27 Jan

I have been in Sudan recently researching literature from the early 20th century. Today I finally got my hands on the journal al-Fajr. It started in 1934 as a literary, cultural journal but in 1935 it altered its course. In the first issue of its new incarnation it added two pages in English to explain its new direction.

As an otherwise entirely Arabic journal it is unclear whether these messages would actually ever have reached an English speaking audience (most of whom I assume wouldn’t read an Arabic literary journal). They were on the back page (and page inside that) so there is a chance that someone browsing in a bookshop might have seen them. Or perhaps Sudanese people might have passed them on to English speaking friends of acquaintances.

However, it is probably fair to say that a large number of the Arabic readership were English speaking so it is possible that these pages were intended to express the basis of the journal’s views to the Arabic readership as much as to the English.

Putting it in English perhaps serves more to emphasise its desire to speak to the anglophone world than the actual chances of the message reaching many English speakers. Likewise the messages on Egyptian television channels today that say “Egypt Fighting Terrorism” in English (when very few English speakers can be watching) are perhaps more out of desire to be seen to communicate to, in this case, the western media than anything else.

However you interpret the fact that they are in English they are interesting texts. Here is the first one. Similar articles appeared in subsequent editions.Image



For more on the period I very much enjoyed Heather Sharkey’s Living with Colonialism


One Response to “Al-Fajr”

  1. Roman Deckert (@RomanDeckert) February 25, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Great research, lucky you!! Please do check out my chapter on “The history
    of the Sudanese press: Background to conflict”, based on Heather Sharkey, but with some additions and especially some nice scans from Durham:

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