There’s a lot of topic we can talk about when looking at the history of a country or one nation. There is governance, economy, religion and many others. Now, in talking about Sudan, I would want to focus on the religion aspects of some of the Sudanese Kingdoms, and how it affected the history.
Sudan is located in the northeast part of the continent of African surrounded by eight other African countries such as Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia and Kenya. Politically, Sudan was divided into two kingdoms, the Southern kingdom of Alwa and the Northern Kingdom of Muqurra.
From the sixth century to the fifteenth century, Christianity dominated the Northern Sudan. In fact, the three Kingdoms of Sudan – Nubia, Alwa and Muqurra (or Dotawo) have Christianity as their official religion. They resisted the Islam for nine hundred years and were successful in doing so (Frontline Fellowship, 2007).
Ancient Nubia is also known as the Kingdom of Kush. Five thousand years ago, it was a very powerful and very rich nation and was a center of culture and military strength in Africa (Internet Puppet Theater 2000).
Christianity in Sudan made the country possible to enter again in Mediterranean civilization and renewed their ties to Egypt in terms of their culture and ideology. The Christian churches monastic and cathedral schools, with their trained Egyptian clergy, encouraged the Nubia’s literacy and also taught them the language used in liturgy (Blue Nile Forum, 2005).
However, late in 15th century, Christian kingdoms are weakened and stumble as Arab attacks, where many towns are burned with the spread of confusion. The Kingdom of Nubia fell first, and then Kingdom of Dotawo fell in 1484, while the southern most of kingdom of Alwa fell in 1530. The fall of these Christian kingdoms made the Sudan an officially Islamic state today (Frontline Fellowship, 2007).
The first to convert into Christianity is the treasurer of the kingdom of Meroe, and then followed by the intellectuals and royals of Northern Sudan who embraced the Christianity as well. The kings of Nubia and Alwa have accepted the Gospel first, where churches are always associated with the king, and more often the kings are the priests. It is also common for bishops and priests to hold a position in the government. As there is a little evidence to prove that common people were effectively evangelized, the kingdoms politics began to break up making the church collapsed at the same time. This is because the bishops and priests are foreigners – Egyptian, Greek or Coptic – and their languages are understood only by the king and educated people. In short, this Christianity is a religion of elite, not for the common people or rural communities. These show the independence of Northern Sudan in foreign bishops and priests. When the Muslim armies cut all the connections and contact between Egypt and Nubia, Bishops were appointed in Egypt and made it very hard for Nubia to continue to grow their church. At the same time, Arab traders and nomads are migrating into Sudan which contributes to erode the Christianity and spread Islam instead making the last years of the Christian kingdoms years of confusion. Nubian kingdom asked help from the Christians in Ethiopia during this time of confusion but they refuse to send any and seem to ignore the call, making it another factor of the fall of Christianity in Northern Sudan (Frontline Fellowship, 2007).
Islam spread in Sudan changed the society as Islam facilitated the division of the country into north and south, fostered political unity, economic growth, and educational development, but again, only urban communities benefited a lot in here (Cline, 2007).
The lessons here lie in the literacy skills, leadership training and Bible teaching. The Nubia depends a lot in foreigner during that time, the Words of God were in different language, and thus when these foreign bishops and priests were gone, Words of God are not widely spread to common people. Thus, one country needs to stand up on their own, know how to support and govern their own country, and propagate their own churches.