mandating, for instance, the teaching of English in schools, in addition to Arabic), and exerted political power to benefit from Sudan’s vast agricultural and other resources, thus enriching themselves in the process. As such, Anglo-Egyptian colonialism of Sudan led to massive political, cultural, and economic upheaval, as colonialism everywhere on the continent of Africa did. As a subject population, the Sudanese had little control over their own lives and destinies. Salih’s novel, therefore, deals with the violence that framed the colonial encounter between Sudan and Britain. In Season of Migration to the North, the novel’s protagonist, Mustafa Sa’eed, strives to repay the violence that has been done to him and to his people, in the name of the “civilizing mission” of British colonialism.

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